Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
In a game full of runs, the Philadelphia 76ers made the last one, holding off a game Portland Trail Blazers team in an exciting ending.
The Blazers were led by LaMarcus Aldridge (32 points, 14 rebounds, 3 assists) and Damian Lillard (27 points, 7 assists, 7 rebounds), with support from eight other Blazers, none of whom scored in double figures.
First Quarter: Yet another slow start. As always, the Blazers opened by giving the first few possessions to Hickson. And yet again, the Blazers fell behind and needed a timeout. Philly still led by 7 afterward, but as their shooting slowed, Lillard came to life, scoring 5 quick points before heading to the bench. Batum's three-pointer completed an 8 point Blazer run to take the lead, and forced a Sixer timeout. Aldridge took over on offense afterward. Shot after shot, Aldridge scored over any and all Sixers trying to guard him. Despite all that, the defense couldn't stop Philly. To add insult, the Sixers nailed a three-pointer at the buzzer. Score: 76ers 32, Blazers 28
I blame it on your recaps. Whenever you say they started slow in a recap, it turns out they started slow. Can’t be a coincidence.
Second Quarter: The Sixers wasted no time jumping to a 9 point lead, as the four-rookie Blazer lineup struggled to keep up with them. The lead reached double-digits at the halfway point, as the starters slowly returned to the game. Batum and Matthews hit back-to-back three's to get back to single digits, but the team returned to their Keystone Cops instincts, finishing the quarter with more turnovers than field goals. Luckily, Philly just isn't that good of a team. That's why they only added 4 points to their lead against the questionable Blazer defense. Score: 76ers 58, Blazers 50
I feel so hopeless about our defense. I miss seeing what elite defense is like.
Third Quarter: Despite a Lillard three, the Sixers grabbed an easy 13 point lead, forcing another Blazer timeout. Thanks to a few errors by Philly, the Blazers went on a 7-0 run to cut the lead back to six, but couldn't keep up the momentum. But finally, behind some harder Blazer defense, the Sixers cooled down a little, and the Blazers closed with a late 8-0 run to stay within 6 heading into the fourth. Score: Sixers 78, Blazers 72
Fourth Quarter: Lillard opened the quarter with a beautiful dunk, trying to set the tone for a strong run. After Luke Babbitt and the rest of the team kept it close, they went back to Lillard, who swished a three-pointer to tie the game. Philly and Portland then proceeded to swap 5 point runs, keeping the game tied. Babbitt hit his second three to finally give the Blazers their first lead since the first quarter, with 5 minutes left
Aldridge helped keep the Blazers in the lead for a few minutes, but Philly started hitting shots to stay close. Two consecutive missed three's by Babbitt gave the Sixers an opening, and they regained the lead with two and a half minutes left. That was followed by an Aldridge miss, and a Batum miss, giving the Sixers a two-possession lead with a minute left. After an offensive rebound, Lillard hit a layup but missed a free throw cutting the lead to 3 with 50 seconds left. But Holiday hit a jumper to push the lead to 5 with 33 seconds left. The Blazers struggled to get off a shot, with Aldridge finally hoisting a three... and swishing it!
Now down two, they fouled Holiday (in a play that looked like a jump ball) and he hit both free throws. Down to the final seconds, Lillard shot an open three, and hit it! The Sixers hurriedly tried to inbound the ball, but in the process tripped and turned the ball over, giving the Blazers a chance to win with 7 seconds left! Aldridge got his shot, but it came up short and Philly held on for the win.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim