USA TODAY Sports
This is one of those "the score is not representative" nights, as the Milwaukee Bucks semi-easily dispatched the Portland Trail Blazers. If the Blazers had played with effort in both halves, this result might have been different.
The Blazers were led by Wesley Matthews, who had a big game in his return home. He finished with 28 points off 7 three-pointers. LaMarcus Aldridge had another double-double, with 21 points and 11 rebounds, but was not particularly efficient.
First Quarter: Bucks go inside early, with Samuel Dalembert suddenly looking like he's in his prime, scoring at will over Hickson. Meanwhile, Matthews got hot in his hometown, keeping the Blazers close. Milwaukee looked relaxed and balanced, hitting shots while keeping the Blazers out of their comfort zones. But Portland broke the full court press for two points at the buzzer to help stay close. Score: Bucks 27, Blazers 23.
Jennings clearly told to get up into Dame as soon as he crosses halfcourt. Wonder what the scouts see about that? I would think Dame’s handle and quickness would make that a bad idea.
Second Quarter: Ok, imagine the Bucks are the Bucks. And imagine the Blazers are five Nolan Smiths. That's the second quarter. First, the Bucks scored 8 straight points to force a Blazer timeout. Out of the timeout, the Blazers promptly turned over the inbound pass for a Milwaukee layup. Wesley even missed two free throws. The Blazers didn't score for the first 6 minutes (!), while allowing the Bucks a very familiar-looking 17-0 run. TV's across Portland changed channels. They missed out on all 8 Blazer points. Meanwhile, the Bucks scored 31, the same number the Blazers scored all half. Score: Bucks 58, Blazers 31.
Have we ever had a defensive practice?
Third Quarter: Finally the Blazers decided to show up, cutting the lead to 17 in the opening minutes of the quarter. The Bucks fought back, but the lead was down to 15 on a Batum three-pointer at the halfway point. Then 13. And 11, on an LMA jumper. But that was it. The Bucks ramped up the D, and within minutes they led by 20 again. And it remained there at the horn. Score: Bucks 77, Blazers 57.
Redick is so annoying. We need to have a pest like him.
Fourth Quarter: A couple Luke Babbitt three's cut the lead to 14 early, but more sloppy play prevented further progress. The Blazers inched the deficit down to 13... then gave up consecutive Bucks three-pointers. The teams traded three-pointers as they passed the halfway mark, and an Aldridge layup pushed the deficit back to 13 again. Soon, a Matthews three cut the lead to 10, and the Bucks quickly called timeout. Immediately after, Matthews stole the ball for a dunk, cutting the deficit to 8. They kept trying to get the lead under 8, but couldn't stop the Bucks. In a huge break for Milwaukee, the refs mistakenly gave the ball back to them after knocking it out. It happened with 2:15 left, so replays weren't an option. The Bucks promptly scored on the next play, giving them a 10 point margin with 2 minutes left. There was no more gas in the Blazers' tank, and the Bucks held on for a deserved victory. And boy, did the Blazers earn this loss.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim