USA TODAY Sports
In an oddly uncharacteristic game for both teams, the Memphis Grizzlies rode their defense to a second-half comeback, holding off the Portland Trail Blazers late for the win.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (20 points, 4 assists). JJ Hickson had 12 points and 13 rebounds, Wesley Matthews added 11 points and Nicolas Batum 10. Eric Maynor provided 12 points as part of a solid bench effort.. LaMarcus Aldridge had a very rough shooting night (2-13), finishing with 10 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists. Both teams struggled at the free throw line, leading to various groan-worthy moments.
First Quarter: Remember the last time the Blazers laid an egg in the first quarter? Yeah, me neither. Portland stuck with Memphis throughout the quarter, despite being dominated on the boards. True to form, the scoring was low, helped by some abysmal Grizz shooting. The Blazers pushed their lead to 10 late, but settled for an 8 point advantage at the horn.
[Nicolas] Batum and [Tayshawn] Prince look like body doubles, they even stand the same way.
Batum is the French Prince.
If he lived in Bel Aire, he'd be the French Prince of Bel Aire.
Second Quarter: Victor Claver. As his playing time continues, his growth is becoming evident. He had a nice stretch in the second quarter, active at both ends and personally keeping the Blazers comfortably in the lead. Eric Maynor's role as bench leader is coming into focus as well. Memphis needed a timeout, falling behind by 12 after being dominated by the Blazer bench. The starters returned and held their ground for a while, but the mistakes built up and Memphis cut the lead to single digits. But a Batum three-point play bumped the lead to 12 again at halftime. The Blazer bench outscored Aldridge in the first half, 11-4.
Man, offensive rebounds are the only thing standing between us and a 20-point lead.
by Roy Wonder
Third Quarter: The teams played back and forth early in the quarter. But a big sequence: Lillard's three was blocked, leading to a break. But Lillard tracked the play, forcing a missed layup. Lillard immediately broke up court, finding Hickson for an alley-oop jam and a 14 point lead. The lead reached 17... and then Memphis punched back. Suddenly their defense came to life. And with a few good offensive possessions, they cut the lead to 11 before Portland called timeout. But there was a problem: Memphis' shots started falling. Soon the lead was 8, and Portland was struggling against the strengthened Grizz defense. The lead kept melting, and Portland kept melting down. A late three-pointer completed a 19-4 Grizzlies run. The lead that was 17 just minutes earlier turned into 2 at the horn.
Nice to see a real back up point guard.
Fourth Quarter: Maynor opened the quarter with a three-pointer to quiet the crowd, but two minutes later, the hot-shooting Grizz took the lead, forcing a Blazer timeout. Portland wouldn't go away though. Matthews scored an unlikely three point play, followed by a Maynor three-pointer for a six point lead at the halfway mark. 90 seconds later, the lead was back to 1 as Lillard returned. But the struggles continued, as Memphis regained the lead for the stretch run, forcing a Blazer timeout.
After the timeout, Memphis' defense continued to shut down the Blazers, forcing ugly outside shots. When Portland did force a miss, the Grizzlies found the rebound. Gasol gave them a three point lead. The Blazers missed at the other end, but found the rebounds, eventually leading to one (of two) Aldridge free throw to cut the lead to two. Memphis missed again, and with 50 seconds left, Aldridge, continuing his rough shooting night, missed a jumper. Gasol was fouled, hitting both free throws to make it a two possession game with 21 seconds left. And with that, Portland lost a game they seemingly had in hand in the third quarter.
Stay tuned for more analysis from Blazer’s Edge later tonight. In the meantime, check out the upcoming Blazers schedule. -- Tim