In a Nutshell
After a sporadic first half the Blazers put together enough defense in the third quarter to take a lead from the Grizzlies but then give it back with change in the fourth through rancid offense, going out with a whimper yet again.
There was no flow in the first half of this game. It seemed that every second possession was interrupted by either a whistle or a turnover. Both teams played sloppy. Each team tried to capitalize on the other's sloppiness by running the ball but could never get out of their own way long enough. The major developments of the first two quarters for the Blazers were LaMarcus Aldridge consistently beating everybody upcourt for layups and the same LaMarcus Aldridge committing fouls. More on that in a second... The Grizzlies led 49-42 at the half.
Two minutes into the third period Aldridge committed his fourth foul and to the pines he went. This had a dual effect on Portland's game. On offense the story wasn't great. Bereft of any big-man scorers the Blazers alternated between posting Andre Miller and lofting long shots. They achieved modest, though sadly not sustainable, success scoring 22 in the period. The bigger story came on the defensive end. Dante Cunningham drew Zach Randolph as a defensive assignment. He worked hard against Z-Bo. The Blazers also realized that he'd need help and frequently sent a second man after Zach when he touched the ball. When Zach wasn't forcing shots the Grizzlies were lofting outside just like the Blazers...a bad deal for them. Memphis ended up scoring but 12 in the period and trailed 64-61 after three.
The fourth quarter saw Memphis run bigger players at Miller to prevent the post-up, Portland's only pretense to inside offense outside of the occasional offensive rebound. For the most part the Blazers seemed resigned to their perimeter status, bleeding the clock down until a shot was mandated, then barfing up a jumper and hoping. Meanwhile Randolph started making inroads on Portland's defense. He busted a couple layups, grabbed some rebounds, hit a jumper, shot some free throws. Once he got rolling he was impossible to derail, particularly after the starters returned and Portland started guarding him straight up again. With zero answer on the offensive end the Blazers sunk further and further into oblivion. The Grizzlies scored 25 in the quarter. As it turns out the 13th point won them the game, as Portland scored only 9. 86-73 was your final score.
Other than some inspired play from Cunningham, Portland's bench came up empty for the third straight game. Take out Dante's line and six players combined for 3-13 shooting, 2-8 three point shooting, 5 foul shots attempted, 6 rebounds, 0 steals, 1 block, 3 turnovers, 6 fouls committed, and 11 points.
The Blazer offense made the Grizzlies' defense look great. That's a sign that you're not doing well and particularly that you're not moving the ball.
LaMarcus Aldridge played but 28 minutes with 5 eventual fouls. He went 6-13 for 13 points and 6 rebounds...low for him.
Marcus Camby grabbed his usual 14 rebounds and feasted on 5 blocks. He shot 2-9 though.
Andre Miller was one of the few Blazers with a decent game, shooting 5-10 for 14 points with 9 assists and 6 rebounds. His 5 turnovers helped scrub away any continuity that the Blazers might have found but it's hard to ride him for that as the whole team looked uncontinuitous tonight. And yeah, I know I did that.
Wes Money kept living up to his billing, shooting 8-15 for a team high 18 points. He had 2 steals and 4 rebounds.
Brandon Roy: 3-16 shooting and 7 points. He did have 5 assists, 5 rebounds, 2 steals, and a block but even with all that, trying to win a game getting only 7 points from him is like trying to build a brick wall without any mortar. You might look good for a while but at a certain point it's just going to fall apart.
Three cheers for Dante Cunningham. Three huge head scratches and a mammoth shrug for the rest of the bench. Rudy Fernandez went 14 minutes, took 7 shots, and missed 6. Nicolas Batum played 9 minutes, took 2 shots, missed them both, and registered zeros across the stat board. Offensively both guys need someone to distract the defense and set them up. Nobody like that exists in Portland's second unit right now. The guy the Blazers have tried to throw in there is Roy and that ain't working at this point. Results just aren't there in the non-offensive areas, particularly for Batum. You can praise the Przybillas and Cunninghams all you want but Fernandez and Batum are the 6th and 7th men for Portland right now and the team can't survive without production from them.
Stats of the Night
- Blazers shoot 37%, Grizzlies 38%. Ouch.
- Blazers attempt only 18 free throws--the second game in a row way below average--and hit only 11.
- Were it not for 16 fast break points for Portland, taking advantage of the Grizz being slow to get back, the score would have looked even worse.
- Zach Randolph: 25 points, 20 rebounds
- Memphis bench: 26 points, 11 rebounds, 6 assists Blazer bench: 16 points, 9 rebounds, 1 assist
Odd Notes and Links
Dallas next? Double ouch.
Hear the victory bells sound at Straight Outta Vancouver.
Jersey Contest Scoreboard and form for the Dallas game