The Portland Trail Blazers fought the Memphis Grizzlies to a close first half, then went into domination mode, eventually winning by 13 and ending Memphis' seven game winning streak.
The player of the game was Marcus Camby, who only scored three points, but his 22 rebounds and 5 blocks set the tone. LaMarcus Aldridge added 23 points and 5 boards in support. Gerald Wallace only scored 7 points, but added 11 rebounds and 2 steals, one of which involved re-injuring is finger slightly. Jamal Crawford (15 points, 4 assists), Nicolas Batum (10 points) and Wesley Matthews (13 points) played roles in the blowout.
At the start, the Blazers showed a side we haven't seen recently: Hard defense and nice shooting. Portland quickly established Aldridge inside, who scored 14 points in the first, and led them to an early 10 point lead. However, they struggled against Memphis' guards. Mike Conley and OJ Mayo were able to penetrate against Portland's defense, and when they weren't scoring, Marc Gasol was waiting for the pass. Memphis quickly fought back, tying the game at 25 after one.
In the second, the Blazers saw a tired Memphis team guarding them, and immediately tried to pull away. However, they ran into a problem: Themselves. Every time they gained a small lead, they turned the ball over. Usually twice. If they could find a way to turn if over twice on one possession, they'd have done so. At the other end, the Grizzlies only had two modes: Layup, or miss. When Portland stopped guard penetration, they shut Memphis down. Crawford and Matthews each scored 5 points to lead the Blazers to a 4 point lead at halftime.
Memphis got a reminder that Portland was serious about a victory as the third started, as Camby's rebounds and blocks provided a spark. Meanwhile, Portland ramped up the defense and the Grizzlies could not find the net. Just to complete the cycle, Blazer turnovers stopped, and jumpers rained into the hoop from all over the court. Over 9 minutes, the Portland cruised on a 22-2 run, swelling the lead to 19. Memphis' Josh Selby helped stop the run, and they cut the lead to 14 at the end of 3.
The fourth quarter picked up with more entertainment for the Rose Garden faithful. A Jamal Crawford three helped push the lead to 19 with 9 minutes left. Memphis then subbed in the starters for one final push. Good Grizz defense cut the lead back to 15, but then the game turned in seconds: A Memphis defensive stand led to a fast break, but Tony Allen missed a fairly open layup. It was like watching a giant Memphis balloon lose all its air at once. Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldridge helped quickly push the lead back to 20 with 4 minutes remaining, and Lionel Hollins mercifully flew the white flag. Soon, Chris Johnson and Elliot Williams checked in, as Nate enjoyed some rookie minutes. Nolan Smith badly missed the "Chalupa shot" to fan groans, as Luke Babbitt waved his hands behind him, but the crowd nonetheless left happy.
This was a nice win for Portland, and a boost for their confidence after a tough road trip. The starters played a maximum of 31 minutes apiece, and they took advantage of a tired Memphis team, as a playoff-caliber team should do. Many folks saw this as a test for the team, and they passed nicely, working around their mistakes for a second straight easy victory.
Read the box score, discuss the game, and stay tuned for Dave's recap. Tomorrow, the Blazers are right back on the court, their third game in three nights, against the Warriors in Oakland. -- Tim