If you read last night's recap of the Utah Jazz-Portland Trail Blazers game you need only skim this one. For Portland the second verse was the same as the first, farther from home and a little bit worse.
Without LaMarcus Aldridge, starting a combination of Meyers Leonard and J.J. Hickson, the Blazers opened the door to the rim early in this game. Golden State's bigs ripped them apart. Andrew Bogut, David Lee, and Carl Landry combined to make 19 of 30 shots, scoring 48 points. With the heart of Portland's defense caving in, Damian Lillard was left isolated on Steph Curry for most of the game. Bad news. Curry lit up the arc, drove and dished with impunity, and made himself look like the best point guard within 100 miles of Oakland on a night when Lillard and Gary Payton were in the building. Curry shot 14-22, 7-12 from the arc, and scored 39. As he did against the Jazz, Lillard put up impressive numbers early but faded as the game progressed. Nobody else on Portland's side could make up the difference.
Well, almost nobody. Meyers Leonard got to play superstar for a night, scoring a team high 22 points on a series of face-ups and flips near the rim plus a three-pointer (!). Leonard shot 9-17 in 41 minutes and grabbed 10 boards. Well, technically Golden State allowed him 10 boards. Even though the Warriors bigs can offensive rebound it's not an area of focus for their team. Every time Leonard got taken to school on the defensive end you understood why Terry Stotts didn't play him much this season. Every time he touched the ball on the offensive end you understood why the Blazers drafted him anyway.
When Portland allowed the Warriors to shoot 75% in the first quarter you knew this game was going to be trouble. Golden State "cooled" to 54% by the end of the night but the Blazers dropped from a 50% clip early to 38% at the final horn. Portland lost the fast break and paint war by double digits in each category. They got blown out on the boards. They generated no significant advantage from the line, the arc, or turnovers. It was a fun game to watch for all the offense--and from Portland's point of view, for the Leonard Show--but as far as a Portland win, this game was DOA.
Leonard was the star of the night.
Lillard had some nice passes and drew 7 foul shots but fired only 4-11 from the field and scored 16 to go with 8 assists. Again, Curry: 39 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds.
J.J. Hickson played efficiently enough with 15 points on 5-8 shooting plus 10 rebounds. He just couldn't stay on the floor with Leonard defensively.
Wesley Matthews had a much better game tonight than he did last night. He finished a couple drives and stayed aggressive, scoring 18.
Nicolas Batum: 2-10 shooting, 8 points, 9 assists. The assists were nice but he was passing up decent shots to hit bench players who were semi-guarded and who don't live in the same offensive real estate that he does. 8 of his 10 attempts came from beyond the arc. And at a certain point he became about as effective on defense as the halfcourt logo. It was not his night.
Portland's bench got down 22-0 to their Golden State counterparts at the half. Once the blowout minutes came they recovered to score 19. Golden State's bench scored 46, led by Landry's 25. Again, that's Carl Landry 25 points, Portland's entire bench 19. Of particular note: Eric Maynor going 1-7 in 18 minutes trying to load the team on his back when it wouldn't fit. On the other hand, who was he going to pass to?
The Blazers get the Jazz again on Monday, this time in Salt Lake. Utah is still fighting for playoff position. Aldridge still won't be there. Leonard Watch may be the best reason to watch this game. (It really is fun!)
It'll be interesting to see how the Blazers handle the Aldridge situation from this point forward. When's he coming back? How many minutes is he coming back for? Will he once again get shut down for the end of a season? Stay tuned.
GoldenStateofMind was rocking tonight.