The Portland Trail Blazers lost a tough one after a fine first-half effort against the Los Angeles Clippers. During the first period they could do no wrong. After halftime everything came up short. The result was a narrow loss against a good team on the road...not a horrible outcome but not the one the Blazers were looking for after their hot start.
The Blazers were led by Robin Lopez (19 points, 7 rebounds), LaMarcus Aldridge (21 points, 10 rebounds), and Damian Lillard (25 points, 8 assists, 7 rebounds) who were all huge throughout the game. Chris Kaman's (8 points, 7 rebounds) numbers may not impress but he kept the bench afloat keeping the game close.
First Quarter: As expected, the first plays of the game highlighted the heavy weight post-up matchup everyone was expecting: Blake Griffin for the Clippers and Wesley Matthews for the Blazers. After a Griffin make and a Matthews miss the teams settled into a mostly half court affair highlighting their differing approaches on defense. The Clippers doubled in the post and on pick and rolls pressuring the ball and forcing other defenders to rotate. The Blazers mostly stayed home conceding relatively open jump shots to the Clippers' All-Stars.
Turns out, neither approach worked. The Blazers scrambled the Clippers' defense finding the open man for wide open shots and offensive rebounds. Lopez was the main beneficiary of all this movement with 11 points in the quarter. Chris Paul and Griffin gladly took the uncontested mid-range jumpers they were given and hit nearly every one. The Blazers had the edge but you had to wonder which group would start missing first.
As the subs came in, the answer turned out to be the Blazers. Ball movement was a little less crisp and as a result, the Clippers started forcing some costly turnovers. Even with their largest lead cut in half, the Blazers had to be happy ending the period up five: Blazers 38, Clippers 33
Second Quarter: Stotts showed a lot of faith putting in all five bench players at the same time. Not surprisingly, the offense struggled as Blazer fans everywhere started seeing deja vu. That flash back was interrupted by a large, bald headed man as Air Sasquatch hit jumper after jumper to keep the offense afloat. As Damian Lillard, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Robin Lopez returned, the game was still knotted at five.
As the starters came in, the game again settled into a similar rhythm from the first quarter. But this time, BGCP3TV wasn't nearly as exciting as they began missing those same 17 footers. The Blazers continued getting open shots and rebounding the few that they missed as the lead stretched to 14. A silly double by Batum got the Clippers their first three of the game and the Clippers went on a mini-run as the Lob Mob (did you see those ridiculous "gangster" moustaches on Griffin and DeAndre Jordan?) started rolling hard to the rim. JJ Reddick stayed red hot as his last second prayer cut the lead to nine: Blazers 62, Clippers 53
Third Quarter: The Blazers came out like they didn't hear the horn go off losing the ball, committing silly fouls, and letting LA get out on the break. That nine point lead quickly became three before the Blazers' got back to their style of play on both sides of the ball. It looked like the Blazers might start to pull away until back to back threes from JJ Reddick and Jamal Crawford kicked the Clippers into gear. Their defensive intensity picked up and the pressure started to do its job forcing the Blazers into messy turnovers. Switching Jordan onto Aldridge was also effective as he forced LMA into tough, off-balance fade-aways. Throw in some hot shooting and you get a 14-0 run for the home team.
The run ended with a CJ McCollum three as the bench again stepped up to stem the tide. After a small run of their own the Blazers went into the final period tied and we had our selves a ball game: Blazers 79, Clippers 79
Fourth Quarter: What's the weather like up there? The Blazers start the quarter with the Twin Towers but the forecast was rainy with lots of turnovers and sloppy play. The Blazers tried to run their movement offense but made so many mistakes that they settled into tough, one-on-one shots instead. Luckily, the Clippers bench struggled offensively as well, only scoring 7 in the first four minutes and Aldridge was coming back to the party down five.
Reddick would crash whatever party the Blazers had planned canning jumper after jumper off of down screens. Switching Batum onto him would help but that left Lillard to check Chris Paul. Paul put Lillard in pick after pick scoring at will and clearly trying to put the nail in the coffin. But as he is wont to do, Lillard fought back on the other end almost single-handedly getting the Blazers back in the game. With the Blazers down two with 1:10 left the game it was going to come down to a few possessions.
Sigh. After a silly shot by Lillard and a sillier foul by Aldridge the Blazers found themselves down four with under a minute. The Blazers went small for a great out of bounds play but didn't have anyone to box out Jordan. A questionable no call on Jordan's tip out gave the Clippers an extra possession and it was all over: Blazers 102, Clippers 106
The Blazers deal with their first back to back as they host the Denver Nuggets tomorrow. But stay tuned tonight, Dave Deckard will have full analysis of this game later.
Terry Stotts said the intentional follow on Jordan was his "brain fart" but pointed out that it helped in the end.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) November 8, 2014
VIDEO: Robin Lopez catches the pass from Damian Lillard for the and-1 dunk.
VIDEO: Again, Robin Lopez catches the pass from Damian Lillard and finishes with a tough lay-up.