With Robin Lopez missing up to two months, the Portland Trail Blazers needed someone to step up. Thomas Robinson answered the call.
Robinson had 15 points and 16 rebounds in his first career start, LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points and 15 rebounds, and the Blazers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-97 Wednesday night at Moda Center.
Portland's shooting started out chilled to the bone. Lillard and Aldridge combined to shoot 6-of-10, the rest of the team shot 2-of-15. Nicolas Batum was 0-for-5, Chris Kaman was 0-for-4. Brandon Knight scored 10 in the quarter for Milwaukee, and the Bucks led by seven after the first.
While the Blazers would love to have Robin Lopez back as soon as possible, Thomas Robinson showed that he can hold down the fort. In the second quarter, he had five points, four rebounds, a ridiculous block from behind on Knight, and converted an alley-oop after sustaining what appeared to be a dislocated finger. Behind his energy, Portland shot out to a 14-2 run to end the second quarter, seizing a two-point advantage at halftime. Injuries continued to plague the Bucks as young star Giannis Antetokounmpo rolled an ankle near the end of the quarter. He did not return.
The three-pointer is Portland's greatest weapon, but it was used to effect by the Bucks in the third quarter. Khris Middleton hit four threes, Knight hit two more, and Milwaukee re-took the lead. Lillard had seven in the period, Wesley Matthews had five, but the defense on both ends of the floor was lacking as high shooting percentages ruled the quarter. Milwaukee led by two after three.
Robinson fired up the team again in the fourth, grabbing six rebounds. Aldridge had six in the period, and the Blazers ran out to an 11-0 run to take the lead for good. Scary moment for Portland when Batum's head hit the floor after a dunk when Larry Sanders pushed him on the way down. He walked off the floor under his own power, and was able to take his foul shot. Milwaukee resorted to the hack-a-Robinson tactic with the Blazers leading by 13, fouling Robinson to force him to take the foul shots. Robinson finished 5-of-15 from the free throw line.
Damian Lillard finished with 29 points and seven assists, and Joel Freeland had six points and six rebounds off the bench.
Here is footage of Batum's dunk and landing:
Nic Batum falls on his face after dunking. https://t.co/HdZUBEwuH5— Dane Carbaugh (@danecarbaugh) December 18, 2014
LaMarcus Aldridge has recorded three straight games of 14+ rebounds for the second time in his NBA career (12/31/13 - 1/4/14).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 18, 2014
The Trail Blazers are the fourth NBA team to reach 20 wins this season, joining Golden State, Memphis and Toronto.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 18, 2014
Portland's 12 home wins are tied with Memphis for most in the Western Conference this season.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 18, 2014
Jason Kidd said Giannis tried to re-tape sprained left ankle at halftime, then decided he couldn't go in 2nd half. Will be re-evaluated Thu.— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) December 18, 2014
Stotts said Bucks starting a small lineup led to the decision to start Robinson. So against the Spurs, who knows.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 18, 2014
'@Trobinson0 on late-game standing O: "Loved it. I love the fans. I love it here in Rip City. I love doing things to make them go crazy. "— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) December 18, 2014
"This is going to hurt." — @nicolas88batum on what he was thinking right before doing a header onto the court.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 18, 2014
First thing @Trobinson0 said to media was that he was upset about missing free throws.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 18, 2014
"I think word had gone out that Joel was starting so I just knew I wasn’t going to say nothing." - TRob on keeping his first start a secret— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) December 18, 2014
Stotts said Bucks being undersized was part of the decision to start T-Rob. v. Spurs? "I can't say today we will stay with the same line-up"— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) December 18, 2014
Robison on fan reaction when he checked out in 4th: "They understand how hard I work for them and they love me & I love em back"#Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 18, 2014
Robinson on his 5-of-15 night from the free-throw line: "If free throws is my [biggest] concern, then I have a bright future." #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 18, 2014