The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (28 points, 9 assists), Wesley Matthews (25 points on 7-14 three-pointers), and Nicolas Batum (14 points). Joel Freeland contributed 6 points and 17 rebounds while covering Robin Lopez and Chris Kaman (who missed the game for the birth of his child). The Blazers were missing LaMarcus Aldridge, who is still recovering from an upper respiratory illness.
The game opened with Lillard and Robinson hitting back to back shots right at the hoop. But they promptly turned the ball over three straight times for easy Philly points. The teams otherwise played to a standstill early, but the referees called it tight on big men, leading to Joel Freeland heading to the bench in the first five minutes. Portland's makeshift lineups struggled to find any offensive identity, but since they were playing Philadelphia, it meant they still maintained a slim lead. At the end of the quarter, Portland stayed ahead by three points.
The Sixers offense is a "throw everything at the wall and see what sticks" thing.
The Blazers brought in the little-used Victor Claver as they took a seven-point lead. Philly cut it to three, but Portland came together, as Claver and Freeland combined for 7 quick points to push the Blazers ahead by 11. With some beautiful passing, the Blazer three-pointers kept falling and falling, as the lead reached 16. Terry Stotts subbed out Freeland and Claver, the run ended and Philadelphia dominated, closing the lead to 6 within minutes. Four late Blazer points kept them ahead by 10 at halftime.
Claver is comin for LMA's spot. LMA should think twice before "calling in sick"
The third quarter opened with a botched Blazer alley-oop attempt that promptly led to Freeland's third foul. But back-to-back three-pointers from Wesley Matthews quickly restored a 15 point lead for the Blazers. As the Sixers struggled to maintain any consistency, the Blazers' lead hovered between 14-17 points for most of the quarter. Philly scored late to stay within 14 after three.
I think if everything lines up perfectly, we just might be able to pull this out …without expending any more energy
The fourth quarter opened with a CJ McCollum three, within seconds of his arrival. Noel's defense sparked a short Sixers run, but it was stopped when Dorell Wright helped force a steal, then nailed a three-pointer at the other end to push the lead back to 16. Tony Wroten took control for Philly, personally cutting the Blazer lead to 12, but the Blazer starters were back in the game. That spelled doom for Philadelphia, as Lillard and Matthews combined to score 8 in seconds, giving the Blazers a 20 point lead. At that point, Philly had no runs left, and the teams played out the final minutes, with a front row seat to Thomas Robinson's electric blocking and dunking revue..
Another day off, as the Blazers can sleep in their own beds, LaMarcus can continue to recover, and wait for the New York Knicks, in town Sunday night. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, as Dave Deckard will have further analysis of this game
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Thanks to all who participated in tonight's Gameday Thread! Here were the most popular comments:
The #Blazers attempted 43 threes vs. the 76ers -- tying a franchise record. Stotts' reaction, when told: "Good. I like breaking records."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 27, 2014
Joel Freeland said the most rebounds he got in Spain was 15. "This is my career high," he said.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 27, 2014
About his big night, the understated Joel Freeland said: "I can surprise some people sometimes."— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) December 27, 2014
Some #Blazers didn't know they shot 43 3s..Asked one player if it's too many. Response: "The Mavericks won a championship shooting threes."— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) December 27, 2014
"My wrist really bothers me. It will take a while to heal so I know that. Just got to play through it. I'll be fine." -- Nicolas Batum— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) December 27, 2014
Asked Dorell Wright if the Blazers are starting to show they are the team they need to be. "I wouldn't go that far. We're on our way."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) December 27, 2014