One quarter put the Trail Blazers in a bad spot. One quarter got them back into it. An extra one gave Portland a huge win.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 23 points and 13 rebounds, Damian Lillard had 26 points and 9 assists, and the Portland Trail Blazers overcame an awful second quarter to rally past the Toronto Raptors, 102-97, Tuesday night at Moda Center.
Toronto started hot against the Blazers with Jonas Valanciunas going to work against Joel Freeland, scoring eight in the quarter and giving the Raptors an early seven point lead. Portland rallied behind Chris Kaman who scored six in the first off the bench. With good defense at the end of the quarter, the Blazers tied it up after one.
The second quarter will go down as one the Blazers and their fans would love to forget. Halfway through the quarter, Portland had scored four points. They missed 15 straight threes at one point until Wesley Matthews hit one with a minute remaining. They did not hit their second field goal until 4:49 left in the quarter, their third till 2:18 remained, and the bench outside of Kaman shot 0-for-7. Only a last minute offensive surge by Lillard, Matthews and Aldridge spared the Blazers from approaching the team record for fewest points in a single quarter, which is five, set May 18, 1999 against the Utah Jazz. Despite Portland's nightmare quarter shooting the ball, Toronto was unable to pull away as they were nearly as ineffective from the field. The Blazers were fortunate to only trail by seven at halftime.
Lillard and Aldridge went to work to try and get Portland back into the game in the third quarter. Aldridge scored eight in the period, Lillard had 10, but Valanciunas had six to keep Raptors ahead by seven after three.
If the second quarter has been Portland's bane this year, the fourth quarter has been their ally. This game was no different. Matthews, Batum and Steve Blake hit early threes and the Blazers clamped down on Louis Williams and Greivis Vasquez to get within two. After the teams traded baskets, Aldridge tied the game with a free throw. Terrence Ross and Matthews traded baskets, but after an offensive foul on Amir Johnson, Aldridge hit an 18-foot shot to give Portland the lead. After a controversial Portland turnover, Toronto had the ball with 17 seconds remaining. Lowry drove, but Freeland blocked the shot out of bounds with 10 second to play. Amir Johnson hit a shot off the glass to tie game, giving Portland the ball with 4.7 seconds remaining tied at 87-87. Lillard drove to the hoop but missed, sending the game to overtime.
Portland turned the ball over on their first possession of overtime, and decided to stop messing around. Lillard, Matthews and Batum hit consecutive threes to give the Blazers a six point lead. Toronto got as close as two with some costly turnovers by the Blazers, but a clear path foul on Vasquez gave Batum free throws and the ball. Batum hit one of two, and Lillard hit two more free throws for a five point lead that sealed the game.
Kaman had 10 points and 8 rebounds off the bench. Matthews finished with 19 points, and Freeland grabbed 12 rebounds.
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night
Our Gameday Thread was the exact range of emotions that you'd expect tonight. But we had all kinds of gems. Here were the most popular comments tonight:
The Trail Blazers have now won 5 of the 6 games at the Moda Center this season in which they trailed entering the fourth quarter.— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 31, 2014
#Blazers finish 2014 -- the calendar year -- 55-28 in regular season games.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) December 31, 2014
Wow wow wow— Mike Rice (@mikerice6) December 31, 2014
Portland has defeated Toronto in each of the last seven games at the Moda Center and 11 of the last 12 meetings overall. #PORvsTOR— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 31, 2014
Portland's 26 wins are its most before the new year since winning 27 games by Dec. 31 during the 1990-91 season (27-4).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) December 31, 2014
Aldridge finished 24.7 ppg, 12.1 rpg for Dec, but missed 3 games. #Blazers were 11-2 when he played. Not sure about Player of Month.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) December 31, 2014
It was Aldridge's call to lift his minutes restriction after the 1st half. "I told (Stotts) in the 2nd half I didn't wanna do it no more."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) December 31, 2014
That's how we close out 2014 with a bang! We gonna do it even bigger in 2015! #RipCity— Will Barton (@WillTheThrillB5) December 31, 2014
"That was a big because we've got two days off now. If we lost that one, everybody going to be mad at me right now." — @nicolas88batum— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 31, 2014
The Trail Blazers are 13-3 in overtime under Terry Stotts. That's impressive.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) December 31, 2014
Nobody in the West had more wins than @trailblazers in December. Should make Terry Stotts a shoo-in for Conference Coach-of-the-Month!— Brian Wheeler (@blazerwheels) December 31, 2014
VIDEO: Damian Lillard crosses over Kyle Lowry and finishes with a layup.