The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (38 points, 11 assists), LaMarcus Aldridge (22 points, 9 rebounds), Wesley Matthews (19 points), Robin Lopez (17 points, 14 rebounds) and CJ McCollum (9 bench points on 4-4 FG's). Portland was without Mo Williams due to a family emergency.
Regardless of the ratings, ESPN and the NBA should be thrilled to have a game like this televised. It showed two strong teams leaving it all on the court, with plenty of fun moments. If new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver can change the NBA's marketing away from players and large markets, and toward strong teams, good on-court play and team rivalries, he could have something special with Indiana and Portland. Especially if they find their way to the Finals.
First Half: Not a bad half for the Blazers, who spend most of it in the lead. As Paul George struggled, Lillard and Aldridge scored 35 combined points. Portland's lead reached 12 for a short time, but Indiana inevitably pushed back, as George Hill had a nice first half to help keep Indiana close. Portland struggled mightily from three-land though, including an insanely long possession with 4 missed open three-pointers. Batum and Matthews simply couldn't hit anything on the court, but in limited minutes Earl Watson held down the backup PG effectively in Mo's absence.
Portland 50, Indiana 45
Overall the First Half has been great. Negatives so Far:
- 3 fouls on Watson
- 3 fouls on T.Rob
- 3 missed 3 pointers when we had 4 possessions in a row
- LMA missing a layup he tends to make with his eyes closed
Third Quarter: Portland maintained a lead for a bit, but Indy kept pushing until a David West three-point play pushed them ahead. Unfortunately, that was also a weird string of three quick fouls on Aldridge, who went from one foul to four in no time. He headed to the bench. Without him and Mo, the Blazers relied on some pick and rolls on offense, along with swarming defense, to stay ahead. As CJ McCollum entered, he heated up and kept Indy's defense honest., while Joel Freeland held down the middle nicely in Aldridge's absence. As the quarter wound down, Lillard drew a foul on a three-pointer... and sank it for a 4 point play to keep Portland ahead.
Portland 77, Indiana 71
Fourth Quarter: The random opponent to play well tonight was Rasual Butler, who was somehow nailing contested three's to help keep Indiana close. But Portland kept up the strong defense, pulling ahead by 8 with seven minutes left behind Lillard. But Portland missed a few shots and the Pacers went on a run, cutting the lead to 89-87 with 5 minutes left. Portland called timeout. Aldridge returned, but missed a fadeaway and Indiana immediately tied it up at the other end. The teams traded buckets, but Indiana pulled ahead on Hill's free throws. Matthews put up a fadeaway three in response... swish. The Blazers led again by one with 2:45 left.
Indy took the lead on an offensive rebound, but fouled Matthews on a three at the other end. He hit all three, but Indy scored again to tie the game at 97 with 2 minutes left. Matthews posted up, and banked in a shot to regain the lead, but Paul George hit a three-pointer to pull the Pacers ahead with 90 seconds left. Matthews posted up again, and swished a fadeaway for the lead! Indy missed, and Portland had two chances at open three-pointers, but bricked them both. The Pacers called timeout with 35 seconds left, still down by 1.
Indiana got the ball to George, who passed to Danny Granger... who was standing on the side line! The Blazers took control with 26 seconds left, up by 1. Indiana, knowing the clock was against them, fouled Batum with 22 seconds left. He hadn't hit any field goals all night, but he calmly hit both free throws. Hill missed a three pointer, but Indiana got the offensive board, and gave him another chance. Swish. The game was tied with 8 seconds left. But Portland had the ball and a chance to win! Indiana's defense forced a tough fadeaway from Batum, which bricked. Overtime.
Overtime: Seven seconds into overtime, Batum hit a layup. But David West hit a jumper at the other end. Portland turned the ball over at the other end (due to a missed foul by the refs), and Damian picked up his fifth foul. Indiana missed twice, but got Portland turned it over in the backcourt, giving Indy a dunk for the lead. Lillard tied it up with a fadeaway with 2:30 left. Hill's layup gave Indy the lead, and Lillard missed a layup in return. Aldridge grabbed a rebound on a miss... and passed it straight to West, under his own hoop for a dunk.
That's two backcourt turnovers for the Blazers, giving Indy two dunks, and their entire 4 point lead. A big facepalm moment. It was followed by a bad step-back for a long two from Wesley, which missed badly. Indy scored to make it a 6 point lead with one minute left. After a timeout, Lillard immediately shot a three, and swished it with 58 seconds left. The Blazers got a miss... but gave up another killer offensive rebound to the Pacers, and Paul George put the game away.
The four-game road trip ends tomorrow night, another back-to-back in Minnesota. But stay tuned for more analysis of tonight's game from Dave
Gameday Thread Comments of the Night:
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