Rough night for the Portland Trail Blazers, as they were completely out-classed by the Charlotte Hornets until a late fourth-quarter run prevented a lopsided loss. In his first game against his former team, Nicolas Batum was dominant, torching the weak Blazers defense for a near-career-high 33 points.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (23 points), CJ McCollum (16 points) and Allen Crabbe (17 points on 8-11 shooting).
The game began with a sequence familiar to all Blazer fans: Two three-pointers from Batum. He scored 6 of Charlotte's first nine points, keeping the game tied as McCollum scored repeatedly at the other end. As the bench came into the game, coach Terry Stotts made an unexpected change: Cliff Alexander, fresh off the injured reserve, headed onto the court. He promptly air-balled his first shot. At the other end, the Hornets were locked in from downtown. They had multiple three-pointers to take a 8 point lead late in the quarter. Portland closed the gap to five, but gave up another Batum three-pointer to close out the period.
End of First: Charlotte 35, Portland 27
This team sucks when Dame isn't in the game
The Blazers' defense continued to struggle in the second quarter, and Charlotte's bench took advantage. They scored on their first six possessions, while Portland came up empty at the other end. The Hornets' 20 point lead looked insurmountable, as Portland forced their first turnover after 17 game minutes. As the starters returned, the Blazers finally scored: Lillard hit a floater with less than 6 minutes left, the team's first points since he scored with a minute left in the first quarter. The Blazers couldn't stop Charlotte, and had no reliable offensive options. They were simply crushed throughout the quarter.
Halftime: Charlotte 71, Portland 45.
We should go on the open market selling new NBA records to other teams. Or maybe we’ll have no takers, because we just give them away.
by Farouq it I'm out
After being in foul trouble during the first half, Al-Farouq Aminu had his chance to make an impact to open the third quarter. Charlotte continued to build their lead early, but both teams went ice-cold, allowing Portland to pull within 22 points. Charlotte seemed to regain control, but Portland kept themselves in the "puncher's chance" category, down 23 points after the third. And right when all looked lost, CJ McCollum got red hot. He scored 7 consecutive points to start the fourth, ending with a three-pointer, to pull the Blazers within 16. Crabbe's floater cut it to 14, then Moe Harkless' layup made it 12. After an offensive foul, Crabbe swished a three, and suddenly the deficit was 9 with 7 minutes left. Free throws made it a 7 point lead, but Batum scored 7 straight points to bump the lead back to 14, and put Charlotte back in control. Portland cut it to 6 again with 3 minutes left, but Charlotte made one last surge and avoided a major fourth-quarter collapse. The Blazers' deep bench closed out the game.
More travel for the Blazers, as the road trip continues tomorrow night with another game against the Spurs, this time in San Antonio. But stay tuned to Blazer's Edge, later today Dave Deckard will have his extended analysis of today's game.