The Blazers returned home to the Moda Center on Thursday night after a convincing win over the Utah Jazz and on the second night of a back-to-back to take on the Memphis Grizzles. Marc Gasol was a late edition to the Grizzles, while Meyers Leonard suited up for the Blazers despite spraining his ankle the night before.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (27) and CJ McCollum (20) who combined for 47 points and did most of their damage from deep. Meyer Leonard (14 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists), Al-Faroug Aminu (11 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists), Moe Harkless (10 points, 4 assists), and Allen Crabbe (11 points, 3 assits) were big contributors as well. The Blazers burned the Grizzles from deep sinking 50% of their shots from behind the three-point line.
Both teams came out firing early in the first, but the shots weren't falling. Mason Plumlee hit the offensive boards hard and gave the Blazers enough second chance opportunities to keep it close. Memphis clearly decided before the game to go after the Blazers young bigs, but ran into a wall of long, active arms in Plumlee and Leonard. The answer to Grizzles inside woes was a healthy dose of mid-range and long-range jumpers, which they hit with impunity. The middle of the first quarter was a flurry of Blazer drives and offensive put backs, while Memphis tried to overcome a few costly turnovers by continuing to fire away from deep and make their way to the line. Speaking of foul shooting, the Blazers came back from Salt Lake City with a nasty case of broad-side-of-a-barnitis and missed all four of their early foul shots. As the teams broke for a commercial break the score was close with the Blazers outscoring the Grizzles 12-2 in the paint. After the break the second unit came out and lit the nets on fire. But the Grizzles stayed hot from the outside and the quarter ended with Memphis up 5 on the Blazers.
End of First: Portland 18, Memphis 23
The Grizzles started the second with a 24 second violation, and continued to hoist away from outside, but with less success than they'd found in the first quarter. For their part the Blazers second unit remained active on the glass and efficient on the offensive end, particularly Allen Crabbe who hit Ed Davis on nice cut inside and then found his range a few possessions later to bring the Blazers to within one. But the Grizzles remained patient, and Beno Udrih was his usual pesky self raining down shots and finding open cutters. Jeff Green caught fire as well, confounding the Blazer wings. The Grizzles' shooting was matched by the Blazers aggressiveness along with CJ finding his shot, and back and forth they went. The middle of the second was capped off with a monster Moe Harkless and one dunk in traffic sending the crowd to their feet. Stotts put the starters back in after a timeout over half way through the second quarter and Blazers youthful athleticism along with Dame's soft touch helped the Blazers pull away as the two teams approached the half. But, you can never count the Grizzles out. After Mike Conley sunk two foul shots with a second left in the quarter Stotts called a timeout to set up a Pat Connaughton heavy from the baseline. Put in his best impression of 2015 Peyton Manning Connaughton threw it straight into the arms of Jeff Green who launched a high floating circus shot from mid court that hit nothing, but net as it appeared time expired. Thankfully for the home team, after further review it was clear that the shot had left Green's hands as after the clock hit double 0s and the two teams headed to the locker room with the Blazers up four at the half.
Halftime: Portland 50, Memphis 46
Meyers Leonard, who has struggled early in the season, came out of the half looking to match his strong showing in the first and drew a foul from behind the ark in the Blazers first offensive possession. Leonard calmly hit all three of his free throws, but the camera caught a frustrated Leonard conversing with a chuckling Randolph as Gasol hit a pair of free throws. Memphis finally found some footing inside as Gasol and Randolph used their size and post moves to get a couple easy buckets. Even as they struggled to contain the Grizzles inside, sharp interior passing led to easy layups and threes as the Blazers pushed their lead. Coming out of a quick second Memphis timeout the Blazers quick hands and hot shooting pushed the lead to double digits. Lillard went absolutely bonkers from the three point line and the Blazers closed the quarter with crowd on their feet, the Grizzles on their heels, and up 19.
End of Third: Portland 90, Memphis 71
The Blazers started the fourth quarter like they ended the third, with Lillard firing daggers from deep. Whistles started blowing on the defensive end as Grizzles players slashed to the rim and were awarded free throws. But it was too little too late for Memphis as the Blazers energy and sharp shooting looked to sap the Grizzles of all hope and the Blazers cruised to an easy victory.
The Blazers finally get a few days of rest at home after a busy first week. They play the Detroit Pistons at the Moda Center Sunday night at 6pm. Stay tuned later tonight, for a unique analysis of this game from Blazer's Edge.