The Portland Trail Blazers looked to get a win, and some momentum, against the Indiana Pacers before embarking on a four game road trip.
The Blazers were led by their dependable All-Star Damian Lillard (26 points, 9 assists, CJ McCollum (21 points, 5 assists, 5 rebounds) and Allen Crabbe (18 points). Al-Farouq Aminu had a stellar defensive night and a nice all-around game (13 points, 5 assists, 6 rebounds). And, one again, Ed Davis proved he's worth every penny of his new contract (6 points, 13 rebounds, 7 offensive rebounds).
The Blazers got off to another rough start as Plumlee won the tip only to have the ball find CJ Miles for an easy layup. Trouble continued for the Blazers as the Pacers pounded inside and out, to go up 10 early as turnovers plagued the young Blazers squad. The early game was a battle of the CJs as Miles and McCollum traded buckets, but the Pacers maintained their nine pint lead through the first half of the first quarter. Out of the first time out Dame hoisted an early three that hit back iron, but Mason Plumlee went above the rim for monster put-back. A few Indiana turnovers gave the Blazers an opportunity to eat into the lead, but good Pacer defense and the Blazers inability to get into the lane, scuttled the offense. At the three minute mark Meyers and Moe came in for some instant defense as the Blazers forced a couple of steals, hit a few shots, and cut the Indiana lead to three.
End of First: Portland 28, Indiana 31
The two teams shot out of the gate at the start of the second with the Blazers probing inside with Leonard and Harkless, and Indiana corralling Blazers' misses for run outs. As in the game on Tuesday, the second unit bigs came in and all but shut down the lane with active hands and dominated the defensive boards. The Pacers countered with mid-range shots and kept a two point led through the first few minutes of the quarter. But Ed Davis, hoping around like a jack rabbit, inhaled rebounds, slammed put-backs, and tossed in a spin move hook shot to keep it close. Yet, ever Blazer run was answered with an Indiana three, and the visitors maintained a three point advantage through the middle of the second. Out of a time out the Blazers went to Hederson down low, who missed a tough turnaround. The Pacers grabbed the rebound and started the break, which culminated in a super late blocking call on Lillard and two free throws. The crowd booed, Stotts fumed, and Meyers came back to hit a three. Portland closed the quarter a little sloppy, but managed to keep the difference at three going into the half.
Halftime: Portland 56, Indiana 59
Despite Meyers strong showing during the first half, Vonleh started the third checking CJ Miles at the four. The Blazers pulled ahead for the first time off a CJ McCollum jumper, and Vonleh pushed the lead to three with a big offensive rebound and put-back. Just like the first half, the Pacers answered with a three, this time from CJ Miles. Both teams looked to run off defensive rebounds as easy buckets and foul shots ruled the day. The Blazer remained aggressive slicing the basket with Aminu drawing the fourth foul on George Hill with over eight minutes left in the third. A made technical, after a Frank Vogel outburst, and two more free throws allowed the Blazers to tie their largest lead of the game at three. But, again, CJ Miles answered with a three. Midway through the third members of the crowd were caught adjusting their watches as Lillard time came earlier than expected. A quick three, steal, and assist by Dame had the Pacers completely out-of-sorts and Frank Vogel was forced to take a timeout with a little over six left to play. As it has been so many times this season, the Blazers fumbled away an near double digit lead in less than a minute and Stotts was forced to take a time out to regroup.Out of the time out the Blazers hit back-to-back threes and forced a few turnovers to push the lead back up to seven. Ed Davis continued to do what Ed Davis does nabbing rebounds and stuffing put-backs as the lead grew to 10. The crowd roared, and the bench came alive, and Blazers looked like they might finally pull away. After a scary few moments where Paul George appeared to bump knees with one of the Blazers, the onslaught from outside continued as Leonard hit a corner three. But the Pacers refused to go quietly into the night, and cut the lead to seven with a couple of quick points as the third quarter came to a close.
End of Third: Portland 97, Indiana 90
The first 30 seconds of the fourth saw a quick foul on Allen Crabbe, a goal tend call on Ed Davis, a turnover by Meyers Leonard, and technical foul call on Terry Stotts. A minute into the quarter the Pacers had all but erased the home team lead, as the difference was closed to two. But the Blazers have Ed Davis, who continued to grab boards, effect shots, and box out defenders as the lead seesawed back to ten. But, yet again, CJ Miles knocked down a three to stop a Blazer run, and the two teams were separated by seven points going into the first timeout. The two teams battled from outside during the middle of the quarter, but the Pacers kept it close as the Blazers were up by 5 midway through the fourth. Out of the time out the teams traded threes and Allen Crabbe got hot before being called for an offensive foul with about four-and-a-half to play. But foul calls don't phase King Crabbe. After a Blazer defensive stop he came right back and hit an ice cold tre, followed by a Plumlee reverse lay in-and-one. And the home team was rolling. Mason came alive in the final few minutes with a monster slam, and a beautiful pass out for a Dame three that was ruled a shot clock violation upon review. But with just over a minute left in the game the Pacers waived the white flag and Blazers finally exorcised their fourth quarter demons to get a big win at home.
Next up the Blazers start their four game road trip in Minnesota on Saturday. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game from Dave Deckard.
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