With or without their leading scorer, the Blazers continued to lose leads late in games.
Damian Lillard had 18, Nicolas Batum had 17 points, 10 rebounds, and 5 assists, but the
With LaMarcus Aldridge out for the game with an injured thumb on his shooting hand suffered Friday in Utah, the scoring had to come from elsewhere. The points in the first came from his replacement in the starting lineup, Meyers Leonard. Leonard hit two threes and converted a fast break dunk to lead the Blazers with eight in the quarter. New acquisition Aaron Afflalo checked in halfway through the period and scored a quick jumper over Courtney Lee. The Blazers led by two after one after a Chris Kaman layup with 0.2 seconds remaining.
The bench for the home team went to work in the second period, with a rejuvenated Dorell Wright leading the team in scoring with six. Kaman added four, and Portland led by as many as 11. However, as soon as Memphis brought Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol back into the game, the Blazers fell apart. Memphis went out on a 15-0 run, forcing five Portland turnovers, and taking a four point lead. When momentum looked to be in the Grizzlies favor, Lillard fired a long pass right over Jeff Green's shoulder to for a fast break dunk. Leonard would add another three to tie the game and reverse the tide to neutral going into halftime.
With the momentum shifting back towards the Blazers, Lillard went right to work in the second half. He led the team in the third quarter with 14 points, outdueling Mike Conley of the Grizzlies, and helping Portland lead by as many as 13. When Lillard got a rest late in the period, Steve Blake took over, scoring nine on back-to-back-to-back threes. Afflalo also hit a three, and Portland led by 13 after three. Portland scored more points through three quarters than they had all game in their previous game versus Utah.
Memphis stormed back in the fourth quarter with a 23-8 run to take the lead as the Blazers shooting went cold and the Portland turnovers piled up. With Memphis leading by one, Batum hit a three off a Lillard drive to take the lead. Randolph missed a shot on the next possession for Memphis, but the Grizzlies snared the offensive rebound and Lee got a three-point play to re-take the lead. Lillard missed a three with under a minute remaining, and Memphis sealed the game. Lillard shot 0-for-5 in the final period.
The Blazers bench outscored the Grizzlies bench 36-16. Blake led the bench with 13. The Blazers hit two technical free throws in the game after missing their last eight technical attempts dating back to November. Afflalo finished with 8 points and 4 rebounds. Leonard finished with 11 points, but spent much of the game on the bench with foul trouble. Alonzo Gee was in uniform but did not play.
Before the game, there was a 25 second moment of silence to honor the late Jerome Kersey, who passed away last Wednesday at the age of 52.
Stouts said he hopes Aldridge is able to play on Wednesday and that the injury isn't serious.— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) February 23, 2015
Stotts says Aldridge's thumb isn't serious. But still unsure if he'll play Wednesday.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) February 23, 2015
"Last five minutes, we didn't execute anything. We didn't panic but we went too quick."-- Nicolas Batum— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) February 23, 2015
"Game on the line don’t jack ‘em up too quick like we did." - Nicolas Batum on the last 5 minutes.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) February 23, 2015
'@arronafflalo, on the ovation he got when he entered game: "Felt good. it was almost like I was a kid coming home. Never felt that before"— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) February 23, 2015
VIDEO: Meyers Leonard leaks out for a fastbreak dunk.
VIDEO: Steve Blake beats the third quarter buzzer with a fadeaway three.