[For updates on the status of LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, click here]
Damian Lillard had 27 points, CJ McCollum had 13 points and 6 rebounds, but the Portland Trail Blazers lost two starters to injuries and fell to the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-86 Saturday night at the FedEx Forum.
Both teams shot over 60% for the opening period, but Portland committed four turnovers to one for Memphis. LaMarcus Aldridge scored 14 points in the period, more than half of the Blazers total output, while the other Portland starters shot 2-of-6. The Grizzlies got a balanced scoring attack from Marc Gasol, Mike Conley Jr., and Tony Allen, and took an eight point lead into the second quarter.
With the Portland bench on the floor, the Grizzlies offense simply died for the first half of the second quarter. They missed their first ten shots, and did not hit a field goal until just 6:04 was left in the quarter. Meanwhile, CJ McCollum and Arron Afflalo combined for nine points, and Portland took a three point lead, 40-37. Then the starters came in for both squads, and it was Portland's turn to fall apart. The Blazers missed ten of their final fourteen shots, and Memphis powered ahead with a 16-2 run. Conley and Zach Randolph had six, and the Grizzlies led by as many as eleven. A layup by Lillard with 5.4 seconds remaining cut the lead to nine at halftime. McCollum led all Blazers in the quarter with five.
Aldridge did not return from halftime after re-aggravating his thumb injury while being stripped of the ball by Tony Allen in the first quarter. Nicolas Batum also did not return with a reported back injury.
With Aldridge and Batum out, Portland struggled to score in the third quarter. Lillard had 14 points, Robin Lopez had four, and no other Blazer scored. On the other end, Jeff Green hit more threes in the quarter in four attempts than the Blazers had scored to that point on 16 attempts. Memphis led by as many as 18, and led by 15 after three.
The Blazers fired one last salvo to save the game, with Dorell Wright and Lillard leading Portland on a 10-2 run to close the gap to seven. However, the door was slammed shut by former Trail Blazers Randolph, who scored nine in the quarter, including a three after a pair of missed traveling calls and what appeared to be a double leg takedown by Allen on Lillard.
McCollum led the bench in scoring, while Wright was second with ten. Portland shot 6-of-22 from three on the night. Memphis shot 11-of-18, with Green shooting 5-of-7 by himself.
Me: "How would you describe this 5-game trip LaMarcus?" LA: "A nightmare." Yup.— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) March 22, 2015
"Tomorrow's another day." - @nicolas88batum https://t.co/K7Fn8XKqfg— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 22, 2015
"When it rains it pours." - LA https://t.co/slFAc1XeZY— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) March 22, 2015
"Just got to go home and use our home crowd to find our confidence and start playing better basketball." — @aldridge_12— Casey Holdahl (@CHold) March 22, 2015