LaMarcus Aldridge had 24 points and 14 rebounds, but the Portland Trail Blazers found themselves overwhelmed by the opposing defense, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies, 97-82 Wednesday night at the FedEx Forum. They now trail in the best-of-seven series, 2-0.
Portland showed that it was not going to go out of the series without a fight in the first quarter. Quick baskets by Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Allen Crabbe helped Portland out to a 10-2 early lead. Aldridge led the scoring with nine, but Portland's shooting went cold when he went to the bench. Even when the shots were not falling, the effort level was at a maximum level. Meyers Leonard gave up his body to save a missed three by CJ McCollum, diving into the Grizzlies bench and hitting his head on a chair in the process. He would stay in the game. Portland would lead by two after one.
The momentum stayed on the side of the home squad in the second, as Memphis ripped off a 16-2 run aided by abysmal Blazer shooting and a plethora of Portland turnovers. The Grizzlies got 15 from their bench in the period, while the second unit for the Blazers contributed 2. Eight Portland turnovers turned into 13 Memphis points. With Lillard and McCollum combining to shoot 4-of-16 in the half, the Blazers trailed by 13 at halftime. Robin Lopez led the scoring in the quarter with six.
Portland got back to within nine in the early sections of the third quarter, only for Memphis to retaliate and get the lead as high as 18. Aldridge had eight in the period, Lillard and Batum had four, but Zach Randolph and Courtney Lee combined for 15 points in the quarter. The Grizzlies led by 13 going into the fourth quarter.
The Blazers bench finally came alive in the fourth, getting Portland within nine with timely baskets by McCollum and Leonard. However, they missed several shots that would have closed the gap even further, allowing Memphis to re-extend the lead. Lillard and Aldridge combined to shoot 1-of-6, and Portland never got back into the game.
Leonard led the bench with 10 points and 7 rebounds. Nicolas Batum had 11 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists. Lillard shot 5-of-16. Blazer guards combined to shoot 9-of-30.
Game Three will be Saturday night in Portland.