LaMarcus Aldridge had 21 points and 7 rebounds, Nicolas Batum had 27 points, but the Portland Trail Blazers find themselves on the brink of elimination, falling to the Memphis Grizzlies, 115-109 Saturday night at Moda Center. They now trail in the best-of-seven series, 3-0.
The first quarter could not have started much worse for the home team. The Blazers missed eleven of the first twelve shots (a field goal by Aldridge was waved off), Aldridge did not have hit a shot in the period (0-for-5) and Memphis built an 11 point advantage. This time, it was Portland's bench that came to the rescue. CJ McCollum had five quick points, Chris Kaman hit an inside basket, and the Blazers closed to as close as three. They would trail by five after one.
The whistles barely went silent at the start of the second quarter. Portland got Memphis into the penalty less than two minutes into the period, including three fouls on one possession. The bite of the referee goes both ways, however, and the Grizzlies used some questionable calls to get Arron Afflalo and Meyers Leonard in foul trouble on the other end of the floor, and foul shots to maintain their lead. The teams combined for 22 foul shots in the period. Damian Lillard and Mike Conley continued their duel, with Lillard scoring nine in the period to get the better of his counterpart. Unfortunately, Aldridge's cold night continued, shooting 1-of-5 in the quarter. Memphis would lead by 13 at halftime.
Both teams went to work scoring in the third quarter, trading baskets back and forth. Aldridge finally got his shot to fall, scoring eight in the period to lead Portland. McCollum had six, Lillard had five and Nicolas Batum had five, but the Blazers were unable to get any closer than ten as the Grizzlies countered with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph. Portland trailed by ten entering the fourth quarter. During the period, Mike Conley was injured after McCollum accidentally elbowed him in the head. He would not return.
The fourth kicked off as a polar opposite of the third, with neither team able to hit any shots. The Blazers got within eight after three free throws by Batum, but the team missed three straight shots and Gasol got the Memphis advantage back to twelve. Batum and Afflalo closed the gap to seven with four minutes to play. With the crowd rising to the occasion, Batum would close the gap to three with another three. Tony Allen and Randolph got the lead back to seven with 1:30 remaining. Lillard missed a long three, and Allen dunked to seal the game.
McCollum led the bench with 26 points. Lillard had 22 points and 9 assists. Afflalo had just five points after missing the last five games with a shoulder injury. He was in foul trouble for almost the entire game. Kaman was visibly hobbled with a left ankle injury that kept him out of Game 2. He managed just the two points and 1-of-2 shooting. The teams combined for 74 foul shots.
Nicolas Batum has matched a Trail Blazers playoff record with six 3-pointers in a game (Porter, 5/16/92 vs UTA; Lillard, 5/2/14 vs HOU).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 26, 2015
Nicolas Batum has scored a new playoff career-high 27 points (26, 4/25/14 vs. Houston). #PORvsMEM— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 26, 2015
CJ McCollum's 26 points are the most by a Trail Blazers reserve in the playoffs since Steve Colter scored 26 points at LAL on April 27, 1985— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) April 26, 2015
"Obviously our backs are against the wall." Coach Stotts— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) April 26, 2015
Conley is still at a local hospital being evaluated.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) April 26, 2015
Aldridge on the approach being down 0-3: "Come out here and try to come out and get a win. Try to leave it all on the court or whatever."— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) April 26, 2015
Tough loss, but wow. I'm speechless. Thank you!! #ripcity— Wesley Matthews (@wessywes2) April 26, 2015