A day after trading away popular and hard-working center Mason Plumlee, the Portland Trail Blazers lost 119-114 to the Atlanta Hawks in overtime Monday, in an ugly contest marred with missed shots and mistakes.
The first half was a full-blown brickfest as neither side could find any sort of rhythm. at all. Both sides shot in the low 30s, combined to miss 62 shots, and while the door was left wide open it led to nothing but a pileup trying to go through it.
Meyers Leonard struggled filling in for Plumlee in the starting lineup, missing his first five attempts - all from deep - and failed to punish Atlanta for honing its defense heavily towards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, who had quiet halves as a result.
Portland managed to put together one good run to close the first quarter on a 10-0 run, which extended as much as 16-0 into the second, but then played miserably to close the period and allow the Hawks to claw right back in. Dennis Schroder had all 14 of his points in the second quarter and almost single-handily carried Atlanta into the locker room.
Portland Trail Blazers 48, Atlanta Hawks 42
The Hawks’ run continued into the third quarter where they hovered close and eventually re-took a 68-66 lead with two and a half minutes remaining on TIm Hardaway Jr.’s three-pointer.
McCollum countered with the Blazers’ first seven points of the fourth to pull back ahead, and then an angle trey from Maurice Harkless would push the advantage to five.
Atlanta didn’t exactly come roaring back, but Portland couldn’t deliver a knockout punch and let the Hawks hang around. Two more threes from Hardaway Jr. pulled Atlanta within just one with 1:39 to to go, and poor foul shooting down the stretch kept it close.
McCollum had a chance to ice the game in the closing seconds but his long fadeaway near the top of the key came up short. Atlanta called time with just 2.2 on the clock but still managed to draw up a play for Paul Millsap, who scored on a driving layup at the buzzer to force overtime.
Portland Trail Blazers 97, Atlanta Hawks 97
The Blazers struck first in the extra frame, scoring the first seven points but Atlanta hit right back with the next 12. McCollum had a chance to reclaim the lead with 14 seconds remaining but his driving floater was off the mark. Portland managed to maintain possession on the ensuing rebound, but only for Lillard to slip, fall and turn the ball over. Millsap made both free throws, and with just five seconds to go and no timeouts the Blazers weren’t able to get a meaningful attempt to tie.
The Blazers will hit the road for a four-game trip away from the Moda Center starting with the Utah Jazz Wednesday at 6 p.m.
-- Ryan Rosback | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter