Two of the NBA’s hottest teams squared off tonight at the Moda Center with playoff implications on the line. After a solid start by the Blazers, the Bucks took control in the second and third quarters and held on in the final seconds as Damian Lillard’s last second three to tie the game in regulation goes long.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard with 31 points and seven assists. The Bucks were led by Khris Middleton with 26 points.
The Blazer came out like a team on a mission, harnessing the good vibes from their recent, successful road trip. Damian Lillard and the Blazers blitzed to an 8-0 start and a 17-8 advantage early. But, the tide began to turn as soon as Jusuf Nurkic picked up his second foul; his absence opened up all the doors and windows to Portland’s defense and the Bucks ran off a 23-7 run to take a 38-31 lead by the second period. Problems with turnovers (10), free throws (6 FTM-12 FTA), and only one made three did the Blazers zero favors. Giannis Antetokounmp and Khris Middleton, each with 15 points, led the Bucks to a 13 point halftime lead. Lillard led the Blazers with 11.
Halftime: Portland 35, Milwaukee 48
Noah Vonleh helped spark Portland’s stagnant offense in the third and the Blazers used a defensive fueled 14-4 run to cut the lead to 67-63 entering the fourth quarter. The game seesawed between a two and seven point deficit for the Blazers for most of the final stanza before CJ McCollum gave the Blazers an 86-85 lead with a little less than four and half minutes to play. The Bucks countered with a 6-0 run and led by three with seconds remaining. On the final play of regulation, Lillard’s last second three attempt went long off the backboard and the Bucks steal a win from the Blazers.
The Blazers have a day off to recover before returning to the Moda Center on Thursday night to take on the super team, the New York Knicks. Tip off is at 7pm. Stay tuned for Blazer’s Edge tonight, for extended analysis of this game.