The Trail Blazers turned in a forgettable performance in a 143-100 loss to the Bucks. Milwaukee controlled every aspect of this contest, and Portland looked like a team on the second night of a back-to-back when attempting to keep pace. Led by Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 33-point outburst, the Bucks claimed an early double-digit lead and never looked back. The Blazers’ main trio of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic combined for 60 points. But the rest of Portland’s cast struggled on offense.
Is it time for turkey yet?
The Bucks made it clear from the opening possession that they were focused on getting to the paint. Milwaukee won the points in the paint battle 22-2 in the first quarter. With a comfortable lead in hand, the Bucks generated offense with ease. When Portland managed to put together a string of competent possessions, Milwaukee would explode for multiple unanswered buckets. When Antetokounmpo started to slow down, Khris Middleton would pick up where he left off.
Surrendering points in the paint wasn’t the only problem for coach Terry Stotts’ squad. The Blazers generated fewer assists, lost the rebounding battle and shot 21.4 percent from beyond the arc.
The Blazers connected on just 9 of their 42 three-point attempts. Al-Farouq Aminu went 0-9, Nik Stauskas went 1-6 and Maurice Harkless went 0-4 from beyond the arc. Portland needs production from its supporting cast on long road trips, and tonight’s dismal outing shows why. Relying on amazing performances from Lillard and McCollum can only get you so far.
Prior to the fourth quarter, the Blazers bench produced 15 points.
A Step Slow
It took three tries, but a team finally beat Portland on the second night of a back-to-back. The Blazers claimed victories over the Rockets and Timberwolves earlier this season on limited rest. Perhaps it was the long road trip, but fatigue was a clear issue from the opening tip. The Bucks easily created separation on drives, and they won nearly every hustle category.
Nurkic Still Produces in the Post
Jusuf Nurkic’s defense wasn’t pretty, but his work on offense was almost perfect. The big fella went 6-8 from the field, and finished with 16 points. Nurkic kept his defender guessing throughout the night by staying patient with his back to the basket.
Jake Layman scored two points in nine minutes of action. It was brief night for Layman, and it marked the second game in a row where he failed to record multiple field goals.
In his first action since October, Harkless recorded two points in 13 minutes. Despite a slow night on offense, he was active on defense. Harkless had a block, nabbed two steals, and corralled three rebounds.
The Blazers return to action on Friday to face the Warriors.
—Steve / @SteveDHoops / BEdgeSteve@gmail.com