The Portland Trail Blazers came out flat early, but more than made up for it with a second half explosion on Wednesday night, en route to a 116-89 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The team has now won eight of their last nine overall, and 50 games in a season for the 14th time in franchise history. Enes Kanter led all scorers with 21 points, while Chandler Parsons was the high-man for the short-handed Grizzlies with 16 off the bench.
The Grizzlies, playing without a laundry list of players (including Mike Conley and Jonas Valanciunas), actually jumped out to a fantastic start—leading by double-figures at one point. The Blazers eventually recovered however, and took a three-point lead into the break thanks to this incredible sequence to end the first half:
It was all Portland in the second half, as they outscored Memphis 54-30 over the final 24 minutes, with the Grizzlies being held to a paltry 10 points in the third quarter.
Grizz Come Out Strong
Memphis came out extremely energized, and it was clear the players that did suit up for the game had something to prove. They were able to attack the rim at ease, and were lights out from distance—knocking down seven of their first 10 three-point attempts. They shot 50% from long range in the first half overall, while the Blazers were just 4-13 from the mark.
They also employed a zone defense, a rarity in the NBA. It worked in the first half, as the Blazers had trouble finding any kind of offensive rhythm. To make matters worse, Portland was careless with the ball in the early going, registering six turnovers in the first quarter alone. For a starting lineup that featured only two players who were even drafted (with Delon Wright being the only first-rounder), it’s hard to imagine a much better start for the Grizzlies in this one.
No Answer For Kanter
A big reason for Portland’s second-half turnaround, apart from the obvious talent disparity, was the fact that the Blazers made a concerted effort to get Kanter involved in the low post. With both Valanciunas and back-up Joakim Noah out, it was up to Ivan Rabb to try to stop the big man. Kanter took advantage of the size matchup, and made mincemeat out of the third-stringer.
Enes feasted for 21 points on 10-15 shooting, and helped the Blazers run away with the game in the third quarter. Bruno Caboclo fared a bit better against him defensively, but by the time he drew the assignment the game was already getting out of hand. Kanter was also key in the Blazers’ 54-32 rebounding advantage for the game, grabbing 15 himself, seven of which were on the offensive glass.
Turner Does It Again
ET became just the second Blazer (along with the great Clyde Drexler) to record a triple-double in consecutive games, though it took a bit of assist hunting in the final minutes. His teammates eventually started knocking down shots, and he accomplished the feat with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists, along with only two turnovers. He finished 6-7 from the field, after going 5-5 last game.
The Other Guys
Damian Lillard sat the entire fourth quarter, or he may have recorded a triple-double himself (20 points, 10 assists, seven rebounds). He did eclipse the 2,000 point mark in a season for the the second time in his career, on a lay-up in the third quarter.
Al-Farouq Aminu had seven points on 2-7 shooting, and only pulled down two boards.
Maurice Harkless went for 11 points and four steals, in addition to three rebounds and three dimes, while shooting 5-7 from the field.
Zach Collins had another impressive all-around game, recording a career-high 18 points on 7-10 shooting with six rebounds and a tremendous defensive effort.
Jake Layman came off the bench again for eight points in 15 minutes. Rodney Hood started again and scored nine on 3-8 shooting. Seth Curry had an off-night, going 2-9 from the field with six points. It marked the first time he was held under double-digit scoring since CJ McCollum went down on March 16th.
The Blazers hit the road yet again, as they travel to the Mile High City for a meeting with the Denver Nuggets on Friday night.