Inspired by Luke Skywalker taking down an Imperial Death Star with a single X-wing, the Portland Trail Blazers decided to try it with half a banana stand tonight, coming up against the Los Angeles Clippers with no defense, suspect rebounding, and a perilous addiction to turnovers. The Clippers, probably still smarting from the recent debacle in Dallas, treated Portland to a massive 128-105 loss. Kawhi Leonard returned from a face injury to score 28. Carmelo Anthony scored 15 off the bench for the Blazers. CJ McCollum had 25, Damian Lillard 20.
The Blazers started by making a concerted effort to get Jusuf Nurkic involved early. It worked. The offense looked good and Nurk seemed energized. The joy was short-lived, as their defense did not keep pace. 7 of the first 9 shots the Clippers hit were threes and it only got worse from there. L.A. started running and gunning. The Blazers couldn’t muster more than 18 seconds of defense in any possession. The threes rained like hail pellets and Portland fell further and further behind.
Carmelo Anthony provided a bright spot off the bench, scoring in the iso post. CJ McCollum came on late in the half, shooting well headed into intermission. It was like throwing wet sand at the ocean. The Clippers scored 76 points over a two-quarter span. Portland trailed by 19 at halftime.
Turnovers continued to plague the Blazers throughout the game. First unit, second unit, Portland handed over the ball on multiple occasions, hamstringing any chance of a serious comeback run. Leonard scoring 15 in the third didn’t help. Giving up 100 before the end of that quarter put the game out of reach. The Blazers and their fans will forget this one and move on.
After the hot start, Nurkic finished with 4 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 4 turnovers in 23 minutes.
Stay tuned for the extended recap if you dare.
The Blazers face off against the Golden State Warriors on Friday night.