The Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Brooklyn Nets 111-97 this afternoon on the final stop of a four-game road trip, keeping contact with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and company until a difficult fourth quarter.
The Blazers stayed tight in the first half, trailing 58-57 at the break. They trailed 84-80 after the third. Then in that decisive fourth quarter, the offense stopped and the wheels fell off.
“I thought we had a pretty good half the first half,” Portland head coach Chauncey Billups said in his postgame assessment. “I thought we set a pretty good tone for ourselves and [then] came out really struggling in the third quarter, but the fourth quarter, obviously, [we] just couldn’t score.”
Billups referenced the numbers. 14 fourth quarter points (he discounted Jerami Grant’s uncontested triple in the final seconds that made it 17). 18 assists in the first half, but only eight in the second half. The second-year head coach offered explanations for the poor statistics.
“Some of that is shotmaking and some of that is we just kind of waited and let [Anfernee Simons] and Jerami isolate in situations,” Billups said. “We don’t want to play that way.”
That unsuccessful isolation style and inability to score against a physical Nets defense became the storyline of the loss. Also contributing to Portland’s downfall was the offense of Seth Curry. The former Blazer became a Blazer-killer Sunday afternoon, scoring 29 points on 11-15 shooting from the field and 7-10 from deep.
“He had a game, we’ve all seen him do it several times before, but he really did,” Billups said. “He got going, he felt comfortable. They kept throwing it to him. A lot of times we didn’t communicate on defense and all of a sudden he finds himself open.”
Be it the stagnant offense or the flurry from Curry, Portland got outplayed in Brooklyn. With that, the Blazers lost a golden opportunity to patch up a 2-2 road trip without Damian Lillard. Instead, they head back to the Moda Center for a one-game homestand with a 1-3 finish and a bad taste in their mouth.
“[It’s a] tough little stretch that we’re in right now, but it is what it is,” Billups said. “Every team goes through it. We just got to get back and take care of home court.”