The Portland Trail Blazers fell to the Memphis Grizzlies 119-109 on Tuesday night. The Blazers came up short in their bid for a second straight massive upset as the Grizzlies pulled away late to secure the win.
The Blazers’ highest scorer was Skylar Mays who posted a career high 24 points and added eight rebounds and seven assists. Shaedon Sharpe posted 20, and Jabari Walker had a career high of his own with 16 points.
The Grizzlies were led in scoring by Desmond Bane who scored 30. Ja Morant and Luke Kennard added 23 and 20 respectively.
If you missed the game, read our instant recap here.
Now, here are some observations about the game:
Fourth Quarter Woes
The Blazers entered the fourth quarter looking primed for the win. However, they scored just 14 points and committed half of their turnovers for the whole game in the quarter. The Blazers were held scoreless for a large stretch of the final frame before hitting two threes when the game was already out of reach to make the final score look a bit more respectable. The Grizzlies were able to take advantage of a Blazers squad that seemed to run out of gas late. Memphis scored just 23 points of their own, but were able to limit the Blazers’ offensive production to 14, keeping their lead safe through the end of the game.
Through three quarters the Blazers had just four turnovers. They took care of the ball and did not allow the Grizzlies to get out in transition at all. For the game, Memphis had just 11 points off of turnovers compared to the 20 of the Blazers. Adding in 13 offensive rebounds, and 16 second chance points paints a picture of a Blazers team doing everything in their power to make the most out of every chance down the floor. The Blazers also did their best to get extra chances coming from the defensive end. They forced 11 Grizzlies turnovers and had 36 defensive rebounds. Overall, a Blazers squad that has a lot of new faces played like a well-oiled machine for most of this game.
Skylar Mays has been an excellent find for the Blazers late in the season. The 25-year-old point guard has made an immediate impact on this team. He had a career high 24 points on 9-16 shooting with eight rebounds and seven assists to go alongside. Oh yeah, and he didn’t have a single turnover. Mays has been amazing since he stepped on the court in Portland. He is averaging 17 points and 7.3 assists per game over his three appearances.
Mays is looking like a player that could be brought back and get some minutes off the bench next season. He is showing that he doesn’t need the ball to be effective and that he can affect the game in other ways, but when he has the ball he can also score in bunches and make the game easier for his teammates with his passing.
Beating Up the Backups
The Blazers fell way behind early in this contest and trailed by 16 at the end of the first quarter. However, they rode a 15-0 run in the middle of the second to get right back in the game. They stayed within striking distance after that point. The Blazers took advantage of the minutes that saw one or both of Jaren Jackson Jr. and Ja Morant on the bench. The all-star duo had a +/- of 28 and 19 respectively. Almost every Grizzlies reserve finished with a negative +/- and seemed outmatched by the Blazers for long stretches. Outside of the 16 points from David Roddy, the Memphis bench had just 13 points.
On the other side, many of the Blazers’ reserves played well and took advantage of the minutes they got against the other backups. The bench combined for 47 points and helped keep the Blazers in the game. Jabari Walker was especially impressive. He had a career-high 16 points on 6-11 shooting and 3-5 from three. He also added six rebounds and an assist.
The Other Grizzlies
The Blazers were able to limit not just the Grizzlies bench, but also their two all-stars. Both Morant and Jackson Jr. were held a couple points below their season averages, and they combined for just 24 shots. The Blazers were able to limit the impact the two stars had on offense, forcing the other Grizzlies to beat them. Unfortunately, they did.
Desmond Bane, Luke Kennard, and David Roddy combined for 66 points on 24-42 shooting from the field and 15-28 shooting from three. The trio each had their own moment of looking unstoppable, especially Kennard who scored 15 points on 5-6 shooting from three in the first quarter alone. Although the Blazers were able to limit the scoring of both Jackson and Morant, they ended up contributing to victory in other ways. Morant doled out nine assists. Jackson played defense around the rim and rebounded.
The Portland Trail Blazers take on the San Antonio Spurs for the third game of their current road trip on Thursday April 6th at 5:00 PM, Pacific.