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Trail Blazers Struggle Offensively Late, Lose To Memphis 91-85

  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0


    Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 20 points on the night but the Trail Blazers (28-32) could not withstand a second half run by the Grizzlies (40-19) as they eventually lost 91-85.

    This game was the tale of two drastically different halves for the Trail Blazers. They scored 50 points in the first half on 54 percent shooting. Damian Lillard led the way with 14 points as the Trail Blazers were able to run and get to the rim as well as get good looks from deep. The Grizzlies seemed to have trouble finding their offense as Tony Allen, not the best scorer, was leading the Grizzlies in field goal attempts.

    The Trail Blazers bench looked like they were continuing what they had done the last several games, with Eric Maynor, Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver and a little bit of Will Barton helped outscore the Memphis bench 11-8.

    The Trail Blazers held a 12-point halftime lead, which was initially 14, but a Damian Lillard buzzer beater was taken off the board as a replay showed he didn't get the ball off in time.

    The third quarter began encouragingly enough as the Trail Blazers were able to extend their lead to 17 with 6:05 left. But with 5:53 left, Memphis' starters along with Jerryd Bayless and Quincy Pondexter, were able to make a run and a Bayless three at the end of the quarter would cut the lead to two at the end of the quarter. Bayless also helped by hounding Lillard. The Trail Blazers went without a field goal for the final 3:06 of the third quarter and unfortunately, that wouldn't be their longest drought as the Grizzlies continued to turn up the defensive intensity.

    The Trail Blazers' in-rhythm offense, ball and player movement suddenly seemed but a distant memory as the Grizzlies began imposing their will defensively and finding a rhythm on the offensive end. Often, possessions were ending with Lillard taking contested jumpers while the other four Portland players looked like spectators. Stotts' believed that the Grizzlies offense being better in the second half in turn helped their defense by allowing them to get into a half-court look.

    "Part of the thing defensively was that, we got stops in the first half where they weren't making shots whatever and so we were playing in transition and flow and not playing against their half-court defense," Stotts explained "Second half they shot the ball better so we are playing against their half-court defense more. They played a small line-up but they took pick and rolls out of the game. Gasol did a good job on LaMarcus. So, they just tightened things up but I think their offense really helped affect their defense."

    Not enough can be said about Gasol, who's performance tonight was yet another resume builder for his case as the Defensive Player of the Year. He, in large part, was responsible for LaMarcus Aldridge's 2-13 night. Also, without Zach Randolph, he had to carry a big load on the offensive end and he delivered in a big way, with 23 points, 12 rebounds and three assists including some big shots late.

    Despite losing the lead, the Trail Blazers battled in the fourth. Eric Maynor, continuing to play his way into the hearts of Rip City, scored nine of his 12 points in the fourth quarter to go along with four assists.  Maynor's play helped balance out what Jerryd Bayless was doing for Memphis, as he scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter.

    However, in the tight game, the Trail Blazers were not able to get the stops they needed. In addition to that, they missed five free-throws in the final period. The Grizzlies were able to score 26 points on 42 percent shooting, which would normally be acceptable, but the Trail Blazers five for 20 quarter in addition to the brilliance of Gasol, efficient play from Conley and the energy from Bayless was too much for the Trail Blazers to withstand in the second half.

    By the end of the game, the Trail Blazers halftime shooting percentage of 54 percent was at 40.8 percent, with Damian Lillard (eight-for-sixteen) and JJ Hickson (six-for-twelve) being the only starters to shoot over 50 percent on the night. The Trail Blazers shot 11-for-39 (28.2 percent) in the second half compared to 47.6 percent for Memphis. Maynor's fourth quarter burst wasn't enough for the Trail Blazers to maintain their already slim bench scoring advantage, as Memphis' bench outscored Portland's in the end 29-22 and the Grizzlies were able to hold a huge advantage on rebounds (52-38) and second chance points (20-8).

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