Blazers Blow Out Indiana to Stop Slide
By mikebarrett Posted in: Pacers
This game not only stopped Portland's losing streak, it also ended many interesting trends- some of them having to do with the Blazers, and others with the Pacers. Bringing up multiple stats can start to make one's eyes glaze over, so let's get to the most important one first- Portland 100, Indiana 80. The losing streak is over.
Not only was it Portland's largest margin of victory this season, it was just the fourth time all year they've beaten an opponent by more than 10 points. It also snapped a string of 10-consecutive games decided by six points or fewer. We'd gotten so used to one-possession games in the closing seconds, I didn't even know how to act in a laugher.
Going into this game the matchup looked daunting for the Trail Blazers. Indiana came into the night with the number-one scoring defense in the NBA. They had only been giving up 89 points to their opponents and 41 percent shooting. In their last win, at Memphis on Wednesday, the Pacers allowed just 81 points to the Grizzlies.
Not only did the Blazers get to 100 points, but they shot 56.4 percent, the highest percentage the Pacers had given up all season, and the highest percentage Portland had shot this season.
As we all know, Portland is a team that tends to live and die by the three-point shot. They take a lot of them, and lately haven't been hitting a lot of them. For them to go just 2 for 11 from behind the arc in this game, and win so comfortably, tells you the coaches did some serious tweaking to the game plan. And, that it worked very nicely.
Before we get too carried away talking about Portland's offensive highlights, we need to acknowledge that the Blazers won this game with defense. Or, perhaps more accurately, won this game by attacking Indiana and both ends. They were the more aggressive team at both ends, and played with a chip on their shoulder. That's what a losing streak will do to you.
The one thing (and perhaps the only thing) that stayed consistent for the Blazers in this game, is that they made a huge second-half run. Only this time the run didn't get them back into a game, it turned it from competitive to a complete blowout.
There were many more odd numbers in this game. The Blazers don't outscore teams in the paint very often. But, due to their attacking nature all night, beat the Pacers in the points-in-the-paint category 50 to 34. Indiana is also a very good rebounding team, but the Blazers outboarded them 42-34.
Portland also isn't often as opportunistic as they should be when given free passes by their opponents. This brings up another unusual number. The Blazers turned the ball over 17 times in this game, yet only lost 15 points on those miscues. Indiana, on the other hand, suffered only 13 turnovers, but the Blazers cashed those in for 26 points. That's a huge ratio, and something we don't see very much.
Without a doubt, from an individual standpoint, LaMarcus Aldridge set the tone in this game and his teammates followed. David West has always been a difficult matchup for Aldridge, but he simply took West apart in the first half. Aldridge had 16 points on 8 of 11 shooting in the first 24 minutes, compared to West's 6 points on 3 of 8 shooting. Aldridge ended the game with 27 points, on 12 of 17 shooting, and probably would have been in the mid-30s if it would have been necessary.
So, while Aldridge carried the load in the first half, Damian Lillard completely took over in the second half. He had 16 points in the second half on Wednesday against Washington, and put in another 16 in the final two quarters of this game. Lillard, who went right at the teeth of Indiana's defense all night, ended with 20 points, and added 8 assists.
Despite the losing streak, the Trail Blazers have shown they are a very good fourth-quarter team. After shooting 12 of 16 in the fourth quarter Wednesday, just to get back in the game, they shot 14 of 24 in the final quarter of this one, and it helped them slam the door shut on the Pacers.
It sounds simplistic, but as we've explained on many occasions, if the Trail Blazers shoot the ball well they are very difficult to beat. They're now 7-0 on the season when they shot 50 percent or better from the field, and are now 14-3 when they shot just 45 percent or better.
This was a much-needed win, not only because they needed to stop the bleeding, but because of what lies ahead on the schedule.
Saturday night, the Trail Blazers host the L.A. Clippers at the Rose Garden, and Sunday play the Clippers in L.A. Yes, Portland has a better record against teams over .500, than they have against teams under .500.
That's the final odd stat of the night.
Talk to you Saturday.