Mar 06

Worn Down in Memphis

By mikebarrett
Even though nothing was coming easily for the Trail Blazers, they somehow managed to build a 17-point third-quarter lead over the Grizzlies in Memphis on Wednesday night.  But, as they've managed to do (with and without Zach Randolph) most of this season, the Grizzlies got scrappy and nasty and willed themselves back into the game.  They finally overtook the Trail Blazers late in the fourth and won the game 91-85.

The Trail Blazers were riding a hot offense in the first half, were getting key defensive stops, and held a 12-point lead at halftime, scoring 50 points on the league's best defensive team.  We mentioned right before the second half started not to expect another 50 in the second 24 minutes from the Blazers.  The Grizzlies allow slightly less than 90 points per game, and we found out how they've earned that average down the stretch of this game.

When we previewed this game, we really thought it would be totally decided in the trenches.  That's what Memphis does.  They don't take many deep shots, and attempt to pound teams into submission in the paint.  And, even though Marc Gasol had an excellent game, scoring 23 points and grabbing 12 rebounds, most of the crucial moments in this game were decided by guard play.

For the Trail Blazers, we saw another very solid game by Eric Maynor off the Portland bench. He continues to look more and more comfortable, and more confident early in his career as a Blazer.  I'm comfortable saying that if Portland could have somehow landed Maynor two months ago, we could be talking about different goals at this point in the season.  He's totally solidified the second unit, and has taken so much pressure off Damian Lillard.  Lillard, who was going up against a very good defensive point guard in Mike Conley, had a very good game himself, scoring 20 points on 7 of 11 shooting.

But, Maynor was the main reason the Trail Blazers were able to build a 17-point advantage.  He ran the team efficiently, and provided more of an offensive punch than we expected.  He ended with 13 points, and had several huge answers to turn back several Memphis runs in the third quarter.  

Jerryd Bayless, the former Trail Blazers, was obviously the star for the Grizzlies on this night. We expected it from Gasol and Conley, but perhaps not from Bayless.  As Blazer fans know, he always brings energy, but something he didn't have in Portland was an outside-shooting threat. Even this year he came into the game shooting just 32 percent.  But, during that important third-quarter run, it was Bayless who kept the Grizzlies in the game, and fueled thoughts of a comeback.  He ended 3 for 5 from behind the three-point line, and had 13 big points.

After Bayless started the rally, the rest of the Grizzlies just seemed to wear the Trail Blazers down.  Again, this is what they do.

Portland's two point guards helped the Blazers build the lead, hold on for long stretches during a frantic second half, but couldn't ultimately push them over the top in what would have been a huge win.  Nic Batum, Wesley Matthews, and LaMarcus Aldridge all shot below 50 percent as a trio, and Portland doesn't win many games when this is the case.  Aldridge, who never could find his touch from the outside in this one, ended just 2 for 13, but still fought his way to 10 points, 10 rebounds, and also dished out 6 assists.

Then, there were some crucial missed free throws by some very dependable free-throw shooters. First, Batum missed both attempts on a trip to the line.  Then, the same thing happened to Matthews.  I haven't gone through each game to look, but I can just about guarantee that hasn't happened in a game yet this season.  The Blazers, as a team, shot just 11 for 18 from the line.  A few more converted trips and we're talking about a Portland win.

Back to Lillard for a minute, because with his 20 points, he made it an even 30 times this season he's scored 20 or more in a game.  Obviously, he leads all rookies in that category.  The next closest is Bradley Beal, who has scored 20 or more 12 times.

The fight we expected.  A close game we also expected.  And, given that Portland had won 9 of the last 11 at the FedEx Forum, I understand if you also expected a win.  But, even without ZBo, this is a very good Memphis team.  With their win, they improved to 40-19 on the season.

Next up on this trip, it's a team that's much better- the San Antonio Spurs.  Expect a close, hard-fought game again?  Of course we do.  Even if a trip to the playoffs won't be the end reward for what's been an entertaining and surprising season, this team always makes it entertaining and interesting.

On this night, that just wasn't quite enough.  

Talk to you from Texas.



  1. I would have never guessed a team could come from behind and beat the Blazers by fouling. But Memphis did just that. They made the Blazers beat them from the free throw line and we couldn't do it, finishing 17 of 28. That's normally three or four games worth of missed FTs for the Blazers.

    Second, Memphis out-rebounded the Blazers badly even without Randolph and Arthur, two of their better rebounders. We let a road win get away tonight.

    by dgpdx on 3/6/2013 10:54 PM
  2. #1 You can't get out rebounded by 14 and expect to win.
    #2 Gasol showed LA again who is the real allstar.
    #3 Leonard has a long way to go.

    by Ancientone on 3/6/2013 11:25 PM
  3. 1) The Blazers got pounded on the boards because Marc Gasol makes even Meyers look small. Against JJ it was often a mismatchon the boards.
    2) Yes, Gasol shut down LA. I don't know why in crunch time the coach went back to the post-ups that hadn't worked all game.
    3) All the odd-bounce plays went against the Blazers, an indication that we were outworked.
    4) The strategy of muscling opponents on every play so the refs don't see it as a foul--an approach that won several championships for Detroit--worked brilliantly. How many times did the Blazers throw up a shot when they felt contact, only to discover that there was no call? At least eight.
    5) Out-rebounded, out-hustled and stifled by fierce defense, the team would still have won the game if they'd done the job at the free throw line. And that suggests that they are doing a few things right.
    6) It's tough to lose the close ones, but it's a whole lot more fun than getting blown out.

    by David Maclaine on 3/7/2013 12:34 AM
  4. This game actually went the way I expected it to, but, with the Blazers being ahead for three quarters made me start hoping that we would win so therefore I had that horrible let down. Nevertheless the Blazers did OK in my book by staying in the game.

    by Hg on 3/7/2013 1:34 AM
  5. Where is the defense? It was another three point attempt night with no one but JJ looking for 2nd chance points and rebounds. I don't think it is unusual at all for Batum and Wes to have a game wrought with misses from out beyond. It would be nice if they had some other shot to go to when that kind of night was happening. Where is the drive to the hoop and a layup. We need some defenders on the inside instead of lookers on the outside. Come on Blazers play ball.

    by allie-oop on 3/7/2013 7:31 AM
  6. I always expect big games from Jerryd Bayless. Didn't he get a 40 or 50 point game when he played for the Blazers?

    by DeVinMzM on 3/7/2013 7:41 AM
  7. Oops, I checked. Jerryd's highest for Blazers in regular season, 23; Averaged 29.8 points in 2008 Summer League play. Don't know what high game was.

    by DeVinMzM on 3/7/2013 8:21 AM
  8. They play good is this the end for the coach

    by LA 2012 on 3/7/2013 12:39 PM
  9. @LA 2012 : Of course coaches are always in the hot seat, but I sure couldn't see why that would pertain to Stotts; the team is far ahead of where we all thought they would be. his job is to win games and play the newbies and he has done both. He has got strength in bench and has developed Meyers, Victor and gave playing time to the rest.

    I do not know the procedure for the rest of the year, but if I know the starting,five will keep trying to win until we are mathematically out of the play-offs then I don't know what the plan is, I believe they will keep developing players and get more Chemistry. There is a lot of good BB to watch and a lot to learn from everybody including the coach

    In short, IMO, this is not the end of Stotts.

    by Hg on 3/7/2013 1:54 PM
  10. by Soopadeajo Sopadeajo on 3/8/2013 4:47 PM
  11. Thanks HG I like you .... I like Stotts hes a good coach

    by LA 2012 on 3/7/2013 2:08 PM
  12. Look out Blazer fans. This Portland team is really close to being a very good basketball team. Next year and years to come will be exciting in rip city.
    Right now Memphis is better. Once they started making shots they were able get back and set their defense. That is tough sledding for any team playing against Memphis. The Blazers very nearly pulled off a win against a very good team on the road headed down the playoff positioning stretch.
    Hollins is doing a fine job.
    Bring on the Spurs.

    by Divotking on 3/7/2013 5:18 PM
  13. Hg;
    Stotts has squeezed every ounce of basketball out of this team. The team has overachieved and so has the coaching staff.

    by Divotking on 3/7/2013 5:26 PM
  14. well, i guess you could say we played 24 good minutes, or maybe even around 30. that's just disturbing to me. yes, i know we played hard last night, but it also seemed to lack intent. we settled for outside shots and missed them. the coaching staff has yet to consistently work on offensive sets which extend the defense. that just plain makes it harder to score the ball, especially inside. so what do we do? we resort to outside shooting.

    we didn't convert at the line, but neither did the Grizzlies so, while shooting better from the stripe could have changed the result, our opponents could have shot better and prevented that. i kind of consider that a wash.

    i'm not one to bash LaMarcus, and he had a pretty good game other than his fg shooting. we definitely need him to hit more than 2-13 if we expect to have a chance of winning.

    in the end, i know the Grizzlies are one of the better teams in our conference so dropping a game in their arena isn't as hard a pill to swallow. however, i seem to hold this team to a higher standard than many. i truly believe we are a .500 team. so much so, that i had already predicted 41 wins prior to season's start.

    i figured it would be around the last third of the season when i thought the team would start to get a push from the second unit. admittedly, i didn't see it coming in the form of Meyers and Victor at this point (obviously, i hadn't even considered Eric on the radar in the least). we've got a group of starters who can play against anyone in the nba. our second unit is coming along. i'd rather say we are better than most thought rather than we simply have been overachieving.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 3/8/2013 11:44 AM
  15. I see a hard fought game tonight. LaMarcus is back in Texas. He will have a bounce back game. Our shooters will have some looks. If we are making shots, the Spurs are going to have to play well to hold their home court.

    by the golden ladder on 3/8/2013 8:28 AM
  16. Kassandra: I totally agree with you on us being a 500 team. I agree that we got out played more by Lionel then the Grizzlies. I unfortunately have to listen to opponents announcers to watch the games, and they said at half time that they were going to play much closer to Portland players and take them more serious, (does that sound familiar?). Which means laying on each and every player so the refs can't call all the fouls and since Portland wasn't making their shots anyway it wouldn't matter. But the Main reason we loss was because of some guy named Jared Bayless started making his outside shots and Portland had to go up against their set half court defense.

    The Golden Ladder:
    I was thinking doing the Grizzlies game that LaMarcus might be saving it for SAS, Whether we beat them or not may be of a different matter. but if we blitz them on every play and can stay out of foul trouble we have a small chance. A well oiled machine has faced all opponents and all schemes that you could think of throwing at them; our chance is we always give them fits, and of course Tony being gone, but I can imagine Patty Mills itching to do to us what JBay did.

    by Hg on 3/8/2013 10:26 AM
  17. Go Blazers HG

    by LA 2012 on 3/8/2013 12:32 PM
  18. the golden ladder;
    You nailed it.

    by Divotking on 3/8/2013 8:34 PM
  19. I'll say it again, when you lose by 6 and miss 11 free throws, no need to look elsewhere for the reason.

    by dgpdx on 3/8/2013 9:38 PM
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