Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Trail Blazers' Comeback Attempt Falls Short In Indiana

12/05/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    The Trail Blazers (8-11) faced another big deficit in the fourth quarter and again they came back to make it a game. Unfortunately, this comeback didn't have enough as the Trail Blazers fell to the Indiana Pacers (10-9) 99-92. Damian Lillard, on the same night he was named Western Conference Rookie of the Month (November), had a great night from the field scoring 23 points on nine of 15 shooting with 6 assists.

    The Trail Blazers got off to a good start early on but could not sustain it. They led by 10 points with 4:05 left in the first quarter after a bucket from LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points, 10 rebounds, 1 block). However, as the first quarter closed, two bench players, Ian Mahinmi and Tyler Hansbrough helped power the Pacers to a 9-0 run to end the quarter.  After leading by double-digits, the Trail Blazers only led by one point after one quarter. It didn't help that the Pacers were forcing the Trail Blazers into contested jumpers and turnovers.

    The second quarter was a much more wide-open affair than the first. However, that's not always a good thing. Mahinmi and Hansbrough continued to be the difference for the Pacers off the bench. 10 of the Pacers first 13 points of the second quarter came from the tandem. They combined for 18 points in the first half, with many of them coming around the basket or, in the case of Hansbrough, from the free-throw line. Mahinmi finished with 12 points and Hansbrough finished with 10.

    Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers didn't seem to have many answers from the bench this evening as far as points go. After having two consecutive very productive outings against Cleveland and Charlotte, Will Barton and Joel Freeland put up goose eggs in the scoring column. Meyers Leonard, who had literally hundreds of fans in attendance from his hometown of Robinson, Illinois, had two buckets on the night (four points, both of them dunks.  Luke Babbitt (five points, five rebounds, 2-3 FG, 1-1 3PT) had a pretty efficient night shooting the ball, when he got a chance, even though the Pacers were desperately trying to run Babbitt off the three-point line. However, despite the fact that the Pacers were scoring, the Trail Blazers were still doing damage. Damian Lillard had nine of his 23 points in the second quarter and was a tough assignment for anybody on Indiana's team. Lillard put up very good numbers against a team that ranks second in the league in defensive efficiency. A buzzer-beating JJ Hickson lay-up closed the quarter to give the Trail Blazers a two-point lead heading into halftime.

    Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, their start to the game was not duplicated in the second half. The Pacers came out firing on all cylinders to begin the third quarter, going on a 6-0 run to start things off. The third quarter was where the game got away from the road weary Trail Blazers.

    "I thought Indiana came out with a lot of aggressiveness at both ends of the floor," Stotts said. "I don't necessarily think we reacted quick enough to that."

    Portland had come out in a zone during much of the game to attack the Pacers post-oriented offensive attack. Stotts credited the Pacers for their adjustments and their defense as well as David West, who took the game over in the third quarter despite being quiet in the first half. West scored eight points in the third quarter to help propel the Pacers to a big run (16 points, 10 rebounds) . Meanwhile, it seemed the only Trail Blazer who could get anything going was JJ Hickson. Hickson, coming off two below average performances, came back in a big way, rising to the occasion against Indiana's very talented front court. Hickson finished with his first double-double in four games of 14 points and 12 rebounds, after making a habit of getting double-doubles early in the season. However, despite Hickson's efforts, the Trail Blazers were down by 15 after the third quarter.

    "They just stepped up in the third quarter and we didn't necessarily match that," Stotts said.

    In the fourth quarter, the lead for the Pacers got as big as 18 after a Paul George three-pointer to start things.  George was a thorn in the Trail Blazers side all night long as he followed up his 34-point outing last night with 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists tonight.

    But, as is customary for this Trail Blazers team, they just kept plugging away. Behind Wesley Matthews (19 points, four rebounds, three assists), they came back into this game. Matthews had a stretch from the 10:19 mark of the fourth quarter to the 7:26 mark where he was responsible for 13 consecutive Trail Blazers points (scoring 11, assisting on 2). Just like that, the Trail Blazers were back in the game again. A Lillard lay-up made the deficit only four points with seven minutes left. However, the Trail Blazers run just ran out of steam and they could not get the stops they needed nor the timely shots to go down as they did on Monday in Charlotte. The Pacers locked in defensively in the final five and a half minutes as the Trail Blazers didn't score a field goal until JJ Hickson scored a bucket with 12 second left, when the Pacers had basically put the game out of reach. It was an all too familiar situation that the Trail Blazers found themselves in tonight, but the magic just wasn't there.

    "It was a nice effort at the end, but we can't put ourselves in those positions," Stotts said. "It was a tough night on a lot of fronts."

    The Trail Blazers finally come home as their seven-game road trip comes to an end as they finish 2-5 on the trip. It was a tough one that made the Trail Blazers stare adversity right in the face. After losing four straight, they came back with two emotionally charged overtime victories. However, the reached their limit for comebacks and drama on this trip.

    Their next game will be Saturday at the Rose Garden against the Sacramento Kings. Tip off for that one is at 7PM and it will be shown on KGW and NBATV. It can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.
     
    A few things not to miss: the second half highlights from Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey.

    Also, don't miss Wheels' call of Meyers Leonard's thundering slam.



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