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

Trail Blazers Lose 101-100 Heartbreaker In Philly

03/18/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    LaMarcus Aldridge scored 32 points an grabbed 14 rebounds but his final shot came up centimeters short of getting Portland the victory. The Trail Blazers (31-35) lost a tough one 101-100 to the Sixers (26-40). The Trail Blazers scored eight points in the game's final 55 seconds to give themselves a chance to win but the ball didn't bounce their way on the final play of the game.

    "Well, it was a helluva finish," Terry Stotts said. "I thought LA had a good look and I'm pleased with the shot that we got. We had a lot of good efforts tonight to get us back in the game. Just came up short."

    The Trail Blazers, as they have for the last three games, started off slow on the defensive end. The Sixers, a team that lives off a healthy dose of midrange jumpers was not only getting those, but getting them in rhythm. The likes of Spencer Hawes and Damien Wilkens were setting up shop inside the arc and doing well. The Trail Blazers were also struggling to close out on Dorell Wright, a dangerous shooter when left open.

    However, while the Trail Blazers were trying to get their bearings on defense, Aldridge was putting on a clinic on offense, keeping Portland in the game. Aldridge went off, scorching Philadelphia's Spencer Hawes in the post. He scored 16 of Portland's 28 points in the first quarter, almost single-handedly keeping them in the game. On the day he was named Western Conference Player of the Week, Aldridge showed why he is one of the league's premier big men. But despite all of this, the Trail Blazers struggled to contain the Sixers on defense.

    The Sixers would end the half up by eight points and Portland once against faced the familiar beast of trying to comeback on the road.

    The beginning of the third quarter didn't offer much hope, either. However, early into the third, Stotts decided to swap Joel Freeland (six points, four rebounds in 12 minutes), coming off his best game on Saturday against Detroit, for JJ Hickson (16 minutes four rebounds, four points). Freeland made a lay-up on an offensive rebound and during Freeland's eight minutes the Trail Blazers were able to cut the Sixers lead from 13 down to eight. By quarters end, the Trail Blazers found themselves down by six after a Meyers Leonard (six points, three rebounds, 17 minutes) lay-up.

    Although Terry Stotts told reporters on Saturday that he intended to use Nicolas Batum in stretch-four situations, he was prompted by "feel" to insert Luke Babbitt into the game. Babbitt, who has seen his minutes go down significantly as of late, stepped up big in the fourth quarter. Babbitt played all 12 minutes of the fourth, scored six points and dished two assists aiding the comeback. Damian Lillard (27 points, seven assists, seven rebounds), who was hounded all night by All-Star Jrue Holiday (27 points, eight rebounds, six assists), one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, went 4-4 in the final period.

    Aldridge hit a lay-up to put the Trail Blazers up by three with just over four minutes left. However, the Sixers went on an 8-0 run, putting the Trail Blazers in the precarious position of having to comeback from five points down with just a little over a minute left in the game. As always, the Trail Blazers continued to compete.

    After a Wesley Matthews (six points, six assists) missed a corner three, Lillard chased down the rebound and got an up and under to go with the foul. Lillard missed the following free-throw and despite the fact the Trail Blazers played excellent defense for the next possession, Holiday hit a tough jumper in front of the Portland bench to make it a five point game again. Once again, the offensive glass kept Portland in it, as Babbitt grabbed his only rebound and got the ball to Aldridge who hit an improbable 26-foot three.

    The Trail Blazers had to play the free-throw game they were forced to foul Holiday, who then hit two free-throws. But, without warning, Portland's rookie struck right back with a deep three as Holiday had a rare lapse on defense, putting his hand down in-front of Lillard, allowing him to get the shot off. Then luck took another turn the Trail Blazers way as Holiday tripped on the foot of his own teammate while trying to catch the ball as it went off his fingertips out of bounds, giving Portland a shot to win the game with 7.1 seconds left.

    They went to what got them in the game in the first place, with Aldridge on the block against Hawes. Aldridge backed Hawes down into the paint, lost him, turned around and shot the ball. It danced on the rim for two bounces before going out. Matthews got a piece of the ball trying to tip it in, but after a series of fortunate bounces, the final one didn't break their way.
     
    Aldridge hasn't lost confidence in himself or his team.

    "I feel like, if we got everybody out there again, I would make it. I'm not losing confidence in myself or in my teammates."

    The Trail Blazers will need that confidence, as every team they face gets progressively better as the road trip continues.

    The Trail Blazers are on to Milwaukee to face the Bucks tomorrow night. Tip-off is set for 5PM and the game will be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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