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

Matthews' Career Night Not Enough In Milwaukee

03/19/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    Wesley Matthews had a big night in his return to his hometown, scoring 28 points and connecting on a career-high seven threes. But it wasn't enough as the Trail Blazers (31-35) had an eight-point second quarter and lost to the Bucks (34-32).

    When it comes to losses, it's the more dramatic ones that hurt the most. Unfortunately, it's not uncommon for the after affects of such a loss to spill over into the next game. It appeared that there were after-effects of their last-second loss to the Sixers after a furious comeback on Monday night in tonight's game in Milwaukee. It didn't help matters that the Trail Blazers fell back into the bad habits that have plagued them for the last few games.

    “Milwaukee kept the game in doubt for a while. My hat is off to them. They gave it all they could. It was just too big of hole at halftime to come back from," Terry Stotts said.

    The Trail Blazers had a decent offensive half, but allowed the Bucks to get into an offensive comfort zone. Help on dribble penetration didn't come soon enough, shooters were stepping into their shots and the Bucks were getting out into transition. Whether it was Monta Ellis, Brandon Jennings or JJ Redick, it felt like it didn't matter. They were getting everything they wanted offensively and making the most of their opportunities.

    Making matters far worse, the Trail Blazers had their worst offensive quarter of the season in the second quarter. The Bucks continued to have success from the field and the Trail Blazers were plagued by cold shooting, pro decisions and their continued struggles on defense. The Bucks won the second quarter 31-8 with Portland not making a field goal for the first 8:04 of the quarter.

    "When we don't score for the first six minutes, we just didn't play well," Terry Stotts said. "Whether it's missed shots, bad decisions, it wasn't good basketball."

    The Trail Blazers entered the half down by 27 and with a chance to pack it in, Wesley Matthews wouldn't let the team go down without a fight in front of friends and family in his native Wisconsin.

    Matthews caught fire from deep, setting a new career high from deep hitting seven of his 11 three-point attempts. The Trail Blazers were getting more stops too, with more active help defense from all positions on the court and the Bucks weren't simply catching and shooting everything they got. The Trail Blazers got the lead from 27 down to 11 at one point, but the Bucks were able to push it back to 20 at quarters end. Towards the end of the third, Stotts inserted Luke Babbitt (13 minutes, nine points, three threes) to give the Trail Blazers improved floor space and in the fourth quarter it paid dividends, as Portland finally got it to single-digits. Aldridge (21 points, 15 rebounds) had more room to operate in the middle and the Trail Blazers set up shop from deep.

    “I’m going to play every game, no matter where it is, with heart. I’m going to play every game to win. I’m not going to sell out for my teammates. That’s just how this game is supposed to be played. I was able to hit a few shots. My teammates were finding me. I got hot a little bit in the second half. They had a couple timely baskets.”

    Batum (15 points), Babbitt and Matthews all were able to hit three is in the final period and Damian Lillard (eight points, 11 assists) was helping get the ball to the hot shooters on a night where he was not one. The Trail Blazers got as close as seven points with 1:32 left, but they couldn't take advantage of a Bucks turnover on the next possession as they turned it over themselves. The Bucks also made some timely shots in the final period to slow down Portland's comeback.

    It was a similar all too similar for the Trail Blazers with their poor start, but their eight-point second quarter gave them no chances tonight. They fought, but 27 points was far too big of a hole to dig out of, especially coming off of their one-point loss only 24 hours before.

    Monta Ellis came close to a triple-double for the Bucks with 21 points, nine rebounds and eight assists and his partner in crime Brandon Jennings had 24 points and seven assists. JJ Redick pitched in 14 off the bench.

    The Trail Blazers are off tomorrow but face the Chicago Bulls on Thursday in the Windy City. Tip-off is set for 5PM and the game will be shown on TNT. It can also be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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