Blazer Banter

Road Takes: Cold, sloppy 3rd quarter overshadows Lillard’s career-high 41

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

That, my friends, was an ugly basketball game.

It was 123-119 Kings, a high-scoring game.

Don’t let the 4th quarter scoring numbers fool you, however. 89 combined points in the 4th quarter, something that hasn’t happened since 1991 may sound like it was an exciting, up-and-down affair.

Here’s what wasn’t exciting: 62 combined fouls for the whole game and a season-high for fouls for the Blazers with 37, six more than their previous high against Golden State on November 23rd.

Other than Damian Lillard, the other thing that wasn’t very exciting was the play of the Blazers.

First of all: turnovers. The Blazers were averaging 14 turnovers per game coming in to tonight’s game and committed 16 tonight. However, many of the Blazers turnovers led to Kings baskets as they scored 25 points off turnovers and had 18 fast break points, outscoring Portland in that category by 8.

Although the Blazers season so far would have led you to believe they would clean things up, they didn’t. The sloppy passes continued and Lillard, while excellent scoring 26 of his 41 in the fourth quarter, was the culprit for 6 of the turnovers.

Although some could lay blame on Nicolas Batum, he didn’t play too poorly. Yes, there were some moments where he went after plays with one hand that he could normally make with two but his numbers were solid at games-end: 11 points, 11 rebounds and five assists.

Wesley Matthews, who has been on a tear to start the season and has been one of the best shooters in the league, is the guy who didn’t shoot like he has been.

Matthews has gone 1-for-12 from three-point range over the last two Blazers losses and while it’s not time to panic, this could be just a little bump in the road. Either way, not having Matthews’ near automatic three-point shots shows just what he means to Portland’s offense.

The third quarter, the Blazers looked like they had no confidence or belief in their offensive game. Sloppy passes that interrupted Portland’s usually seamless movement around the court led to three of the 16 turnovers and Portland struggled the whole night making shots.

LaMarcus Aldridge got his numbers in this choppy, stop and start affair. He shot poorly, going eight-for-20, but he got to the line and finished with 24 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

The Kings team can beat people and they can get hot. DeMarcus Cousins hung his 3rd 30-10 double-double against the Blazers and Rudy Gay, who wasn’t with the Kings when the two teams last met, scored 32 points on uncharacteristically efficient shooting (10-for-16).

The Kings shot 50 (!) free-throws in the game, something that’s happened five times this season across the league.

Isaiah Thomas was the difference for Sacramento in the third quarter, scoring 11 of his 22 points on six shots helping the Kings outscore Portland 25-13 in the quarter that put Portland in the passenger seat.

Lillard tried to salvage the game in the fourth quarter in a valiant effort. He scored 26 points in the final period, a franchise record for points in a quarter and the Blazers had a bunch of chances to really put a scare into the Kings with time left in the game.

However, whether it was an open three for Matthews or free-throws by Aldridge and Lopez late in the game, the Blazers just didn’t get the bounces they need to make the miracle come true.

Free fall would be premature and regression probably would be, too.

Nevertheless, Portland is in danger of sabotaging a stretch that was supposed to build them a cushion for later on in the season.

Notes

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He started writing about NBA Basketball for SwishScout.com before being the Sports Reporter Intern for TrailBlazers.com. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers news.

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