Blazer Banter

Road Takes: Blazers Can’t Stop Gasol, Aldridge Can’t Find His Shot As Portland Drops 3rd Straight

Marc Gasol, Robin Lopez

The struggles continue for the Portland Trail Blazers.

They lost their third game in a row on Tuesday in Memphis against the Grizzlies by the score of 109-99.

Damian Lillard scored 32 points, going 4-of-8 from three and getting to the foul line a bunch and even though Portland had some flurries, they never really had a chance to steal this one.

After we thought LaMarcus Aldridge had maybe found a groove in Dallas, he’s had back to back off nights from the field. Over his last two games including Tuesday’s loss to the Grizzlies, Aldridge has gone 18-for-50 from the field.

While Aldridge’s shooting, and that of the Blazers as a whole was a concern tonight, it was their defense that was most problematic on Tuesday night.

The second quarter was the worst for the Blazers as the Grizzlies scored 32 points to help them take a seven point lead into halftime. Nick Calathes helped in a big way off the Grizzlies bench, scoring 8 points and dishing seven assists in the first half.

Marc Gasol was also dominant for the entire game, protecting the rim without fouling like the maestro that he is. He finished with 19 points, 9 rebounds and seven assists.

Gasol also dominated the Blazers from the high post, where he controls the game like a “big point guard” as Victor Claver has described Gasol’s game.

The Blazers attention to the three-point line appeared to open them up to backcuts by Memphis guards, which helped them get 14 shots at the rim in the first half.

The Grizzlies only attempted three three-pointers in the first half but they didn’t have to because they were shooting nearly 58 percent from the field.

In the second half, the Blazers cleared up some of their issues around the basket but then Gasol started to hit from the midrange off pick and rolls and Memphis’ shooters woke up.

The Grizzlies took 9 threes, making four and the Blazers struggles on the offensively continued.

Gasol was using the whole bag of tricks in the second half but he and the rest of the Grizzlies enjoyed 9-for-14 second half from the midrange. Courtney Lee also did his part in destroying the Blazers from the midrange, finishing with 16 points, all of which came in the second half.

If you’re the Blazers, you want to see red and there is none to see on Memphis’ shot chart tonight.

Grizzlies

Aldridge continued to struggle against a stout defensive team in the Grizzlies. Very little would fall for him either on his long twos or even his takes into the paint. It appears at times that Aldridge is forcing it, like he said he was last week.

Aldridge and much of the team’s struggles on offense did them no favors but had they been able to get stops earlier, it would have just been another issue.

Portland had improved defensively but their recent slide makes it seem as though that improvement was more a product of a soft schedule than any new found defensive mojo.

And, even after Gasol came back in January, the Grizzlies have been a below-average offense and there is really no excuse to allow them to score and shoot as well as they did.

The shots at the rim got Memphis going and that confidence carried over to the rest of their offensive game.

Perhaps it’s the match-up against Gasol that causes the Blazers problems, especially with his deadly midrange jumper and passing ability, as this is Memphis’ second straight above-average offensive game against the Blazers.

Whatever the problems are, Portland doesn’t have much time to fix them.

They face the San Antonio Spurs, owners of the NBA’s best record, tomorrow night on national TV.

 

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 and NBA news.

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