Blazers get back in the win column against Pacers 95-85
Behind a dominating second quarter, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Indiana Pacers 95-85 Saturday night in Indianapolis. But the game wasn’t as close as the final score leads on.
We got what should have been expected with a Western Conference team fresh off losing two in a row taking on a floundering Eastern Conference team slowly with the longest active losing streak in the league. The Blazers were dominant in the first 2.5 quarters.
Nicolas Batum was the catalyst for the Blazers. Active off the dribble and going to the rim, he finished with 11 points, five assists, four rebounds and three steals. However, his struggles from the 3-point line continued as he was 1-of-5 from deep. It didn’t really matter against the Pacers tonight.
The Blazers stars went cold after combining for 70 points against Chicago Friday night. LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard were a combined 15-for-45 but the Blazers got some key contributions from other places.
The bench was key for Portland, especially in the second quarter where they built their lead.
Steve Blake cooked the Pacers second unit like Chef Ramsey in the second quarter. He finished with eight points and seven assists in 22 minutes.
Chris Kaman, a non-factor against the Bulls, came back to life against Indiana’s front line. Kaman had a line more in line with his play this season with 10 points and six rebounds off the bench.
Luis Scola had 10 points off the bench with five rebounds but nobody else on the Pacers bench really had a night worth remembering.
But midway through the third quarter, the Pacers started to turn on their defense and Portland’s offense stopped getting quality looks. The Blazers took 36 midrange jumpers and only 17 3-pointers.
CJ Watson started to feel it from the outside, hitting four 3-pointers on the night to finish with 23 points. Rodney Stuckey was aggressive, taking 19 shots but only finished with 14 points but did grab 14 rebounds.
The Pacers made a valiant effort in the final stretches of the game but the 29-point Blazers lead was too much for them to overcome.
It wasn’t a pretty win for the Blazers but against the Pacers, nothing is pretty. Portland got what they came for and can now come back home without the feeling of being too disappointed. A third straight loss coming into a tilt with the Defending Champs would have had the panic bells ringing.
- Let’s pump the brakes on the “Nic Batum’s shot is back” train. He had a very good night, especially when compared to his game last night. He was aggressive, got to the rim and got other guys involved. Batum told The Columbian prior to the season that he wanted to get to the free-throw line more. Tonight, you saw the type of attacks that would get him to the line more. His 3-point shooting didn’t improve tonight, going 1-for-5. The Blazers need to maximize his effectiveness. Having him attack the rim, where he shoots above 70 percent, is a good place to start.
- Robin Lopez was also much more efficient tonight. He picked his spots judiciously and was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for eight points and eight rebounds. He and Kaman were non-factors last night against Chicago and Indiana proved to be a much better match-up.
- Damian Lillard finished with 17 points and four assists on 22 shots. It wasn’t his best night. But Dame did end up finding success around the basket.
- Steve Blake had a wonderful game off the bench.
- The Blazers barely touch down at home before they go back on the road for an even tougher road trip. They face the defending champion Spurs who knocked them out of last year’s playoffs on Monday. Then they face the surprisingly competitive Milwaukee Bucks on Wednesday before going to San Antonio to start a Western Conference road trip. The Blazers stumbled on this trip even though they finished with a winning record. It doesn’t get any easier in the Western Conference.
- The Blazers defense had better results on Saturday than they did on Friday against the Bulls. But they still allowed the same amount of shots at the rim as they did to the Bulls, 32. The Blazers did a better job defending the restricted area and it definitely helps not playing Derrick Rose. The Pacers second-half success was mostly a product of their success from midrange.