Blazers drop third straight game 102-98 in Memphis
The Portland Trail Blazers are in the midst of a their first three-game losing streak after losing to the Memphis Grizzlies 102-98. But the final score, thanks to a late flurry by the Blazers and better defense, is misleading.
The Grizzlies were ahead of this game from the outset and the Blazers showed some professional pride by not having the starters sit in the final five minutes for the second straight night.
The Grizzlies were playing without Mike Conley and the Blazers, playing on the second night of a back-to-back knew this. But his back-up Beno Udrih ended up being deadly in clutch moments for Memphis, hitting two big shots in the final 30 seconds, which ended gave the Grizzlies the cushion to hold on.
He did this after getting leveled by Chris Kaman.
LaMarcus Aldridge carried the Blazers with 32 points, nine rebounds and three blocks. He played tough on D, especially in the final minute. Wesley Matthews bounced back after two rough shooting games scoring 25 points. Damian Lillard didn’t have a great night from the field, going nine-of-26, but still had six rebounds, six assists and two steals.
Of course, the invisible man was Nicolas Batum once again. Batum struggled to be productive, scored only 3 points and two rebounds in 30 minutes of play. In a game where the Blazers were outrebounded by 10, they needed Batum’s aggression on the boards. But like nearly everything else in his game so far this season, his rebounding is down too and the Blazers have rebounded a smidgen better with him on the bench according to NBA.com.
But Batum wasn’t the only reason they fell behind by 20 points. The Grizzlies outworked them on the glass the whole night and the bench didn’t produce like they did the previous night in San Antonio.
CJ McCollum played just five minutes and Meyers Leonard couldn’t get a bucket to go save for a little floater in the paint. Steve Blake played tough defense, kept his dribble alive and made a couple of shots. But the Blazers were outplayed by Memphis as they showed why they made the move for Jeff Green.
Green scored 17 points off the bench and grabbed some huge offensive rebounds in 30 minutes of play. Another thing that we’ve seen is a difference in these big Western Conference teams is Portland’s ability to take advantage of opponents mistakes.
In the loss to the Spurs last season, the Spurs conversion rate on second chances and turnovers was a huge reason why they won. The Grizzlies forced only seven turnovers but scored 11 points, just as many as Portland scored on 14.
The Grizzlies are a disciplined defensive team and they deserve credit for knowing how to cover up their mistakes. But Portland must be more cutthroat with these chances, especially against the playoff teams in the west.
- Kaman made some big plays for the Blazers in the fourth quarter of this one but he couldn’t buy a bucket tonight. He was two-for-nine and a four of those misses were inside the restricted area. Kaman, Leonard and Aldridge both had four fouls for the stretch run. Leonard picked up his fifth early in the fourth quarter.
- Kosta Koufos outplayed Leonard tonight and he had an impact in the last game against the Blazers. While Portland’s starters were outplayed, Memphis’ bench outplaying Portland’s is a theme from the first two meetings.
- The Blazers remain in second place in the Western Conference by half a game over Memphis. But Golden State is starting to really rise above the rest in the standings. They beat the Rockets by 25 in Houston tonight. The Blazers are closer to the fifth seed right now than they are of first place even though they sit in second place.
- The Blazers face the Sacramento Kings Monday back in Portland. The Kings beat the Blazers back in November when Mike Malone was still their coach. But DeMarcus Cousins has never made it easy on the Blazers.