Blazers drop third straight game to Bucks 95-88

(AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

(AP Photo/Darren Hauck)

The Portland Trail Blazers continued their most unsuccessful stretch of basketball Saturday in a 95-88 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks.

The Blazers shot 37 percent and only 29 percent from long-range. They committed 16 turnovers which led to 14 Milwaukee Bucks. Frankly, the score leads on that this game was closer than it actually was.

The Bucks led this game by as much as 20 points and the Blazers looked like they were in a different league. The Bucks aggressively doubled on Aldridge, usually with Batum’s man, and forced the Blazers to beat them with smart passing. The Blazers turned it over a ton and the open looks they did get, the mostly missed.

Wesley Matthews and Dorell Wright were a combined 6-for-11 from the field. Everybody else was 3-for-20. The Bucks deserve a ton of credit for how much trouble the Blazers had scoring. They are a top-five defense for a reason and Jason Kidd showed some smart coaching by basically leaving Batum.

Giannis also busted out what Bucks blogger Eric Buenning called the “LaZBoy Windmill.”

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This is where we are in Batum’s struggles that smart coaches are basically leaving him. He brings other things to the table that the Blazers otherwise don’t have on the roster. He does the little things better than the other wings on the team right now and he’s a great playmaker. There are ways that Batum is still effective. But shooting just isn’t one of them and for Portland to even have hopes of making it out of the first round he, or someone else that plays with the starting five, has to start hitting shots.

Chris Kaman played only 10 minutes and didn’t find a rhythm in his return to the bench. ¬†Meyers Leonard got the start and played only 8 minutes. The Blazers were down by 6 when he was subbed out of the game in the first quarter and he got back in the game when Stotts threw in the towel. The line-up that posted good numbers in limited minutes didn’t see the floor after the first shift.

The Bucks made the Blazers work all night long and Milwaukee just executed better on the offensive end. They hit a higher percentage of their 3-pointers and they were efficient around the rim. They weren’t overly great from midrange but they were good enough to win.

The Blazers shot chart is for mature audiences only.

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For all of the hand-wringing about the Blazers shot selection, a lack of shots at the rim cannot be blamed for tonight’s loss. The Blazers just couldn’t make anything around the rim. The Bucks only took 21 shots inside the restricted area per NBA.com.

Portland’s offense is just stuck in neutral and they keep slowly rolling backwards down the hill.

Batum’s effectiveness off the ball is basically non-existent. He can still defend his position and give point guards trouble with his length. And it seems that until he can make shots, teams will put more attention at making everything harder for everyone else.

Lopez being back will help his game and everybody’s. The defense will have to respect his presence in the middle and it will take pressure off everybody on Portland’s offense.

The Blazers lost to three good teams and Oklahoma City is still 8.5 games back in the division and can’t get it together.

But at the very least, it makes you think about what it would be like for Portland in a series situation. If good teams aren’t guarding Batum and if he, or nobody else, can step in to that role and make shots on the wing, how long would they really last?

Other things

  • Lillard’s struggles have dragged during this tough 10 game stretch where Portland’s gone 2-8. He’s shooting 33 percent from the field on over 19 shots per game and 24 percent on 3’s. He’s dishing 6.5 assists and grabbing 4 rebounds. But he’s struggling and the Blazers are too. Aldridge was great since coming back. Even Matthews has slipped a little bit, shooting below 39 percent from the field. The Blazers offense is 20th in the league over the last 10 games per NBA.com averaging 99.7 points per 100 possessions.
  • Dorell Wright has brought the Blazers good minutes as a 3-point shooter and rebounder on the wing but mostly in smallball line-ups as a power forward. He hit a pair of big 3’s tonight but then the Blazers started running honest to god plays for him. The Blazers offense was so dry tonight they were running dribble hand-off’s for Wright. He didn’t make a shot aside from that run but he did give the Blazers something off the bench.
  • The Blazers have the Jazz next. They are kind of funky and present problems. Gordon Hayward will be a problem by the wing. Rudy Gobert is finally getting the minutes he deserves and they just beat the Warriors, who’ve dominated the league so far this season. If Portland’s offense doesn’t find a way to pick it up as a unit, they’ll keep struggling, no matter who their opponent is.

 

 

 

Erik Gundersen

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's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on ESPN.com's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

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