Blazers sloppy in 110-92 loss to Suns
The Portland Trail Blazers lost 110-92 to the Phoenix Suns Friday in the first of a back-to-back between the two teams. Both teams are at 1-1 heading into tomorrow night’s match-up at the Moda Center.
And I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised that Portland’s first game away from home had them looking a little green. The Blazers committed 23 turnovers in the loss.
After combining for 58 points in the opener, Portland’s backcourt of CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard went 14-for-42. McCollum missed many of the shots he hit in the opener, with an unpleasant 7-of-22 performance. Damian Lillard tried to find a rhythm but could never get it going or get any room to breathe on the perimeter, going 7-of-20.
Phoenix center Tyson Chandler looked like he was in his prime against Portland’s defense early on in the game which set the tone. Chandler had 10 points and 4 rebounds in his first nine minutes. Portland suffered a variety of defensive miscues. Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee failing to communicate in the pick and roll. Portland getting scrambled in transition. Or in the halfcourt, such as when Moe Harkless thought McCollum was switching a dribble handoff and thus let Sonny Weems get to the rim for an and-1.
But the Blazers survived the hot Phoenix start to tie the game midway through the second quarter. They had a chance going into the second half.
Then the third quarter happened. The #Bazers came to life. For those unaware, #Bazers is used to refer to the team when the Blazers begin to play terribly. My buddy and podcast co-host Sean Highkin and I agreed this could be a renaissance season for the #Bazers. And they unleashed the full power of the #Bazers in the third quarter with 11 turnovers.
It began on the first possession of the third when Mason Plumlee threw a pass right to a Phoenix defender as he tried to hit a completely covered CJ McCollum with a backdoor pass. Then Meyers Leonard couldn’t handle a Damian Lillard pass on a pick and roll on the very next possession.
Al-Farouq Aminu was called for a charge about a minute later and then the Blazers lost control. The Phoenix lead was up to 10 quickly and Portland couldn’t find a way to stop the bleeding offensively, as much as defensively. In fact, their offensive problems were a little bit worse. According to NBA.com, the Blazers scored 86.5 points per 100 possessions while allowing 99.6. The game had nearly 108 possessions per NBA.com.
The box score would lead you to believe that Portland played poorly defensively, but neither team played well offensively. It was just played at a furious pace. The Suns went 4-of-18 from 3. Leonard pulled Chandler away from the rim but couldn’t buy a bucket. His early struggles kept him from looking for his shot for the rest of the game. He took only five shots.
Leonard also got into foul trouble, getting his fourth in the third quarter. He wasn’t the only Blazer in deep foul trouble. Al-Farouq Aminu picked up his fifth foul with 5:43 left in the third quarter.
After dishing six assists in the opener, Plumlee was more of a finisher for the Blazers, going to the block far more often than he did against New Orleans. But he got a handful of points in garbage times.
As I wrote after the preseason finale when we saw the Blazers lose a 35-point lead, this season is very likely going to be a roller coaster of highs and lows in the experiences of this team. They’re capable of scoring 40 in a quarter and then 11 turnovers the next.
Portland will get another shot at them tomorrow. The Blazers backcourt was hounded by Phoenix. Portland’s 23 turnovers were preseason-like display.
- Moe Harkless can be all over the place. Sometimes he will fall asleep in halfcourt defense and then other times he can make spectacular blocks in transition. He made a couple of 3-pointers and had very good numbers. But you see what he does and think there can be more. He played a little bit better in the fourth quarter. He had nine points and five rebounds in 24 minutes.
- The Suns really played good defense at times and their length seemed to bother the Blazers at the rim. The Blazers were 19-of-38 inside the restricted area, a very low number. The Suns were 27-of-38 inside the restricted area and also took 42 free-throws. The Blazers have to finish better but they can’t allow the Suns to live at the free-throw line and the rim.
- The last two and a half minutes saw the official NBA debuts for Pat Connaughton and Luis Montero. Connaughton made his first NBA 3-pointer.
- Foul trouble and turnovers soured a pretty good night for Aminu. He has missed several quality looks at the basket in both games. Friday he had 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. We also saw some of him at power forward as I thought they might in the scouting report. Aminu really gets fired up on the court, which is something I didn’t notice about him as much in other stops.