Blazers comeback falls short vs. Grizzlies, 101-100

 (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

The Memphis Grizzlies defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 101-100 Friday night at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Zach Randolph had the game-winning basket with a put-back with 0.6 seconds left.

Desperation. On both sides, that’s what this game came down to. The Grizzlies were losers of four straight games. Marc Gasol had been playing some of the worst ball of his career. The Blazers were losers of three straight games and are starting a four-game road trip. But even when they were trailing by 11 points with 4:37 left in the game, they never gave in, simply because they have nothing to fall back on.

In the end, Memphis’ veteran-laden desperation and the homecourt helped them break a four-game losing streak. Gasol answered the critics by having without a doubt the best game of the season with 31 points, 5 assists and 4 rebounds.

Portland’s CJ McCollum had 26 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists and 8 turnovers. Damian Lillard had 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting, 7 assists and three rebounds while playing through a broken and missing fingernail on his right thumb. Early in the first half, he missed an easy right-handed lay-up. It appeared that the hand was certainly bothering him.

The Blazers started Chris Kaman in place of the injured Meyers Leonard alongside Mason Plumlee. Kaman had been used sparingly throughout the season coming into Friday, which made it somewhat surprising that he got the start.

Kaman delivered in the perfect match-up for his talents. There aren’t a lot of teams that fit Kaman’s skillset like the frontcourt of Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph.

The Blazers waited to go small against the Grizzlies until midway through the second quarter. They waited to use Gerald Henderson until the start of the second quarter. It appears that he and Allen Crabbe are splitting minutes in the first  halves of games so far.

The Blazers would close the first half with the same starting line-up as Kaman continued to play productive basketball. The Blazers struggled with turnovers once again, one of their few flaws on the offensive end. But the Grizzlies started to hit shots with Green getting going as well as Mike Conley. Most importantly, Marc Gasol started to play like an All-Star again. Throughout their tough start, one constant was that Gasol’s play had been well-below his career averages, let alone his career-best season last year.

Gasol had 12 points and two assists as the Grizzlies lead the Blazers by one at halftime.

Turnovers were a problem once again for the Blazers. They’ve picked up their pace of play, which definitely has something to do with the uptick in turnovers. But there’s no way that Stotts is okay with them committing 22 turnovers against the Grizzlies, which undermined a defense that didn’t look so bad at times.

Portland’s desperation will last until at least Sunday. Memphis got a huge game from their max player and can feel the comfort in getting back in the win column.

Other notes: 

  • The thumb thing really hurt Lillard. It seemed like he wasn’t able to get the same grip on the ball and definitely didn’t have the same confidence shooting the ball from the perimeter and at the basket. Lillard always plays hurt but it appears the thumb wrap will take some getting used to.
  • Al-Farouq Aminu had 8 of his 16 points in the 4th quarter including 2 3-pointers and two blocks.
  • Allen Crabbe continues to score efficiently off the bench. Over his last fives games, Crabbe is averaging 11 points on 59.5 percent shooting and 45.5 percent shooting from the 3-point line. He continues to merit more playing time, but the Gerald Henderson’s arrival back in the line-up has noticeably cost him some minutes. Henderson hasn’t played poorly. He had five points on 2-of-5 shooting.
  • McCollum had a turnover filled night but was Portland’s best source for offense the entire night. He had 10 points in the fourth quarter.
  • Newcomer Mario Chalmers seems to be a perfect fit in Memphis. He took turns guarding Damian Lillard as well as taking the ball to the basket against the Blazers defense.
  • The Blazers played excellent offensively in the fourth quarter. They only had 2 turnovers. Offense wasn’t Portland’s problem tonight. Memphis had a very high offensive rating of 107.6 points per 100 possessions.




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'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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