76ers embarrass Blazers in 114-89 blowout
The Portland Trail Blazers joined the Lakers, Timberwolves, Suns and Kings as the only teams to lose to the Philadelphia 76ers this season and did so in embarrassing fashion Saturday, 114-89. The Sixers led by as many as 31 points in the game and dominated the Blazers in a wire-to-wire victory which was undoubtedly their best win of the season.
Portland’s dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both had a bad night, which is usually a bad sign for the Blazers, going a combined 12-for-36 (33.3 percent) from the field. But of course, this night was much worse than that. The Blazers gave up 114 points to one of the worst offenses of all-time (Kanye voice)!
Mason Plumlee’s usually resourceful playmaking became a turnover factory for Nerlens Noel and most importantly, the Blazers were 5-for-27 (18.5 percent) from the 3-point line.
The 76ers dominated the Blazers in the first half. And the culprit for Portland’s poor start was their inability to slow down Philadelphia rookie center Jahlil Okafor. First it was Mason Plumlee, then it was Meyers Leonard who had his turn getting cooked by the rookie out of Duke. Okafor scored 17 points in the first quarter!
The Blazers looked terrible offensively, showing little life in their movement and lacked both the patience and aggression to put the Philadelphia defense in compromising positions.
Okafor finished one point shy of his career-high with 25 points and he also had 10 rebounds
The Blazers, perhaps thinking that since the 76ers are terrible, started looking for all their own shots. The Blazers lacked ball movement and it seemed that every possession ended in a one-on-one situation. It didn’t help matters that the Blazers couldn’t connect from the outside, unlike last night in Brooklyn where it seemed like they couldn’t miss from deep. The Blazers also got dominated in halfcourt situations.
The first half of Saturday night’s game was clearly the most disappointing half for the Blazers defensively this season. That’s saying something, because they’ve had a lot. But even though the 76ers have improved since adding Ish Smith and Mike D’Antoni to help coach the offense, the way the Blazers were torched was simply unacceptable for a team that must improve defensively.
In the West, the 8th seed is going to be a team with a major flaw who’ll be swept by Golden State. The Jazz bench is horrible. Houston and Portland have hilariously bad team defenses. Portland’s first half tonight is up for one of the worst I’ve seen from any team this year and yes, that’s heavily affected by the fact it was the 76ers. Even since adding Ish Smith, they’ve still been 27th in the league in offensive rating. This was a new low for the #Bazers this year.
Not only did Okafor go off against the Blazers, the 76ers had three other guys in double-figures in the first half and two other players who scored six points. They ended up with five players in double-figures.
Although it wasn’t the highest deficit, this halfcourt alley-oop from TJ McConnell to Nerlens Noel was definitely the low point of the game from a Blazers standpoint and exemplified the difference in energy between both teams.
The Blazers did very little at the end of the half to give themselves a little bit of hope. The 76ers continued to score and the Blazers continued to look discombobulated offensively.
The 76ers did deserve quite a bit of credit for getting into the Blazers, but had the Blazers responded earlier than they did perhaps their aggression wouldn’t have been as effective. They worked hard to slow down Lillard and McCollum they accomplished their goal. The Blazers took quite a bit of time to start running their sets with conviction.
And the Blazers outside shots never came around. They didn’t execute tonight and that’s the bottom line for them. Being that it was a back-to-back against a team that blew a 24-point lead in their last game after a few days in New York probably didn’t help.
It was easily Portland’s worst loss of the season and defensively, it was several steps back from where they need to be. The Blazers are still showing their youth and they probably will for a while. But tonight was a set back in a second half of the season where the Blazers are striving to make improvements on the defensive end.
The Blazers were down by 28 after the third quarter and Stotts didn’t bother to put Lillard or McCollum in the game when it was already a lost cause in the 4th quarter. The Sixers lead got as high as 31.
- I’m not really sure who played well for the Blazers tonight because I don’t think anybody really did. Meyers Leonard was aggressive but he wasn’t efficient. Ed Davis brought his energy but the Sixers brought so much as a team that it wasn’t a factor.
- The Blazers will now likely fall back to 1.5 games behind the Utah Jazz for the 8th seed in the West after creeping up to 0.5 games. The Jazz are in the middle of a game against the Lakers, which usually means a win and as of this writing they’re winning 32-18 after 1.
- #Winsanity, baby! It just doesn’t stop! Sean Highkin and I came up with that name for the suddenly competent 76ers who actually resemble an NBA team after getting Ish Smith as well as adding some Mike D’Antoni wrinkles to their offense. Robert Convington also had 4 3-pointers tonight, which definitely helped.
- Stotts emptied the bench pretty early in the game and as we said, didn’t bring out Lillard or McCollum in the 4th quarter. Tim Frazier got all of the point guard run in the fourth quarter and Meyers Leonard, Noah Vonleh and even Pat Connaughton got an extended run.
- I saw more than a couple of responses on my twitter feed that the Blazers should be tanking in reaction to the score updates about the game. While having the asset would ultimately be helpful the Blazers are way past being able to take to get into Simmons territory. Minnesota and Phoenix have already set up shop there as far as the West and the last two teams they’ve played are guaranteed to be in the bottom four in the lottery.
- The Blazers face the Wizards on Monday at 11 am as part of the NBA’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day slate of games.