MEMPHIS — The Portland Trail Blazers moved to 42-22 on the season, 18-14 away from home and 0-3 on their current road trip after falling 109-99 to the Grizzlies Tuesday night at FedExForum in Memphis.
“Probably what’s frustrating is I thought we competed really hard,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “We were aggressive, got to the free throw line. It seemed like they made big shots and we came up empty. I thought (Memphis) shot the ball really well. I thought we defended but they shot the ball well. We gave up too many fastbreak points in the first half but we controlled that in the second half. They’re a good team, especially here at home.”
Portland has now lost three-straight for just the second time this season. With the loss, the Trail Blazers hold a two-game lead on the Golden State Warriors for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
The Trail Blazers took a 23-22 lead into the second quarter despite shooting 36 percent from the field while the Grizzlies shot 52 percent. But the poor shooting would eventually catch up with the road team, with the Grizzlies shooting 56 percent for the game to outscore Portland 87-76 in the final three quarters.
“We won the first quarter, they had a little spurt,” said Stotts. “I thought we had a lot of shots that we normally make. We took care of the ball, we got to the free throw line, we were aggressive. Give them credit, they’re a good defensive team but I thought it was one of those nights.”
Portland was led by Damian Lillard, who shot 8 of 22 from the field and 4 of 8 from three to finish with two points while handing out seven assists and grabbing four rebounds while turning the ball over just two times in 39 minutes.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, assert myself in the game and just make sure I could have an impact on the game” said Lillard. “Whether I was digging on the post and helping, being more vocal, being more aggressive on offense. I thought we played a really aggressive game, played really hard. Some things just didn’t go our way.”
LaMarcus Aldridge logged a double-double with 19 points and 10 rebounds, but shot just 8 of 23 from the field.
“I’m getting great shots,” said Aldridge. “I had at least six open shots tonight that I (usually) knock down, just not making them right now. As I play more and more I should make them. It was just one of those nights. I made them on and off. I actually got to the basket better than I’ve done all season tonight, so that was kind of funny. But I had looks that I didn’t make tonight.”
Nicolas Batum also stuggled from the field (5 of 13) but shot3 of 5 from three to finish with 15 points and eight rebounds.
“I thought defensively we did a good job,” said Grizzlies center Marc Gasol. “We did a really good job on LaMarcus Aldridge by making every shot tough and being physical with him. By taking him away, we made them an outside team.”
Both Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson played extended minutes off the bench with Robin Lopez getting into early foul trouble. The second-year players each shot 4 of 6 from the field to finish with eight points apiece.
The Grizzlies had five players score in double figures led by Gasol, who got into shouting distance of a triple-double with 19 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes.
In injury news, backup guard Mo Williams left the game in the second quarter with pain in his right hip. He did not return and his status for Wednesday night’s game versus the Spurs in San Antonio is unknown.
“We’ve just got to go out there an keep playing,” said Lillard. “We can’t be worried about what’s happened these last three games and we can’t get caught up in, ‘There’s something missing. We need to fix this, we need to fix that.’ We’ve got to go out there and be ourselves and try to make it a game coming down the stretch and try to win one.”
Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 5:30 PM on CSNNW, ESPN and 620 AM.