Disastrous Third Quarter Dooms Trail Blazers In Oakland

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers, playing on the second night of a back-to-back, fell 103-88 to the Golden State Warriors Sunday night at Oracle Arena in Oakland.

“That was a rough game,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “First half, I thought both teams played pretty well but second half, we didn’t have much going at the offensive end. Golden State did a nice job with their defense but it’s just one of those nights where we just didn’t have enough at the offensive end.”

With the loss, the Trail Blazers move to 33-12 on the season.

The Trail Blazers started the game struggling from the field and didn’t improve much as the night went on. LaMarcus Aldridge went 0 for 5 in the first quarter, going scoreless in the first 12 minutes.

“Just one of those nights where I couldn’t get going,” said Aldridge, who shot just two for 14 from the field to end with 10 points while grabbing 10 rebounds. “I didn’t find a rhythm.”

Portland would end the quarter shooting 38 percent from the field and 67 percent from the free throw line. But despite the poor shooting, the Trail Blazers found themselves down just six going into the second quarter.

In the second, Portland’s bench would once again outplay their counterparts on the opposing bench after dominating Minnesota’s bench in the victory the night before at the Moda Center.  The combination of Mo Williams, C.J. McCollum, Wesley Matthews, Thomas Robinson and Joel Freeland started their first shift by going on a 10-2 run to start the second quarter to take a 37-33 lead with six minutes to play in the half.

“One of the positives tonight is how well the bench has been playing,” said Stotts. “C.J. (McCollum), T-Rob (Thomas Robinson), Joel (Freeland) and Mo (Williams) in the first half had a very positive impact on the game again and on the heels of last night that’s good going forward.”

Portland’s bench players outscored Golden State’s reserves 19-5 with 2:47 to play in the half, helping the Trail Blazers overcome the first quarter slump to take a 55-54 lead into the half despite 23 first-half points from Golden State’s Stephen Curry.

“I just felt like, over the past couple of games, we’re just trying to emphasis not losing anything,” said Freeland, who went a perfect 4 of 4 from the field to finish the night with eight points and seven rebounds off the bench. “Just trying to go out there and bring energy. T-Rob is doing a great job of it as well, just going out there, trying to rebound everything, run the floor, set good picks and do all the dirty things. Over the last couple of games it’s been good for us, it’s help give us a spark.”

But things would turn sour quickly in the third quarter. Curry would stay hot and David Lee would come to life, helping the Warriors begin the second half with a 16-6 run to take a 70-61 with 4:16 to play in the third.

The Trail Blazers would make just three field goals in the quarter and ended the third with just 12 points on 16 percent shooting. Portland would also commit seven of their 14 turnovers in the third resulting in a 76-67 deficit going into the final quarter.

“We got good looks, they just didn’t fall tonight,” said Matthews of their third quarter slump. “It was just one of those nights. Rough day at the office.”

In the fourth quarter, Golden State would push the lead to as many as 22 before the Trail Blazers cut the deficit to nine with just under three minutes to play in regulation. But back-to-back jumpers from Curry, who finished with a game-high 36 points, put an end to any chance of a comeback victory.

“We just struggled,” said Lillard, who 5 of 16 from the field to finish with 16 points. Offensively, it was one of those nights. They made shots, we missed shots. I thought we had some good looks, shots that we usually made and we didn’t make them tonight. With all those things going on, we still had a chance down the stretch. That’s all we’d ask for when you have that type of offensive night.”

The Trail Blazers held the Warriors to 42 percent shooting, which would usually be enough to ensure a close game but shooting a season-low 34 percent from the field ensured Portland’s defensive effort would go to waste.

“The positive in all of this is our defense was good,” said Aldridge. “We made them take tough shots, Steph made some tough ones. We outrebounded them, that’s one of our goals. We just didn’t make shots. We got stops, we didn’t capitalize on them. We had turnovers, they made us pay for turnovers. Other than that, I thought that we guarded them well.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers return home to the Moda Center to play the Memphis Grizzlies for the first time this season on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

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Shootaround Notes: Fewer Adjustments, Balancing Small Lineups And Lillard Feeling Better

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
6 hours ago

The Trail Blazers held shootaround Tuesday morning at the Olympic Club in downtown San Fransisco in preparation for tonight’s Game Two of the Western Conference semifinal matchup versus the Warriors at Oracle Arena (tipoff scheduled for 7:30 pm on TNT and 620 AM). Some notes from shootaround…

• The Trail Blazers, after losing badly in Game One of their first round series versus the Clippers, made a host of adjustments going into Game Two. Whether it was having Al-Farouq Aminu guard Chris Paul, using Mason Plumlee to initiate more of the offense or giving spot minutes to Chris Kaman, Terry Stotts and is staff came up with a number of ways to mitigate L.A.’s advantages, which ultimately helped the Trail Blazers go on to win the series in six games.

So after the Trail Blazers lost 118-106 to the the Warriors in Game One of their second round series on Sunday afternoon, one might have assumed that Portland would once again make wholesale changes in time for Game Two Tuesday night at Oracle Arena. Turns out, that isn’t necessarily the case. While the Trail Blazers are sure to try a few different things, their adjustments will likely be a change of approach rather than tactics.

“The short answer to that is a little bit less only because it’s such a different style,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of whether he’d be make more or less adjustments versus the Warriors. “So the adjustments that we’re making for this series is just trying to adjust from playing a team that’s so different than the team that we just played six games. Clippers play a different style of game, and that’s the adjustment we have to make.”

That difference in styles between the Clippers and Warriors makes Portland’s preparation for Game Two a bit more abstract than it was in the last series. The Warriors tend to play more of a freewheeling brand of basketball than the Clippers, which requires more nuanced adjustments on Portland’s end.

“I would say fewer adjustments for sure, because they play basketball,” said Mason Plumlee. “There aren’t a whole lot of plays, they exploit what they see as their playing the game. So it’s not a whole lot of scouting of plays, it’s more tendencies and personnel.”

The changes that worked versus the Clippers not necessarily working versus the Warriors is more proof of the individuality of every playoff series. The situations might be somewhat similar, but that doesn’t mean the solutions are the same.

“Everybody keeps drawing comparisons; you’ve got to let that last series go,” said Plumlee. “Every series is new, they’re a better team. This series is completely different so we have to make a point to come out and win this next game. I don’t think you can count on them getting up 2-0 and then giving you four-straight, so this next game is a big one.”

• When the Warriors went to their small lineups in Game One, the Trail Blazers countered by doing the same, with varying degrees of success. Portland played multiple lineups during the course of Sunday afternoon’s loss that have rarely been on the court together this season, if at all, including a five-man group that featured Maurice Harkless at “center” surrounded by four guards.

But Golden State has extensive experience utilizing small lineups, at least relative to Portland, and with the personnel on their roster reflecting that reality. So it’s debatable just how much the Trail Blazers should try to match those units rather than trying to take advantage of a size advantage.

“I’ll be dating myself, but when Seattle beat Golden State back in ’92, ’93, something like that, and (Don Nelson) was playing small ball and George (Karl) stayed big with Benoit Benjamin and Derrick McKey and Shawn Kemp. So (Seattle) beat (Golden State) playing to their strengths. I think the important thing is that you play to your strengths more than anything else.”

Stotts will likely continue to give some nontraditional lineups a try when the Warriors go small, but it’ll be just as important for their standard lineups to fare better than they did in Game One, particularly after giving up 16 offensive rebounds, which led to 17 second-chance points.

Said Mason Plumlee: “I think a way to punish them when they go small is to own the glass, get second-chance points and finish everything inside.”

• Though no one in the media knew about it until he answered questions in a decidedly raspy voice after Game One, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has been battling a significant chest cold for roughly the last week. While it stands to reason that an athlete, especially one playing at the highest level, would be affected negatively by such an illness, Lillard refused to blame the infirmaty for his less-than-stellar performance Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena.

“I actually felt pretty good,” said Lillard. “Obviously being clogged up inside, it has you a little bit more winded than usual. There’s no excuses. The bottom line is my team needs me to perform better than I did.”

And it sounds, literally, like Lillard’s lungs won’t be as much of an issue in Game Two. The 6-3 point guard in his fourth season out of Weber State didn’t exactly sound like his normal self prior to Tuesday morning’s shootaround, but he said he’s making progress toward feeling better and didn’t sound as though his chest was on fire when making said proclamation.

“I feel better,” said Lillard. “Obviously still trying to shake it. That’s pretty much what I’ve been doing the last two days, just trying to do different stuff to make myself feel better for tonight.”

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Second Round, Game One Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

Greetings from San Fransisco. After the Trail Blazers lost 118-106 to the Warriors in Game One of their Western Conference semifinal series, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, grabbed a couple mics to record the first second round edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which is now available for your afternoon listening…

On this edition, we discuss Sunday afternoon’s loss, Portland’s tough start and whether there’s anything positive to be taken from the last three quarters, dealing with Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, the eventual return of Stephen Curry and if there any similarities between Sunday’s game and Game One versus the Clippers. We also answer a host of questions about Allen Crabbe, the enthusiasm at Oracle Arena, the quick turnaround from Game Six to the second Game One and give some tips on packing for regular business travel. And we also start the show off with some bad Mike Meyers impersonations. Sorry about that.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. We’ll talk again after Game Two.

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Henderson Says He’s ‘Got To Be Smarter’ After Game One Ejection

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 days ago

Even at full strength, the Trail Blazers were having a hard time keeping up with the Golden State Warriors in the first game of their second round, best-of-seven playoff series. But that task got significantly harder after reserve guard Gerald Henderson, who is averaging 7.3 points, 4.0 rebounds and 1.5 assists in the 2016 postseason, was ejected after a series of altercations with Warriors center Anderson Varejao that occurred late in the third quarter of Portland’s 118-106 loss Sunday night at Oracle Arena.

The first incident took place at the 3:29 mark of the third. Henderson and Varejao collided during the run of play, sending Varejao tumbling to the floor. As he was falling, he seemed to extend his leg out in an effort to trip Henderson, which ultimately proved successful. Henderson immediately got off the floor and into Varejao’s face, prompting the officials to call assess technicals to both players.

“I bumped him — not on purpose — he tripped me on purpose,” said Henderson. “I fell hard, I didn’t like it, so came together, that’s what happens.”

But that wouldn’t be the end of the tete-a-tete between Henderson and Varejao. Though Varejao was on the bench, that didn’t stop him and Henderson from continuing their less than cordial discussion, which the officials apparently noticed, as both players were once again awarded technicals, resulting in double ejections.

“The ref threw me out from across the way. I guess he could hear what I was saying from across the court,” said Henderson. “We were talking since the first technicals happened, but there’s a lot of talking going on out there. For both of us to get kicked out of the game, it was surprising.”

Despite the tense moments, Henderson said postgame that there was no lingering animosity while noting that he was more mad at himself than at Varejao.

“I been put it behind me,” said Henderson, who finished with five points and three assists in just under 17 minutes. “We lost the game, that’s the only thing that matters. I was pissed I got thrown out, we still had a chance to win the game. I got ejected, I’ve got to be smarter, regardless of if I thought I should have got kicked out or not.”

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