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.
Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…
On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.
Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.
But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.
“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”
Sounds about right.
On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.
You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…
On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”
On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”
On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”
His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”
On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”
On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”