Blazers Denied 10th-straight Win
Friday, November 28, 2014
THAT WAS: Nothing to fret about. Yes, the Grizzlies denied the Blazers their 10th-straight win on Friday night. But falling to the team with the NBA's best record is nothing to be ashamed of. It should be viewed, instead, as a learning experience.
The Blazers' usual flow was gummed up by Memphis' stifling defense. And while Portland's own defense has improved substantially this year, the Grizzlies showed them just how far they have yet to go.
Memphis held the Blazers to just 40% shooting from the field and 28% from behind the arc while being ruthlessly efficient on offense. The Grizzlies made 54% from the field and 46% from deep.
More than that, Memphis took the Portland's early punch, got up, and calmly dusted themselves off and delivered a staggering counterpunch. Portland opened the game with an 18-6 run, but by the end of the first quarter Memphis trailed by only two.
MISSED OPPORTUNITY: Damian Lillard's missed three's. With the Blazers narrowing the gap midway through the fourth quarter and the crowd at their backs, Wesley Matthews punched a loose ball up court to a streaking Lillard, who took an open three. It clanged off but the Blazers corralled the miss, which again found Lillard for another open three, which again rimmed out. This time the Grizzlies rebounded, and on the other end they scored, and the Blazers called timeout. It was a five point swing. What could've been a four point deficit with a roaring crowd was now a nine point hole and a deflated Moda Center.
MVP: Marc Gasol. Last year's Defensive Player of the Year could well end up with a few votes for MVP this time around. Gasol was marvelous on both ends, shoring up Memphis' interior defense while facilitating and scoring from the high post. He finished with 26 points, nine assists and seven boards. It may be a bit too early to say, but Marc may be a more impactful and valuable than brother Pau in his prime.
HONORABLE MENTION: Mike Conley. The Grizzlies frisky, smart point guard was one assist shy of triple-double. He piled up 21 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists.
MIA: Nicolas Batum. It's fair to say Batum is in the midst of a slump. He's shooting just 29% from behind the arc this season. Friday he clanged all five of his tries from deep, and made just 3-of-11 from the floor overall. He finished with just six points in 35 minutes.
THE LOSER'S HIGHLIGHT:
ROBIN LOPEZ GIVEN LIMITED MINUTES DUE TO EXHAUSTION FROM WATCHING THE STAR WARS TRAILER ON REPEAT. #PORvsMEM— #TRILLBLAZIN# (@TRILLBLAZIN) November 29, 2014