WATCH: DeAndre Jordan’s Epic Choke Saves the Blazers
Thursday, March 05, 2015
BLAZERS 98, CLIPPERS 93
It was as big of a choke as the NBA has seen all year, and perhaps longer.
With the game tied and the finals seconds of regulation the Clippers' Chris Paul put up a runner, which rimmed out. His teammate DeAndre Jordan pulled down the rebound.
But Jordan forgot to put it back up.
He stood there, unguarded, below the basket, with Paul screaming at him to shoot, mistakenly assuming time had expired.
It was dumbfounding.
The Blazers, who trailed by by 10 points with under three-minutes remaining, were headed to overtime.
Once Portland got there, Nicolas Batum, who helped force the extra time with a three-pointer with :26 seconds left in regulation, took over.
All in all, Batum scored or assisted on Portland's final 19 points, including the fourth quarter and overtime.
Nicolas Batum (POR): scored or assisted on the last 19 Trail Blazers points (including overtime).— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) March 5, 2015
Batum began the extra period by making a pair of free throws. Then he set up his teammates on three-consecutive lob passes. One of those got Damian Lillard his first--and only--field goal of the game.
But Batum didn't stop there.
On the defensive end the Frenchman had an emphatic swat of a J.J. Redick layup that would've tied the game.
Then, finally, Batum put the game away, drilling a three-pointer with :21 seconds left, giving the Blazers a five point lead.
It was as strange and unlikely a finish as the Blazers have seen all year. The Blazers were able to stay within striking distance with Lillard missing his first 12 shots from the field.
And though it turned on a trifle, the outcome is particularly meaningful for the Blazers, who pulled neck-and-neck with the Clippers' 40 wins. Indeed, Wednesday's victory is an important confidence builder, particularly as it came in Los Angeles.
The Blazers came into the game as the fourth-seed in the Western Conference, with the Clippers were the fifth. Earlier Wednesday, one statistical analysis posited that the Blazers and Clippers had a 24% chance of meeting in the playoffs.
Never mind that the Clippers were without Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford and Matt Barnes--Portland suffered Lillard's worst shooting performance of the season.
The Blazers had no business winning this game. But, thanks to DeAndre Jordan's brain-fart, they did.
And they'll take it. Indeed, this one was pure gravy.
For just the second time this season, Aldridge shot the ball 30 times. He made only 12, Wednesday, to finish with 29 points and nine rebounds. With Blake Griffin out, it would've been fair to expect better of Aldridge, who was at one point embarrassingly stifled by the defense of Glen "Big Baby" Davis. Still, Aldridge kept shooting--and scoring--when no his teammates were off the mark.
This was, without question, Batum's most influential, consequential performance of the season. Along with DeAndre Jordan, he saved the Blazers' bacon. He did it, in part, playing point-forward, when he set up the three-consecutive alley-oops. On top of the facilitating, Batum made two huge three's--one in the fourth quarter, one in overtime. If this game can't boost his confidence, nothing can.
The Blazers went small down the stretch and Lopez's minutes were limited. But in the first half, he had a wicked stretch. Before intermission Lopez had piled up five offensive boards and nine points. He didn't get much meaningful run after that, but his early work on the offensive glass--while going up against the beastly boarder, Jordan--can't be discounted.
Pretty sub-par performance from Matthews, who made just 2-of-8 attempts from behind the arc. More importantly, though, he was continually torched by both Chris Paul and J.J. Redick, who combined for 62 points. Matthews made up for those defensive lapses with eight rebounds. Still, he was largely missing, Wednesday.
By far Lillard's worst shooting performance of the season. He didn't make a field goal until overtime, missing his first 12 shots. He finished with just five points. Yet, somehow, some way, Lillard piled up an astounding 18 rebounds, which were a career-high, the best for any Blazer this season, and the most for an NBA guard this season. Indeed, this really was a strange game.