There was a lot to like Saturday night in Portland's first loss of the season at Milwaukee. But the few things not to like cost the Trail Blazers the game. Here;s the rundown:
- Damian Lillard single-handedly brought Portland back from a late deficit. He got to the line and made good on 11 of 12 foul shots and hit three of his five three-point shots. CJ McCollum was very good, too. I'd like to have seen both of them get just a few more shots.
- Turnovers were killer. Portland had 16 of them and the Bucks turned them into 22 points. Lillard had six of the turnovers, including the one late that was crucial. McCollum also had a late one, which was actually Giannis Antetokounmpo mugging him to knock the ball away in the key play of the game. Antetokounmpo scored 44 points and got a lot of credit for this win, but could easily have taken the blame for a loss after leaving two foul shots embarrassingly short, then fouling McCollum -- except that a foul wasn't called.
- The Blazers continue to struggle in the paint. They're getting some good shots but not finishing. Jusuf Nurkic is very careless with a lot of his putbacks and short bank shots and it's costing him. The Trail Blazers made only 13 of 39 in the paint against the Bucks, which is far from an accepatble number.
- I'd like to have seen a few double-teams on Antetokounmpo late in the game. Get the ball out of his hands, make somebody else shoot the ball.
- The blocked shot on Nurkic at the end was a product of Nurkic not taking the ball strong, with two hands, directly to the basket. With Antetokounmpo coming at him, Nurkic switched the ball to his left (weaker) hand and tried to go around the block attempt. That's usually a bad idea. I can still remember Coach Jack Ramsay lecturing his Blazer players, "Take the ball AT the shot blocker, don't take it AWAY from him. It makes it easier for him when you pull it out away from your body." Nurkic would likely have at least drawn a foul if he'd gone strong to the rim.
- Well, maybe he'd have drawn a foul. At that point in the game, it seemed difficult to get a foul called on a certain player from Greece.
- Tough loss but just one gme. The thing is, though, you don't want to become that team that is mistake-prone late in games.