I’ve looked everywhere. High and low. Near and far. And honestly, I can’t find any excuse for Portland’s 110-104 loss at Cleveland Saturday night.
It was another “can-you-believe-that?” night against one of the NBA’s worst teams – a Cavalier team that lost by 42 points at Dallas Friday night, climbed aboard a plane and arrived home in the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Then, of course, Cleveland trotted out and smacked the Trail Blazers right in the mouth, handing them their fourth straight loss and 10th in their last 12 games.
Injuries have left the Trail Blazers small up front and Cleveland continued the trend of pounding Portland in the paint, this time by 50-36 points. But the Blazers are so accommodating in that area, too. Yes, they are outmanned – so what would be wrong, especially late in games, with running a double-team at the likes of Tristan Thompson? It would seem a better option than just letting him, or others, take four or five dribbles, backing Anthony Tolliver down to the basket area for an easy score.
And you can continue to blame the team’s defense – it hasn’t been very good. But in some ways, the offense has been worse. The Cavs allow 111.6 per game this season and if Portland could have just matched that figure it would have won the game. The Blazers shot poorly and settled for a lot of difficult shots, which led to them not getting to the foul line nearly as much as Cleveland. And right now, they have nobody in the mood to hunt for offensive rebounds that lead to second-chance points. They had just three second-chance points and only two fast-break points – which will get you whipped most nights by themselves.
Obviously, not a lot of easy baskets.
Portland is playing too much one-on-one and not moving the ball or its bodies. The pick and roll is soft on the picks and almost non-existent on the rolls. And often, the Blazers are getting outhustled.
“We didn’t shoot the ball very well in the first half and didn’t defend as well as we needed to in the second half,” Coach Terry Stotts said in a short meeting with the media afterward.
When you don’t shoot well, it’s usually because you don’t get good shots. Or you have the wrong people taking them. Both of those things happened to Portland.
I get all the injuries. I understand the tough schedule featuring all the road games. But this was a game that was begging to be won.
And forget the excuses. They just don’t fit that game Saturday night in Cleveland.