Anemic fourth quarter dooms Trail Blazers in Dallas

Anemic fourth quarter dooms Trail Blazers in Dallas

The Trail Blazers, who hadn’t lost a game all season when leading after three quarters, took a 14-point lead into the final period Sunday afternoon in Dallas.

And then the Blazers held the Mavericks to 9-21 shooting in the final 12 minutes.

A win, right?

Nope. Portland made only three of its 16 shots in the fourth (0-6 from three), went more than 10 minutes without a basket, turned the ball over seven times (for 12 points) and took one of its most agonizing losses of the season.

And was outscored 24-9 in the final quarter.

And all this after Damian Lillard appeared to have single-handedly won the Blazers the game in the latter part of the third quarter.

Lillard completely took over the game, hitting eight straight shots, to push his team from a tied game into a 14-point lead. He scored 21 in the third quarter, hitting eight of 10 shots.

But after the game he was very upset about his drive to the basket on his team’s final possession. The Blazers were behind by a point and Lillard drove from the left wing toward the basket and ran into some heavy traffic. And he was fuming after the game.

“On the last play I got fouled two times,” he said. “I went behind the back and when I went behind the back, he reached across my body and pulled my right shoulder with his left arm.

“They didn’t call that.

“And then the foul that Zach had been getting called for all night – the dude jumped forward right into me. It’s the same call.

“But it should never have come down to that.”

The Mavericks used 6-8 Dorian Finney-Smith on Lillard late in the game and his length was a plus.

“It is just a move that you hope to be able to make with a guy like Finney-Smith,” Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle said. “I think it is difficult to ask a guy like that to guard him the entire game. In this case we went to it late.

“He is a little bigger than our point guards, but Lillard is a great player. He is an All-Star, and one of these years he will be a top MVP candidate, he is that good.

“But, as a team we did a great job in the last six minutes to get the win.”

Portland was feasting in the paint – a whopping 52 points over the first three quarters – but settled for just six in the fourth quarter. And the Blazers had 23 assists over the first three quarters and had only ONE in the fourth.

The ball stopped moving, Jusuf Nurkic took some soft fouls and the Blazer offense completely stalled.

It was an embarrassing loss to a team that traded four of its starters prior to the deadline and had no business beating a good NBA team.

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs Knicks tonight at 7pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs Knicks tonight at 7pm

The Portland Trail Blazers (9-15) will look to bounce back against the New York Knicks (4-19) Tuesday night.

Portland is coming off a 108-96 loss to the Thunder Sunday night. Foul trouble, showing their frustrations, and poor shooting for the Blazers led to the loss.

While New York is going through its own issues. The Knicks have won just one road game all season. Last week, New York fired their head coach David Fizdale. The Knicks have named Mike Miller interim head coach.

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Knicks on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

 

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Kings

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

And, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

QUOTABLE

“Not playing well enough to win games – and it’s frustrating. The start of the game – pretty much the whole game – we weren’t making shots. And on our home floor we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up and the situation that we’re in, our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be. --- Damian Lillard after Sunday’s loss

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

In the wake of Monday night’s nasty home loss in Moda Center to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood, a lot of people seem to think the Portland Trail Blazers need to make a move. A trade, a free-agent signing – SOMETHING. But here’s what I think they will do:

Nothing.

And I think that’s the right course of action, too.

This team has been ripped apart by injuries. Last season’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers are now last in the league in that department. From first to worst in a few months. And why not? This team opened the season with thoughts of eventually having five seven-footers on its roster.

There was Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol. But Gasol never made it to the active roster and retired. Collins was sidelined with shoulder surgery and Nurkic still hasn’t made it back from his broken leg. Labissiere, who wasn’t even expected to play much this season, has become the backup center.

And the Trail Blazers have taken a big step back on the boards and in physicality. Offensive rebounding is critical to this team, because it’s often the only avenue for easy baskets. Portland doesn’t get a lot of fast-break baskets and now, without its big men, isn’t getting to the foul line enough,

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are having to carry a big load.

When Collins went down, Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, went out and got Carmelo Anthony – a nice addition. Anthony was a player with a presence and the team didn’t have to give up anything to get him.

The Trail Blazers had championship aspirations this season, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious those dreams won’t be realized this season without the big men.

This franchise would be stupid to sacrifice any of its future to obtain a role player just to attempt to improve its position this season.

With Nurkic, Collins and Hood back in the fold next season, the Trail Blazers would be smart to keep their vision long range – next season should be a nice reset.

In the meantime, there is still a chance that a major trade could be made that would make sense for the future.

Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract has always been expected to be a trade piece at some point. Names such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been mentioned and they would be difference-makers. But much more so next year than this, in all likelihood.

In regard to deals, it’s important to remember that NBA free agents cannot be traded for three months after they signed, or until after Dec. 15, whichever is later. And this season’s trade deadline is Feb. 6 and there is often a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline as teams come to the realization that they probably won’t make the playoffs.

But Portland is not in a great space to make a deal with the Whiteside contract. The free-agent crop this summer is a weak one, with many of the top players expected to re-sign with their old teams. That would mean some teams would be reluctant to deal for a player who would provide cap space when there is not much to spend it on.

And there is a perception, too, that the Trail Blazers are desperate and other teams would want to squeeze more out of Portland in any deals.

So this is another situation when patience will be required. If the team doesn’t play any better than it did Sunday night against the Thunder, what would be the use of adding some marginal free agent who is sitting at home on his couch right now?

I would expect Nurkic to be back at some point this season, at least on a limited basis. Collins, I would assume, is more doubtful.

Better to allow the team’s younger players to grab that playing time, getting them ready for a bench role next season.

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

It wasn’t pretty.  

The Trail Blazers went 36-of-100 from the field and 9-for-33 from three in Sunday's 108-96 loss to the Thunder.  

Portland's newest edition, Carmelo Anthony, who played in his 10th game with the Blazers Sunday, had one of his worst shooting nights with his new team. Melo went 4-of-18 from the field, including 1-of-5 from long distance and scored just nine points.

“We were just off, couldn’t make shots,” Anthony said postgame.

But, Melo also gave credit to OKC.

“I think those guys just came out ready to play. They had dropped two games to us already. It’s hard to be a team three consecutive times without them making adjustments.”

“Tonight we didn’t have the energy, they did,” he added.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wasn’t concerned with the perimeter shooting, but was upset about his team missing baskets around the rim.

 

We had fifty shots in the paint, didn’t really convert in the paint very well, obviously Dame [Lillard] and Melo struggled at least from a percentage standpoint. That’s going to happen from time to time. You give credit to their defense they played hard, they made it difficult, but I thought that to get fifty shots in the paint you have to convert more than 21. -- Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

For Melo, “missing shots” was the most frustrating part of the game.

“Everybody [was missing], everything was short. And then when you’re missing shots like that, shots that you’re supposed to make and you normally make it puts a lot of emphasis on the defensive end and it makes it tougher to try to get stops on the defensive end, because if you don’t put a lot of effort and energy into making one stop, and trying to make consecutive stops going up against a team like that, they way that they played tonight, you have to be on point with [your shots].”

The 17-year veteran is confident this Blazers squad will bounce back and won’t shoot this bad again.

“We’ll be alright. We’ll get in the gym tomorrow, watch some film, and we’ll figure it out… We can’t shoot as bad as we shot tonight. I don’t think we’ll continue to miss those shots."

Yes, Melo is probably correct -- the Blazers most likely won't shoot that bad again, but as Damian Lillard said, the team lacked a sense of urgency. So, what will it take to get back to playing Trail Blazer basketball? Portland lost a playmaker in Rodney Hood. Filling their final roster spot with someone who can create his own shot seems like a must, but as of right now Coach Stotts says there hasn't been any talk of roster moves. Not yet at least. 

Lucky for the Blazers and their current shooting woes, along with injury woes, the worst team in the league makes a stop in Portland Tuesday night. The Blazers and Knicks tip-off at 7:00pm. 

Trail Blazers having a hard time: "I don’t really have an explanation"

Trail Blazers having a hard time: "I don’t really have an explanation"

The Trail Blazers can’t afford to have many more nights like Sunday at the Moda Center.

Facing a sub-.500 opponent on their home floor was supposed to be an opportunity to bounce back, a chance to grab a winnable game following a blowout loss. These are the nights the Blazers need to be the aggressor, the tone setter, or if nothing else, the victors.

Instead the team walked out of the arena with a frustrating and deflating loss, falling 108-96 to the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Blazers came out flat, showed brief signs of life in the second quarter and then stumbled through a brick-laden second half to drop their second consecutive home game to a team they had dominated 10 days ago.

The Blazers are down two opening night starters -- with Rodney Hood done for the season and Zach Collins out until at least March. They’re still awaiting the return of Jusuf Nurkic, who is hoping to make his debut sometime in the new year. These aren’t excuses as much as they the reality facing this team. They’re shorthanded and reinforcements are weeks, if not months away from returning. 

That’s part what makes Sunday night’s loss so costly. If the Blazers (9-15) are going to be a playoff team, they can’t give away games against teams like Oklahoma City (10-12). There are no “must win” games in December, but the Blazers just face planted in a very clear “should win" game with a troubling mix of lack of energy and execution.

“I think it’s just being able to take what our coaches do,” Damian Lillard explained. “They spend a lot of time on scouting reports and schemes and stuff that we want to do. It’s our job to go out there and execute that and do that for longer periods of time. I think we’ve kind of just played well in stretches. We don’t have the luxury of playing well in stretches. We’re a team that if the ball’s not going in, we’ve got to be getting to the fifty-fifty balls. We can’t keep letting teams get second and third opportunities. We foul every thirty seconds – I mean, it’s just like we are doing a lot of things as a team that put ourselves at a disadvantage. We’re just making the game harder than it has to be in a lot of situations. We’re not doing it on purpose. We’re competing hard, we’re trying hard. But it comes to urgency and focus and energy – we’re a team that has to have that every minute of every game if we want to have a real chance. When it’s up and down, the season is up and down. I think that’s what we’re up against.”

Lillard’s assessment is honest and accurate, and while it doesn’t come with a clear solutions it highlights the Blazers issues. They don’t have the luxury or the talent to play hard on occasion. They don’t have the depth to play 12 solid minutes and hope the other 36 won’t bury them. 

December was supposed to be a month where the Blazers made a move in the standings, fattening up on home games against teams with losing records. Sunday was a reminder of where this team stands, and its thin margin for error. The Blazers spent the opening weeks of the season offering relentless positivity, insisting they would it figure out after early scuffles. But as the injuries continue to mount and the losses are piling up, much of that optimism has faded from postgame interviews, replaced with an earnest, and realistic concern about a season heading the wrong direction.

“We’re just having a hard time,” Lillard said. “I don’t really have an explanation where I could tell you a list of things. I think it’s things that I feel and I see that we aren’t doing well enough, like I just mentioned. But we’re not the same team (as last season). That’s the most simple way I can put it to you right now. We’re not that same team and we haven’t figured it out. We’re a work in progress, obviously.”

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Thunder

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Thunder

Life without Rodney Hood got off to a rough start for the Blazers when they welcomed the Oklahoma City Thunder to town. They hoped for a win, but the game didn't go according to plan. 

Portland started slow out of the gate and trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before mounting a comeback to make it a game. 

However, the team just couldn't overcome a rough shooting night.  Hassan Whiteside was six for eight from the floor, but the other four starters combined to shoot just 23 of 74. On top of that, the bench was only able to contribute 18 points on the night, being outscored by the Thunder bench by 24 points. 

On the bright side, despite a tough shooting night, Kent Bazemore played well with the starting lineup. He flowed within the offense and was his usual energetic self on defense. But on a night when shots weren't falling, the Blazers couldn't get over the hump. 

Final score in this one: Thunder 108 - Blazers 96.

QUOTABLES: 

Chris Paul on this two delay of game calls:

Two delay of game calls on me; That was good, he got me, he got me back. I learned you can’t have your shooter shirt and your pants on when you checking in. They said if I would have had just one of them on, you learn something new.

Damian Lillard on what frustrated him about the loss: 

I mean, I think to start the game, pretty much the whole game, but to start the game, we weren’t making shots and on our home floor, we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up the situation that we’re in, I just thought our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be. You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team that we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game. Then the ball’s not going in so we don’t lock in and stay sharp on the defensive end, we just allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted.

Coach Stotts on Kent Bazemore starting for Rodney Hood:

I thought Kent got off to a great start, he made his threes, had good activity defensively, I was surprised he was 3 for 11 because I thought he impacted the game, he was on Chris Paul a lot. I thought he did a nice job in the starting lineup.

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Portland Trail Blazers 'frustrated' by lack of urgency 

Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

Dear Blazers fans: Don't be gross

Kent Bazemore starts: "It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it"

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TALKIN' BLAZERS PODCAST:

Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

The Thunder may have won the battle against the Blazers on Sunday, but they haven't won the war. The Blazers are 2-1 against the Thunder this season, and if you count the game within the game, they're 3-1. 

As the old saying goes, "don't hate the player, hate the game."

On Friday, Chris Paul played the game with the Timberwolves. Minnesota was up 121-119 with 1.1 seconds left in the game and Karl-Anthony Towns at the line for two free throws. He missed the first one and that is when Chris Paul alerted officials to the fact that Jordan Bell had checked in with an untucked jersey. The refs called a delay of game on Minnesota, and since it was their second of the game it was a technical foul.

WATCH

The Thunder hit the free throw, making it a one-point game. Towns hit the next free throw to make it a two-point game, but the Thunder sent up a prayer and tied the game as time expired. If not for the delay of game technical the Thunder wouldn't have forced overtime. Oklahoma would go on to win the game, but it was all thanks to Chris Paul's vet savvy. 

That was Friday. On Sunday against the Blazers, he didn't play the game, the game played him. 

Paul was called for two delay of game penalties, resulting in a technical foul free throw for the Blazers. 

Paul called out the refs, saying they were "trying to prove an (expletive) point."

No, Chris. The Blazers were just playing the game you are a master of. Don't hate the player. Hate the game. 

 

Dear Blazers fans: Don't be gross

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IMAGN

Dear Blazers fans: Don't be gross

When you’re at the Moda Center enjoying a basketball game, the Trail Blazers want you to feel comfortable and strive to provide an inviting atmosphere. 

But, one fan took that level of comfort to the next level during Sunday night’s game vs. the OKC Thunder. 

“In what world is taking your shoes off and just wearing your socks at a sporting event acceptable,” Twitter user @TheKaylaKnapp writes.

This fan committed a cardinal sin: Don’t take your shoes off in public spaces. Not on airplanes, not in restaurants, not at the Moda Center. NOWHERE. And to the fan on the sock offender’s left, please also refrain from getting your dirty shoes on the seat in front of you. 

The Moda Center Twitter account has weighed in.

It’s simple, common courtesy. 

Maybe after the public shaming, the anonymous patrons will think better next time.

Don’t be these fans. 

Kent Bazemore starts: "It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it"

Kent Bazemore starts: "It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it"

The Trail Blazers played their first game since their starting small forward Rodney Hood went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. 

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts turned to Kent Bazemore to fill the void left by Hood.  

Bazemore was dialed in early and looked up for the challenge.

The career 35.1 percent three-point shooter hit his first three three-pointers on the night, tying his season-high from deep.

“I thought Kent got off to a great start," Terry Stotts said. "He made his threes, had good activity defensively, I was surprised he was 3 for 11 because I thought he impacted the game, he was on Chris Paul a lot. I thought he did a nice job in the starting lineup.”  

Bazemore attributes his success to getting open looks as well as getting to play alongside the Blazers other starters: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, and Hassan Whiteside.

It’s good to be out there with that kind of firepower… When you’re on the floor with Dame and CJ, Melo, and Hassan, they’re going to attract a lot of attention. So, just being aggressive, guys closing out short, just being able to rise up and knock them down… I’m going to continue to let if fly. I’ve been a starter in this league before and there’s a lot of firepower in the first unit.  – Kent Bazemore

After a hot start for Bazemore, he cooled off on a night where the Blazers as a team struggled from the field most of the night.

The 30-year-old finished with nine points to go along with five rebounds and two assists.

It is Bazmeore’s energy and activity on both ends of the floor though that he has made at living at, and Sunday was no different.

“I’m not really a guy that needs the ball,” Bazemore said. “I just like to fly around, play a lot of defense, and just bring energy for the unit. The first go didn’t go as planned, but it’s a lot of things we can work on, make sure we’re successful with this change,” Bazemore said.

Oklahoma City got their first win in three tries against Portland this season.

In this new reality for the Blazers, Bazemore is going to be relied on heavily. In his last 10 games, he had played an average of 20.6 minutes per game. On Sunday night he played 36.

“I think he did good,” Melo said of Bazemore’s performance. “He’s going to have to continue to step up in that role and we’re going to rely on him to do a lot of things, and especially now with Rodney being out. We’re going to rely on him to do more, but he can do it, we know he can do it.”

Lillard mentioned how the Blazers missed Hood's impact on the game, while Bazemore echoed that he and Hood are two very different players, but that’s why it worked so well for them to sub in for each other.

What he brings to the table is a lot different from what I bring. This is why we complemented each other so great, but I came here to play with these guys and get an opportunity to go out there and start. It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it. I’m just going to continue to work hard, continue to figure it out, go home tonight and watch the game, see if I can do some things a little bit better to help my teammates. 

“Rodney was a huge part of it what we did. We’ll figure it out,” Bazemore added.

The Blazers next opportunity to figure it out will be Tuesday night when they host the 4-19 New York Knicks. 

What's wrong with Blazers? How about lack of 'urgency, energy, focus'

What's wrong with Blazers? How about lack of 'urgency, energy, focus'

With all the injuries the Trail Blazers have suffered this season, there have been some games where you have to just chalk up a loss to who isn’t playing for them.

On the other hand, Sunday night’s 108-96 defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder should rightfully blamed on those who did play.

The Trail Blazers were awful and not just where they’re usually awful – on defense. In this game they were pretty bad at the offensive end, too, shooting 36 percent from the field overall and 27.3 percent from three-point range.

Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony combined to go 3-17 from beyond the three-point line and 12-42 overall.

But let Lillard, the captain, explain how bad things are with his team right now:

“Not playing well enough to win games – and it’s frustrating,” Lillard said. “The start of the game – pretty much the whole game – we weren’t making shots. And on our home floor we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up and the situation that we’re in, our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be.

“You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game … And then the ball is not going in, so we don’t stay sharp and lock in at the defensive end. We just allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted. They started feeling good about themselves and you’ve got a guy like Chris Paul, who has been around and knows how to make a team go and get guys to believe, you could just see it – once they got a good start to the game, we were missing, our energy was low, they started to play with more belief. More conviction.

“We put ourselves in that position with how we came out.  It’s just frustrating to do that. No team should be more urgent than us. No team should be more locked in than us. I think for us, that’s the most frustrating part.

“We kind of just play well in stretches. We don’t have the luxury of playing well in stretches. We’re a team, if the ball is not going in, we’ve got to be getting to the 50-50 balls. We can’t keep letting teams get second and third opportunities.

"We foul every 30 seconds. We are doing a lot of things as team to put ourselves at a disadvantage. We’re just making the game harder than it has to be in a lot of situations. We’re not doing it on purpose. We’re competing hard. We’re trying hard.

“But when it comes to urgency, focus and energy we’re a team that has to have that every minute of every game if we want to have a chance. When it’s up and down, your season is up and down – and that’s what we’re up against.”

The only Portland starter who shot well was Hassan Whiteside, who made six of his eight shots, both free throws, had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Coach Terry Stotts was asked if he would have like to get the ball to Whiteside inside a little more and he answered simply, “Uh, no.”

“Hassan gets most of his stuff on pick-and-rolls,” Stotts said. “We’ve got three primary scorers in Dame, CJ and Melo and obviously we go through them and Hassan will get occasional post-ups, but his bread and butter for us has been rolling on the pick and roll.”

And all of that, from the captain to the coach, was the reality for the Trail Blazers Sunday night.

Along with plenty of complaining to the officials for the second game in a row -- which doesn't seem to be doing any good.