It was quite a matchup at Moda Center on Wednesday night with it being the final week of the season for the Grizzlies and then on the other end of the spectrum, the Trail Blazers are still concerned with positioning for top seeding in the West.
Memphis entered Wednesday’s game without a whopping eight rotation players.
With those two factors, you would assume Memphis would have no business being in this game, but the young Grind City team kept it close, at least for the first half.
The short-handed Grizzlies squad threw a zone defense at the Trail Blazers and it took Portland nearly two quarters to figure out how to attack it. But once they did, the Blazers cruised to a 116-89 win.
The Blazers have now earned 50 wins for the first time since the 2014-15 season.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers sixth straight home win:
1.Grizzlies zone defense disrupts Blazers’ offense
Memphis started the game with a matchup zone and for NBA fans watching a game with zone defense it is always a little odd. The Grizzlies have played a lot of zone this season, so it’s not new for Memphis. However, it did throw the Blazers off a little.
It wasn’t until the final minutes of the second quarter that it looked like Portland had cracked the code. Damian Lillard led the charge by attacking the zone by either getting all the way to the basket or getting to the rim and then kicking out to the corner to find his teammates wide open.
The Blazers also had some unusual turnovers when facing the zone. Portland had eight turnovers as a team at the break.
2. Lillard triple-double watch, ET with another one
After Monday’s win over the Timberwolves, Evan Turner said he had done something Lillard has never done and that was notch a triple-double. Lillard jokingly responded to that comment with, “I might have to go chase me one now.” At halftime, Lillard was well on his way with 14 points, seven assists, and four rebounds.
But since the game turned into a blowout victory for Portland, Lillard did not play the entire fourth quarter. He finished the game with 20 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds.
Even though Lillard did not record a triple-double, he did reach the 2,000 point mark for the season. Lillard hit the milestone early in the second quarter when he scored his 17 point of the game.
To put this in perspective, these are MVP like numbers that the Trail Blazers All-Star point guard has put up this season --
Lillard is the first player in franchise history to score 2,000 points and dish out 500 assists in a season. He is also just the second player this season to have accomplished such a feat. James Harden has also reached this milestone.
Also, Evan Turner made history as well:
He did it again! Mr. Triple-Double, Evan Turner pic.twitter.com/v1iOTEpdI0— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) April 4, 2019
3. Kanter leads the way in the third
Portland decided to play through Enes Kanter a lot more in the third quarter and it was effective. The Blazers outscored the Grizzlies 24-10 in the quarter, while Kanter had eight of his 21 points in the quarter and an impressive 11 rebounds.
The Trail Blazers center continues to show up big on the glass and on offense while the Blazers adjust to life without Jusuf Nurkic.
Portland was able to run away with the game in the third, which meant the Trail Blazers starters got some much-needed rest.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers visit the Denver Nuggets on Friday night with a 7:30pm PT start time. Our pregame coverage tips off at 6:30pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
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