Harrell showed Blazers one thing: They still need a big off the bench

Harrell showed Blazers one thing: They still need a big off the bench

The Blazers fell short in Los Angeles on Tuesday, falling to the Clippers, 117-97. Portland held its own early, but the wheels came off at the start of the second half. 

Portland scored a season-low 17 points in the third quarter, while Montrezl Harrell did damage, scoring nine points in just a little more than five minutes. 

Harrell's five-minute burst was a microcosm of the game at large -- Harrell did whatever he wanted, and no one could stop him. It also pointed to a bigger problem for the Blazers -- the team's lack of depth behind Hassan Whiteside at center. 

The Blazers rely on Whiteside to be the defensive force in the paint. Outside of him, no one can lock down and block shots. Carmelo Anthony is not a defensive big, Nassir Little is still learning the ropes, and Skal Labissiere is more of a finesse offensive player and easily pushed around. 

Portland has the guys they need to offer defensive help, but unfortunately, they are both wearing suits behind the bench. Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic are both great on the defensive end, but it will be months before the Blazers can hope to see them return to the court. 

Until then, be prepared for more nights like tonight, where teams with good offensive bigs do damage against the second unit.

It wasn't just Harrell. Patrick Patterson scored 19 points off the bench as well, though most of his damage came from beyond the arc. In total, the Blazers bench was outscored on the night 66-30. 

And no. This is not an article where we belittle the effort of guys like Skal and Little. To be honest, they have both played incredibly well given the circumstances this season. Neither one planned to factor into the rotation at the start of the season, but due to injuries have been thrown to the fire and asked to play much larger roles than expected. To that, they should be commended. Those two have already done more than expected, and we can't expect them to do more. 

While Melo has infused the team with energy and helped revitalize the outlook on the season, he isn't the defensive presence the team needs. Outside of Whiteside, getting stops in the paint will be a challenge. Until Portland gets Nurkic or Collins back, they will have to rely on simply outscoring the other team. 

Against the Clippers, you saw what happened when the offense sputters. This team can't afford off shooting nights while it treads water waiting for a Nurkic sized lifeboat.

Trail Blazers give credit to 'how much production Clippers get across the board'

Trail Blazers give credit to 'how much production Clippers get across the board'

The Trail Blazers had three days in-between their last game to Tuesday night’s contest in Los Angeles.

During those three days, which included two days of practice, the Blazers discussed how they knew this week was going to be more challenging than last week's three wins over the Thunder and the Bulls, twice.

Portland looked like they were up for the task in the first half against the Clippers on Tuesday night, keeping pace with the Clips.

“I thought we played a really solid first half even though we gave up a lot of points,” Lillard told reporters after the game. “I thought it was competitive, we did a lot of good things.”

Heading into the break, LA held a 62-59 lead. 

But, the Clippers proved to be too much for the Blazers with both their offensive and defensive weapons as LA cruised to a 117-97 victory.

“To start the [second] half we just didn’t come out how we needed to for a road game against a team as good as they are,” Lillard added.  

It was apparent the Clippers wore down the Blazers by the fourth quarter. Between Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley, Maurice Harkless, and Montrezl Harrell, this is a tough squad to get quality looks against.  

As for the Blazers defense, that was also asking a lot versus one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

The Clippers shot 45.7 percent for the game, including an efficient 50 percent from long distance.

And even though the Blazers gave up 117 points, Lillard felt his team completed their defensive assignments that they had focused on going into the game.

I thought we did our jobs. In our scouting report, we were talking about Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, and Lou Williams. We talked about making sure we slow those guys down, and obviously PG had a really good game, but we did our jobs on Kawhi, we did our job on Lou Williams, and it just shows you how deep they are, how many guys they can turn to, and how much production that they get across the board.

The Clips’ second unit, who are highest-scoring bench in the league, outscored the Blazers’ bench 66-30 and that was with Portland’s second group getting an uptick in minutes with more than seven minutes of garbage time.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was in line with his team captain.

“Clippers are a good team,” Stotts said postgame. “Williams was a priority, Kawhi was a priority, and they didn’t necessarily have good offensive games, but Paul George played really well, shot the ball well, made it difficult for us, and Harrell was really impactful.”

Now the Blazers will turn their focus to taking care of business at home against an 8-11 Sacramento Kings team on Wednesday night, a team that does not have a superstar duo to deal with.

Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers podcast here:

For Trail Blazers, if the ball doesn't go in, they aren't going to win

For Trail Blazers, if the ball doesn't go in, they aren't going to win

LOS ANGELES -- Quite obviously, the Trail Blazers are not the most stellar defensive team in the NBA. But they can still win a lot of games with their offense.

And against the Los Angeles Clippers it’s going to take a lot more offense than what Portland brought to the Staples Center Tuesday night. Oh, the Blazers were good for the first half, trailing by only three while shooting 52.3 percent from the field.

But Portland left its shooting touch in the locker room at halftime. They Blazers were down by 10 a minute and a half into the third quarter, never recovered and fell 117-97 to the Clippers.

Portland made only six of its 23 shots in the third quarter, one of nine from three-point distance and turned the ball over five times.

It was a brutal quarter, except for Hassan Whiteside, who went 4-6, and CJ McCollum, who was 2-4. Damian Lillard was 0-5 in the quarter, Rodney Hood 0-3, Carmelo Anthony 0-2 and Anfernee Simons 0-3. All of them reliable scorers who hit a bad spell at the same time.

“We started off kind of sloppy,” Hood said of that fateful period. “They hit a couple of shots, we turned the ball over, we DIDN’T hit shots and had to burn a timeout. From then on, they had a good rhythm, a great flow. And I think it affected our defense.”

But against the good teams in the league, the way Portland is playing on the defensive end, if the ball doesn’t go in, Portland is not going to win.

“Anytime you’re playing a really good team, you’ve got to play good offense,” Hood said. “They’re going to play well and they’re going to score points. If we don’t play offense, move the ball like we know we can, we become stagnant, then they get really good on the defensive end.”

The Clippers have a lot of weapons and Portland disarmed a couple of them. Kawhi Leonard made only 3 of his 15 shots and scored just 11 points. Lou Williams was 4-14 for 9 points. But Paul George got loose for 25 points, hitting six of his seven three-pointers and Montrezl Harrell scored 26 with an 11-13 night.

“Our offense struggled in the third quarter,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “They were able to separate from us. We got off to a slow start in the third quarter and from there we were kind of swimming upstream.”

The Clips have the highest-scoring bench in the league and gave Portland’s reserves a working over, outscoring them 66-30.

It was a night best forgotten for the Blazers, which should be easy since they have to get back in action Wednesday night in Moda Center.

And Carmelo Anthony, who took a nasty spill after a foul by Ivaca Zubac, says he’ll be ready.

“I feel OK,” he said with a smile, before heading out for a Hollywood-style media scrum that included about 30 people and at least 10 cameras.

It makes one wonder what the media circus will be like when the Carmelo Anthony Traveling Roadshow and Comeback Extravaganza hits the Big Apple.

 

Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here: