There could be a number of different things to point a finger at and say -- yes, that’s why the Trail Blazers were able to clamp down and rally back to beat the Raptors Tuesday night.
It could be Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony’s second half shooting barrage.
Or that the Blazers as a team defended better.
Plus, Portland shot the ball extremely well in the fourth quarter; in fact, they were 25 percent better from the floor in the final period than the first three quarters.
And then, of course, there was Melo’s go-ahead bucket to secure the Blazers two-point victory.
But, possibly, what turned things around for Portland happened earlier in the third quarter is what ignited the Blazers.
The Trail Blazers were down 73-65 when Kent Bazemore took it coast to coast after snagging a defensive rebound.
When Bazemore missed the lay-in with 3:06 to go in the third, and he didn’t get a whistle on the call, the Trail Blazers starting small forward shared his frustrations verbally with the referees.
Bazemore was then hit with two quick technical fouls, resulting in an ejection.
After the game, Bazemore explained what happened.
“I thought there was a lot of contact on the drive. We had been getting in the paint all night, and we felt like we were getting hit pretty much on every play early in the game. Dame gets hit upside the head – nothing. I drive a couple of times, a lot of contact – nothing. I was just frustrated and I took it upon myself and I got ejected for it,” Bazemore told reporters postgame.
Gary Trent Jr. entered the game for Bazemore after he was escorted to the locker room.
Bazemore had scored seven points, to go along with two rebounds, and two steals in 26 minutes before getting tossed.
For Baze, he was happy to see his team come from behind and secure a victory more than anything else.
“Came out, collected myself in here for a little bit, got my heart rate back down, took a quick shower, and then went back there and watched my guys. A heck of a win,” Bazemore said.
To quote the 30-year-old from his Instagram post Tuesday night, ““Throw yo hands in the ay-yerrrr and wave em’ like you just don’t cay-yerrrrr... Great win.”
Yes, the Blazers were throwing their hands in the air after the game, and they were also giving credit to Bazemore for “sacrificing” himself in order to get the W.
That’s his first time being ejected in 38 games, so it’s not like he’s out there just getting mad all the time, and getting techs, and getting tossed all the time, he was really mad because we fighting for it, and we trying to win the game. And, I think that just kind of lit a fire up under us to continue to press forward. -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard said postgame
Melo added, “We rally around Kent. We rally around just that atmosphere, and situations like that. Sometimes it takes sacrifices… to spark something and today Kent was that. He was really into the game, he was locked in, and I think when you get locked in, a lot of emotions goes into it. It was unfortunate that he got ejected, but we rallied and we won the game for him.”
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wasn’t sure if Bazemore leaving the game really made the difference, but he did believe one thing was true: “I think that just showed how much we wanted to win a game.”
Often times it as a head coach that will get tossed to fire up his team, but thanks to Bazemore’s heated argument to the officials, showing that fire, and Melo’s vintage performance, the Blazers now have a chance to come back to Portland with a winning record on this trip if they take care of business in Minnesota Thursday night.