It’s hard to know where to start with the Portland Trail Blazers after their 130-128 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night.
The physical Grizzlies wore a path down the lane to the basket on the way to 74 points in the paint – highest against Portland this season.
And Memphis beat the Blazers up and down the court enough times to make them dizzy by the end of the game. The Grizz had 29 fast-break points to Portland’s seven.
And even though the Trail Blazers shot the ball well enough, their leaky defense betrayed them once again – especially on transition points.
The result was the team’s fourth straight loss and eighth in its last 10 games. This thing is getting serious.
As in several previous losses, Portland had a chance to win the game and led 123-121 with 2:01 left. But after that basket, a reverse layup by Damian Lillard, the Grizzlies smoked Portland’s transition defense.
Memphis pushed the ball up the court and just seven seconds later Dillon Brooks was softly dropping in a layup that tied the game.
This was Laker-Showtime era stuff – a fastbreak off a made basket before the Trail Blazers could even think about setting their defense.
If, in fact, they do think about such things.
Portland, too, had the ball with 31.1 seconds left, trailing by just a point. Damian Lillard missed a 10-foot turnaround shot, Jusuf Nurkic rebounded the ball and missed.
But the ball went off a Memphis player and Portland got possession under the basket. After an inbound pass, Nurkic got the ball and missed the rim with a reverse layup. The Grizzlies rushed the ball up the court once more, got fouled and that pretty much sealed the deal.
“Well, as far as the fourth quarter goes, we got the lead and they had two transition baskets after makes and you know that can't happen,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “They pushed the pace on us the entire game. Obviously, we didn't shoot the ball well from three in the fourth quarter, but that wasn't the reason we lost.
“We really didn't take away their transition at all for most of the night, and that, in the fourth quarter, I think, made the difference.”
This was the first in a run of three games in six days against Memphis with the next one coming Sunday afternoon in Moda Center.
The Blazers dropped into seventh place in the West – play-in territory – with the defeat and are just one game better in the loss column than Memphis.
Nurkic had a big offensive game, his best of the season, with 26 points, 17 rebounds and five assists. Lillard had 27 and CJ McCollum 22.