The Milwaukee Bucks systematically picked the Trail Blazers apart Friday night in Moda Center -- at both ends of the court.
Portland didn’t shoot well and didn’t defend well and even a 27-point edge at the three-point line couldn’t save the Blazers from a 127-109 defeat.
At the defensive end, it was just way too much Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time defending league MVP carved up Portland for 47 points on just 21 shots in only 33 minutes and five seconds. He was actually 18-18 -- a lot of them lay-ups --from two-point range and still never had to deal with double-teams.
The Trail Blazers opened the game with center Jusuf Nurkic on him, but that didn’t last long. After that, everyone took a turn on him.
“We started Nurk on him, trying to keep him away from the paint,” said Coach Terry Stotts. “Obviously, Nurk is our best rim protector and we were trying to keep Giannis away from the paint. So that was the plan going into it.
“He's difficult to double-team. He's out on the court and they usually have a lot of three-point shooters out there. They put him in positions that are difficult to double team. And at the same time, we don't want to give up threes. So, it's kind of pick your poison.”
And they certainly picked a lethal poison Friday. Giannis and his teammates were virtually unstoppable when they got inside and it more than made up for their deficit from three-point range.
Points in the paint were a whopping 58-24 for the Bucks, who made 29 of 34 from that area while Portland was connecting on just 12 of 37.
“We didn’t finish well at all in the paint,” Stotts said.
Their bench crew didn’t finish well from anywhere.
After the first three quarters, the Portland bench was a combined 0-16 from the floor, including 0-10 from three-point range and totaled two points. That group finished 6-31 for the game.
But the Bucks led virtually wire to wire and had the game well in hand after a brief Portland spurt early in the third quarter.
Damian Lillard hit half his 10 three-point shots en route to 32 points to lead Portland.
“The second part of the season is going to be a test for us, you know, just to see if we can put it together against the best teams in the league,” Lillard said. ”And do the things that we need to do to be able to compete at that level. So, I'm excited about the challenge. I was excited to play tonight. And, you know, I was prepared to play tonight.
“I think our team was excited for the challenge coming off four wins in a row and, you know, we just got outplayed.”
It was a difficult loss after four straight wins in a game the Trail Blazers saw as an opportunity to measure themselves against one of the best teams in the league.
“You know, we’ll bounce back tomorrow,” Stotts said, referring to a Saturday night game in Moda vs. Oklahoma City.