Portland iced in loss
The Headline: Despite doing everything else right the Blazers can’t make their shots, landing their first loss of the season.
Portland Trail Blazers 92, Oklahoma City Thunder 106
When: 8:00 ET, Friday, November 2, 2012
Where: Chesapeake Energy Arena (Oklahoma City)
Officials: James Capers, John Goble, Pat Fraher
1. Wes alive again
Wesley Matthews had a great start to the season, but unfortunately there were so many other things that went right I didn’t get a chance to touch on it in my recap.
But tonight was another night, and No. 2 was just as good.
Wes shot just 5-15, but he finished with 17 points. Matthews brought a lot of high energy tonight and kept fighting. After a disappointing 2011-12, it’s good to see a reinvigorated Wes.
2. Lillard stays strong
Now it’s still only two games, but it looks like Damian Lillard isn’t going anywhere.
The young rookie shot better than anyone else tonight, hitting nine of 19. He had 21 points, 7 assists (to just two turnovers) and a steal.
On a night when the Thunder’s defense was lights out, Lillard played strong and made his shots when they counted. His stats make him just the third NBA rookie to get 20 points and 7 assists in his first two games.
3. Playing with fouls
Portland had a tough night with fouls, but they played smart and kept in it.
J.J. Hickson had two fouls in the first minute of the game, but he finished with a double-double (14 points, 12 rebounds) in 26 minutes of play. He accumulated just two more fouls (four total) on the night.
LaMarcus Aldridge was another player who hit foul issues, getting his fifth in the fourth quarter. But he kept his head in the game, never landed that sixth and finished with 36 minutes of play.
1. Getting iced
OKC plays hard defense at home, and it certainly showed tonight.
Frankly, Portland is lucky this game was as close as it was. They managed to shoot just 32-89 (35%) on the night, compared to the Thunder’s 39-76 (51%).
The Thunder also had 10 blocks. They played bigger and harder on the court than the Blazers, and it showed in the defense.
2. Batum silenced
Nicolas Batum looked great in the season opener, but tonight he looked like his ole’ inconsistent self.
The lanky Frenchman came out flying, but just couldn’t land a shot. He had one basket tonight, despite 11 shots. He finished the game with 3 points, 1 rebound and a steal. He also had four fouls.
3. Minimal bench production
Portland is a team that will lean on their starters, and when the bench struggles so will the team. The bench put up more points than they did against the Lakers, but they still needed to show better production.
Sasha Pavlovic had a rough night, failing to score anything in 23 minutes. Nolan Smith made his only shot on the night, but had 2 turnovers in 10 minutes.
The biggest contributors were Luke Babbit (8 points in nine minutes) and Joel Freeland (2 points, 3 rebounds in six minutes).