Trail Blazers vs Warriors Wednesday, 04/17/13 AT 07:00PM

Sluggish Start, Poor Shooting Bites Trail Blazers

01/19/13
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 5.0

    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    The Trail Blazers (20-20) had a deficit as large as 22 points but were able to make a run late in the third quarter to make it a game. However, in the fourth quarter, the Bucks (21-18) turned it on and Portland couldn't keep up as the Bucks eventually won 109-104 for Portland's fifth straight loss. LaMarcus Aldridge led the Trail Blazers with a double-double of 20 points and 14 rebounds.

    The Trail Blazers fell victim to a poor start once again, although they would get their punches in before all was said and done. The Trail Blazers went eight for 28 (28 percent) on three-pointers, which didn't help their cause.

    "The game got away from us at the end of the first quarter," Terry Stotts said. "That was a bad stretch for us, but the second quarter wasn't much better."

    The Trail Blazers gave up 62 points to the Milwaukee Bucks in the first half, 30 points in the first and 32 points in the second. Portland also turned it over 10 times in the first half and they struggled at the rim with there NBA's leading shot blocker, Larry Sanders changing shots at every turn. They were getting out on the break, getting steals and running. Ersan Illyasova who scored 27 points and grabbed 14 boards and Brandon Jennings who scored 30 points were the engine behind Milwaukee's offense. Jesuit High School graduate Mike Dunleavy scored 14 points off the bench. However, in the third quarter the Trail Blazers would of course storm right back and make it a game again.

    "It's kind of like groundhog's day," Stotts said. "We get down, we battle back, put ourselves in a position to win, then we've lost the last few games,"

    Portland stormed back. Damian Lillard was tremendous throughout and had a very nice offensive game, scoring 26 points even though the Bucks, like most teams facing Portland weren't allowing him to bring the ball up the court. Lillard received more help on the offensive end in the form of Aldridge, Matthews and Hickson who all scored in double digits in the second half. Aldridge's ability to get to the line (10-for-10 on free-throws) helped the Trail Blazers slow the game down and get back in it. The Trail Blazers also slowed down the Bucks offensively, as they forced them into 36 percent shooting.

    The Trail Blazers cut the lead to four points at 100-104 with 33 second left and ran a play for Aldridge to get a quick two on the block. He got position but Milwaukee's Epke Udoh, whether intentional or not, stepped on Aldridge's right foot and the ball went out of bounds as Aldridge could not reach it.

    "He stepped on LaMarcus's foot," Stotts said. "He stepped on his foot, I thought it was a missed call."

    "I think somebody pushed him (Udoh), I don't know what happened but he stepped on my foot," Aldridge said.  "I tried to grab the ball, I couldn't, I fell. They didn't call it. That was a bad call."

    After that, the door was shut on the comeback. They've now lost five straight games, which is their longest such streak of the season. However, the team is not shaken because they know the alternative can't be any better. Stotts' message to the team was that of staying united in this tough stretch.

    "When we're going through a stretch like this when we are losing games, I don't even need the coach to tell me," Will Barton (2 points) said. "I've been playing basketball all my life, you are going to win a lot, sometimes you're going to lose a lot. I always feel like it's important to be a family and close-knit. That's the way you recover from it and get things going on the right track. If the team divides, starts pointing fingers and we go our separate ways we'll never get it back on track. As long as we stay together, be a family, be like brothers we'll be fine."

    Portland's next game is on Monday against the Washington Wizards. That game will start at 7PM and be shown on CSNNW and can be heard on 1190 AM and 102.3 FM.

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