Blazers annihilated by the Clippers, 128-105

by Kevin Nesgoda

After a big win against the Lakers on Monday night, the Blazers stayed in rainy and stormy Los Angeles waiting to take on the Clippers. Last year the Blazers had a big win against the Clippers on the way to their playoff run in the bubble.

Tonight was not a good night for the Blazers. They gave up a ton of threes, could never get a cohesive effort on defense and Damian Lillard didn’t make a single three.

First Quarter

CJ McCollum is starting off hot again in another game. There is more aggressiveness and confidence in CJ’s game this season. Not sure what he could have worked on in the eight days of the offseason this year, but whatever it was it’s working.

In the past, CJ was a slow starter and did most of his damage when Lillard was on the bench. With CJ being a scoring threat early it opens up Lillard to do more Lillard things and takes the pressure off both Derrick Jones and Robert Covington to step up their scoring games.

CJ with two big threes to start the game. Derrick Jones Jr. hit a catch and shoot three of his own. His three-point shot has not been there early this year, but he’s shooting with confidence. Those shots are going to be there for him all year.

Once again the Blazers are not taking care of the three-point line. I’m not sure how this always happens. They added two defenders who replaced the guys who made all those errors last year and the same thing happens. This has to be some sort of scheme issue that does not come through. Both Serge Ibaka and Nic Batum each have two three-pointers six minutes into the game.

Paul George follows up by knocking down two of his own, Kawhi Leonard hit one and pushed the Clipper lead up to twelve at 28-16.

The Clippers are 7-8 early in the quarter on three-point shooting.

Damian Lillard was 0-6 from the field and had three free throws in the quarter. The Blazers were a bit lost on offense when CJ went to the bench. Not normally what you see from Lillard, but h’’s been off to a slow start so far this year.

Yes, there is a focus to get others involved and Dame can get his points late when it matters, but sometimes he needs to be the one to get going early and the others can score when he’s on the bench. Tonight is one of those nights where Dame is going to have to put in 40+.

It may not matter though, the Blazers are on pace to give up 32 three-pointers.

Second Quarter

In the preseason I thought Enes Kanter’s effort was subpar and that he was going to get minutes taken from Giles who was legit looking like a sixth man of the year in four preseason games. Kanter’s offensive rebounding has been so good to start the season. He got the Blazers at least 15-second chance points because of his rebounding against the Lakers on Monday. He’s already gotten two in two minutes tonight.

Rotations are so sloppy as the Clippers move the ball around tonight. Portland is being too aggressive in their closeouts, blowing by shooters, and allowing wide-open threes. For some reason the Blazers are putting five guys near the paint any time the Clippers go down to the post, so they have to rush the three-point line. This scheme needs to change. There doesn’t need to be five guys around Serge Ibaka in the post. Ibaka is not an elite post player, but the Clippers are an elite three-point shooting team.

Robert Covington is earning his money in the young season. Tonight he’s hitting his three and starting to get things flowing on defense. He’s been a big reason why the Blazers have cut the Clippers’ lead from 17 to 10 over the last two and a half minutes of the quarter.

Blazers cut the lead down further to seven points with under six minutes to play in the half. The Clippers responded with threes from both Reggie Jackson and Leonard.

This collapse to the paint nonsense needs to stop. Shaq is not playing in the league anymore. There is zero reason to crowd the paint against the Clippers.

Los Angeles took advantage of this and started to run the Blazers off the floor running their lead up to 21 points. Portland is so out of it on the defensive end tonight. They are flat-footed and then rushing to cover switches. This is such an ugly performance from the Blazers. They are trying to go blow for blow with the Clippers and can’t do it.

Third Quarter

Oh boy, this quarter did not start off well for the Blazers. They had one shot and three turnovers in their first four possessions as the Clippers pushed their lead up to 31 points.

Lillard usually makes good decisions on passes, but he had back to back possessions where he jumped in the air, thought he was fouled, and then made a bad pass. He may or may not have been fouled on those passes, but it’s hard to make a good pass in that position.

On the plus side, CJ McCollum continued his hot shooting. He’s been the biggest positive for Portland tonight. Lillard has shown some fight, but there has not been a whole lot in the way of production. No threes made and more turnovers than usual. It’s not been a good night from Dame at all.

The Blazers on a few different trips down the floor cut the Clipper lead to under 20 points and then it’d balloon back up to 25 points.

Fourth Quarter

Both teams have gone to the benches to start the fourth quarter. Well, Paul George is still out there. He must be the dude that the Clippers are going to rely on to slam the door on the Blazers tonight.

Harry Giles got into the game and immediately showed off that same energy he did in the preseason. He got a quick four points. What is depressing about his spot in the rotation is that he came into the game at the same time as CJ Eleby and Keljin Blevins. I definitely thought he earned more playing time than that. He’s not a bottom rotation guy, but he could be a middle rotation guy. With Zach Collins out for maybe the rest of the season, he might get a few minutes.

Next Up

Blazers are sticking around California for a few more days, as they head up to The Bay to take on the Warriors on Friday at 7:00 PM.

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