Like the saying goes, it’s not how you start, but how you finish. That didn’t exactly play out in Portland’s favor Tuesday as the Trail Blazers opened the contest against the Brooklyn Nets with a 41-point first period but sputtered for 21 points in the final frame of a 116-112 loss at the Moda Center.
Enes Kanter muscled his way to a 19-point, 19-rebound outing, adding six assists for good measure, but the shooting duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to hit just 10 of 36 shots. The Blazers fell to 25-18 overall with a 40-percent shooting night that included 55 attempts from three-point range.
As the only member of Brooklyn’s “Big Three” to suit up, James Harden led all scorers with 25 points and dished out 17 assists. He also grabbed seven boards for the Nets, who improved to 30-14, just a half-game out of the East’s top spot.
Portland drops a full game behind Denver into sixth place, just 1.5 games ahead of San Antonio and two in front of eighth-place Dallas. The Blazers were beaten in the usual key areas with the Nets outshooting (49 percent to 40 percent), outrebounding (47-44) and dominating the paint (64-28).
The Blazers led most of the way but as their offense grew more and more stagnant, the Nets were able to seize opportunities to chip away, take the lead, and eventually expand it to as many as eight in the fourth period.
Kanter, and that’s it. He outmuscled and outworked Deandre Jordan in the paint and without his 10 offensive rebounds, the Blazers would’ve likely lost by 20+.
Derrick Jones Jr. gave us a handful of highlight reel dunks, which helped to mask his 1-8 shooting from deep. But seriously, Jones put down some nasty jams and Airplane Mode was activated. >>WATCH HERE<<
Dame and CJ combining to shoot 10-36 from the floor and 7-26 from deep. To put it in simple terms, Portland can’t win games if the shooters don’t make shots.
With Nassir Little and Anfernee Simons scratched from the game due to health and safety protocols, Terry Stotts had a golden opportunity to work Harry Giles III back into the rotation. Instead, he gave 20 ineffective minutes to Rodney Hood while Giles never saw the floor.
The Blazers end the month of March with four straight road games, starting with Thursday’s nationally televised (TNT) game in Miami at 4:30 pm.