Bucks run over Blazers — Blazer bench lost in wine country

by Kevin Nesgoda

Welcome back to the best Blazer recap that is heavily influenced by the Wine of the Night. Do yourself a favor and pick up a bottle if you’re into Ports.

Tonight, the Blazers took on the Milwaukee Bucks who thoroughly beat the Blazers’ brains in earlier in the season. The Blazers were banged up in that one and right now they are the healthiest and it did not matter because the Blazer bench decided to take the night off. Actually, they did not do much better tonight than they did the last time the two teams met.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 47 points and made it his personal mission to stop every momentum-building moment by the Blazers.

First Quarter Thoughts

Bobby Covington has really been shooting the three well this year. He started off slow but has been on fire lately, shooting almost 60% from three post All-Star Break. I really thought bringing him in was a mistake, especially at his age. His defense didn’t bring the price tag justification either.

Hey, I’ll admit when I’m wrong though.

He is going to have his handful with Giannis tonight. He’s attacking the paint like always and he’s getting Jusuf Nurkic switched out on to him on defense the last few possessions and is just abusing him. Giannis was pulled from pregame warm-ups due to some sort of leg injury.

Can’t tell he’s having any discomfort so far in this game. Giannis is looking like an MVP to start the game. Damian Lillard only has one point and no shots, CJ and Powell only have one shot between them in the first five and a half minutes to start the game.

Not sure I’d be running the offense through a hot RoCo, but hey what do I know?

For three straight possessions, Terry Stotts had Nurkic guarding Giannis almost 30 feet from the hoop. I’m not a defensive mastermind like Stotts so I’m not sure I’d go that route, but hey what do I know, Giannis has literally scored all five times Nurk has guarded him so far in this game.

The Bucks hit eight straight shots until Pat Connaughton missed a long three. I miss that dude. He was such a good fit for this Blazer squad. I also miss that heartthrob Jake Layman. That’s definitely my Terps bias showing through.

Damian Lillard starting to come alive! The man deserves the MVP award. Portland would have ten wins at most right now without him. The Blazers were only 5-23 from the field in the first quarter. Lillard had two of those makes.

Blazers gave up a wide-open three to Jrue Holiday to end the quarter. Not sure how the defense is always an issue with this squad. It’s been pretty terrible the last five years and it only seems to get worse.

Might also be the fact the NBA doesn’t really allow defense to be played anymore.

Second Quarter Thoughts

Bucks run an inside post with Giannis and Connaughton. RoCo is forced to foul to stop the easy reverse dunk. He’s got 14 points early. There is zero answers for him at this point. It’s not like the defensive mastermind, Terry Stotts, is looking for one either.

Word is that he found a penny before the game though. Wasn’t heads up, he kept it anyway.

Norman Powell knocks down two threes on back-to-back possessions to get his first points in the Moda Center. It forces the Bucks to call a timeout. Blazers have cut the lead down to seven points.

During the timeout, there were some highlights of Clyde Drexler’s triple-double against the Bucks back in the ’80s. A great game by Clyde, but the game took place in The Mecca. I really miss when stadiums and arenas didn’t have a corporate name. The Mecca is a great name for an arena, so was Seattle Center Colleseum, and a few other places. Baseketball called it back in the late ’90s during the scene where literally everything had a corporate sponsorship.

Anyway, out of the timeout, Giannis gets two quick dunks and the Bucks are back up 11. One of them after Nurk picked him up 30 feet from the basket again. Not sure what the f*** is happening there. They having Covington covering Khris Middleton and Derrick Jones Jr. is covering the point guard on most possessions.

This is not how I’d be running things on the defensive side, but then again, I’m not a defensive mastermind like Terry Stotts. It would have been nice if the Blazers picked up an athletic big man during the deadline or off the waiver wire.

Middleton-Dame-and Forbes trade three-pointers. Middleton and Forbes hit their threes from the same corner and were wide open.

Man, Nurkic looks like crap out there tonight. He’s spending too much energy in bad matchups on the defensive side and has nothing to give the Blazers on the offensive end. He looks slow and has zero confidence. I don’t blame him, Stotts hasn’t put him in a situation in which he has a chance to succeed tonight.

Maybe it’s time to give David Vanterpool a call, see if he’d like, I don’t know be a head coach.

Blazers get hot and cut the lead down to eight points, behind Dame and RoCo knocking down a couple of big threes. Giannis comes in off the bench and the lead gets right up to 13 again. There is absolutely nothing the Blazers can do against him. Granted, most teams can’t do anything with him, but this is the easiest I’ve seen him score since the last time he played against the Blazers.

Dame ends the quarter by blowing by Giannis and finding CJ on the wing for a three.

Portland is only down by seven, 60-53 to end the half. This really could have been a hell of a lot worse.

Halftime Thoughts

The Blazers have apparently signed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson for the rest of the season. I really do not know about this move at all. He’s not great defensively and has never had a season where he shot above 50% from the field or above 29% from three. How does he fit in? And why now? The Blazers needed a body for two and a half months and they didn’t sign him then. The dude could not even make the Timberwolves this season.

Tyson Chandler was a move that made more sense, maybe even kick the tires on Jamal Crawford or IT if they weren’t happy with Simons or Trent. Otto Porter Jr. is going to be bought out by the Magic soon. He’s a much better fit over RHJ.

I really don’t understand this front office some (most) of the time really.

Really happy the Port I’m drinking has a higher ABV than RHJ’’s true shooting percentage.

Third Quarter Thoughts

Blazers immediately cut the lead down to two points after two nice plays by Damian Lillard. Blazers are looking… oh nevermind, Giannis gets back to back three-point plays. Giannis is getting within three feet of the basket at wil
l. The Blazers are refusing to double him, but with the four guys around Giannis who shoot damn near 40% or better from three, it’s best to give up the two by Giannis and hope he misses the free throws?

Giannis has ten points in two and a half minutes to start the third. He has 34 for the game. He really has a chance to get 55+ tonight. He can not be stopped. He is getting some latitude on calls where he should have been whistled for a travel. His pivot foot is very loosely planted.

Dame and Giannis have now decided to guard each other. Dame knocks down a nice step back on Giannis and Giannis gets a dunk.

Checking out the box score and the Blazer bench is currently 0-13 from the floor and only has two points on two free throws from Derrick Jones Jr. Again, why go out and pick up a cold RJH when Otto Porter Jr. would be a decent spark off the bench.

Carmelo Anthony has not been remotely close to making a basket tonight. His last three shots have been a quarter-inch away from being airballs.

Bucks outscore the Blazers 37-20 and have a 97-73 lead heading into the fourth quarter. If this continues we might get drunk storytime with Uncle Kev.

Yeah, no one probably wants that.

Oh, got word that the Blazer bench is stuck in Wine Country. Here’s a live look at them trying to get back to the game.

Fourth Quarter Thoughts

Anfernee Simons hits a three to start the quarter and then CJ hits another to get the Blazers off to a great start here in the fourth quarter. Melo knocks down a three of his own and the Bucks’ lead is cut down to 17. Not a bad start here in the fourth for the Blazers. Their bench scoring is up 600% here in the fourth.

Giannis makes another basket in the paint. Every time the Blazers make some sort of mini-run Giannis quickly comes into the game and immediately ends it. Again, Stotts had Nurk out on him and he just is not fast enough to stay in front of him. With Nurk getting blown by at the top of the arc there is no rim protection behind him. This has been one of the dumbest defensive decisions I’ve ever seen in the 32 years I’ve been watching sports.

The Blazers pick up the pace and get the lead cut down to 12 points. If they had only played a decent, not even a good third quarter and this game is probably around five points or maybe the Blazers have a lead.

Guess what happens? Middleton gets two free throws to push the lead back to 14 and Giannis gets another and-1. He has 47 points with almost four minutes left in the game. He is such a killer.

Blazers wave the white flag and this one is over.

Box Score

Next Up

Back at it tomorrow night at 7:00 PM against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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