Over the past couple of years, the Portland Trail Blazers have been a team driven primarily by the high-powered tandem of point guard Damian Lillard and shooting guard C.J. McCollum. They’ve been Portland’s top two scorers two years running, and one of just three backcourt pairs in the league to average better than 20 points per game apiece during that stretch, along with the All-Star groups lining up for the Golden State Warriors (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) and Toronto Raptors (Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan).
The Blazers have needed that punch, too, because they’ve ranked in the bottom third of the league in defensive efficiency in each of the last two seasons. So it was sort of interesting to watch Portland decide to take a different tack in Monday’s game against the Raptors at Moda Center in Oregon: say, what if, instead of making a lot of shots, we instead try scoring almost literally zero shots for an entire quarter?
After an Ed Davis tip-in with 2:14 to go in the first quarter, the Blazers went without a field goal for more than 14 minutes of game time. Thanks to a combination of excellent Raptors defense and flat-out poor shotmaking, Portland missed 20 straight shots from the field, turning a three-point lead into a 21-point deficit. Only an Evan Turner put-back with five seconds to go in the half kept the Blazers from going 0-for-the quarter.
This is the Blazers’ second-quarter shot chart. It is appropriate to look at it on Halloween, because there is more red here than there was pouring out of the elevator at the Overlook Hotel.
Luckily for the Blazers, free throws exist, allowing the team to ring up a whopping six points in the second — the lowest-scoring quarter the team has produced in more than a decade:
Good news: Blazers avoided lowest-scoring quarter in franchise history. That honor belongs to 2005-06 team that had 5 in 4th at Nets.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) October 31, 2017
Look on the bright side, Blazers: at least you didn’t set a league record for the lowest-scoring quarter ever. The Dallas Mavericks and Warriors each scored two points in a quarter once upon a time. You’re, like, three times as good as that!
The Blazers eventually got unstuck, scoring 50 points after intermission — with 25 of those coming from a suddenly scorching Lillard — to get one possession away from single digits in the fourth quarter. As you might expect, though, that 25-6 second quarter tilted things, giving Toronto enough cushion to hold off the Blazers, 99-85, behind big games from DeRozan (25 points, four assists), Lowry (19 points, 10 assists, six rebounds) and center Lucas Nogueira (16 points on 7-for-8 shooting, nine rebounds, five blocks, two steals and two assists), as well as strong play from a young second unit that continues to impress early in the season.
Asked after the game how it felt to watch his team go through a collective quarter-long dry heave, Portland coach Terry Stotts offered a succinct reply: “Brutal.”
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) October 31, 2017
One suspects he might have had a few more colorful words for it away from the ears and microphones of the assembled media. Yikes.
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