The Grizzlies stepped into Portland with the Trail Blazers looking to reclaim some lost ground in this first round series. Arron Afflalo and Chris Kaman returned to action for Portland, with Afflalo making his first start of the series. Beno Udrih missed the game for Memphis with a right ankle strain.
The Blazers fans were up for this one and were making lots of noise in the build up to the tip. Portland would win said tip, but LaMarcus Aldridge would carry on where he left off in games one and two by missing a mid-range jump shot. Courtney Lee opened the scoring with a mid-range J of his own, before Aldridge would miss once again.
Following a Tony Allen layup Marc Gasol blocked Aldridge at the rim. The ball found it's way back to Aldridge who would have to throw up a prayer with the shot clock about to expire. The shot was counted at the time. The officials would review the shot at the next timeout and take the bucket away.
After struggling from three point range through the first two games, just 1-11 from behind the arc, Damian Lillard would make his first three of the game. He would go on to make just 1 of his next 6 from behind the line, finishing the game 2-7, but shot much better overall (9-17).
Courtney Lee started the game on fire, connecting on 4 of his first 5 shots as he found himself open on a number of occasions as the Blazers were too interested in trying to stop the Grizzlies big men down low. Courtney Lee finished the first quarter with 10 points. His points came in a number of ways: knocking down his only three point attempt of the period, hitting a mid-range jumper, driving to the rim after a nice crossover on Chris Kaman and drawing the foul for the and-one chance, which he would go on to finish.
Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph started the game by continuing their shooting struggles. Opening the game a combined 0-6 in the first 6 minutes of action, but would end the quarter by hitting 3 of their next 4 combined. It was their defense which played the biggest part of the quarter as Z-Bo contained LaMarcus Aldridge, who finished the period 0-2, whilst Gasol recorded all 3 of his blocks within the first 12 minutes.
With 2:36 left to play, Memphis led 22-11 before McCollum, first from three, then from mid-range and Batum from three, led Portland to an 8-0 run. Nick Calathes stopped the run by hitting the runner which gave the Grizzlies a 24-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter started with Jeff Green and LaMarcus Aldridge making 2 free throws a piece. This was the start of a run of continuous foul calls on both sides as the Grizzlies picked up 4 team fouls within the first 2 minutes with the Blazers picking up 3 of their own.
With just about 3 minutes gone, Calathes fed Koufos in the paint with a beautiful bounce pass, Koufos dunked on the unfortunate McCollum whilst drawing the foul. He would go on to make the resulting free throw. Jeff Green drove his way to the rim where he finished with the layup. On the defensive end, Vince Carter got up to block Afflalo's shot from inside the paint. Portland called for the timeout with Memphis leading 34-26.
Out of the timeout McCollum would miss a jump shot. Jeff Green gladly took the rebound before setting off down the court by himself: he went up for the layup but was unable to connect as Afflalo pushed him out-of-bounds whilst he was in the air. The officials reviewed the foul to see if it was a flagrant, But they deemed it only a common foul. Jeff would go onto make both free throws.
Mike Conley put Memphis up 38-26 with 7:30 left on the clock before LaMarcus Aldridge made his first field goal of the night; he was now 1-8. With 6:06 to play, Nick Calathes finished a nice scoop shot from underneath the basket before Lillard would make the three on the other end.
Conley came up with a fantastic play on the very next possession. He found himself being guarded by Lopez at the elbow and went up for the jump shot. As he went up, he felt Lopez's hand on his arm and he switched the ball to his other hand whilst in mid-air and threw the shot up. It dropped through the net as the ref called for the foul. Mike made the free throw and Memphis led 45-33.
Just a minute later Carter feeds Randolph down low. As he the runs towards the basket, Randolph throws up the alley-oop. Once upon a time Vince would have slammed it down, not these days though, he finished with the layup whilst drawing the foul and went to the line to complete the three point play.
Portland managed to cut the lead down to 6 before Gasol finished with the soft touch, Conley hit a three, Z-Bo made 2 free throws and a shot from inside the paint, and Gasol made 2-3 free throws. These buckets were all part of a 12-5 Grizzlies run to end the half which saw them lead 62-49 at the interval.
Half Time Notes
- Conley leads Grizzlies scorers with 12 points on 50% shooting.
- Courtney Lee hit 4-5 FG in the first quarter but didn't take a shot in the second.
- Calathes hit 3-4 FG for 7 points.
- Grizzlies have 13 assists on 23 FG.
- The bench shot 70%.
- Grizzlies have just 2 turnovers.
- 23-40 FG | 3-4 3PT | 13-14 free throws.
- 62 points in the half was a team playoff record for points in a half.
The second half began with Batum hitting a three pointer to cut the lead to 10. Memphis would miss their first 5 FG attempts of the half before a Z-Bound gave them their first points of the period.
Much like the first half, the second began with a flurry of foul calls. Portland were other the limit after Lopez fouled Gasol on the shot with 7:40 left in the period. Gasol made both and Memphis led 68-56.
With 6:47 left to play, ZBo goes to work on Kaman in the paint, gets around him with some great footwork and finishes at the rim to give the Grizllies their biggest lead of the night, 70-56.
Things took a turn for the worse with 4 minutes left as Conley battled for the loose ball with McCollum. As they both reached for the ball, McCollum swung his elbow and unintentionally caught Mike in his eye. Portland carried on playing and scored on the other end. Conley left the game with blood pouring onto a towel he had covering his face. He wouldn't return and left the arena to receive medical attention.
With 1:02 left on the clock Randolph found Green with a bounce pass as he ran through the lane, Green threw up the circus shot whilst drawing the foul. The shot fell, and he would go on to make the free throw to complete the three point play. Memphis hit just 7 of 18 field goal attempts in the period, but took a 85-75 lead into the final 12 minutes.
LaMarcus Aldridge had been much better in the second half and hit his first shot of the quarter with a fadeaway off one foot to cut the lead to 8 after he had made 2 free throws to start the quarter. After shooting just 1-10 from the field in the first half, Aldridge connected on 5 of his 8 attempts in the second half.
Kosta Koufos blocked C.J. McCollum off the backboard as he attempted the layup with Portland desperately trying to chip away at the deficit. The Grizzlies were doing a nice job of keeping the lead around the 10 and 11 point mark before Green fouled Batum on the three point attempt; Batum made all three attempts. The Grizzlies led 90-82.
The Portland crowd was getting louder and louder, as they sensed a comeback, before back-to-back Gasol buckets pushed the lead back up to 12 to help quieten the fans with 5:25 left to play. Batum then hit a jump shot before a three from Afflalo cut the lead down to 7. Memphis was struggling to get anything going. Lee missed a three before getting called for a travel on the Grizzlies next possession. Batum hit yet another three to cut the deficit to 3 points with 2:10 left to play.
The Grizzlies desperately needed to score and as the Portland defense concentrated on the Grizzlies' go-to men, Tony Allen cut to the basket with nobody on him. Calathes found him and he finished with the layup.
Batum missed a three on Portland's next possesion. Randolph then gets fouled on the layup and makes both free throws to put Memphis up 98-91 with 1:32 left in the game. Lillard then missed an ill-advised three. Courtney Lee threw the outlet pass to an open Tony Allen who finished with the dunk to put the Grizzlies up 100-91. Portland called for timeout.
Out of the timeout Batum hit yet another three, he was 6-12 from deep on the night, and finished the game with a game high 27 points. The Blazers then started to play the foul game; it didn't work as Memphis hit 15-16 free throws in the final 1 minute and 13 seconds to claim a 115-109 victory and take a 3 game series lead.
Full Time Notes
- Memphis made a playoff record 39 free throws in the game.
- 5 Grizzlies scored in double digits for the third straight game.
- Grizzlies assisted on 50% of their field goals.
- Grizzlies finished with just 6 turnovers.
- Randolph and Gasol had 4 assists each.
- Grizzlies hit 39-43 free throws.
Next up for the Grizzlies
Game Four takes place in Portland on Monday the 27th of April at 9:30 pm CT.