Nick Calathes got the start, with Mike Conley is still nursing a broken face. It's pretty hardcore. Plates are involved.
Earlier today, Kevin Lipe called on Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol to take over tonight's game, and to do it without Mike Conley's assisting:
"Tonight, Gasol and Randolph's mission should be to terminate the Blazers' season with extreme prejudice."
To the brothers from another mother, that sounded a little something like this:
Z-Bo opened with three straight makes to give the drunk, late-tip crowd something to get raucous about right away. The Grizz built a 12 point lead in minutes, but it was erased just as quickly when Meyers Leonard and C.J. McCollum came in for Portland and Beno Udrih and Jeff Green came in for Memphis. Thanks in part to poor shot selection by the Grizz and 7 trips to the free throw line, the Blazers pulled the score back even at 20 all after 1.
Vince Carter marshaled the bench rotations for the Grizz in the second - despite going 3-7 in the quarter, his energy and engagement made him the wind in the Grizzlies sails. He dunked rather spectacularly - twice - and even risked his hip replacement to go after a 50/50 ball and force a Blazers turnover. With Beno being -11 in the plus/minus, Joerger opted to stir the pot a little with an as-yet unsean Lee-Green-Carter-Gasol-Randolph lineup to close out the quarter, and it was... surprisingly effective, giving Memphis back a halftime lead at 46-39.
Portland opened the 3rd with its same starting lineup, and again Memphis ran off 6 straight points to build a double-digit lead. But again, C.J. McCollum's 3-point shooting brought the Blazers back from the dead and put them ahead by 3 with 3:39 remaining in the quarter. After a flurry of scuffles, techs, and anti-ref chants from the crowd, the Grizzlies regained their composure and went into the fourth with a tenuous 68-66 lead.
With their lead hanging by a thread, Memphis made better attempts at getting to the bucket but missed several in a row at the rim. A switch by Joerger defensively put Jeff Green on McCollum and Tony Allen on Lillard (Hiding Beno/Calathes on Nick Batum) - this mercifully quelled Portland's offense for several minutes in the middle of the quarter.
Finally, with 4 to go, Jeff Green ran off 5 straight points and Zach Randolph poured in a classic fadeaway to make it a 10-point lead. And with that, the butts of an entire city unclenched.
Portland stretched it out with some late 3-point makes, but Marc Gasol blocked their final attempt to seal the victory. He also led the Grizz with 26 points and 14 rebounds. Big ups, big Spain.
• Portland was 19-0 this season when holding their opponents to less than 90. With 5 minutes go to, this stat was very unsettling.
• Memphis was 1-14 from three tonight. The 1 came from Tony Allen.
• Shoutout to Pete, Brevin, Fish, and maybe even Sean for their ace broadcasting all year. I always hate leaving them behind after the first round, but I guess there are worse problems to have.
• Did you know the carpet at PDX has a sort of cult following? Hope the Blazers can take some solace in its familiar pattern on their way down to baggage claim. Here, take this one for the road, y'all.