Just kidding, they lost. April Fools.
Elaborate pranks aside, the Grizzlies lost their second straight game, both on the road, after falling to Portland Trail Blazers 113-98. Memphis won their earlier matchup without Damian Lillard playing for Portland, but it turns out the three-time All-Star is a huge difference maker.
It took a while for Memphis to get going, but they were able to end the first frame competitively. After the game started 22-7 Portland, I started having Charlotte flashbacks. Luckily those subsided with Memphis’ play. Even though Damian Lillard lived at the free throw line (6-6 in the first 12 minutes), Memphis hung in there enough to keep the score within 8 (32-24) after a Dillon Brooks heave to beat the buzzer.
In the second, Memphis took advantage of Lillard sitting for the first six minutes. The Grizzlies outscored Portland 18-13 while he was on the bench, then pushed further and even grabbed the lead for a bit while he was on the floor. Lillard, who missed this week’s earlier match-up to witness the birth of his child, scored 13 points in the first half.
Memphis was buoyed by its young talent in the first half, although at this point in the season all its talent is young. Dillon Brooks and Wayne Selden were incredibly active on the defensive end and making good decisions on offense. I will count Selden dunking the leather off the ball as a good decision. Even Ben McLemore was playing pretty good ball that half. All in all, Portland ended the half winning 55-51.
Evan Turner was showing out to start the second half. That’s when you know the wheels came off for the Memphis Grizzlies. After a competitive first two quarters, all that progress was undone by a 43-24 third quarter. Memphis was sloppy with the ball and Portland took advantage, scoring transition buckets as easily as possible. The Trail Blazers’ scoring attack was extremely well-balanced, with four players (Turner, C.J. McCollum, Lillard, and Al-Farouq Aminu) scoring 14+ points through the third frame. Memphis’ young guns could not keep up. Portland extended their lead to 98-75 at the end of three.
The fourth quarter was a delay of the inevitable. Dillon Brooks continued to stuff the stat sheet, but it unfortunately wasn’t of any significance. He would go on to finish with 28 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists as he lead a mini-run to cut the lead to *just* 10 with 4:19 left. However, Portland put their starters back in and the run ended just as quickly.
Memphis moves to 21-56 on the season after this loss. They have just five games remaining and will be in action next on Wednesday visiting the New Orleans Pelicans.