PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Portland Trail Blazers have been struck by the injury bug already this season. Though they are undermanned, the show must go on and that show was the matchup against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
After falling behind early in the game, the Blazers fought back but ultimately came up short in a 125-122 loss. Here are six takeaways from the Blazers’ loss to the Thunder
Blazers’ three point defense struggled
Defense has been questionable for the Blazers as they continue to try and find their stride and settle in defensively while missing some of their main pieces like center Jusuf Nurkic, forward Zach Collins and Robert Covington. With that being said, the Blazers’ defense beyond the arc was extremely poor against the Thunder as they at one point shot 59% from three-point range. They were not communicating the way they needed too, really didn’t seem like they had that upbeat and active defense that was needed. This is something that continues to be an uphill battle for the Blazers.
Carmelo Anthony’s huge second quarter
With the Blazers extremely short-handed on the offensive side of things, with elite guard CJ McCollum and dynamic big man Nurkic out for an extended period of time, all-star point guard Damian Lillard is expected to shoulder most of the load and help the Blazers find their rhythm in the game. While he does that when he is on the court, the Blazers needed someone to step up when Lillard took a breather in the second quarter and the 10-time all-star did just that. Carmelo Anthony did exactly what the Blazers needed him to do, which was put the ball in the basket. Anthony racked up 13 points in the second quarter alone and helped keep the Blazers in striking distance.
Anfernne Simons’ confidence
There have been some questions floating around Anfernee Simons about when his confidence will be in the right place, and when he will be a big-time contributor for the Blazers. As time goes on, Simons’ confidence grows more and more but against the Thunder, we witnessed what Simons’ can really do. He knocked down six three-pointers and provided the Blazers with 26 points off the bench
Injuries showing how impactful they really are
Against the Thunder, we saw just how much the injuries have impacted this roster. At one point, many looked at this team as having the most complete roster in quite some time. Unfortunately, the Blazers have been plagued with the injury bug and it really showed in this match up. With a lack of depth due to injury, guys had to play more minutes and bigger roles and you could really see the fatigue kick in late in the fourth quarter.
Blazers bench couldn’t compete with the Thunders
While the Blazers starters did their part in the game, it was a different story for the bench. The Blazers bench was outscored by the Thunders by 19 points. It could have been from lack of depth, pure scoring options other than Simons, or just a bad shooting night for the bench. Regardless, they couldn’t get the job done and did not pull their weight offensively in this one.
Blazers late game defense couldn’t get the job done
The undermanned Blazers fought in this matchup against the Thunder till the very end. At one point the Blazers tied things up in the fourth quarter and even late down the stretch were in striking distance. Unfortunately, the defense just wasn’t able to pick up the stops they needed down the stretch and Oklahoma City walked away with the win.