The Portland Trail Blazers welcomed Damian Lillard and the Milwaukee Bucks to the Moda Centre in style on Wednesday night. They went head-to-head with the teams that are in the running for the title and wouldn’t give up. Milwaukee is known for having shaky defence. Tonight, they did nothing to show that it wasn’t true.
Guards Scoot Henderson and Anfernee Simons cut them up like a roast deer. Portland’s play inside the paint stayed strong as well. They got 56 points in the paint, which was another area where Milwaukee was weak.
Damian Lillard scored 25 points in his first return as an enemy player, but Henderson scored 15 points and Simons scored 24. The front-court guys for Portland were also strong. It was 20 for DeAndre Ayton and 18 for Jerami Grant.
As everyone knew what would happen, the main story of the game had the letters “D.L.” on it. Surprisingly, the “D” did not stand for defence…Milwaukee did not play a lot. The Beavers beat the Bucks 119–116, which is the L.
The Blazers made 53.3% of their shots from the field and 42.9% of their shots from beyond the line. They also made all of their free throws, even though Milwaukee had 19 more than them.
Wow, what a night. What a victory! If it makes you feel good, think about giving some tickets to kids in need so they can see the Blazers play later this spring. Check that out below, and then read on to see how the win turned out.
There was a funny way for the Blazers to show that they were scared of the Bucks. In contrast to the two logo shots Lillard was about to miss, Jabari Walker made a three to start the game. This gave Portland a 3-5 start from the field and a 7-2 lead with 2:00 left.
Later, the Bucks stopped being stupid and went to Giannis inside for shots that couldn’t be blocked. That quickly brought them back. It also gave Milwaukee more chances to make three-pointers. When Khris Middleton and Malik Beasley made long shots, the Bucks had a lot of chances. At 6:31, they had come back from behind to take a 17–14 lead. Head Coach Chauncey Billups called a timeout to stop the momentum.
Anfernee Simons kept the Blazers going by making quick threes like Damian Lillard used to do on this court. Deandre Ayton added a point from the lane as well. The offense for Portland looked good. Milwaukee’s defence might not have done that, though.
Again, Brook Lopez made threes to give the Bucks the lead, but Scoot Henderson and Duop Reath scored without any fear, both with layups or dunks. When both teams threw haymakers with recklessness, the Moda Centre seemed to be filled with a happy mood.
When Reath made a three with 1:18 left, Portland was only one point behind, 33-32. Milwaukee went on a short run that made the lead six points again, but Henderson made a three at the buzzer to end an 11-point quarter compared to Lillard’s 8-point quarter. At the start, Milwaukee was ahead 38–37.
While the first quarter was going on, Portland’s second unit made three shots to keep the pressure on their famous guests. They tied the game, and then, for the next few minutes, they were in a running battle with Milwaukee. Portland got a couple of leads. But Giannis was a trump card for them, scoring or getting to the line without any trouble.
Just after 8:20 in the second quarter, the Blazers scored their 50th point. In some games, they haven’t scored that many goals in the first half. The effects of a persistent interior attack were good. In response, Milwaukee made more threes. It was time to score.
To their credit, Milwaukee started putting more players in the lane, which made it harder for Portland to make layups. Simons and Henderson both got to the cup, but neither could clean up. Things got wild again with a three from Matisse Thybulle. Then Jerami Grant changed his mind in the middle. At the break, with 3:52 left in the half, Portland was ahead 58–57.
It would have to wait until the second half for someone to play real defence, at least for a while. Both teams missed shots, but most of the time, it wasn’t because they were under a lot of pressure. Portland was ahead 67–65 at the break when the buzzer sounded.
Early in the third quarter, Damian Lillard made a killer three-pointer to start the scoring. This made the ‘Uh Oh’ meter go up. Giannis’s two buckets pushed it even further into the red. He made a shot and then got a foul in the lane to help his team get through the rough patch. When Lillard turned the ball over, and Grant dunked it on the next play, Milwaukee was looking for umbrellas. At the 8:21 mark, Portland was ahead 77–74 after the break.
There were finally some missed shots from both teams in the middle of the third. Milwaukee still scored inside, but they just couldn’t make a three-pointer. Even less offence came from Portland. It was either the limited area or nothing.
Matisse Thybulle broke the spell again by making a three-pointer with 3:40 left to put Portland ahead by five. Then Scoot Henderson drove and hit Duop Reath in the right corner. Wreath made a three, even though he dropped the ball. It might have been Portland’s night, after all.
As the quarter came to a close, Khris Middleton hit a pair of “Nuh Uh” threes to try to stop that story. But Anfernee Simons answered with his own. The scores kept going back and forth. Once more. With 2.9 seconds left in the quarter, Simons made a tough pull-up in the lane, giving Portland a 96-91 lead at the break.
FINAL THREE MONTHS
The fourth inning got off to a rough start for Milwaukee. Lots of turnovers. In the first two minutes of the quarter, they didn’t make a shot. Malcolm Brogdon made a transition layup and a halfcourt three in that same time frame, giving the Blazers a 101-91 lead. Doc Rivers, the head coach of the Bucks, called an emergency break to get everyone back on track.
During that time of recovering, Giannis made free throws on a hack, and then Portland turned the ball over and Lillard made a three. The Bucks scored five points in thirty seconds, which made Billups call an echo timeout for Portland. With 8:57 left, the Blazers were ahead 101–95.
After that, play got a little more stable. Lillard scored again, but Deandre Ayton made a few straight shots that gave Portland a chance to catch their breath.
I thought, “It can only happen to Portland,” when a loose ball off a rebound seemed to hit Brook Lopez in the middle and go out of bounds, but the judges didn’t see what happened and called it a jump ball between Lopez and Ayton, who was arguing. Coach Billups questioned the call, but after reviewing it, the officials found that the ball had hit Anfernee Simons’ thigh. This meant that Portland’s challenge had a worse result than the original missed call. In a technical sense, though, it was a winning challenge, so the Blazers could still argue another call later.
Thank goodness the Bucks didn’t score on that play, but Giannis made a normal three-point play on their next one, making the score 107-102 for Portland as the fourth quarter came to a close.
After that, both teams focused on scoring from the middle. Ayton beat Lopez in the post, and Lopez hit a three to get back at Ayton. No stone was left unturned as the scoring feast went on. There was no doubt that the end of the game would burn the place down.
In the last four minutes, Milwaukee scored first. Malik Beasley made a layup, Jerami Grant made a jump shot, and then Middleton made a short shot. With 3:09 left, Portland was still ahead, but only by 4, 113–109.
Coach Billups used his second and last challenge to question a foul by Toumani Camara on Lillard. It worked out again for him. The overturn did, however, lead to a jump ball. The Bucks won the tip, and Lopez made another three, cutting the lead to 113–112.
On the next play, Grant made a tough jump shot over Lillard. After that, Lopez missed a three-pointer while the Blazers had two guys on Giannis to stop him. On the next play, Portland had several shots but couldn’t make them. Then Lillard dunked, making the score 115-114 in favour of Portland with 1:13 left.
The next time the Blazers had the ball, they lost it. The best part of Milwaukee’s defence was left for last. With less than a minute left, the Bucks still trailed by one but had the ball.
Lillard missed the next shot, but the Bucks made another mistake, and Giannis made an alley-oop from Dame to put the Bucks ahead 116–115. But Anfernee Simons came through again with a jumper that gave the team a one-point lead again. It’s 17.6 seconds left on the Milwaukee ball.
Giannis set a big screen for Lillard on the inbounds pass, which let Dame go for a moment. They went after him at the far sideline, but Ayton stopped him, and Malcolm Brogdon blocked the three-point shot, which messed up the Dame Time watch. Lopez got the ball from Lillard on the other side, but Brook missed the three. Brogdon got back up. The Bucks got a foul for not scoring, and Portland called a timeout with 5.6 seconds left in the game. They were ahead 117–116.
After the Bucks pushed Simons out of the chance, Jerami Grant got the inbounds pass. Grant had two free throws after taking charge. He made both, putting Portland ahead 119–116 with 4.6 seconds left and Milwaukee out of timeouts.
Grant fouled Giannis with 2.8 seconds left after he got the ball back. He missed the first one, then missed the second one on purpose to get the ball, and Brogdon grabbed it to win the game.
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