The Trail Blazers have been stressing the importance of consistency in approaching games the right way from the start regardless of the opponent.
While they took care of business early against the Charlotte Bobcats on Thursday, they allowed the Philadelphia 76ers to jump out to a 16-point lead in the first quarter on Saturday.
The Sixers continued to hang around even after the Blazers pushed their lead to nine points in the third quarter and eventually came back in the fourth quarter to beat the Blazers 101-99 at the Moda Center.
With a bad start, it forced the Blazers to call early timeouts to try and get back into the game. They eventually came back, playing much better defense as the game progressed. Unlike most nights, the offense let the Blazers down Saturday.
“We got off to a poor start defensively,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “On the whole it was a good defensive game, but we just couldn’t quite get over the hump offensively especially in the fourth quarter.”
The Sixers, coming in on a three-game winning streak, continued to play with belief and their league-high pace for the rest of the game.
“They’re one of those teams that just keep playing. They never stop,” said guard Damian Lillard who scored 17 points.
One game after LaMarcus Aldridge only scored 10 points and the Blazers tied a franchise record for three-pointers, the Blazers went ice cold from beyond the three-point line and needed everything they got from their two-time All-Star.
Aldridge had 29 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks, but it wasn’t enough for the Blazers to win.
The Blazers got a lift from Mo Williams, producing off the bench on a night when the Blazers couldn’t buy a basket from the perimeter. Williams scored 16 points in 24 minutes off the bench.
The Blazers battled back and regained control of the game toward the end of the second quarter and into the third.
“We had control of the game but they just kept coming and kept coming,” Lillard said.
The Sixers, who play at the league’s highest pace, furiously came back in the fourth and cut Portland’s lead down to two points with 6:26 left in the game, forcing Portland to call a timeout.
But the timeout didn’t slow down the Sixers as they went on an 8-0 run, forcing the Blazers to play catch-up.
Thaddeus Young, who came in to averaging 26 points over his last five games, was great once again.
Young had 30 points including a tip-in to put the Sixers ahead by two with 36.2 seconds left.
The Blazers had to play the free-throw game late as they found themselves down by four points with under a minute in the game but were unable to make enough plays to salvage a game they never truly had complete control of.
Lillard went the length of the court for a lay-up with 7.2 seconds left cut the Sixers lead to four as Stotts elected not to call a timeout in case Portland got a steal. And that’s exactly what they did.
Robin Lopez got the steal, giving the Blazers a chance to either win the game or send it into overtime with 5.3 seconds left.
The Blazers, down by two had one last chance to send the game into overtime but Lillard’s lay-up was just short.
“We got the look that we wanted to get. I was able to get to the rim. I got to make that,” he said about his final shot.