Blazers Have No Answers For Giannis In Home Loss To Bucks

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- After going undefeated on a four-game road trip, the Portland Trail Blazers had their win streak ended Friday night with a 127-109 loss to the Milwaukee Bucks at the Moda Center.

The Trail Blazers are now 29-19 overall and 14-10 at home this season. The loss ends the Trail Blazers’ four-game winning streak and extends their losing streak versus the Bucks to five, a stretch that includes the two meetings this season.

While Portland put up a better fight Friday night than they did in the first meeting, a 134-106 loss in Milwaukee on February 1, the Bucks led for all but the first two minutes and went up by as many as 24 in the second half.

However, despite an abysmal first quarter that saw all Blazers not named Damian Lillard shoot a combined 2-of-20 from the field, Portland made steady progress in the second quarter, even managing to cut Milwaukee’s lead to just seven by the intermission.

And when Lillard scored the first five points of the third quarter to cut the Bucks’ lead to 60-58, it seemed as though the Trail Blazers were going to make it a game in the second half.

But as was the case all night long, Portland simply had no answer for the reigning MVP, Giannis Antetokounmpo. The “Greek Freak” scored the next 10 points for the Bucks and would eventually put up 14 in the quarter on 5-of-5 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from three.

“What’s tough about Giannis, he didn’t miss a shot inside the three-point line,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “He’s effective getting to the rim, he’s just such a unique player at this size and what he’s able to do, to get into the lane and create problems. Obviously he showed tonight he’s a great finisher in the paint. He got fouled, he made his free throws, it’s why he’s an MVP player. He’s just that tough.”

And with Jrue Holiday contributing 10 points, Milwaukee would outscore Portland by 17 in the third to turn what briefly had the makings of a close game into a blowout.

The Blazers trailed by at least 20 points for much of the remainder of the game. They did managed to get the deficit down to 12 with just under five minutes to play, though they’d never get close to the number of stops they’d need to put much of a scare into the visitors.

“I was excited to play tonight, I was prepared to play tonight,” said Lillard. “I think our team was excited for the challenge coming off four wins in aa row and we just got outplayed.”

Lillard led Portland with 32 points on 10-of-19 shooting, five assists, four rebounds, three steals and a block in 34 minutes. CJ McCollum and Robert Covington each finished with 18 points. Norman Powell was the only other Blazer to finish in double figures with 12 points to go with three rebounds, three steals and two assists in 31 minutes.

Giannis Antetokounmpo came close to his career-high with 47 points on 18-of-21 shooting from the field and 11-of-13 shooting from the free throw line. He went 18-of-18 from inside the three-point line, making him the only player other than Wilt Chamberlain back in 1967 to take that many two-pointers without a miss.

Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists and Khris Middleton went for 20 points, eight assists, seven rebounds and three steals in 32 minutes.

Next up, the Trail Blazers host the Thunder on the second night of a back-to-back and in the third and final game between the two Northwest Division teams this season.

“You don’t want to let one loss turn into two,” said Lillard. “It’s a game that we’ve got to have, we’ve got to be prepared to get up tomorrow, do our walk throughs, go through our scouting report and be locked in and sharp for that win.”

Tipoff is scheduled for Saturday at 7 p.m.


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