If there was one word to describe the Grizzlies night in Portland it's this: irony. What's ironic is that they just got Bobby Jackson and Lorenzen Wright healthy only to suffer two more injuries, including a devastating injury to Damon Stoudamire.It was halfway through the second quarter that Memphis was rolling with a 10-pt lead.
Mike Miller had hit all 6 of his shots in the 2nd and had collected 18 points with a ton of time to go. Then Miller hurt his knee twice on two separate drives to the basket and left with about 5 minutes left.That was just an appetizer though, for with 4 minutes left Damon Stoudamire drove into the lane and appeared to slip on the floor as he crashed to the ground, landing on his back.
He had to be carted off in a stretcher as he failed to get on his feet. A close look showed that Stoudamire hadn't slipped at all but had actually badly pulled a part of his knee. The official word is definitely bad: a torn patella tendon (AKA he just destroyed his kneecap) which has season-ending injury written all over it.Mike Miller made a comeback in the 3rd quarter and would finish the game with 23.
However he was noticeably limping from then on; injuries will probably be a reoccurring issue for Miller who was just one day removed from being hammered by Kobe Bryant.The Grizzlies still held a double-digit lead in the 4th when the Blazers at last made a run. Ruben Patterson attacked the basket and put pressure on Miller offensively. Martell Webster hit a pair of 3's and Zach Randolph drove to the hoop to cut the deficit to 4. It was too late though, had Portland made their run earlier they could have rode the momentum all the way to a win.
In the end, it appeared that the game might have been won thanks to the officials.With 25 seconds left, Juan Dixon was battling for a defensive rebound over Shane Battier. And as the two attempted to tip the ball to themselves, Battier fell to the ground and allowed Dixon to get the rebound.
However a foul was called on Dixon and sent Battier to the line who hit both free throws.Controversy occurred again when the Grizzlies appeared to throw the ball out of bounds right after the Blazers scored a quick deuce. Once again a foul was called on Portland and was just as suspect as the last foul call. Bobby Jackson came to the foul line, playing his first game in over two weeks. Jackson was rusty throughout the game having made only 2-8 shot attempts. He split the pair and unintentionally gave the Trailblazers an opportunity to tie.
But all they could do was get an open 3 for Zach Randolph (who has made only three 3's his whole career) who missed it an ended the game.The Blazers came into the game with Joel Pryzbilla, Darius Miles, and Sebastian Telfair all out with injuries. The Blazers move the ball around better with Steve Blake at PG than Telfair and had won their last three games coming into this one.
Although Telfair gives them scoring, something that only Zach Randolph can do right now.The Grizzlies are only 4 back of San Antonio at 18-10. Yet their season is up in the air. With Damon Stoudamire almost certainly done for the year Bobby Jackson will be the starter again. At this point in his career, Jackson might not be best suited to play 30 minutes a night (partly since he's so injury prone).
What a shame this would be if it ruins the Grizzlies season. They had a very productive defensive scheme going and it appeared that they could at least challenge for the #4 seed.Ruben Patterson led the Blazers off the bench with 22. Zach Randolph and Pau Gasol both had 18 points and 9 rebounds. Stoudamire finished with 4 points through 14 minutes..
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By: David Pincus