Here are a few stats from the Blazers’ Monday home loss to the Thunder:
Oklahoma City rebounds: 59
Portland rebounds: 39
Oklahoma City fast-break points: 20
Portland fast-break points: 7
Oklahoma City second-chance points: 22
Portland second-chance points: 14
Scott Foster’s goaltending call on LaMarcus Aldridge was awful. There’s no getting around that. The game should have been 103-101 with six seconds remaining in regulation. It’s very possible that the Blazers would have won had the correct call been made. But had Aldridge’s block stood, Oklahoma City would have had the ball back with more than enough time to execute a final play for either Kevin Durant or Russell Westbrook to tie or win the game. The call absolutely shifted momentum in the Thunder’s favor in the waning seconds of regulation, but a Blazers victory was no sure thing regardless.
You’re not going to win too many games being outrebounded by 20. Aside from Marcus Camby grabbing his usual 15 boards, the most any Blazer pulled down was six. Throughout the game Portland was outhustled for every rebound and every loose ball. Serge Ibaka alone had seven offensive rebounds and created lots of second-chance opportunities for himself.
And then there’s Portland’s continued inability to finish fast-break opportunities, which has been a problem all season. All night, the Blazers’ guards looked tentative in the open court, where Westbrook and James Harden were relentless on the other end. They also blew two late-game possessions that could have put the game away, one ending in a shot-clock violation and the other ending in a forced Aldridge turnaround jumper that had no prayer. That they were even as close as they were is a testament to the scoring prowess of Aldridge.
So, yeah. The goaltending call sucked. It happens. And I get that the solidarity of a collective declaration that your team got jobbed provides catharsis for a lot of fans. But putting all the blame on officiating for the outcome of a game is only warranted in extreme cases, like game six of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. This was not that. What it was is a game the Blazers had plenty of opportunities to win that they simply did not take advantage of, and that will unfortunately be obscured by one ill-advised whistle.