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Risk Management in Rip City

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Over the past 13 games, the Portland Trailblazers have completely fallen apart, giving up 108.4 points per 100 possessions. You can't mimic Indiana's conservative defense when your starting point guard hasn't met a screen that hasn't smushed him. Robin Lopez has provided the Blazers with a defensive foundation, a solid backdrop on which they built their philosophy. But Roy Hibbert he is not.

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Open Shots (1/28): On DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross, Miami Getting Big, Paul George Superstar, and more

via flickr | Fizzcity Gallery

[caption id="attachment_3524" align="aligncenter" width="721"] via flickr | Fizzcity Gallery[/caption]

The Corner Three

Toronto  DeRozan/Ross

Two games before Terrence Ross set twitter ablaze

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How The Blazers Got Damian Lillard An Open Three When it Mattered The Most

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Thanks to a third quarter meltdown which saw their five point half-time lead evaporate into thin air, the Portland Trail Blazers found themselves with their backs against the wall in the final 12 minutes of last night's game against the Sacramento Kings.

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Double Or Nothing: How The Clippers Contained Damian Lillard

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On Thursday night, we were treated to another thriller: an overtime game between a pair of elite teams in the West. On one side, there were the Clippers - a team lead by the league's best point guard in Chris Paul, as well as one of the best power forwards in Blake Griffin. On the other side, there were the Blazers - the most surprising team thus far in the NBA season, lead by someone who many believe has been better than Griffin, LaMarcus Aldridge, as well as Damian Lillard, a potential all-star in just his second year in the league.

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Lillard Nails Big Three, Blazers Hold Off Cavs

For the second straight game, Damian Lillard put a dagger through an Eastern Conference team’s heart.

After a buzzer beater to beat the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Lillard hit the game-winning three against the Cleveland Cavaliers tonight with .4 seconds left. The shot capped off another incredible night for the second year man out of Weber State, who scored a game-high 36 points along with 10 assists and eight rebounds.

It was a back and forth game all night between the Trail Blazers and the Cavaliers. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Blazers had a 92-88 edge, but the Cavs came out hot, scoring the first nine points of the final period. With 6:05 left in the quarter, Dion Waiters hit a jumper to tie the game at 101, but then it was Portland’s turn to go on a run. The Blazers went on a 13-3 tear to open up a late 10 point lead.

Dec 17, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard (front right) is swarmed by his teammates after making a game-winning, three-point basket against the Cleveland Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena. Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

When all seemed lost for the Cavs, Kyrie Irving scored nine-straight points for his squad and got the game-tying assist on an incredible pass through a triple team to Anderson Verajao for the layup with seven seconds to go, capping off a 12-2 run. After a timeout, Lillard received the inbounds pass at the top of the key and drained a deep three in the face of Alonzo Gee with .4 seconds remaining. Irving had one last attempt that hit the back of the rim and out.

Lillard had entered the game struggling from behind the three-point line of late, hitting just six of his last 22 attempts from behind the line. Tonight he shot 8-12 from beyond the arc. Lamarcus Aldridge also had a big night, scoring 26 points on 11-22 shooting and grabbing 15 rebounds for the 22-4, first-place Blazers.

The Cavaliers got a strong performance from Waiters, who scored 25 points on 11-19 shooting with five assists. Irving added 25 points and 10 assists. Both players were key components to the comeback, scoring 20 of their team’s 28 fourth quarter points.

The Blazers dominated in second-chance points and shot 22-25 from the free-throw line, making 11 more from the charity stripe than the Cavs. If you didn’t have a chance to see Lillard’s second straight game-winner, here it is below.