PORTLAND, Ore. - Since the three-point line was added, long-range shooting has become a vital part of building a championship team. The Portland Trail Blazers are taking heed.
The long ball is a major part of the Blazers' offense. The 76ers got a glimpse Friday night of what Western Conference foes regularly deal with.
Portland made a season-high 18 three-pointers in a 114-93 victory over the Sixers at the Moda Center.
The Sixers (4-24) had their two-game winning streak snapped with the loss. Meanwhile, the Blazers (24-7) have won eight of their last 11 games. Their 24 victories are the most in the NBA.
Portland's 18 made three-pointers came on 43 attempts.
"When you know how you're going to get hit, and you didn't really do the job needed to do to give ourselves a chance, it's discouraging," Sixers coach Brett Brown said. " So there are times when we switch one through five, and Damian Lillard blows by Nerlens [ Noel], and then we have to help and then there is a kick out, that's on me. Maybe, one through five switching wasn't the way to go."
More often than not, that kick out led to a Blazers attempting a wide-open three-point attempt. They made seven threes in the second quarter,
Shooting guard Wesley Matthews made 7 of 14 three-pointers en route to finishing with 25 points. Damian Lillard went 3 for 8 from beyond the arc. The all-star point guard finished with 28 points, nine assists and seven turnovers.
"We have to go a better job of going over the game plan, and learn from this," said Noel, whose squad faces the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Saturday. "Next game going forward, Utah is a real physical team, and they can shoot threes as well."
"So I think we are going to have to focus in on the game plan."
On Friday, the Sixers were undone by miscommunication and guys leaving Blazers wide-open on corner threes.
"It was just a team effort of bad rotations on certain plays," Noel said, "and you know, when you are playing against a team like this, they are going to take advantage of [bad] rotations."
Reserve point guard Tony Wroten paced the Sixers with 22 points, while starter Michael Carter-Williams added 17 points, six rebounds, five assists and four turnovers. Reserve power forward Furkan Aldemir played 4:38 after missing the past three games with plantar fasciitis in his right heel. He grabbed two rebounds.
This game was a homecoming of sorts for Wroten.
He's a native of Seattle, which is a three-hour drive from Portland. Wroten said he had 70 to 80 tickets for family members and friends at the game. And he was interviewed by CSN Northwest in the visitors' locker room before the game.
The 6-foot-6, 205-pounder said he had a little extra juice playing so close to home
"We only come to the West Coast one time," he said "This is the game. You look forward to it."
Wroten missed Tuesday's game at the Miami Heat due to aggravating his sprained right knee. He was fine three days later.
In addition to his team-high point total, the 21-year-old finished with four rebounds and four assists in 27 minutes, 11 seconds. He received a lift from his cheering section that could be heard chanting "Let's Go Tony" throughout the game.
This individual performance capped an eventful two-day for Wroten in the Pacific Northwest. He spent Christmas in Seattle with family members before reporting to the team hotel Thursday night.
"It was a blessing," Wroten said. "I was blessed that to play here today, I could go home, spend time and relax with my family."
Sixers shooting guard JaKarr Sampson finished with a career-high nine points on 4-for-4 shooting.
The Blazers were without power forward LaMarcus Aldridge (upper respiratory infection) and center Robin Lopez (fractured right hand) and backup center Chris Kaman (family reasons).
They weren't missed. Reserve center Joel Freeland finished with a career-high 17 rebounds to go with six points.
But this night was all about Portland's three-point shooting.
"We knew without Kaman and LA – the ball was just flying around the perimeter," Matthews said. "Dame was doing a great job of penetrating. Guys were doing a great job of penetrating and they collapsed and we knew that if we got to the second side, those same shots that we shot in Philly we were missing them.
"So we knew if we just continue to play basketball, play with confidence, share the ball and shots will be there."