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No playoff magic for Lillard in Game 1

Damian Lillard finished with 14 points on 5-of-21 from the field in the Blazers' Game 1 loss to the Grizzlies. Joe Murphy/NBAE/Getty Images

MEMPHIS, Tenn. -- Damian Lillard didn't blame it on outside pressure to duplicate the first-round magic he performed in his postseason debut against the Houston Rockets a year ago.

"I don't think I need to duplicate anything," he said.

Nor did the Trail Blazers star blame it on pressure that his whole team felt, either.

"Nobody is giving us a shot," the point guard said. "Nobody is saying, 'Portland is going to come in here and win the series.' If anything, they're doubting us. That gives us even more freedom to come in here and play hard and play free."

So what happened Sunday in the Trail Blazers' 100-86 loss to the Grizzlies in Game 1 of their Western Conference first-round series at the FedEx Forum?

Why did Lillard have his worst postseason game of his young career, finishing with 14 points on 5-of-21 shooting in a game the Grizzlies led by as many as 29?

He said he wasn't sure. He knew he missed shots, many shots, even starting the game 0-for-6 from the field, but he said many of those shots were good looks and felt good leaving his hand.

"The good looks that I did get, they didn't fall and it didn't get any easier," said Lillard, who shot 0-for-6 from 3-point range.

"I've just got to keep taking shots, keep shooting the ball with confidence and know that at some point, it's going to come back around."

The Trail Blazers will need his shooting to come back around in a hurry, starting in Game 2 here Wednesday, or else they'll return to Portland in a 2-0 hole with the possibility that the series ends there, given how dominant the Grizzlies were in Game 1.

Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger laughed when asked what his team did to limit Lillard, as if there was something formula he concocted that his team then executed perfectly.

"He missed," Joerger said with a smile. "He missed some shots. He's able to go get a shot whenever he wants, but I thought we did a good job of getting back in front of him so he didn't get as many easy attacks in the paint."

Blazers coach Terry Stotts didn't have a solid explanation about Lillard's performance, only that his team never really got in any offensive rhythm, Lillard included.

"Offense is very much about confidence," Stotts said, "and we kind of lost a little bit of it early."

But Lillard never got in any rhythm. And in the third quarter, he missed a pair of free throws and then air-balled a 3-pointer, an eyebrow-raising series of events that made it seem as though something had gone terribly wrong.

In reality, much of his shooting woes were because of the Grizzlies' notorious defense.

"They play physical," Lillard said. "They really do a great job of helping each other out, playing on a string defensively. Even on pick-and-rolls, they had three guys involved on our pick-and-rolls each time. It was tough to turn the corner and not have a defender come while the other guard was pursuing me. You've got to give credit to what they did defensively. But I also feel that we missed a lot of good looks."

Either way, the Trail Blazers had their worst shooting night in a while.

Their most off-the-mark game during a regular season came on Feb. 20 against Memphis, when they shot 36.1 percent from the field. But against Memphis on Sunday, the Trail Blazers shot a hideous 33.7 percent (32-of-95).

However, heading into Wednesday, Lillard said the Trail Blazers can't act as though their Game 1 loss only came down to them simply missing shots.

"We can't look past what happened," he said. "We've got to understand that it was more than us just not making shots. Even opportunities that we might have had to get back into the game, we didn't do all the things necessary. We've just got to check ourselves. We can't just look at it and say, ‘Oh, this happened or this happened.' We've got to really check ourselves."

The Trail Blazers have an injury-ravaged roster, especially in the backcourt, with guards Wes Matthews (Achillies) out and Arron Afflalo (shoulder) still sidelined, so more is expected of Lillard, who was already shouldering a big load.

Stotts tried to help, plugging reserve C.J. McCollum, who had scored 13.5 points per game in his previous 15 outings, into the starting lineup. But McCollum scored just two points on 1-of-8 shooting.

More than ever, it seems that the shorthanded Trail Blazers will need to rely on both their stars, Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 32 points on 34 shots.

Both will need to have not just good games for the Trail Blazers to win, but truly great games.

And for the Trail Blazers to even be in competitive in this series, neither player can have a downright terrible game, not like the one Lillard had in Game 1.