Meyers Leonard's 11 consecutive points across the third and fourth quarters clinched a 111-102 Blazers victory tonight against the Indiana Pacers.
Leonard's hot shooting could not have come at a better time for the Blazers. Indiana's defense, which surrendered 65 first half points, had clamped down and held Portland to only 19 points in the first 11:59 of the third quarter. The Pacers seemed primed to make a run in the last 12 minutes.
But then Leonard drilled the first triple of his personal 11-point run at the third quarter buzzer. That shot opened a floodgate of offense as the Blazers made their first six three point attempts of the fourth to push their lead to 20. Indiana's reserve units tried to mount a comeback in the final minutes, but ultimately the Blazers cruised to victory.
Leonard's offensive explosion came in front of 200 friends and family members who had made the two hour drive from Robinson, IL to see their hometown hero.
A large throng of fans have made the trek from Robinson, Ill. to Indy to watch hometown boy Meyers Leonard tonight. pic.twitter.com/m8gjNmfcQS— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) February 28, 2016
Ironically, Leonard almost missed this game entirely. He vomited four times before the contest and looked frazzled in a pre-game interview. Quite the unfortunate coincidence to get food poisoning the day after a birthday!
For a player who seemed on his way out of the rotation as recently as last week, tonight's performance may be especially valuable. Leonard is a free agent this summer, so if he can maintain the solid form he showed tonight, and last night against the Chicago Bulls, it will go a long way toward helping him secure a large payday.
In addition to Leonard's solid play, Gerald Henderson and Damian Lillard were also crucial to victory tonight.
Henderson scored 19 off the bench on 8-9 shooting. He also added this spectacular putback dunk:
Lillard led all scorers with 33. He also set a career high with 20 points in the first quarter.
As a team, the Blazers finished the month 9-2. This is the first season they have won nine games in the month of February since 2003, and the third best February record in team history.
Portland finishes February with a 9-2 record, third best in the month in team history (12-2, 1999-2000; 11-2, 1977-78).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 29, 2016