The Portland Trail Blazers outlasted the Brooklyn Nets in an early game, kicking off the NBA slate of Black Friday contests. After a sluggish start, Portland came away with a 127-125 victory thanks to the late heroics of Jusuf Nurkic and Damain Lillard’s 34 points.
Lillard led the Blazers with 34 points and 9 assists. Nurkic added 29 points, 15 rebounds and 4 blocks.
It was a noon start in Brooklyn, but the Blazers came out like most of us on the west coast, full of turkey and needing a cup of coffee. The Nets jumped to a 30-19 lead as they outplayed the Blazers in every category on both ends of the court. Lillard kept Portland from looking completely inept on offense, scoring 10 in the first with a couple threes.
Stotts went with the three-guard lineup in the second and the Blazers went on a 10-0 run to cut the lead to one. CJ McCollum, after a slow start and a forgettable game in Philly, tied Lillard for 15 points in the half. Ed Davis was everywhere defensively. The Blazers ended the first half down two, 51-53.
Jusuf Nurkic started strong for the Blazers in the second half, helping Portland to their first lead at 61-60. In a complete reversal of the start of the game, the Blazers looked alive and energetic, even contributing to a rare fast break bucket! But, despite Portland’s 41 third-quarter points, the Nets continued to hold the fort with 39 of their own. Lillard ended the third with a long-distance three to tie it all up.
Both teams hit the century mark early in the fourth as defense became something of a mythical fairytale. Both teams traded buckets for buckets, neither team sustaining any defensive stands. Trailing by four late, Stotts went back to the triple-point-guard lineup with Shabazz Napier, Lillard, McCollum, Nurkic and Evan Turner.
Nurkic helped the Blazers finally get some key stops and Napier gave the Blazers the lead of two with a minute to go. After a Nets bucket, Nurkic again made the difference, stealing the ball after a missed shot and earning a bucket-and-one to put Portland up three with 27 seconds remaining. With 11 seconds remaining, McCollum hit only one of two free-throws to give the Blazers a lead of two, 127-125. The Nets missed a three on the next possession and Nurkic secured the rebound and a foul, but missed both free-throws. The Nets couldn’t get a shot off in the final second and the Blazers won a high-scoring, entertaining game.
It’s on to Washington D.C. tomorrow night as the Blazers take on the Wizards. Tip off is at 4pm. Stay tuned to Blazer's Edge for extended analysis of this game, plus an on-scene report from Eric Griffith.