Stinging from a five-game losing streak, the short-handed Portland Trail Blazers fell behind early in Miami Monday night, only claw back in the fourth quarter. Down the stretch, Damian Lillard came alive, driving on the Hassan Whiteside-less heat, scoring nearly at will and finally placing the team back in the W column. CJ McCollum also led the Blazers with 28 points, while Al-Farouq Aminu finished with a double-double.
A few essentials from tonight’s game:
- Portland really misses Jusuf Nurkic. And to a lesser extent, Meyers Leonard. With both big men sidelined tonight, the Blazers turned to rookie Zach Collins to start in the middle. Collins did his best, but he was drafted as a project, and he can’t match the performance of Nurkic. Portland struggled to control the paint or rebound. Portland was lucky to be playing a team with their own missing big man, or it could have been much worse.
- Lillard may be really hurting, but it didn’t stop him. Lillard isn’t showing up on the Blazers’ injury reports, but he played a limited role for most of tonight’s game. He rolled his ankle again, and seemed to take a back seat to CJ McCollum for much of the night.
Lillard grabbing right foot and wincing after that missed 3— Jason Quick (@jwquick) December 14, 2017
But with the game on the line, Lillard could still get some elevation when needed, though. He made some key late plays, including this one.
- For one quarter, Wayne Ellington was Michael Jordan. Ellington hit his first six shots, including five from downtown, to score 17 early points and push Miami into the lead. Portland spent the rest of the game playing catchup due to his early outburst. And nobody is sure if Udonis Haslem even survived to see how the game turned out!
Wayne Ellington out here making Udonis Haslem faint pic.twitter.com/renkhQu4xy— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 14, 2017
The Blazers head to Orlando for a Friday meeting with the Magic. Stay tuned for more coverage of tonight’s game from Blazer’s Edge.