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Blazers’ Maurice Harkless Is Finding His Form

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Portland provided plenty to choose from this week, but improvement from Maurice Harkless took home Mom’s Favorite honors this week.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Dallas Mavericks Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorites plays, players and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? Did anyone get put in the dog house? What were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Week 7: December 2-8. San Antonio Spurs (L), Dallas Mavericks (L), Phoenix Suns (W), Minnesota Timberwolves (W)

Mom’s Favorite

Maurice Harkless returned to the Trail Blazers’ lineup on November 21 after missing nearly a month of action. The Blazers’ record while he was out was 9-3 and 3-6 since he returned.

Some fans, including myself, have wondered if the Blazers should go back to starting Jake Layman (they were 12-7 when he started). Before calling for someone’s starting minutes, I looked at how much Harkless has improved since returning from injury, knowing that it can be a tough transition. After looking at his recent performance, I’m so impressed with his improvement, that this week’s Mom’s Favorite goes to Harkless.

In his first 5 games back from injury, Harkless averaged 12.7 minutes per game, shot 27.8 percent from the field and did not make any of his 3-pointers. He averaged 2.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, zero assists, 0.8 steals and 0.2 blocks per game.

In the last 4 games, Harkless has averaged 23.9 minutes per game, shot 57.9 percent from the field, 71.4 percent from three, for an average of 6.8 points per game. He’s also added 4.3 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 1 steal and 1.3 blocks per game. He is low-usage, low-volume and efficient on offense (4.8 attempts per game). Along with his offense, he is busy on defense. That is the Moe the Trail Blazers need.

Oh, it is good to see Harkless get steals again!

Gold Star

Don’t look now, but the Blazers averaged 23 assists per game this week. That is 3.5 more than their league-worst average last year, and two more than their current average for this season. For that, the whole team earns a gold star!

I still contend that this team is not built to rack up assists, but I am certainly in favor of them getting more. Whether their shots are actually falling, or they are looking to pass more, the returns are welcoming.

Here are a few of my recent favorites:

Nik Stauskas behind the back to Jake Layman against the Timberwolves:

Lillard’s alley-oop to Layman against the Suns:

Al-Farouq Aminu’s transition sprint in Dallas draws in four Mavericks and pops it back to Lillard, who is patiently waiting at the 3-point line.

Honorable Mentions

Jake Layman’s mustache game. Both the game he played with his mustache, and the panache with which he wears the ‘stache.

Lillard honors his mom Damian debuted his newest signature shoe. The beautiful green-turquoise colorway honors his mom. The first people to get his new shoe? The Oakland High School basketball teams.

New entry in the playbook? Meyers Leonard, Patty Mills and Damian Lillard were caught up in an interesting (and hilarious--I guess, unless you are Patty Mills) screen in the game vs. San Antonio.

More Brooke Olzendam! More Evan Turner! Last year the Road Trippin podcast bran started in Cleveland with Richard Jefferson and Channing Frye. It has now expanded to different markets. With Olzendam and Turner as co-hosts, the Trail Blazers’ edition will surely be among the best of the bunch.

Dog House:

Ric Bucher of Bleacher Report writes about another instance of LeBron James expressing interest in playing with Lillard. After dealing with Lillard-LeBron rumors over the summer, we learned that James once suggested to the Cavaliers that they should pursue the Blazer’s point guard. James, keep your eyes off of Dame!

That’s it for this edition of Mom’s Favorites. Who or what were your favorite things this week? Let us know in the comments below!