The new-look Portland Trail Blazers were a lot like the old-look Portland Trail Blazers, appearing at equal times dazzling and groan-inducing as they closed out the Charlotte Hornets 109-103 in overtime at the Moda Center.
Portland jumped out to an early big first quarter lead only to let it evaporate before halftime, then looked like they would put the Hornets away during a strong third period before Kemba Walker took over for Charlotte and made it a ball game yet again.
Walker’s heroics were even enough to overcome a 17-point fourth quarter deficit to force overtime but fortunately stopped there, as the Blazers managed to avoid disaster and ran away with it in the extra period to salvage a win.
The Blazers were led by Jusuf Nurkic (24 points, 14 rebounds, 4 blocks), Damian Lillard (18 points, 8 assists) and C.J. McCollum (22 points).
The Hornets were led by Walker (40 points) and Frank Kaminksy (17 points and 6 rebounds).
- Another milestone for Dame. With a three-pointer in the second quarter, Lillard pulled himself a little bit higher in the Blazer Pantheon, moving into fifth place on the franchise all-time scoring list past the late great Jerome Kersey. Dame now has 10079 points to his name and is poised to pass Cliff Robinson as well before the end of the season. Beyond the achievement it was a sub-par night for Lillard though, who struggled with his shot going only 6-22 from the field, mostly from deep where he was 3-11.
- Good Nurk. Jusuf Nurkic had one of his best games of the season, outplaying Dwight Howard and being an all-around physical presence to be probably Portland’s most important player in this one. Along with posting his fourth 20/10 stat line of the year, Nurk was laying some wood on Charlotte, barging into, pushing through, tripping over and falling onto the Hornets all night. He set the tone early and the Blazers were able to ride it to victory.
The Blazers will get on a plane and head down to Sacramento to take on the Kings tomorrow night at the Golden 1 Center - Late tip is set for 7:30 p.m.