Jusuf Nurkic finished with an ever-so-evasive triple-double for the first time in his career tonight, adding 5 blocks, to help the Portland Trail Blazers defeat the Cleveland Caviliers by a score of 129-112. Damian Lillard scored 33 for the Blazers. Nurkic and Lillard looked to be done for the game after the third quarter with Portland up by 19, but the Cavs made a comeback, forcing the starters back in the game and allowing Nurkic to hit his milestone.
Early on, all eyes were on Damian Lillard and his strained right hand. Lillard was questionable to play up until minutes before tip-off and had mentioned that his hand had been bothering his shot. Maybe Lillard, who has played in every game this season, could have used a game off against the NBA’s worst team. Clearly he was good to go. Dame knocked down two threes to start the game and looked comfortable all game long. He finished with 33 points on 11-19 shooting. We can only assume all is good moving forward.
Let it RIP (city):
The Blazers found comfort in the three point line early and snuggled up. Portland hit 11 of their 17 three pointers in the first half (64%). Seven different players shot and made at least one three. The second half was more of the same. Portland finished the 16 of 29 (55.2%) from the three point line for the game. Dame led the way with 4, followed by Zach Collins with 3.
We are just past the halfway point of the season and fatigue has to be settling in, at least a little bit. That is why it is so important for the Blazers to handle their business early and get some rest when possible in games like this.
Up 19 points should be enough cushion for the Blazers bench against the worst team in the NBA, but that wasn’t the case tonight. At this point in the season, everyone is a little tired or banged up and these opportunities just cant be wasted. There is a dramatic difference between Dame playing 26 minutes or having to play 32. Portland will take the win, but the game itself could have (and should have) gone better. This bench has been giving up leads all season long and tonight was just another example.
The plus side of course, is that if Nurkic wouldn’t have had to come back in, he wouldn’t have earned the triple double. The rest of the crew would probably have preferred the rest.
Jake Layman: Layman has been on a tear lately and he kept that momentum going tonight. They don’t call him “Gamin” Jake Layman for nothing. (Or at all). Jake had his third straight game in double digits and finished with 18 points, 3 assists, and 3 rebounds on 8-11 shooting. Jake has blossomed in the starting small forward position and baring a trade, he may be the answer at that spot for the foreseeable future.
Jusut Nurkic: This was a quiet game for Nurk scoring. He finished with just 10 points on 6 shots, in 28 minutes. I don’t think he minds. Nurkic finished the game with 10 rebounds and 10 assists, giving him his first career triple double. Nurkic has flirted with achievement a few times this season, so it was great to see him get it. His final assist was a hand off that Lillard took with the intent of trying to get his big man his tenth assist. Lillard canned it and the starters came off the floor immediately after. Nurk also added 5 blocks. A memorable game from Nurkic
Channing Frye: Yes, the Ex-Blazer is still in the league and he was dressed tonight for the game. Unfortunately he didn't get any run.
The New Orleans Pelicans are coming to the Moda center to play the Blazers on Friday the 18th.