The Portland Trail Blazers used a 20 point second quarter from Jake Layman and a 74 point first half to down the New Orleans Pelicans by a score of 128-112 on Friday night. Layman lit the nets on fire with an 8 for 8 stretch in the second, building a substantial lead that the Pelicans could not come back from. Jusuf Nurkic chipped in a double-double while both CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard eclipsed the 20 point mark. Anthony Davis led all scorers for the Pelicans with 27.
Played on Layman’s Terms
The first 18 minutes of the game was pretty standard. I was struggling to find a topic to focus on. The score was virtually even at 37-38, the game was unspectacular, and I wasn't seeing anything new. But then it happened: the story of the game told itself. Portland outscored the Pelicans 15-31 over the next six and a half minutes, led by a 20-point explosion from Jake Layman. The forward went 8 for 8 field goals, including 2 alley-oop dunks and 4 made three pointers. That sentence might be worth re-reading.
Layman got hot, and the Moda Center rallied around his energy as he heat-checked and rechecked himself a couple times. At no point during that stretch did Jake stop moving, other that to admire the shot he just let fly. If he wasn't running around screens trying to create an opening to get the ball, he was cutting backdoor to finish dunks. It was one of the more fun moments of the season thus far.
Finding ways to win
The Blazers didn’t necessarily shoot well tonight, as the offense resulted in a lot of bad shots and wasted possessions. But even though Portland finished with a worse field goal percentage and fewer free throws attempted than their opponent, they still managed to score more 16 more points. They owe that to 20 extra shot attempts. The Blazers dominated the offensive glass 18-7 and finished with just 6 turnovers compared to 12 for the Pelicans. The Blazers have been living and dying by their shots falling too often this season, so finding ways to win when they get out-shot is a good sign moving forward.
Man, the Jake Layman quarter was fun. Not only was it entertaining, but it changed the entire feel of the game. After he hit the fourth and final three in the second quarter, the Pelicans looked defeated and the game felt like it was over. New Orleans was on game four of a road trip, so fatigue played a part. The Pelicans did make a run in the fourth to get the game down to single digits after trailing by as many as 21 early, but the game never felt in doubt. CJ and Dame Lillard came up big late when the Pelicans made their run. Great win up and down the roster for the Blazers tonight.
Jake Layman - I have sufficiently covered him already, but I think we can all agree he deserves another mention here. I don’t care that he missed every shot other than his hot stretch. Still deserves the mention
Jusuf Nurkic - Nurkic played against a potential first-team All-NBA center in Anthony Davis tonight, and Nurk gave him all he could handle and more. Nurkic went after Davis every time he got him on the block, scoring on him in the post twice and blocking Davis twice. Nurk almost out-rebounded the entire Pelicans team on the offensive glass. Once again his passing was absolutely excellent tonight. He getting a great feel of reading defenders’ eyes and hitting cutters that aren’t necessarily “open”.
Maurice Harkless - Harkless was one of two Blazers in the negative on the plus minus scale tonight, but don’t let that fool you. Harkless had some spark in him tonight. He finished a powerful dunk off of his right foot and had a couple strong defensive possessions that we haven’t gotten to see for awhile. A positive showing from Moe overall tonight.
Zach Collins - Zach’s play wasn’t necessarily noteworthy, but he really has become one of the best celebrators in the league. Sometimes I feel like I’d rather watch Collins celebrate a great play than watch the great play itself. He brings great energy- also a lot of fouls. 5 more tonight.
Jake Layman and the Portland Trail Blazers head to Salt Lake City to play the Utah Jazz on Monday 1/21
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