CJ McCollum dropped his first career triple double and Seth Curry poured in a season high 22 points to help the Portland Trail Blazers take down the Atlanta Hawks by a score of 120-111. Damian Lillard was unable to go tonight with soreness in his right knee but all five Blazers starters scored 15 points or more, leading to the victory.
The Dameless Pick-N-Roll
There is no secret that the Damian Lillard / Jusuf Nurkic pick and roll has been one of Portland’s most effective sets this year. With Lillard out of the lineup, Portland kept with the game plan and had CJ McCollum and replacement starter Seth Curry running the show off the screen. The results were great reads and high-percentage shots. Both players were able to use the pick to get into the teeth of the defense and from there, they were able to find rollers, kick out to shooters, or get their own shot. The Blazers put up 40 in the first quarter and looked to get whatever the wanted offensively.
It’s worth noting that a major reason that the pick and roll game didn't regress much after substituting out Dame, was the Atlanta defense was nowhere to be found on the screens. Trae Young and Jeremy Lin both struggled to get over or around screens and the rest of the Hawks were pretty much non-factors.
Moe Harkless averages less than 6 point per game this season so Atlanta decided to hide their weakest defender on him. After getting punished on the pick-and-roll early, that defender was Trae Young. Portland made the adjustment and Moe started getting door the floor early and gaining early position on the much smaller Young. Harkless got himself a few easy buckets off the deal, but more importantly, it helped Harkless build some aggression looking for his shot. Harkless set his season high for points today with 16. Encouraging game from Moe.
The Blazers’ offense was unstoppable early but 9 turnovers in the first half allowed the Hawks to grab a one-point halftime lead. Very few, if any of those turnovers, were forced. Portland was, of course, without their all-NBA point guard in Lillard, but I would hope they could take avoid unforced errors against one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. The Blazers were better in the second half. Portland missed opportunities to get Jusuf Nurkic touches, but CJ McCollum looked good as a primary ball handler. Games like this are going to leave people curious how he would look if he did so day-in and day-out.
Trae Young destroyed Portland. He’s a 39% shooter on the season, but you would never know by how comfortable he looked all game. It wasn’t until Wade Baldwin came in late that Young finally felt some pressure. At that time, he was already in a rhythm.
Overall though, any win the Blazers can get without Damian Lillard on the court is a huge plus. The Blazers also lost Evan Turner during the game but still managed the W. Good win today with contributions up and down the roster.
CJ McCollum - With Lillard out, CJ got the key to the ride and he played the part. CJ looked better creating for others than he has in the past. Part of that is a shift in role, part of that is that he was playing against Atlanta. Nonetheless, nothing can be taken away from the amazing night from CJ. His first career triple-double and led the Blazers to a win. Great showing: 28 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds.
Jusuf Nurkic - Nurk has been so useful when he touches the ball lately, that it bothers me how many possessions go by when he is not involved. Nurkic still impacts the game, especially on the boards and on the defensive end, but I would have liked to see Portland go to him more on the offensive side of the ball.
Seth Curry - Seth saw an opportunity with Lillard out and took advantage. He wasn’t very effective defensively, but he had the green light and took advantage. Seth finished with 22 points and hit three big 3’s in the fourth quarter to help seal the win.
Al-Farouq Aminu - Aminu finished the first half perfect from the floor. He was 3-3 from inside the arc, 2-2 from deep, and 6-6 from the free throw line. With Portland entering the break down 1 point, a less than stellar half from Chief could have put Portland in a dangerous position. Chief finished one shot away from a perfect night.
The Blazers’ next contest will come Wednesday, January 30th at the Moda Center against the Utah Jazz. It will be Portland’s only game the whole week.
Don’t you think a triple-double is worth a couple tickets for kids in need to see the Blazers play the Brooklyn Nets in March? Here’s how to make that happen!
To donate tickets to kids for Blazer’s Edge Night against the Nets on 3/25/19:
Click this link or copy/paste into your address bar: https://rosequarter.com/groupnights/
Enter the Promo Code: BLAZERSEDGE
Go through the purchase process just as if you were buying tickets for yourself.
If you order through this link with this code, tickets will be automatically donated and designated at Will Call with your order. No need to do anything else, it’s just that easy!
If you run into difficulty or wish to donate more tickets than the online service will allow, contact our Ticket Representative, Alec Botts, at 503.963.3926.