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Blazers’ Blocks In Brooklyn Set the Tone Moving Forward

The Trail Blazers strong play in the post has Portland poised for a strong regular season finish.

NBA: Portland Trail Blazers at Brooklyn Nets Brad Penner-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 19: Feb 17-23. Brooklyn Nets (W), Philadelphia 76ers (W)

Mom’s Favorites: Blocks in Brooklyn

Full disclosure, I’m on vacation this weekend with limited TV and internet, so I have not been able to watch the games. Everything I’m reporting on this week is based on box scores, Blazer’s Edge recaps, and highlights from Twitter that I watched using the WiFi at the local coffee shop. The closest I came to “watching” live games this week was via the ESPN Gamecast app (my lifeline):

That said, anyone in the car who endured enjoyed my dramatic interpretation of the Gamecast stream could tell you my favorite part of the game against Brooklyn was the nine blocks. What I liked most about the blocks against Brooklyn: they showed that the Blazers are dialed in and ready to play after the break. Even after a rough shooting start, the team was determined to allow no easy buckets.

The Blazers are averaging 5.1 blocks per game this season which puts them at 17th in the league. They were shooting just 3-11 on Thursday night when Jusuf Nurkic stuffed Rondae Hollis-Jefferson underneath the basket. They would go on to have four blocks in three minutes. The Blazers have been streaky shooters all season, and it appears they are going to approach the second half with determination: when the shots aren’t falling, play defense and keep shooting.

Both Nurkic (averaging 1.5 per game) and Jake Layman (averaging .5 per game) would finish with three blocks on the night. The sunburned Jake Layman had my favorite: this lovely, athletic swat.

Also credited with blocks on the night: Rodney Hood who sneaked in behind DeMarre Carroll to disrupt his shot and CJ McCollum who had two blocks for the third time this season. Poor Rondae Hollis-Jefferson had four of his shots blocked in 15 minutes of play.

Gold Star: Offensive Rebounds and Second Chance Points

The Blazers are the fifth-highest scoring team in the league, but they only have the 14th best field goal shooting percentage. When a team takes 90 shots per night and 42 go in, that leaves the team plenty of opportunities for offensive rebounds and second chance points. Portland just added a player who is fifth in the league in offensive rebounds and fourth in the league in second chance points.

They were already good at offensive rebounding before Enes Kanter joined the team. Prior to the All-Star Break, the Blazers averaged 11.2 offensive rebounds per game, seventh in the league, with an offensive rebounding percentage of 29.6 percent (tied for fourth). They averaged 14.5 second chance points (also tied for fourth).

In two games with Kanter, the Blazers have pulled down 19 offensive rebounds per game (40.5 %) and put up 20.5 second chance points. But it wasn’t just Kanter getting those rebounds. Jake Layman had a season-high six offensive rebounds against the Philadelphia 76ers and Damian Lillard had a season high four offensive rebounds against Brooklyn. Offensive rebounds for everyone!

Take a look at some of these highlights and check out how they are helping each other clear the way and extend the possessions. Damian Lillard, Moe Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu and Jusuf Nurkic all get in on the second chance points. It looks like they figured they are probably going to continue to be streaky shooters (CJ McCollum has yet to really stabilize this season and even Damian has struggled with shooting at times) so they are going to make the most of their second chances.

Gold Star

Is Maurice Harkless getting his groove back? In that last set of highlights, you’ll notice Jusuf Nurkic giving Harkless a big bear hug after Harkless gets his own rebound and puts it in. Jusuf acted out what I’ve been thinking as I watched the box scores and the highlights from the last few games.

Fans have been down on Harkless this season, and it is hard to blame them given his inconsistent production. Despite this, Terry Stotts has remained adamant about keeping Harkless in the starting lineup. This was a good week for Harkless and just like Jusuf’s demonstrative hug, I’d like to give Harkless recognition for his efforts over the last two games in which he has averaged 13 points on 52.4 percent shooting, 6.5 rebounds, three assists, two steals and one block. Of course, this is a small sample size, and he could go back to quiet Moe at any point. Sure, that is possible. But it is also possible that with the right encouragement, the confidence of Coach Stotts, and the right style of play, he will find his groove.

It was great to see him get the walk-off interview in the win against the 76ers.

Honorable Mention

Always nice seeing former Blazers. It was well documented that the Blazers were looking forward to seeing their old friends Ed Davis, Shabazz Napier and Allen Crabbe. They got almost as much attention as the current players.

Missed your great quotes, Ed Davis!

Good to see your faces again, Ed and Shabazz!

But wait, did everyone forget about Rondae Hollis-Jefferson? Drafted by the Trail Blazers in 2015 with the 23rd pick in the draft, it was a thrilling 20 minutes that he was with the organization. Drafted at 7:30 pm:

Traded at 7:51:

Al-Farouq A-photo of the week: Aminu has already decided who he will support in the 2020 Presidential Election:

Considerate Jake Layman finished like a beast and was still careful not to kick Ben Simmons in the head.

That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorite. I’ll be back at home, on my couch, in front of the TV soon! In the meantime, what were your favorite things that happened with the Trail Blazers this week? Let us know in the comments below!