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Unique Lineup Saves Fan Appreciation Night

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Team Mom gives props to “The Portland Six,” whose exuberant performance clinched the third seed and entertained the fans.

NBA: Sacramento Kings at Portland Trail Blazers Steve Dykes-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 26, April 7-14 Denver Nuggets (W), Los Angeles Lakers (W), Sacramento Kings (W)

Mom’s Favorite: The Portland Six

What a weird week for the Portland Trail Blazers. After defeating a depleted Denver Nuggets squad on Sunday April 7, the Blazers flew down to Los Angeles and collected another win. The Lakers game was harder than it should have been, but thanks to a buzzer-beater by Maurice Harkless, the guys returned to Portland with home court advantage.

Everything seemed set for a four-five matchup against the Utah Jazz. (Possibly) just to make sure, Coach Terry Stotts ran out a unique lineup of rookies Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr., sophomore Skal Labissiere, and bench players Jake Layman and Meyers Leonard. He would play only six players all night, inserting Zach Collins for a spare 13 minutes.

Anfernee Simons poured in 37 points along with nine assists and six rebounds. Skal Labissiere swished, dunked, and tipped in 29, grabbing 15 rebounds. Layman, Leonard, and Trent each added 19 points while the lone bench player, Zach Collins, scored 13 points in 13 minutes.

To be honest, the first half of the game was pretty painful to watch. The Sacramento starters were running all over the Portland Six and I could hear complaints in the Moda about the coach’s game plan. Grumbles about how much money had been spent to watch a tank-fest on fan appreciation night rippled through the crowd.

At the break, the Kings were up 87-62 but starting with the halftime show, things really turned around. The high flying rescue dogs who provided half-time entertainment were the first wave of better things to come.

The Blazers would come back from 28 down to win the game by five points and clinch the third seed in the west (surprise!). Along the way, there were plenty of highlights featuring a different cast than we are used to. Because the Portland Six rescued the night and provided quality entertainment, they are this week’s Mom’s Favorite. Here are some highlights:

An-fer-three Simons was 7-11 from three-point range and how what a sweet shot. Here he is pulling the Blazers within one:

Simons also showed off his passing acumen. Check out this sidearm bounce-pass to a rolling Meyers Leonard who finished with a backwards dunk.

Skal Labissiere came to play against his former team, with a vicious rebound-dunk in one smooth motion. He shot 7-11 from the field including two three-pointers, and his offense at the rim was delightful. Here is a beautiful tip dunk from the second quarter.

Half the fun of the game was watching the starters and regular rotation players react.

Even Jusuf Nurkic noticed.

Lamar Hurd expressed his appreciation for the exciting game.

Gold Star: Moe Harkless Game Winner

I have devoted a lot of lines in this weekly column to Maurice Harkless. At the beginning of the year, I felt like he needed the encouragement and fans needed to know that he was showing steady improvement. By the second half of the year, his scoring, rebounding, and assists had all improved. His offensive rating rose from 109.1 to 119.8 and his defensive rating dropped from 108.1 to 103.1. That is a swing in his net rating from 1.1 to 16.7 per game.

Stats are cool, but buzzer beaters rule. Moe’s beautiful three-point shot to win the game capped off his season high performance.

Honorable Mention

Back-to-back Coach of the Month. Terry Stotts was honored for the second month in a row for outstanding coaching. He and Mike Budenholzer are the only coaches to have won the honor twice this season.

Annual team plane photo. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum made sure Jusuf Nurkic was included.

Al-Farouq A-Gif of the season.

Aminu had 23 points against Denver on Sunday including a stunning left handed dunk that shocked the folks in Denver and resulted in this excellent gif.

Dog House

SportsCenter forgot to update the standings before they tweeted out this picture of the 1-16 seeded playoffs.

That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorite. What were your favorite things that happened with the Trail Blazers this week? Let us know in the comments below!