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 25, April 1-6 Minnesota (W), Memphis (W), Denver Nuggets (L)
Mom’s Favorite: Evan Turner
It has been quite a week for Evan Turner. On Monday night against Minnesota, he put up 13 points, eleven rebounds, and ten assists to record his first triple double as a Trail Blazer and the fourth of his career. He followed that up on Wednesday night with another triple double. He is the first Blazer since Clyde Drexler to record back-to-back triple doubles and the first player in the NBA to do it off the bench.
“I’m just gonna start lobbying for a spot in the rafters now,” Evan Turner said jokingly as only ET can.— Jamie Hudson (@JamieHudsonNBCS) April 4, 2019
Turner is just the second player in franchise history to record back-to-back triple doubles.
More from Wednesday's historic night: https://t.co/Ee9cHxUa2p pic.twitter.com/NRnjN3OmAp
Friday night in Denver he had another double-digit scoring night (15). Turner has averaged 13.7 points, eight rebounds, and eight assists per game over the past week.
Those numbers alone--well above his season averages--are not what make him Mom’s Favorite this week. What I love is the context within which he accomplished this feat.
This week Turner was the subject of a feature article by Jason Quick which revealed that the Blazers’ backup ball handler has been challenged by shifting lineups and an inconsistent role with the team. His season got off to a hot start, followed by a few cold months, punctuated by injury and clouded with uncertainty.
March was Turner’s worst month statistically, averaging only 1.6 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.5 assists. In eight of eleven games he scored two points or less. He had one 3-point attempt the entire month (he missed it) and he only made it to the line in one game (he as 2-4).
It’s as if April Fools Day was his lucky day, for that’s when things started to turn around for Turner. His playing time jumped from about 15 minutes in March to around 25. He went from averaging around 48 touches per game to 56 touches.
With Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum out and Enes Kanter and Rodney Hood moving into the starting lineup, Turner, the leader off the bench, has figured out how to do more with less. Not only has he increased his own scoring, rebounding and assist averages, he has led a shortened bench to greater production.
This week, the bench averaged 47.3 points per game (seventh in the league) on 55.1 percent shooting (second in the league). The trio of Seth Curry, Zach Collins and Jake Layman have averaged 33.8 points per game this week, up from 22 over the course of the season. Turner’s passes have been an important part of their increased production and involvement in the offense.
Some might say that triple doubles against a depleted Timberwolves team and a G-league Grizzlies squad are not that impressive as, say, a similar stat line in a playoff win. I get it. But considering what he has been through this season, and indeed all the criticisms he has endured for signing a $17 million contract two seasons ago, Turner should enjoy all the attention.
Gold Star: The Return of the Flying Turtle
In the six weeks leading up to the All-Star Break, Jake Layman had 17 alley-oops. In many of these dunks the defender picks Layman up too late and Layman is able to beat him to the bucket. Here are some highlights from early in the season.
Then those early-season high-flying finishes dropped off precipitously. In the five weeks after All Star Break, Layman only had three alley-oops. It appeared Layman had made his way onto the scouting reports and teams had figured out how to limit these opportunities.
Finally, this week we enjoyed the return of the Flying Turtle, as Layman seems to have countered whatever counter teams were throwing at him, putting in three alley-oops this week. Without more data, I’m not sure how he is doing it, but I do notice in the first example below he stands very still next to his defender as if setting a screen before suddenly diving to the hoop. Exploding to the hoop rather than running a route might be a new wrinkle. I will be watching to figure out.
Anfernee Simons gets playing time. His biggest highlight of the week might be the three that he sunk to give Evan Turner his second triple double of the season.
Franchise record for most made threes. On Friday the Blazers set a franchise record for most made 3-point shots in a single season. The record is now 865 with three more games to go.
Big introduction for Enes Kanter. Kanter got his first start at the Moda Center and he appeared surprised and delighted by the introduction in Turkish by announcer Mark Mason.
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What an amazing surprise! That’s why I call this home. Thanks for the support and respect. Means a lot. ♥️ @trailblazers #RipCity Tüm Portland eyaleti ve taraftarına teşekkür ederim. @NBA de ilk defa bir oyuncu Türkçe bir tanıtım ile sunuldu. Durmak yok Hizmete devam.
50 wins! Blazers hit another milestone this season when they defeated Memphis to collect their 50th win. On the same night, Damian Lillard became the first Trail Blazer to score 2000 points and get 500 assists in one season. (Also, shout out to Lillard’s highlighter green shoes. Some people are not a fan, but I love them because they make it very easy to track him on the court.)
Evan Turner’s preferred playoff opponent. In a postgame press conference, Turner revealed that he would prefer to play the Clippers in the playoffs “mostly for fashion reasons.” Honestly, I would prefer that too.
‘@thekidet on his preferred playoff opponent: “The Clippers, just for a selfish reason. Nice weather, easy flight,nice weather. Being in LA, I start switching over from cotton to silk — get my sexy on. I got some sunglasses I want to wear. Mostly for fashion reasons.”— kerry eggers (@kerryeggers) April 4, 2019
Thinking of you, Jusuf Nurkic. An intrepid group of travelers headed to Denver for Friday’s game and wanted the Bosnian Beast to know he was in their thoughts. Okay, it was me and my friends from Women’s Hoops And Talks (W.H.A.T.). That’s me in the Aminu jersey. Want to meet other women who love the Trail Blazers? Come to our final W.H.A.T. meetup of the season, Tuesday, 7:30, McMenamins on Broadway.
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!