The Trail Blazers’ four-game winning streak came to an end after the Pacers secured a 111-87 victory in the Moda Center on Thursday. Outside of the final score, the Blazers’ biggest loss came in the form of Jusuf Nurkic’s injury. Portland’s starting center exited the action in the third quarter and headed straight to the locker room while favoring his hand. It was later revealed that Nurkic suffered a fracture in his right wrist.
As we all wait for more news on Nurkic’s injury, here is a second look at Thursday’s result.
The Pacers successfully baited the Blazers into playing at their tempo from the opening tip. The free-flowing style that unfolded played right into the hands of Indiana’s skilled and powerful big men. Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner got to their spots and orchestrated the Pacers’ offense with little resistance. For Portland, they managed to keep pace with Indiana thanks to a slim advantage in three-pointers. The Blazers connected on just nine field goals in the opening frame, but four of those makes came from beyond the arc. After one, the Pacers and Blazers were tied at 26 points.
The Pacers’ physical style finally yielded a noticeable result at the start of the second quarter. Across from a lineup made up entirely of reserves, Indiana found their rhythm at both ends of the floor. Off the bench, Aaron Holiday and Doug McDermott fueled a 12-2 run for the Pacers. After five minutes of misses from Gary Trent Jr. and Anfernee Simons, CJ McCollum returned to the floor. Even as the Blazers’ starters returned, the Pacers continued to dominate the action. Turner thwarted Portland’s advances in the paint, Malcom Brogdon’s pesky defense disrupted possessions and Sabonis continued to impose his will on the offensive end.
The Blazers were outscored 33-10 in the second quarter. The Pacers headed to the locker room with a sturdy 59-36 lead.
After a disastrous second frame, the lid finally came off the basket for the Blazers. McCollum and Nurkic each recorded three-pointers as Portland’s defense put together four consecutive stops on the defensive end. Outside of improved shooting, the Blazers managed to eliminate their turnover issues from the first half. After letting up 10 turnovers in the opening 24 minutes, Portland surrendered the ball just twice in the third quarter.
The main takeaway of the night came just after three minutes in the quarter. Nurkic, who was favoring his right hand, exited the arena with an apparent injury. The Blazers, fueled by potent scoring from its backcourt, cut the Pacers’ lead to 13 points by the end of the third quarter.
The final frame was dominated by the news that followed Nurkic’s exit in the third quarter. It was revealed that the big fella suffered a fracture in his right wrist. It was clear that the news regarding Nurkic’s status quickly circulated through the Blazers’ bench and staff. On the floor, the Pacers’ physical style effectively protected their double-digit lead as the contest came to a close. In the end, Indiana comfortably recorded a 111-87 victory.
Notes & Observations
Look, this is going to be brief. Without a firm outlook on Nurkic’s status, it is nearly impossible to take too much from this contest. That said, here is what stood out tonight.
- The Blazers’ inability to generate easy buckets inside arc proved costly in the first half. Once the shots dried up for Simons and Trent, Portland’s second unit was left toothless. By the time the starter’s returned to the floor, the damage was done. The Blazers went 0-8 from distance in the second quarter and notched just 10 points overall in the frame.
- Playing in a back-to-back against a frisky defense combined for an out-of-character showing for the Blazers’ typically-judicious offense. Portland’s offense surrendered 10 turnovers in the first half—18 total at the contest’s conclusion. Individually, the Pacers’ blitz-heavy scheme resulted in five turnovers from Lillard.
- Derrick Jones Jr.’s steady performance provided a tiny silver lining to tonight’s contest. The former Heat forward went a perfect 4-of-4 from the field for nine points. Defensively, he recorded three blocks.
The Blazers return to action on Saturday to face the Hawks.