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Carmelo, Covington Lead Resurgent Blazers over Hornets

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Three-pointers and thefts spark a stirring Portland victory.

NBA: Charlotte Hornets at Portland Trail Blazers Troy Wayrynen-USA TODAY Sports

In a game where everyone and their mother decided they wanted to test their range, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Charlotte Hornets 123-111 at the Moda Center.

Carmelo Anthony led the Blazers with 29 points off the bench while Damian Lillard and Robert Covington both put up double-doubles. Lillard had 23 points and 10 assists; Covington had 21 points and 10 rebounds along with two steals and two blocks. Lamelo Ball led the Hornets in scoring with 30 points on the night.

If you want a quarter-by-quarter rundown of the action, see Ryan Rosback’s instant recap here.

Hot Shooting Propels Blazers

Man, what a fun offensive game from Portland. Anytime you hit 24 threes, it’s going good. [ed. You can say that again. It was an all-time franchise record.] Anytime you do so on 26 assists, it’s going even better. It was an incredible shot-making display from Portland tonight, and it completely offset Charlotte’s otherwise stellar offensive night (15 made threes on 44% shooting is very good!).

Good offense is the most important factor in the NBA at this moment. If your team can dominate from the three-point arc, they’re never out of any game. Portland especially is a team that needs nights like this to make up for subpar defense. It’s an cliché and tired saying, but the team that makes the most shots really has the best chance to win.

Blitzing Dame

This was something that we saw a lot of in this one, especially early on. The Hornets’ sole focus defensively seemed to be “make anyone but Dame beat you.” That’s not particularly surprising. Teams around the league have done it for many seasons. While I will admit I was worried in the beginning when the Blazers trailed after the first because of this strategy, I was pleased with how well they adjusted.

Tonight the supporting cast made shots when called upon. Blitzing defenses have killed Portland for years in the playoffs; only CJ McCollum can hit shots consistently. They aren’t going to play Charlotte in the playoffs, but it was encouraging to know the Blazers are capable of hitting when called upon.

ROCO!!!

Let’s talk about Robert Covington for a second because...wow. He’s a career 35% shooter from deep, but when a guy struggles like he has this year, it feels surreal to see him hit 5 of 7 threes in a game. He was supremely efficient offensively and was stellar on defense yet again with a pair of blocks, two steals. and 10 rebounds. It was the perfect Covington game.

It’s been tough watching RoCo struggle with his shot all season, especially considering his role offensively has always been “I will make the three if you pass it to me.” It’s very important that he hits threes and I’m happy to see Covington play well offensively.

Nassir Little Getting Minutes

Few things this season have made me happier than seeing Nassir Little playing basketball. He plays with so much energy and looks like he’s having fun at least like 99% of the time. Watching him get 20 minutes of action tonight was perfect. He played well.

Little ran the floor and rolled hard to the basket when needed. He finished dunks with authority. He looked fairly comfortable shooting movement threes. I think there’s an argument that he should be getting more minutes than Rodney Hood, although that’s difficult considering Hood’s ball-handling ability (Hood was also +15 tonight if you care about that kind of thing).

The Duality of Melo

Look, I don’t want to be a total downer when it comes to Carmelo Anthony because tonight was fun. His fourth quarter was absolutely absurd. He hit four threes and at least two of them were of the “No no no no...YES!” variety. I even grinned from ear-to-ear when he exchanged jerseys with LaMelo Ball afterwards. It was a very fun end to the game for Melo.

However, while the end was fun, this was also a perfect game for showing the duality of Anthony. In the even quarters, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were watching a throwback Knicks game. In the odd quarters, he was a black hole that stopped ball movement entirely and killed possessions by either trying to draw a foul or just shooting a bad shot. There’s a give and take with Melo, and I think there has to be a better balance to it. Just because he posts up doesn’t mean he needs to shoot it. It’s hard to stop that, but the answer seems to just be less post-ups. But in the end, it was just fun to see Melo finish the game with an insane shooting display.

[ed. 5 steals and 2 blocks to go along with his 29 points eased most of the sting. Both Melos played defense tonight! Yay!]

Ending the Skid

The most important thing for Portland on any given night is the win. This victory ends a four-game skid and puts them back on track to finish the first half of the schedule strong. They have the Warriors and the Kings up next, two teams that are definitely beatable. Can they end the week on a high note and then make a push with a healthy CJ in the second half? It’s possible.

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Box Score

On Wednesday night the Blazers will face off against the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center. Tip-off is set 7:00 p.m. PT.