The Portland Trail Blazers took out a month’s worth of frustrations on the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday night, cruising to a 133-112 victory in Indianapolis to snap a five-game losing streak. The win marked the first game of a crucial six-game road trip, and is just their fourth victory in the month of April. Portland was led by a historic effort from guard Anfernee Simons, who set a franchise record by starting the game 9-9 from beyond the arc. He ended the night with 27 points in 24 minutes of action, going 9-10 from distance.
Damian Lillard chipped in 23 points for the Blazers, while CJ McCollum added 20 of his own. Malcolm Brogdon and Oshae Brissett led Indiana, who played without stars Myles Turner and Domatas Sabonis, with 18 points apiece.
For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown, see our Instant Recap. Here were the key takeaways from tonight’s game:
Simons Sparks Surge
The third-year man spearheaded a key 18-3 run late in the second quarter that helped the Blazers provide separation on the scoreboard for the first time of the night, and a lead they would never relinquish. He connected on a trio of three-pointers over the stretch, while also making a series of solid passes, pulling down an offensive rebound, and grabbing a steal on the defensive end.
All told, he finished the frame with 12 points, going 4-4 from the field (all threes). Portland outscored the Pacers 39-27 overall in the second to take an 11-point lead into halftime. Enes Kanter was also instrumental during the period—taking advantage of the undersized Pacers by both scoring in the paint and dominating the offensive glass, in addition to to providing some resistance at the rim defensively.
After a quarter-and-a-half of playing defense that offered the resistance of a wet paper bag, the Blazers clamped down during Simons’ big run. That effort continued after the halftime break, as they held the Pacers to just 16 points in the third quarter while dropping a 40 spot themselves. Indiana drew a number of wide open three-point attempts early, but Portland’s rotations improved over the course of the game. That being said, the Pacers feasted in the midrange—Caris LeVert in particular—who made a team-high seven field goals.
While the Blazers did allow 34 scored in the fourth, it came with the deep bench in the game, and the final outcome was never in doubt. The 35 allowed in the first quarter is far more concerning, especially with the lineup Indiana fielded. While the team still has significant issues on that end of the floor, tonight was a step in the right direction—at least in the middle stages.
Back on Track
Lillard turned in his best complete game performance in a while, scoring his 23 points on an efficient 6-14 from the field and 4-8 from distance. He also went 7-7 from the foul line, and in general played with a confidence and focus that has seemingly been lacking in recent weeks. Perhaps even more importantly, he and his fellow starters were able to sit out the entire fourth quarter with the game in hand.
Robert Covington also had a strong bounce-back performance after going a combined 2-16 from the field in Portland’s two games this past weekend. RoCo was 6-12 overall, and 3-5 from three-point land as he scored 15 on the night. He added 11 rebounds and two blocks.
Portland’s road trip continues south as they take on the Memphis Grizzlies Wednesday night, looking to avoid a season series sweep in the teams’ third meeting in six days. The game is scheduled for 6:00 p.m. PT from FedEx Forum.