While there is no doubt that Portland Trail Blazers guard Norman Powell was locked in to the game against the Denver Nuggets, Jusuf Nurkic also made key contributions by stifling Nikola Jokic. Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian details how the two players made the difference in the win. For Powell, it was a matter of attitude.
“I told myself, early on when I woke up and going through warm-ups before the tipoff, that we were not going to lose this game,” Powell said.
Powell was so focused, he didn’t notice the fans chanting his name until his teammates also started chanting.
“They got a little smile out of me,” Powell said. “I don’t smile often when I’m locked into the game. So, it was definitely nice. I couldn’t help myself. It was great to feel that love from the fans.”
As for Nurkic, Coach Terry Stotts noted that the team is better when the big man is playing.
“We’re obviously better when Nurk is able to stay on the floor, especially against Denver,” Stotts said. “The offense comes and goes. He gets his opportunities. But I thought he really locked in defensively and was solid. Didn’t gamble very much and defended without fouling.”
Regarding Powell’s game, Stotts had this to say.
“I thought we found him in the corners,” Stotts said. “We ran a couple of plays for him, but a lot of his three-point shots were in the flow of the game. I thought we made good reads in just our flow, making the right decisions and passing. He was the beneficiary of it. He hasn’t really shot the three well in the first three games. It was good to see him having a breakout game shooting the three.”
Powell says his competitive spirit will see him through the playoffs.
“I’m just very competitive,” he said. “I really want to win. I love these types of games, these types of moments where nothing else matters.”
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