After a sluggish opening two quarters, both offenses came alive in the second half. Portland played catchup for most of the game, claiming its first lead midway through the fourth quarter. Then the Trail Blazers survived a comeback attempt and some late heroics from Brooklyn forward Mikal Bridges to secure a much-needed win.
Trail Blazers guard Anfernee Simons powered Portland to the victory, scoring 38 points on 13-of-25 shooting, to go along with 11 assists. Malcolm Brogdon provided huge buckets in OT, finishing with 18 points on 5-of-8 shooting. Portland’s starting frontcourt, Jerami Grant and Duop Reath, added 27 points and 15 points, respectively.
Bridges registered 42 points in a losing effort.
Here’s the instant rundown of the game action, stay tuned later for our extended analysis of the win!
At the opening tip, the Portland Trail Blazers came out in a 2-3 matchup zone that got off to an effective start as Toumani Camara intercepted a pass in the corner on the first play. After that initial success, the Nets seemed to figure out the assortment a little more, leading to open knockdown 3s from Bridges. On the other end, Portland struggled to find a rhythm early. Following early misses from Simons, Grant and Reath, Scoot Henderson settled things down with a 3 from near the top of the key to get Portland on the board. Still, rhythm issues plagued Portland’s offense, leading to an early 12-5 Brooklyn lead near the six-minute mark of the quarter.
Following the break, Simons knocked down his first shot, a midrange jumper, but Bridges continued to be a problem on offense, not just from deep but in the lane, too. Bridges took it straight to Ibou Badji’s chest for an and-1 after Simons’ shot, just one of five free throw attempts in the first period for Bridges. It helped him finish with 13 points in the opening period.
Along with Bridges’ solid play, Brooklyn took advantage of Portland’s offensive inconsistencies and lack of paint protection with Deandre Ayton out by attacking the lane and in transition. Energized play from bigs Nic Claxton and Day’Ron Sharpe led to easy run-outs and finishes, as the pair combined for 15 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the floor in the opening 12 minutes.
Sharpe helped push Brooklyn’s lead to 28-19, before a much-needed 5-0 run from Brogdon, plus two free throws from Camara, helped the Trail Blazers get right back into the game.
A tip-slam from Day’Ron Sharpe in the closing seconds extended Brooklyn’s lead to 30-26 at the end of one. After a bit of a disjointed start, and closing the quarter with Kris Murray at the 5 after Reath and Badji went out with two fouls apiece, a four-point deficit wasn’t terrible.
The second quarter got off to a much better start for Portland. Reath connected on a wide-open 3 from the corner on the first play, leading to a quick timeout from Brooklyn coach Jacque Vaughn.
Portland, still searching for its first lead of the game, tied it back up at 31-31 with split free throws from Reath and Sharpe, but Brooklyn snatched the lead back on the following possession with a deep Royce O’Neale 3. What followed was more offensive disjointedness from the away team. Grant, Sharpe and Murray all took turns missing drive attempts. Adding to the ugliness, Brooklyn couldn’t score much either. Missed free throws and drives from both teams led to a timeout from Billups at the 8:38 mark, with the Nets only leading 36-31.
Injecting some life into the building, the Nets surprised the Trail Blazers with a halfcourt trap out of the timeout. Young Henderson wasn’t ready for the pressure, and coughed the ball up, leading to a breakaway, off-the-glass alley oop to Brooklyn guard Dennis Smith Jr. Grant canned a triple a few plays later, and Portland’s Sharpe got a backdoor dunk, to again hold things at bay at 38-36 Brooklyn.
It seemed Portland was doing its best to give the Nets the game, but in the sloppiness of this Sunday sleeper, Brooklyn wasn’t good enough to take it. The sloppiness continued with unimpressive flair: a falling-asleep Simons got his pocket picked from behind by Dorian Finney-Smith, who missed the breakaway triple; Portland missed five straight shots, including a 3-pointer from Camara that smacked off the backboard; and Brooklyn celebrated its own parade of misses on the other end.
Simons ended Portland’s four-minute field goal drought at the 1:30 mark of the quarter with a solid left-hand drive, followed by a pull-up triple. Then after a Spencer Dinwiddie 3, Simons dropped in a floater, before ending the half with a dish to Henderson who nailed a left-wing triple. All in all, the little flurry from Simons cut Brooklyn’s lead to 52-50 heading into the half.
Simons ended the half as Portland’s leading scorer with 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting. Grant was close behind with 11 point on 5-of-11 shooting.
Early in the third, the Nets capitalized on a steal with a Finney-Smith triple, going ahead 58-52, but the Trail Blazers quickly responded with back-to-back triples from Reath and Grant to tie it up. With Portland still hunting for its first lead, Brooklyn responded with back-to-back 3s of its own, forcing Billups to call timeout staring at a 64-58 deficit with 7:56 remaining in the third.
Out of the timeout, Portland went right back to the well that is Jerami Grant, and he got to the line for two easy ones. Later in the quarter, it was the offensive mastery of Simons that was most dependable. With the game gaining a little more flow, Simons buried consecutive 3s before missing a heat check attempt. On the other end, Bridges, with the help of Cam Thomas and Finney-Smith, got going with several 3s of their own. Their collective firepower outmatched Simons’ initially, leading to Brooklyn’s biggest lead of the game at 82-72 with just over 3 minutes remaining.
But Sharpe and Reath quickly jumped in on the 3-point party to once again pull Portland back into the game with things in danger of falling sideways. All of a sudden, the sluggish affair turned into a shootout, with several players from both sides contributing swishes.
The Nets connected on eight 3s in the quarter, as part of a 41-point burst. Portland hit seven triples to put up 35 total points in the third quarter. Brooklyn still held the lead, 93-85.
The Trail Blazers kept the hot shooting going early in the final frame, with Sharpe and Brogdon hitting 3s. Two free throws by Brogdon cut the deficit to 97-95. Then Smith Jr. detonated on Reath with a vicious poster slam. To the Great Barrier Reath’s credit, he got back down the floor and answered with a running lefty hook, keeping Portland fast on Brooklyn’s heels, even with the home crowd still roaring.
Then out of the pick-and-roll, Reath finished a fantastic and-1 bucket in the lane. The free throw tied the game again at 101-101. With 6:40 remaining, a driving finish from Sharpe gave Portland its first lead of the game at 103-101. Later, Reath and Grant helped deny Finney-Smith at the cup, leading to a fastbreak 3 from Simons. Just like that, Portland, in the midst of a 10-0 run, led 108-101 with 4:39 remaining. Timeout Brooklyn!
With the teams swapping roles of cat and mouse, now it was Brooklyn’s turn to mount a comeback. Six quick points made it a 108-107 game with 3:10 left, but Brooklyn suffered a blow as Day’Ron Sharpe went down with a left leg injury.
After two missed 3s from Simons and Grant, Smith grabbed the lead back for Brooklyn at 111-110 with a tough finish at the cup. Simons answered with a cold-blooded triple from Logo Lizard range to make it 113-111 with 1:24 left, before Brogdon was whistled for fouling Johnson on a 3-point attempt. Billups challenged the big call and won, but out of the jump ball, Brooklyn tied the game with a midrange jumper from Bridges.
On Portland’s next possession, the ball went out off Brooklyn underneath the basket with 1.7 seconds left on the shot clock. Brooklyn challenged the call, losing, but Sharpe missed an almost-amazing alley oop lay-in try. On the other end, Brooklyn missed an open 3, but Finney-Smith saved the rebound by throwing the ball off Simons out of bounds. BUT, once again, Billups challenged the call and was successful. Finney-Smith’s foot had hit the floor, so Portland got the ball back, shot clock off, 22.8 seconds left.
After Brooklyn doubled Simons, the ball ended up in Sharpe’s hands, who took it at Claxton to rise high in the lane for a tough 2 to give Portland a 115-113 edge with 5.5 seconds left. Bridges drove left, stepping back to shoot a midrange jumper over the outstretched arms of Camara. Swish. With no timeouts left, Simons didn’t get off the halfcourt heave. Bridges’ heroics sent the game into overtime.
Brooklyn seized early momentum in OT behind a 3 from Johnson and an and-1 from Bridges. Simons and Grant responded with consecutive 2-pointers to erase the 121-117 deficit. Then after Bridges secured a 40-piece with another midrange jumper, Brogdon seized the lead back. The vet nailed two consecutive 3s from opposite wings, and Portland led 127-123 with under 1:30 remaining.
Later, Brogdon drove at Bridges for a lefty finish to push Portland’s lead to 130-125. With just over 30 seconds remaining, Grant emphatically denied a Johnson layup attempt off the backboard to all but kill Brooklyn’s chances. Simons put the game on ice with free throws.
After a horrid three-game stretch, the Trail Blazers left Brooklyn as winners, 134-127.
Stay tuned for extended analysis coming soon!
The Trail Blazers play the New York Knicks next on the road, with tipoff scheduled for a little after 4:30 p.m. PST on Tuesday.