Big men help Blazers beat pesky Hornets

The Portland Trail Blazers overcame a frustrated attempt by charlotte hornets in a 124-113 victory on Monday night. The Blazers clinched the win thanks to a strong second half. They were led by Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic who finished with 32 and 28 points respectively.

The Hornets played a great first half, but couldn’t hold their own against the Blazers late in this game. His top scorer in the contest was Lamelo Ball, who scored 27 points.

For a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the game, check out our instant summary here. Once you’re done with that, here are some observations about tonight’s game.

jusuf nurkic

It would be a disservice to Nurkic to mention anything else before highlighting his dominant 28 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals performance. Oh yeah, and five casual 3-pointers, the best of his career. The Bosnian beast was on a mission and no one would stop it. She did everything on the court, and that was reflected in her +19 plus-minus mark. That’s not even counting the screens she put up that allowed the Blazers to hit 14 3-pointers and get 52 points in the paint. The great man showed how important he is to this team. The Blazers began to turn the game around just as Nurkic began to ramp up the intensity, and neither the team nor Nurkic looked back after that point.

limiting hornets

The Hornets made just 41 of their 103 shot attempts. That 40% of the field was well below the Blazers’ 50%. The difference between these two teams came down to making shots. The Blazers shot better from the field, from three and from the free throw line en route to a double-digit victory. They allowed 18 offensive rebounds, which is high, but that was more due to the amount of shooting the Hornets took. The Blazers outrebounded them overall. Portland never settled on defense and struggled to prevent the Hornets from getting a second scoring chance. The deficit in the first half was due to many things, especially the quick break opportunities by the Hornets. But in the second half, the Blazers also limited them. Overall, the Blazers accommodated the Hornets throughout and were able to run at the right times to get a win in this contest.

Overcome teething problems

A sloppy first half looks better on paper thanks in large part to a 10-2 run to end the half in favor of the Blazers. Before that streak, the Blazers trailed 65-51 and looked dead in the water. The Blazers had ten turnovers in the first half, with eight in the first quarter alone. They looked like a team that was going to let three straight losses dog them in a winnable game. However, they went down to shots to end the first part. That attitude carried over into the third quarter, where the Blazers put together 40 points and won the quarter by 12. This game was a 20-point win masquerading as an 11-point win because of how long it took the Blazers to get going. But once they did, they took care of business against a lesser opponent as expected.

keep the ball moving

Losing Justise Winslow in their last game hurt a Blazers offense that sometimes lacks a secondary playmaker. The offense looked like it was about to turn to shooting-heavy shooting without a true point guard off the bench. The Blazers overcame those concerns with 28 assists in the win. Lillard finished with nine, Nurkic with six and Grant with five. The Blazers kept the ball bouncing down the court and used movement to get good open shots. The most obvious beneficiary of that move was Nurkic. His three-pointers were a direct result of his passing prowess, as well as ball movement in general. He was able to catch a pass, then fake a pass, ending up wide open over and over again. The Blazers have capable quarterbacks, and if they continue to show that they’re also a willing quarterback, they can look forward to many more games like this.

bank game

The Blazers’ bench was up and down throughout the game. They had just 18 points, but they did it on 8-14 from the field. Keon Johnson made some great shots early in the game and proved to be a spark off the bench. Eight quick points in his first at-bat kept the Blazers afloat amid a bleak start. But still, the Blazers were led by their starters, and three of the four bench players finished with a negative plus/minus despite the double-digit win. The bench didn’t need to be big this game, but they can’t play like this every night and expect the same results from the starters.

bouncing

The starting frontcourt three of Josh Hart, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic all posted double doubles with rebounds in this game. The three combined for 38 rebounds, almost single-handedly outscoring the Hornets. Glass control helped turn the tide for the Blazers. They were able to establish a defensive presence with the help of those three.

All three were also able to push the Hornets in the paint and dominated with their presence. The Nurkic-Grant-Hart trio had six offensive rebounds between them. When those three guys are as dominant on the glass as they were tonight, it’s a tall order for any team to gain momentum. That turned out to be the case with the Hornets.

Until next time

score box

The Blazers have another long layoff before facing the warriors of the golden state in San Francisco on Friday, December 30 at 7:00 PM.

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