The big men help the Blazers overcome the pesky hornets

The big men help the Blazers overcome the pesky hornets

The Portland Trail Blazers overcame an annoying attempt by the Charlotte Hornets in a 124-113 win Monday night. The Blazers got the win after a strong second half. They were led by Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic who finished with 32 and 28 points respectively.

The Hornets had a great first half, but couldn’t defend the Blazers late in this game. Their top scorer in the competition was Lamelo Ball, who scored 27 points.

For a quarterly breakdown of the game, check out ours instant summary here. Now that 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 performance of 28 points, 14 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals. Oh yeah, and a casual run of five triples. The Bosnian Beast was on a mission and there was no stopping him. He did it all on the court, and it was reflected in his +19 plus-minus. That doesn’t even count the screens he set that allowed the Blazers to hit 14 threes and score 52 points in the paint. The big man showed how important he is to this team. The Blazers began to turn the game around just as Nurkic started to turn up the intensity, and neither the team nor Nurkic looked back after that point.

Limiting the Hornets

The Hornets made just 41 of their 103 shot attempts. That 40% from 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 how much the Hornets shot than the Blazers outshot them overall. Portland never got complacent on defense and struggled to keep the Hornets from getting a second scoring chance. The first-half deficit was due to many things, most notably the Hornets’ counter-attacking opportunities. But in the second half, the Blazers also limited them. All in all, the Blazers matched the Hornets at every turn and were able to make runs at the right times to earn a win in this contest.

Overcoming the first evils

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 run, the Blazers were trailing 65-51 and looked dead in the water. The Blazers had 10 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 chase them into a winnable game. However, they went down on a spin to end the first half. That attitude carried over into the third quarter, where the Blazers scored 40 points and won the quarter by 12. This game was a 20-point victory disguised as an 11-point victory for the time it took the Blazers to get going. But once they did, they took care of business against lesser opposition as expected.

Keep the ball moving

Losing Justise Winslow in his last game hurt a Blazers offense that sometimes lacks a secondary player. The offense looked poised to morph into an iso-heavy shooting spree with no real point guard off the bench. The Blazers overcame those concerns with 28 assists in the win. Lillard finished with nine, Nurkic had six and Grant had five. The Blazers kept the ball by jumping down the court and used movement to get good open shots. The most obvious beneficiary of this move was Nurkic. His threes were a direct result of his passing prowess, as well as his overall ball movement. She was able to catch a pass, then fake a pass, and get open again and again. The Blazers have capable passers, and if they continue to prove they are also willing passers, they can look forward to many more games like this one.

bank game

The Blazers bench has been up and down throughout the game. They only had 18 points, but did so on 8-14 from the field. Keon Johnson made some big shots early in the game and proved to be a spark off the bench. Eight quick points on their first change kept the Blazers afloat amid a bleak start. Still, the Blazers were led by their starters, and three of the four bench players finished with a negative plus/minus despite winning by double digits. The bench didn’t need to be big this game, but they can’t play like that every night and expect the same results from the starters.


The starting frontcourt trio of Josh Hart, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic had double-doubles with rebounds in that game. The three combined for 38 rebounds, almost single-handedly out-rebounding the Hornets. Controlling the glass helped turn the tide for the Blazers. With the help of these three they were able to establish a defensive presence.

The 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 these three are as dominant on the cup as they were tonight, it’s a tough task for any team to build momentum. That turned out to be the case for the Hornets.

Until next time

Box Score

The Blazers have another long break before facing off Golden State Warriors in San Francisco on Friday, December 30 at 7:00 p.m.

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