The Trail Blazers returned home to face the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, tipping off a four-game homestand.
Portland entered Monday’s game having won nine straight home games against the Pacers and looked to make it 10 in a row, the Pacers did not make it easy.
This was the Blazers first game without guard CJ McCollum, who will miss at least the next week with a popliteus strain in his left knee.
It was a hard fought game with the Blazers very active on defense. Portland also exploited the smaller Pacers defenders down low and that helped them pull away from the Pacers.
Portland defeated Indiana 106-98. The Blazers improve to 26-9 at home this season.
The Blazers have swept the season series against the Pacers for the second straight season.
Here are some quick thoughts from Portland’s first game of its current four-game homestand:
1.Multiple Blazers getting extra minutes as expected
Just as Blazers' head coach Terry Stotts talked about in his pregame interview, it was a collective group who got extra minutes with McCollum out.
Rodney Hood, Jake Layman, and Seth Curry all played more minutes. Layman got the starting nod, but played the least minutes out of three wings. Hood started the second half. Maybe Stotts will go with Hood on Wednesday to start against the Mavericks after Hood had more of an impact on the offensive end than Layman on Monday night.
When you have a player who gets 34 to 35 minutes a night, there’s an adjustment period and that was clearly what was going on with the Blazers early. Portland started the game 0-for-10 from three.
Midway through the second quarter, people were most likely saying the Blazers need some #3J.
Damian Lillard got things going from deep at the end of the second quarter and it seemed to be the momentum Portland needed for the second half.
Stotts also talked pregame that there was a chance one of the rookies, Gray Trent Jr. or Anfernee Simons, could also see the floor, but that didn’t happen.
2. Blazer bigs take charge early
Jusuf Nurkic powered his way down low against Myles Turner. He had his way with the smaller defender on offense for most of the night.
If Nurkic hadn’t got into foul trouble early he probably could’ve gone off for 30 points, but after picking up his third foul in the second quarter that disrupted his minutes and his scoring.
Nurkic and Zach Collins saw the floor together for a little bit. The twin towers proved to be too much on defense. By the end of the third quarter, Indiana had just 28 points in the paint.
With Collins getting more minutes, it proves Coach Stotts is going to fill McCollum’s minutes in a variety of ways.
3. Lillard a passing machine
Damian Lillard notched his ninth double-double of the season by the end of the third quarter.
Whether it was the pick and roll with Nurkic or kicking out to find his teammates in the corner for a three, Lillard was dropping dimes.
Portland's ball movement was on point for most of the game and that is going to be such a necessity with 21.3 points per game from McCollum not an option right now.
Lillard had 14 assists and 24 points after three quarters.
NEXT UP: Portland continues its four-game homestand with game number two on the slate as the Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 6:00pm.
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Source : https://www.nbcsports.com/northwest/portland-trail-blazers/rip-city-rewind-everything-you-might-have-missed-blazers-fell-spurs