The Portland Trail Blazers are now just one game away from the Western Conference Finals. After beating the Los Angeles Clippers in Game 3, they have pulled off two consecutive wins against them which has put them on their way to securing a spot in the NBA playoffs final series. The team had three players stand out during this match with CJ McCollum being top performer of the night and Damian Lillard leading his side into victory over Blake Griffin & Company.,
The “Portland nba” is a team that has been on the rise this season. The 3 Trail Blazers standouts from their win over the Clippers are CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard, and Jusuf Nurkic.
Despite Paul George’s usual smooth 42 points, the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 111-92 on Friday night at Moda Center. Not bad for a Portland club that had just lost by 30 points to the Clippers earlier this week in a “embarrassing” effort, according to Chauncey Billups.
Here are three highlights from the Blazers’ last spectacular win, which improved their record to 3-2 to start the regular season.
Before the game, Billups called Portland’s franchise player a “ticking time bomb.” Lillard didn’t exactly burst against the Clippers, particularly when compared to George, but he still had his greatest shooting night of the season thus far while maintaining a smart, controlling floor game.
Lillard made 5-of-7 three-pointers on Friday night, finding his places to be aggressive from beyond the arc against a team that was trying to take the ball away from him. Billups, much like he did in the Blazers’ victory against the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, let Lillard go away from the offense for a few minutes at a time. At times in the second half, it meant relentlessly attacking Luke Kennard with small-small ball screens, never more so than when Portland put LA away for good during crunch time.
On each side of the four-minute mark in the fourth quarter, Lillard blasted back-to-back off-dribble threes, bringing the Moda Center to its feet for a long-awaited Dame Time celebration.
Could someone kindly double-check the time picture? twitter.com/QXJnT5CrPx
30 October 2021 — Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers)
When the Clippers gave out even more to stop him, Lillard didn’t push the matter. Lillard made the perfect play again and over as Ty Lue threw double teams at him after getting Kennard shifted on the ball. He started quick-hitting passing sequences by finding a release valve and picked out open shooters around the arc.
Despite his “excellent” shooting night, Lillard explained after the game that he is still in the midst of his slump.
“I feel like it’s going to be loud when I get out of it,” Lillard added.
Regardless, his performance created a lot of commotion on Friday night.
Don’t hold Nurkic or anybody else responsible for George’s fantastic night. He put on a show of shooting prowess, connecting on a variety of tough pull-up and turnaround jumpers from all around the court. When George is feeling it like he was against the Blazers on Friday, no defense Portland sent at him had much of a chance; few in the NBA do when George is feeling it like he did.
But his overpowering performance is really a footnote to the game’s greater narrative, which is the Blazers’ steadily improving defense. Nurkic was the backbone of the team, putting in the all-out effort and constant physicality required to make his presence known all over the floor under Portland’s new aggressive approach. Where did he have the largest impact? Nurkic spearheaded a team-wide commitment to using active hands and several efforts in the paint, where the Clippers were forced to shoot 11-of-22 from the restricted area, including 2-of-10 in the first half.
Nurkic is playing excellent side pick-and-roll defense, which is made simpler by the Blazers’ superior exploitation of certain Clippers offensive flaws, including as Eric Bledsoe’s and Terance Mann’s lack of shooting range.
Nurkic was ineffective on the opposite end, unable to catch and finish with minimum touch while sliding to the hoop. He did, however, retrieve a few of his own misses and re-insert them, leading Portland’s overwhelming effort on the offensive glass by snatching six offensive rebounds.
After the game, Billups praised Nurkic for his demeanor and general approach, noting that he was tired enough for Portland to take him out, yet he never complained. Similarly, Nurkic seems to be understanding his perfect role for the Blazers in real time—not as a back-to-basket scorer, but as a big man prepared to do the grunt work on both sides of the ball.
Little missed all four of his rim tries against LA, but don’t confuse his lack of power or intensity for a lack of effort. In Friday’s game, he was one of the greatest athletes on the court, sprinting in transition, skying for boards, and making life difficult for the Clippers on defense.
Early in the game, Little almost blew the roof off Moda Center by sprinting up the sideline past Kennard and sizing up George for a potential lefty poster slam.
George, a la Dikembe Mutombo, let the audience know he had won the fight by waiving his finger as he sprinted back toward the other end of the court. Little’s immediate aggressiveness, on the other hand, set the tone for a lot more later in the game, when Portland needed it the most.
Midway through the third quarter, the Blazers grabbed a 61-41 lead, their tenacious defense causing problems in every Clipper but George. However, when Lue took a timeout and told his team to flip everything defensively, LA erupted, following George’s example and trimming a 20-point deficit to eight points in two minutes and 42 seconds.
Little did his best to assure Portland got the payback it craved in the aftermath of Monday’s game, despite having to fend off a comeback that appeared near-impossible just minutes before. He curled around an off-ball screen at the wing and boldly let fly, sinking a catch-and-shoot three-pointer, after a Kennard basket that trimmed the advantage to six. Little snuffed out his backdoor cut for a one-handed knockaway in denial while guarding Kennard on the following trip the opposite way. He then appeared out of nowhere for an offensive rebound that led to a C.J. McCollum triple, and he finished off his game-changing run with another crisp three-pointer.
In his 24 minutes in court on Friday, Little was all over the place. When lined up alongside George, he was a true deterrent as a back-line rim defender, performing as good as or better than any of his colleagues. Little now causes the opponents to feel him every time he walks on the floor.
Little’s constant competitive zeal has not only made him a rotational fixture for the first time, but also a player who deserves a bigger position. None of Little’s colleagues are capable of doing what he does, a fact that becomes more apparent every time he takes the field.
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