Friday night’s (6 o’clock, NBC Sports Northwest) Trail Blazer classic will undoubtedly be a feel-good game for fans of the team.
Not because it was a close game, a big upset or a game in which one player scored an extraordinary number of points. It was just a game in late March that gave Portland a one-game lead for the No. 8 playoff spot.
But it was obviously not just any other regular-season game.
The significance of the contest was that it was Jusuf Nurkic’s revenge night -- his first game against Denver after the Nuggets traded him to Portland,
And what a game he had.
In fact, Nugget Coach Mike Malone summed it up best afterwards when he said simply, “Jusuf Nurkic kicked our ass. He was very physical.”
Nurkic was sensational against his former team, which had benched him in favor of Nikola Jokic. Amid standing ovations from the Moda Center faithful, the fired-up Nurkic hit 12 of his 15 shots from the floor, seven of his nine free throws, scored 33 points, hauled in 16 rebounds (five of them on offense), had two assists and two blocked shots.
Mason Plumlee, who went to the Nuggets in the trade, went scoreless in the game and Jokic managed 17 points.
CJ McCollum, who has traditionally been a problem for the Nuggets to defend, came up big in this game, scoring 39 points on just 24 shots in 40 minutes.
Coach Terry Stotts allowed Nurkic a curtain call with 19 seconds to go in what turned out to be a nine-point Portland win, removing him from the floor and allowing the crowd to favor him with one final deafening standing ovation.
Nurkic had found a home and this was the official signing of the deed.
HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets
WHEN: Friday, March 27th at 6pm
Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)
Stream the game here.
NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.
The full schedule can be found here.