The Trail Blazers played their first game since their starting small forward Rodney Hood went down with a season-ending Achilles injury.
Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts turned to Kent Bazemore to fill the void left by Hood.
Bazemore was dialed in early and looked up for the challenge.
The career 35.1 percent three-point shooter hit his first three three-pointers on the night, tying his season-high from deep.
“I thought Kent got off to a great start," Terry Stotts said. "He made his threes, had good activity defensively, I was surprised he was 3 for 11 because I thought he impacted the game, he was on Chris Paul a lot. I thought he did a nice job in the starting lineup.”
Bazemore attributes his success to getting open looks as well as getting to play alongside the Blazers other starters: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, and Hassan Whiteside.
It’s good to be out there with that kind of firepower… When you’re on the floor with Dame and CJ, Melo, and Hassan, they’re going to attract a lot of attention. So, just being aggressive, guys closing out short, just being able to rise up and knock them down… I’m going to continue to let if fly. I’ve been a starter in this league before and there’s a lot of firepower in the first unit. – Kent Bazemore
After a hot start for Bazemore, he cooled off on a night where the Blazers as a team struggled from the field most of the night.
The 30-year-old finished with nine points to go along with five rebounds and two assists.
It is Bazmeore’s energy and activity on both ends of the floor though that he has made at living at, and Sunday was no different.
“I’m not really a guy that needs the ball,” Bazemore said. “I just like to fly around, play a lot of defense, and just bring energy for the unit. The first go didn’t go as planned, but it’s a lot of things we can work on, make sure we’re successful with this change,” Bazemore said.
In this new reality for the Blazers, Bazemore is going to be relied on heavily. In his last 10 games, he had played an average of 20.6 minutes per game. On Sunday night he played 36.
“I think he did good,” Melo said of Bazemore’s performance. “He’s going to have to continue to step up in that role and we’re going to rely on him to do a lot of things, and especially now with Rodney being out. We’re going to rely on him to do more, but he can do it, we know he can do it.”
Lillard mentioned how the Blazers missed Hood's impact on the game, while Bazemore echoed that he and Hood are two very different players, but that’s why it worked so well for them to sub in for each other.
What he brings to the table is a lot different from what I bring. This is why we complemented each other so great, but I came here to play with these guys and get an opportunity to go out there and start. It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it. I’m just going to continue to work hard, continue to figure it out, go home tonight and watch the game, see if I can do some things a little bit better to help my teammates.
“Rodney was a huge part of it what we did. We’ll figure it out,” Bazemore added.
The Blazers next opportunity to figure it out will be Tuesday night when they host the 4-19 New York Knicks.