There is a new star in Portland and his name is Jusuf Nurkic.
Behind their new acquisition, who nearly posted a triple-double, the Trail Blazers secured their first four-game winning streak of the season with a wild 114-108 overtime victory over the Philadelphia 76ers.
Nurkic, the 7-foot center acquired in mid-February from Denver, set career-highs with 28 points, 20 rebounds, eight assists and six blocks and also made a game-clinching defensive play in the overtime period. With Portland clinging to a 110-106 lead, Philadelphia inbounded with 40 seconds left when Nurkic reached and deflected the pass off the foot of Jahlil Okafor.
The game went to overtime after Robert Covington made up for an earlier gaffe by scoring at the buzzer off an offensive rebound.
The win moved Portland (28-35) within one-half game of Denver (29-35) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 19 games remaining.
Philadelphia fell to 23-42.
The game went into overtime after an eventful final minute that was punctuated by mindless plays from both teams.
After Nurkic the game tied at 95 with 33.9 seconds left, Philadelphia’s TJ McConnell missed a running jumper, and when CJ McCollum rebounded, Philadelphia’s Covington inexplicably – and intentionally -- fouled McCollum in the backcourt with 19.6 seconds left.
McCollum made both free throws and when Philadelphia tried to tie it with a Dario Saric inside shot, Al-Farouq Aminu blocked the shot. But in clearing the play, Aminu threw a pass downcourt to Maurice Harkless that overshot him and went into the stands with 11.8 seconds left.
Philadelphia’s Saric, who is in contention for the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, scored a career-high 28 points, Covington had 24 and former Blazers forward Gerald Henderson had 14.
Nurkic carried the Blazers to a 57-52 lead at halftime, recording 13 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks in the first half. He made an impact from the get-go, threading a nice pass to Maurice Harkless for the game’s first basket, then recording a block on Jahlil Okafor on the next possession, which he followed by scoring on a bank shot off a post up on the Blazers next trip down the court.
The Blazers were also fueled by Allen Crabbe, who fresh off a 23-point performance in Oklahoma City made five of his first seven shots and scored 12 first-half points. That marked the first time in five games this season that Crabbe followed up a 20-point performance by scoring in double figures.
Crabbe finished with 23 points, including a floater in the lane with 20.9 seconds left in overtime that put the final nail in the 76ers’ coffin.
Damian Lillard struggled with his shot all night, but finished with 24 points thanks to hitting all 12 of his free throws. Lillard went 6-of-21 from the field, and missed all six of his three-point attempts, ending his franchise-record streak of 42 games with a three-pointer.
Next up: Washington at Blazers, 7 p.m. Saturday (CSN)