The Trail Blazers looked to continue their winning ways and slow down the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night in Portland’s first leg of a back-to-back.
Entering Friday’s contest, Portland had won five in a row and eight of its last nine. Friday marked the Blazers second game without starting center Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and sixth game without CJ McCollum (left knee).
The Blazers got out to a hot start and never really looked back. Portland snapped Atlanta’s season-high three game-winning streak with a 118-98 victory.
The Blazers now improve to 19-18 on the road with two more games on their current trip.
Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers second straight road win:
1. It was Lillard Time from the tip
Portland was on fire in the first quarter, shooting 70% from the field behind Damian Lillard’s 18 first quarter points. Lillard was an efficient 7-of-9 from the field including 2-of-3 from deep.
Getting out to a good start is exactly what this short-handed Blazers team needs to finish the regular season strong. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts often talks about the importance of jumping on a team early, and on Friday night in Atlanta that early lead propelled the Blazers to secure the win.
Portland’s biggest lead was 21.
2. A physical battle with a scary moment in the second
In the final seconds of the second quarter, the officials let both teams play through contact. After Al-Farouq Aminu and Damain Lillard were hit with contact and no calls were whistled, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was fired up.
Lillard fell to the ground at the end of the half and came up limping as he headed back to the locker room. It was a scary moment for all Blazers fans after witnessing two major injuries over the last couple of weeks.
Damian Lillard comes up limping at the end of the first half pic.twitter.com/qx4i1kyQxA— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) March 30, 2019
As fans have become accustom to seeing, Lillard returned to the game to start the third quarter and it did not look as if his knee was an issue. He had an early jam that made fans feels better about the health of his knee.
Lillard continued to find himself down on the ground after running into screens and bigs down low when attacking the hoop. So, really the Blazers had two wins on Friday—Lillard comes away just banged up, but nothing major (or at least it looked like) and the Blazers grab their 48th win of the season.
3. Double-Double for Chief
Over the past five games, there have been different players to step up and help feel the offensive void with McCollum out. On Friday, it was Aminu who stepped up in a big way, scoring 17 points. Aminu also grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with two assists and one block.
There’s been a noticeable difference with Aminu’s offensive game lately and because of that Aminu earned some extra minutes on Friday.
NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers visit the Detroit Pistons on Monday night with a 4:00pm PT start time. Our pregame coverage tips off at 3:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
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