SAN ANTONIO— An energy difference maker?
That is Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little’s emerged role these days.
Portland fought back from being down by as many as 15 points in the second half to beat San Antonio 121-116. The Blazers tightened up on the defensive end and were able to come up with big plays down the stretch.
And that’s where Little enters the conversation.
“I think he made some amazing plays tonight," Rodney Hood said postgame. “Offensive rebounds… His energy was amazing and that’s what we needed. If we didn’t have that I don’t think we would’ve pulled this win out. I think he was one of the MVPs of tonight.”
Little finished with a plus/minus of a plus-15, the third best on the team.
The 19-year-old was in the game when it mattered in crunch time. He had an impact giving the Blazers extra possessions and bringing that energy.
Little threw down a monster dunk with 3:03 remaining in the game.
That dunk was mentioned on numerous occasions as a game changing moment with Little bringing that spark.
“He's got a lot of energy and a lot of athleticism, and he is using that. I think he’s been great for us in terms of his energy. He’s still learning and figuring out the game, but one thing he is going to do is play hard, and I think you can see that,” CJ McCollum added.
Little explained how the seas parted ways for him and he took it hard to the rim for the jam.
“CJ came off a pick-and-roll and I was coming behind rather than standing on the three-point line. I just cut because CJ was going off… I cut to the basket and then just went off. That’s one of my roles on the team -- is to bring energy, make those kinds of plays, and get my team extra possessions and keep us in the game,” Little said.
Just seconds before the dunk, Little was called for a shooting foul.
His teammates thought it was a clean block, but it cost the Blazers just one point with Derrick White making 1-of-2 from the line.
Little’s teammates loved his aggressive nature.
“I think Nas got called on the foul, it wasn’t a foul but he really was the MVP. He made big plays tonight,” Hood said.
And so did Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.
“Nas got called for a foul on a block, but it was a great energy play,” Stotts said.
Little had played in just three games with 32 total minutes prior to starting the last two contests.
In his second straight start, Little is now averaging 6.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and four personal fouls.
Little said he is “trying to do the small things” now that he has been given the opportunity.
As Damian Lillard put it postgame, Saturday’s game was a “super important one" for the Blazers to win.
And now, Little is showing off his super important athleticism and energy. Through the last two games Little has been a valuable piece to the puzzle.
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