Indiana Pacers

Mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony played in the hardest game of his career

Mourning the death of Kobe Bryant, Carmelo Anthony played in the hardest game of his career

If you had a pit in your stomach Sunday night watching the Trail Blazers play, you weren't alone. 

Moda Center had a very different feeling as the Trail Blazers went on to defeat the Indiana Pacers 139-129 behind Damian Lillard’s electric 50-point performance.

But, before and after the game tipped off, there were many players either holding back tears or looking off into space as if searching for answers.

Why now? How could this happen to an NBA legend?

Coming to terms with its reality was a struggle. It remains a struggle. It feels unreal.

The Trail Blazers and Pacers game went on as scheduled despite the NBA mourning the death of Kobe Bryant on Sunday. 

After the win, the Blazers spoke in the locker room about the man who some grew up idolizing, while other were fortunate enough to face in a game.

Throughout the day NBA players and coaches had been sharing their stories of Kobe.

His competitive nature.

His overall greatness.

Him as a teammate.

A friend.

A father.

For Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony Sunday was a nightmare.

Melo and Kobe played together on Team USA for the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics.

Their relationship was special.

They kept tabs on each other via texts, phone calls, and dinners.

Playing in game just hours after learning the horrific news was more than difficult for Melo.

The 17-year veteran held back tears as he spoke to the media.

It probably was the hardest game I’ve ever had to play. Just… It was tough… Honestly knowing him, the way that I know him, he would’ve wanted me to play. – Veteran Carmelo Anthony holding back tears as he spoke on Kobe’s passing

The 35-year-old admitted that for him Sunday was not at all about basketball.

“I had to try to pull myself back in and check back in emotionally because I wasn’t there today,” Melo said.  

Over the last few months, Anthony has discussed how being away from basketball for a year put a lot of things in perspective.

Now Sunday night, it was as if he had to do that all over again.

Our friendship and relationship was deeper than basketball, it was family, it was friendship… Basketball is the last connective tissue between us to. – Carmelo Anthony

Both Lillard and CJ McCollum also had relationships with the Black Mamba, but of course, it wasn’t to the extent of Melo and Kobe.  

“We talked about it before the game,” Lillard said. “Coach just said that obviously, it’s a tough situation for everybody that had to play today, especially the ones that was friends with Kobe and had a real relationship with him. We’ve got two guys in our locker room who’re really close friends with him and then guys like myself and CJ who actually had a friendship with him and was familiar with him – we’re not the only ones… Everybody felt a way today, was hurt today. But we had to carry on so I think it was the right decision for us to go out there and compete in his honor.”

Lillard did just that. In Kobe’s honor, he not only put up 50 points, Lillard also dished out 13 assists and pulled down six rebounds in the win. McCollum added 28.

“It was tough, it was an emotional day,” McCollum said. "Not just for me, I really feel for my teammates. Trevor (Ariza) and the relationship he had with Kobe.”

Ariza was not made available to the media after the game.

Bryant and Ariza played together for one and a half seasons and won an NBA Championship together in 2009.

McCollum explained how growing up he was scared to meet the Lakers Legend.

“I knew Kobe, we had a decent relationship where we would talk when we see each other but I’m just thankful I was able to express the impact he had on my life, basketball, my work ethic, my approach, my brother’s approach. Our whole family, our coach, the NBA. I would always tell people he was the guy I was afraid to meet him and Michael Jordan. I knew Lebron growing up too, and although he’s like Mount Rushmore great, Kobe was the one I didn’t really know, so that was a guy I was afraid to meet. That really hurt, just to see the reception across the country, all of the lives he impacted, people that didn’t know him. It shows you how special he was outside of basketball. I pray for his wife, his family because lord knows what they’re going through,” McCollum said.

On a night where Lillard made history becoming the first ever Trail Blazer in the team’s history to score at least 40 points in three straight games, it was a night to discuss what Kobe has meant to everyone around the league.

“I didn’t think about basketball today to be honest,” Melo said. “I just knew that I had to do it. This is my job. I’m a professional. I’m sure he would’ve wanted me to play.”

Anthony said he talked with Kobe two days ago where they discussed Bryant’s plans to come to the Blazers-Lakers game next Thursday night at Staples Center. 

Basketball lost a legend Sunday. Kobe Bryant will be greatly missed, but his legacy, his inspiration, will carry on for generations. 

Instant Analysis: Could Pacers slow down Damian Lillard? Nope

usatsi_13962633.jpg
USA Today Images

Instant Analysis: Could Pacers slow down Damian Lillard? Nope

Before the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers tipped off, the Blazers played a tribute video of Kobe Bryant followed by a moment of silence for 24 seconds to honor the NBA legend.

Once the game tipped, both teams honored Kobe.  The Blazers took it upon themselves to pay tribute by running out the 24 second shot clock to begin the game, while the Pacers did the same with an 8 second backcourt violation, honoring the two numbers Kobe wore during his career. 

Shots were falling early and often for both teams Sunday night. Portland and Indiana both shot over 50 percent in the first quarter.

At the break, the Blazers held a 10-point lead.

Portland's biggest lead on the night was 21 points in big thanks to their hot three-point shooting. 
FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 139, PACERS 129

Here are three quick takeaways from Sunday’s win:

1.  Lillard doing it all  

Damian Lillard was dialed in Sunday night. 

He started out the game a perfect 6-for-6 from the field. In the first half, Lillard had 23 points, nine assists, and three rebounds. Midway through the third quarter it was time to start the triple-double watch for the Blazers All-Star point guard. Lillard was four rebounds shy of the feat, but he did become the first player in Trail Blazers history with at least 40 points in three straight games.   

2.  Whiteside’s fouls throws off rotation early, but he brings the heat in 2nd half

The Trail Blazers were forced to go with a small ball lineup after Hassan Whiteside picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter. Third-year player Caleb Swanigan picked up the slack on the glass. In his first nine minutes of action Biggie had seven rebounds. Despite not playing with a true center in the second lineup, Portland was still able to out-rebound the Pacers which makes sense considering Indiana starts 6’11” power forward Domantas Sabonis at five.

Whiteside brought the crowd to its feet though midway through the third quarter. The 7-footer blocked JaKarr Sampson's layup and then came down on the other end and threw down a big dunk, assisted by Carmelo Anthony.  

3.  Pacers look like a team on their fifth and final game of the trip

Indiana has been on the road since Jan. 18 when they started off their current five-game road trip in Denver. Often time’s teams struggle to put together a complete game when they know they are finally going to be heading back home after the final horn sounds.

And, that’s what it looked like happened to the Pacers Sunday night. Coming into Sunday’s game in Portland, Indiana was 1-3 on the trip with wins over the Nuggets, the Suns, and the Warriors.

But, against the Blazers, the Pacers looked out of sorts, missing lay-ups and wide open threes, as well as looking a step behind on the defensive end.  

Up Next: Portland concludes its four-game homestand Wednesday night when the Blazers host the Houston Rockets. The Blazers and Rockets tip-off at 7:00pm on NBCSNW. 

Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more articles and videos from the players!

Damian Lillard makes history with 50-point performance vs. Pacers

Damian Lillard makes history with 50-point performance vs. Pacers

What a week it has been for Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard.

It’s pretty fitting for a number of reasons that Lillard went off on Sunday night against the Indiana Pacers.

Lillard has been on a scoring tear this past week and Sunday was no different.

In the Blazers 139-129 victory over the Pacers, Lillard finished with 50 points, 13 rebounds, and six rebounds.

Lillard now becomes the first player in Trail Blazers history to score at least 40 points in three straight games.

Here’s a quick look Lillard’s last three games:

Monday night vs. Warriors he finished with 61 points.

Thursday night against the Mavericks he finished with 47 points.

Sunday night in the win over the Pacers, Lillard notched his 11th double-double and makes history once again.

Lillard also becomes the first member of the Trail Blazers to score 50 points or more three times in one season. He scored 60 points vs. Brooklyn back on November 8th. 

The Trail Blazers will get a couple of days off before they're back in action Wednesday night vs. the Houston Rockets. Tip-off is at 7pm on NBCSNW. 

Trail Blazers honor Kobe Bryant before Sunday's game vs. Pacers

Trail Blazers honor Kobe Bryant before Sunday's game vs. Pacers

Before the National Anthem took place the Portland Trail Blazers honored the late Kobe Bryant Sunday night as the Blazers got set to tip-off Sunday's action from Moda Center against the Indiana Pacers.

A video tribute played on the Jumbotron which included Kobe pictures and a touching moment between Kobe and Damian Lillard from Kobe's last game in Portland.

There was then a moment of silence for 24 seconds to honor Kobe.

The Moda Center is also light up in purple and gold. 

The Blazers took a 24-second shot clock violation to start the game in memory of Kobe, while the Pacers honored Kobe by being charged with an eight-second backcourt violation.

Our Trail Blazers Insider Dwight Jaynes discussed the best way to honor the Lakers Legend is to play the hardest they have ever played in their career. 

Former Trail Blazer and Talkin' Blazers Podcast host Channing Frye shared his thoughts today on what Kobe meant to the game. 

The city of Portland also honored Kobe in its own way. The Portland Convention Center was illuminate with purple and gold.  

Other NBA teams paid their respects to the NBA legend in various ways:

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver released the following statement:

"The NBA family is devastated by the tragic passing of Kobe Bryant and his daughter, Gianna.”

“We send our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Vanessa, and their family.”

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts and Nate McMillan share stories of Kobe Bryant

usatsi_13937647.jpg
USA Today Images

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts and Nate McMillan share stories of Kobe Bryant

There is a somber feeling throughout Moda Center Sunday night.

Before the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers tip-off at 6:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Pacers head coach Nate McMillan shared their thoughts on the devastating news of Kobe Bryant’s passing this morning.

Coach Stotts on Kobe: “It’s a very sad day… The effect that he had on basketball around the world, he will be mourned tonight… I didn’t know him well… I just know him a competitor… I admired what he did.”   

Coach McMillan on Kobe:

“Extreme sadness. Kobe was a great man, a great role model for the NBA, for this generation, for young black men, just really extreme sadness.”

HEAR MORE FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

HEAR MORE FROM COACH MCMILLAN HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

CJ McCollum (left ankle) is not on the Blazers injury report for Sunday’s game after missing the last three games with a left ankle sprain.

Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), Skal Labissiere (left knee inflammation) and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Sunday’s game vs. Indiana.

PACERS INJURY REPORT:

TJ Leaf (right knee soreness) and JaKarr Sampson (left ankle sprain) are questionable; Myles Turner (illness)Malcolm Brogdon (concussion) and Victor Oladipo (right knee rehab) are out.

Trail Blazers and Pacers find familiar footing, must exercise patience

usatsi_10551609.jpg
USA Today Images

Trail Blazers and Pacers find familiar footing, must exercise patience

The anticipation is growing.

Portland is eagerly awaiting Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic’s return to game action. It’s been 10 months since Nurkic sustained compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula

This week, Nurkic participated in his first practice at full speed and full contact.

He is one step closer.

Saturday after practice, Nurk’s teammates discussed how they’re very excited to have him back on the court.  

It’s the same for the Indiana Pacers.

But, Portland will luck out hosting the Pacers Sunday night.

According to reports, Pacers All-Star Victor Oladipo is targeting next week to make his 2019-20 debut.

The Pacers lost Oladipo for the 2018-19 season last January 23 after suffering a ruptured quad tendon in his right knee.

Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard mentioned what it will be like for the Pacers when they get Oladipo back.

“You’re just adding star power. He’s an NBA All-Star, a dynamic player, and when you add that to equation it obviously takes their team to another level,” Lillard said after Saturday’s practice.

“I’m just happy he won’t be coming back against us,” Lillard added.

Yes, the Blazers are lucking out for sure.

But, they also know what the Pacers have been going through watching Oladipo work so hard to get back on the court after seeing firsthand what Nurk has gone through.

Oladipo and CJ McCollum have a special bond entering the league at the same time with both of them being drafted in the summer of 2013.  

As Oladipo has been rehabbing, McCollum has tried to help him through this last year.  

It’s tough. It’s a grind. I talk to Victor, I sent him some bible verses and some books while he was hurt, just try to keep his spirits up. I think it’s the same thing with Nurk. You have to continue to do things that make you happy. You have to keep your perspective and understand that it gets better. There’s going to be a time where you can’t do things, but then it’s going to be a time where it’s going to come back around full circle, and that appreciation and love for it will still be there -- it will probably grow, that’s what usually happens when it’s taken away from you. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum on Victor Oladipo   

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts explained how the media attention ramps up once a player who has been rehabbing for months is nearing his return and coaches and teammates have to deal with the media’s questions about the injured player. 

“When a player gets closer to getting back obviously there’s more interest in it,” Stotts said. “But still that’s minimal to what the player had to endure with is rehab.”

Stotts continued, “the long-term injuries, like Oladipo, or Nurk, or Rodney Hood, even to an extent Zach Collins, it’s much more difficult on the player. We as players and coaches have to move on and prepare for the season, for the next game, but to have a long-term injury really is trying for that person because of the mental approach to rehab, not seeing an end in sight, I think that’s really difficult.”

Yes, the Blazers will just miss Oladipo’s debut, but they know that the Pacers have been able to pull together this season and still hold a winning record. Indiana is coming off a 129-118 win over the Golden State Warriors improving to 30-16 on the season.

And Lillard discussed just that.

“Their just a really solid team. They’ve got a lot of guys that contribute and do things that make them go. It’s not just like one person is out there doing everything and I think that balance is just presents a problem. They compete hard, they’ve got a great balance, they defend, they’ve got guys capable of having big nights and they’ve been steady, so I think when you’re dealing with a team like that, it’s important for you to have that same type of effort.”

CJ McCollum echoed those same sentiments.

“They’re a very good team… They defend well, and offensively they’ve got a lot of weapons.”

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Pacers tonight at 6:00pm

usatsi_10551468.jpg
USA Today Images

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Pacers tonight at 6:00pm

The Trail Blazers (19-27) host the Indiana Pacers (30-16) Sunday night in game number three of Portland’s current four-game homestand.

Good news for Trail Blazers fans: CJ McCollum (left ankle sprain) was not listed on the Blazers injury report for Sunday’s game. McCollum has missed the last three games. 

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Pacers in action on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

3:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

5:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

5:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

6:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Pacers

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

Quotable: 

“It’s like old times, it was fun. Still got good chemistry. Good to see him getting up and down the court, getting hit, getting fouled, blocking shots, making the right reads, he sets some good screens… It’s good to see him out there, because I feel like I can feel the excitement from him being able to get back out there playing after so long.” -- CJ McCollum on Jusuf Nurkic returning to the practice court  

 

Trail Blazers pass first test without CJ McCollum... Is there reason to rush him back?

Trail Blazers pass first test without CJ McCollum... Is there reason to rush him back?

Energy plays.

Collective play.

Staying ready to shoot.

These are all key components to the Trail Blazers 106-98 victory over the Pacers and Portland’s first game without starting shooting guard CJ McCollum.

Just as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts talked about in his pregame interview, it was a collective group who found themselves getting extra minutes with McCollum out.

Jake Layman got the starting nod in place of McCollum, but then Rodney Hood started the second half.  Hood, Layman and Seth Curry, are all expected to get more minutes with McCollum sidelined.

Also, as expected, Damian Lillard carried the load as he notched his ninth double-double of the season by the end of the third quarter. Lillard finished with 30 points and 15 assists, which is a new season-high in assists and just one shy form tying his career-high.

With 15 assists on the night it shows how the game plan is to play as a team in McCollum’s absence. Lillard discussed how it’s not about playing hero ball during this stretch without his running mate.

“I think having a guy that’s such a huge part of our team go down and not be out there, it’s not gonna be just me going out there trying to be the hero. It’s going to have to be done by committee,” Lillard told Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam immediately after the game.

“Against a very good team, we had a lot of guys step up. It was really encouraging and that’s how we’re going to have to play,” Lillard added.

ENERGY PLAYS AND CHASE DOWN BLOCKS

Zach Collins also saw the floor more, which proves Coach Stotts is going to fill McCollum’s minutes in a variety of ways. 

Collins made sure to make the most of the opportunity early and Coach Stotts was quick to recognize him postgame.

“Collins came in and made a lot of energy plays. I thought we scored more off of our energy than anything else,” Stotts said.

Even though this is just Collins’ second year in the league, he showed his wisdom in the locker room.

“[CJ] brings so much to our team... We just gotta come together and pick up the slack. Without him on the floor -- that’s a lot of buckets that we have to come up with and obviously, Dame has a lot on his shoulders and now that teams have to focus a lot more on him without CJ, we’ve got to help him out a little bit, just come together” Collins said.

Collins also noted that he always wants to “make energy plays that gets the crowd in to it,” and that’s exactly what he did midway through the second quarter with a chase down block on Tyreke Evans.

So, what goes through Collins’ mind when he’s going up for a chase down block like that?

“Move as fast as I can,” Collins said with a big smile.

“I need to get a little faster, but just try to get there as quickly as I can and try to time it right,” Collins said.

BE READY TO CATCH AND SHOOT

Al-Farouq Aminu picked up some of the scoring slack. He was a perfect 4-for-4 from three in the third quarter as he ignited the Blazers’ offense in the second half.

For Chief, it’s all about making sure he is ready to catch and release.

“Obviously Dame did a good job distributing, making sure everybody got involved… We just gotta continue to be ready to shoot,” Aminu said.

“I think what we did tonight was impressive, to be honest, I’m proud of everybody from top to bottom, the way we were able to step up without CJ and get a quality win,” Aminu added.

Aminu finished 4-for-5 from long distance and 5-for-8 from the field to score 16 points.

It’s all about that Blazer ball movement though.

“We just gotta play the same way and make sure we’re continuing to distribute the ball,” Aminu said.

NO NEED TO RUSH CJ BACK

Before Monday’s game both McCollum and Coach Stotts did not give any type of timetable on McCollum’s return.

Lillard knows one thing though—

He doesn’t want McCollum to hurry back before he’s ready.

Lillard has had this conversation with McCollum about taking his time to get the proper rehab.

“I don’t want [CJ] to have to rush it,” Lillard said. “And, when he does come back, I want him to be himself and be healthy... In my mind we’re going to finish the regular season without him... We’d rather have him healthy and strong for the playoffs.”

Trail Blazers get the most (30 points, 15 assists) out of Damian Lillard's 40 minutes

Trail Blazers get the most (30 points, 15 assists) out of Damian Lillard's 40 minutes

The Trail Blazers managed to hang on for a 106-98 home win over Indiana Monday night… but it wasn’t easy.

Neither, I’m sure, was it easy for Portland to play back-to-back games in New Orleans and San Antonio on Friday and Saturday, then play again Monday.

But that’s the NBA. ESPN needed a game and they must have badly needed it to put a Blazer-Pacer game on the national airwaves.

Damian Lillard delivered this win with a scintillating 30-point, 15-assist performance in 40:10 of very hard work.

Portland Coach Terry Stotts has made it clear he doesn’t want to have to play Lillard 40 minutes every night but he’s in a race for playoff seeding and with it, homecourt advantage.

Winning, obviously, takes precedence. And when the Pacers staged a late-game rally, Lillard was back on the for the finish.

“Dame is special,” Stotts said. “When we got up 21 in the fourth I was feeling comfortable. I think you guys know I’ve been trying to manage his minutes but through this stretch, with the race the way it is, we’ve got to do what we’ve got to do.”

After missing their first nine three-point field goal attempts Saturday night in San Antonio, the Blazers opened the game by missing their first 10 against Indiana.

But then Lillard hit a couple of deep ones to break the ice at the end of the second quarter and Portland connected on 13 of its last 22 after the 0-10 start.

“I think we were getting quality looks,” Lillard said. “We were missing some good looks. That was the encouraging part of it. When it’s going that way, you know they’re going to fall eventually. You’re not just going to keep getting those kind of looks and keep missing them.

“That’s what happened. They just started to fall.”

Lillard did not seem too concerned with what could become a heavier workload with CJ McCollum out of action for several games.

“My rookie year I was playing 40 minutes all the time and that was hard, but I’m physically prepared for it. One thing is that you’re physically prepared for it but mentally, I know how to put myself in certain situations if I feel myself getting a little more tired, I know what actions we can run against what they’re doing so I’m not impacting the play but I’m involved in the play.

“And then on defense, I know when I hear a play call, I know how to position myself so that I know what I have to do. So mentally and physically, I am prepared.”

Lillard hit nine of his 16 shots and four of nine from long range.

After the shaky start, Portland made 46.8 percent of its shots and 13 of 32 from three. Jusuf Nurkic had 18 points and 11 rebounds before fouling out late in the game. And the Blazers got a plus-13 off the bench from Zach Collins, who had a couple of spectacular blocks.

Al-Farouq Aminu chipped in a 4-5 night from the three-point line and ended with 16 points.

Portland plays host to Dallas Wednesday night.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Indiana Pacers

usatsi_12375809.jpg
USA Today Images

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Indiana Pacers

The Trail Blazers returned home to face the Indiana Pacers on Monday night, tipping off a four-game homestand. 

Portland entered Monday’s game having won nine straight home games against the Pacers and looked to make it 10 in a row, the Pacers did not make it easy.

This was the Blazers first game without guard CJ McCollum, who will miss at least the next week with a popliteus strain in his left knee.

It was a hard fought game with the Blazers very active on defense. Portland also exploited the smaller Pacers defenders down low and that helped them pull away from the Pacers.

Portland defeated Indiana 106-98. The Blazers improve to 26-9 at home this season.

The Blazers have swept the season series against the Pacers for the second straight season.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 106, Pacers 98

Here are some quick thoughts from Portland’s first game of its current four-game homestand:

1.Multiple Blazers getting extra minutes as expected

Just as Blazers' head coach Terry Stotts talked about in his pregame interview, it was a collective group who got extra minutes with McCollum out.

Rodney Hood, Jake Layman, and Seth Curry all played more minutes. Layman got the starting nod, but played the least minutes out of three wings. Hood started the second half. Maybe Stotts will go with Hood on Wednesday to start against the Mavericks after Hood had more of an impact on the offensive end than Layman on Monday night.  

When you have a player who gets 34 to 35 minutes a night, there’s an adjustment period and that was clearly what was going on with the Blazers early. Portland started the game 0-for-10 from three.

Midway through the second quarter, people were most likely saying the Blazers need some #3J.

Damian Lillard got things going from deep at the end of the second quarter and it seemed to be the momentum Portland needed for the second half.

Stotts also talked pregame that there was a chance one of the rookies, Gray Trent Jr. or Anfernee Simons, could also see the floor, but that didn’t happen.

2. Blazer bigs take charge early

Jusuf Nurkic powered his way down low against Myles Turner. He had his way with the smaller defender on offense for most of the night.

If Nurkic hadn’t got into foul trouble early he probably could’ve gone off for 30 points, but after picking up his third foul in the second quarter that disrupted his minutes and his scoring.

Nurkic and Zach Collins saw the floor together for a little bit. The twin towers proved to be too much on defense. By the end of the third quarter, Indiana had just 28 points in the paint.

With Collins getting more minutes, it proves Coach Stotts is going to fill McCollum’s minutes in a variety of ways.  

3. Lillard a passing machine

Damian Lillard notched his ninth double-double of the season by the end of the third quarter.

Whether it was the pick and roll with Nurkic or kicking out to find his teammates in the corner for a three, Lillard was dropping dimes.

Portland's ball movement was on point for most of the game and that is going to be such a necessity with 21.3 points per game from McCollum not an option right now.

Lillard had 14 assists and 24 points after three quarters.  

NEXT UP: Portland continues its four-game homestand with game number two on the slate as the Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 6:00pm.    
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.