The Jake Layman Era ends in Portland with a trade to Minnesota

The Jake Layman Era ends in Portland with a trade to Minnesota

The Jake Layman Era in Portland has come to an end.

The popular 6-9 forward out of Maryland has agreed to a three-year deal with the Minnesota Timberwolves that is said to pay the 25-year-old, three-year veteran $11.5 million. To facilitate that move, Neil Olshey, Portland’s president of basketball operations, engineered a trade with the Timberwolves that sent Layman away in return for a $1.8 million trade exception and the rights to 27-year-old, 6-9 European player Bojan Dubljevic. That spared the two teams from having to go through an offer-sheet process, which can be lengthy during a free-agent signing period.

Layman appeared in 141 games during his three seasons as a Blazer and averaged 4.6 points. He had some outstanding moments last season, with three games of more than 20 points and some crowd-pleasing dunks, but played sparingly in the playoffs and shot just 30.2 percent from three-point range during his career.

"We're extremely appreciative of how hard Neil Olshey worked with us to accommodate what we were trying to accomplish in sign and trade," Layman’s agent, Mark Bartelstein told ESPN. "The deal couldn't have happened without the Blazers looking out for Jake's best interests."

Facilitating a deal of this nature is something Olshey has done in the past and it shows his organization to be player- and agent-friendly, which can pay off later.

The Trail Blazers are not allowed to comment on the deal until July 6, but one would assume they felt the price of the Layman contract to be too high to match, given the circumstances. Portland is in the luxury tax and also has agreed to terms with free agent small forwards Kent Bazemore and Mario Hezenja and has agreed to re-sign Rodney Hood, as well as picking another small forward, Nassir Little, in the draft.

The team is still looking for a free-agent center but that market will become more clear once the Lakers – still holding a lot of cap space – find out if they are getting Kawhi Leonard.

REPORT: Jordan Bell agrees to contract with Minnesota

REPORT: Jordan Bell agrees to contract with Minnesota

The Minnesota Timberwolves and restricted free agent Jordan Bell have agreed to a one-year, $1.6 million contract, Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports reports. The Warriors will have the opportunity to match the offer.

Bell was drafted in the second round (No. 38 overall) in the 2017 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls (and immediately traded to the Golden State Warriors). 

In his first two seasons, Bell has earned 2,193,857 million dollars with the Warriors. 

The former Oregon Duck men’s basketball star is known for his rim protection skills earning the hashtag #ThingsJordanBellCanBlock during Oregon's run to the Final Four in the 2017 NCAA Tournament.

In his second season with the Warriors, Bell averaged 3.3 points and 2.7 rebounds in 68 games. Bell’s role on Golden State typically stays with the second unit. 

REPORT: Minnesota adds Blazers assistant David Vanterpool to coaching staff

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REPORT: Minnesota adds Blazers assistant David Vanterpool to coaching staff

The Blazers coach staff just lost one of the best assistant coaches in the NBA. 

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Minnesota Timberwolves have hired David Vanterpool as their associate head coach.

Vanterpool has long been linked to head coaching vacancies around the league, and actually interviewed for three of those open jobs his offseason: The Phoenix SunCleveland Cavaliers, and Minnesota Timberwolves. 

All those teams eventually went in a different direction, but the Minnesota Timberwolves were impressed enough to offer him a key assistant role. 

It was reported by Marc Stein of The New York Times early Wednesday that Vanterpool had interviewed to join Ryan Saunders' staff.

Vanterpool joined the Trail Blazers as part of then-new head coach Terry Stotts' staff in 2012. In that time he has built great relationships with Portland's star backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum and has been a key part of their development since they entered the league. 

Coach Stotts, who just signed a contract extension, none has the unenviable task of finding someone to fill Vanterpool's shoes on his staff. 

Evan Turner after triple-double: "I'm straight-up tired"

Evan Turner after triple-double: "I'm straight-up tired"

MINNEAPOLIS – This game Monday night, a 132-122 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves, is probably going to have to be something of a blueprint for the rest of the season for the Trail Blazers.

Portland got scoring from everywhere, including 60 points off the bench. Enes Kanter got 20 and 11 rebounds. Rodney Hood, in a starting role, scored 21. Seth Curry, in 21:51 off the bench, scored 19. Meyers Leonard made all four of his shots and had 9.

And the main event – Evan Turner had 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists in just 24:56 – a triple-double while making all five of his shots from the field and both his free throws.

“I really thought this game exemplifies how we need to play,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “Rodney and Enes had really good games – they were our leading scorers – and they didn’t even play in the fourth quarter.

“Evan played a great role as a facilitator, did a little bit of everything with his triple-double. Zach’s defense in the fourth quarter made a difference. Seth continues his role. And we had to depend on different guys for different things. A lot of good contributions. I liked our resiliency after we got down six in the fourth quarter.”

The Blazer bench went crazy when Turner grabbed his 10th rebound to complete the fourth triple-double of his career.

“I had no idea,” Stotts said of Turner’s pursuit of the triple-double. “I was clueless until the bench erupted.”

The biggest thing about Turner’s feat was that it fueled Portland’s fourth-quarter comeback. He pushed the ball up the floor and increased the tempo, which helped the Blazers retake the lead.

“A great win,” Turner said. “Tired. Straight up, I’m really tired. It was cool. Obviously, guys hit shots. I got some shots up.

“I thought we needed to make the most out of every stop we got because there weren’t really very many stops.

“Everybody has to step up in different situations and tonight was my night. Whatever my minutes are, I play defense and am a distributor. That’s pretty much it. That’s the most minutes I’ve gotten in a while, probably the most shots I’ve gotten in a while. Just go with the flow and ride the wave.”

Asked about the reaction from the bench when he got that 10th rebound, Turner smiled.

“That was dope, man,” he said. “That was dope. I think it says a lot about our team that we’re all genuinely happy for each other’s success.”

Turner’s other three triple-doubles came in Boston for the Celtics. He seemed happy Monday just to get the playing time.

“Shoutout to Rodney and Mo for letting me play longer.” Turner said with a grin.

Damian Lillard had another night when he could dial it down a little, with scoring help coming from all directions. Lillard finished with 15 points, 12 assists and five rebounds.

“A big game for Evan to bounce back with everything he did,” Stotts said. “What I liked the most is what I said in the beginning.

“Rodney gets off to a great start and Enes has a double-double and they’re our leading scorers and they don’t get in, in the fourth quarter. And they’re cheering the team on.

“That’s what teams are made of. You do what you do when you’re on the court, give what you can when you’re on the court and when you’re not, you cheer your teammates and hopefully, it all works out.”

And it did Monday night.

New to the starting lineup? Rodney Hood was ready for the change

New to the starting lineup? Rodney Hood was ready for the change

Over his five-year career, Rodney Hood has now started 225 of his 316 games played.

Monday night marked Hood’s second start for Portland as the Trail Blazers took advantage of the short-handed Timberwolves early, taking a 75-64 lead at the break. 

Minnesota was without five key players.

The Trail Blazers were also short-handed with two starters out in Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and CJ McCollum (left knee). Entering Monday night, with no McCollum in the lineup, Portland had won six straight before falling to the Pistons on Saturday.

With the winning streak snapped, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said it was time to make a change.

Coach Stotts started with Hood instead of Jake Layman at the two spot, telling reporters postgame, it was to “just, change it up. We had won five or six in a row with Jake… I just didn’t want to change things up while we were winning games, but it was something we were going to do eventually.”

Enes Kanter continued to start for Nurkic and the duo of Kanter and Hood was a key piece in Portland securing a victory as the Blazers held off the Timberwolves, 132-122.

“I thought we had a lot of good contributions and I liked our resiliency after giving up the lead and getting down six in the fourth quarter,” Stotts said.

The Blazers went on a 16-3 run to close out the first quarter, while Kanter and Hood scored 24 of the Blazers’ 38 first-quarter points. Portland held a 15-point lead after shooting 63% as a team in the first 12 minutes.

Hood told our Dwight Jaynes after the game that he thought moving to the starting lineup might’ve been just what he needed.

“I think tonight I started off with some bounce to my step, I changed my pregame routine a little bit, it felt a little bit better. But, obviously, I know once CJ comes back it’s going to be a different adjustment, but right now, I think it was good just for me mentally, just to get out there first,” Hood said.

“I think it was like a change of pace for me and for Jake just to be a little bit more comfortable. Start off getting a better feel for the game. The past couple of games I got off to a couple of slow starts. Getting off to a good start tonight, got a good rhythm… ended up working well, especially in that first half,” Hood added.

Stotts was also pleased with Hood’s quick start.

“He got off to a great start, obviously. He’s a scorer. In that lineup, tonight anyway, in the first half, he really gave that first group some scoring punch. He was able to handle a little bit. He’s a different type of player than Jake,” Stotts said.

Plus, having Layman come off the bench meant the connection between Evan Turner and Layman was back to where everyone had seen it earlier in the season. Turner dishing to a cutting Layman was just a snippet of Turner’s game, in which he notch his fourth triple-double of his career with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and 10 assists.

Having so many role guys contribute it exactly what Coach Stotts is looking for right now.

“I really thought this game kind of exemplifies the way we need to play. Rodney and Enes had really good games, they were leading scorers and they didn’t even play in the fourth quarter. Evan played a great role as a facilitator; he did a little bit of everything with this triple-double. Zach [Collins’] defense in the fourth quarter made a difference. Seth [Curry] continues his roll, so we’ve got to depend on different guys, different nights,” Stott said.

Hood was 8-of-14 from the field including 3-of-4 from deep with 21 points heading into the fourth quarter and even though he did not see the floor in the final period, he still finished as the Blazers’ leading scorer.

The 26-year-old also pulled down four rebounds and had two steals on the night.

The Trail Blazers team captain Damian Lillard has been preaching “collective effort” over the past few games without McCollum and Nurkic. Lillard echoed what Coach Stotts said about this type of play is what this team needs to finish out the regular season strong.

“Rodney and Enes didn’t even play in the fourth, so that’s what I mean by that collective effort,” Lillard said. “You know, where everybody is going to have to give a little bit and we can win games that way.”

While most were talking about Hood’s offensive game on Monday, Lillard had a different approach to what he thinks it means to have Hood in the starting lineup.

“I think it makes us versatile to start games defensively -- with him, Moe, and Chief all being basically interchangeable on both ends of the floor,” Lillard said.

But, don’t think for a second that Lillard doesn’t recognize what Hoood can do at the other end.

“Another guy out there, kind of like CJ, you can throw the ball to and he can create off the bounce, make plays, he can score off the bounce. I think it’s good for us,” Lillard said of Hood.

So, will the experimenting with the starting lineup continue?

It doesn’t sound like it, unless the Blazers drop a game.

“We’ll see what we do going forward, but most likely he’ll start after a win, most likely he’ll start next game,” Stotts said with a smile.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Minnesota Timberwolves

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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Minnesota Timberwolves

It was the finale of the Trail Blazers’ four-game road trip on Monday night in Minnesota. Portland started off its trip with wins over Chicago and Atlanta before falling to the Detroit on Saturday night.

The Blazers took advantage of the short-handed Timberwolves early. Portland took a 75-64 lead at the break. 

Minnesota was without Robert Covington (right knee), Luol Deng (right Achilles), Derrick Rose (right elbow), Jeff Teague (left foot), and Taj Gibson (left calf). That’s a lot of firepower not on the court.

The Trail Blazers were also without some star-power with two starters out in Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and CJ McCollum (left knee). With the Blazers battling for positioning in the Western Conference standings as the regular season winds down, Portland knew how important Monday’s game was, beating Minnesota 132-122.

The Blazers take the season series 3-1 and improve to 49-28 overall.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 132, Timberwolves 122

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers final game of their four-game road trip:

1. New to the starting lineup? No big deal

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts experimented with the starting lineup on Monday night and the change worked out well. 

Coach Stotts went with Rodney Hood instead of Jake Layman for McCollum. Hood was active on the offensive end and you could tell that he was comfortable being a starter since he had been one during his time in Utah.

Enes Kanter continued to start for Nurkic and the duo of Kanter and Hood was a key piece in Portland securing a victory at the Target Center.

Kanter and Hood scored 24 of the Blazers’ 38 first-quarter points as the Blazers took a 15-point lead after shooting 63% as a team.

To finish up the first quarter, the Blazers went on a 16-3 run.  

Hood was 8-of-14 from the field including 3-of-4 from deep with 21 points heading into the fourth quarter.

Plus, having Layman come off the bench meant the connection between Evan Turner and Layman was back to where everyone had seen it earlier in the season. The Layman back door cuts are always a beautiful thing, while Turner was Mr. Triple Double on the night with 13 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists. 

2. Doubling KAT is effective for Blazers

Kanter had the tough assignment of guarding Minnesota big man Karl-Anthony Towns. Stotts typically does not have his team double-team anyone, but with no Nurkic this was a good answer to deal with Towns and it worked out early.

KAT went 2-of-5 to start the game. He scored just seven points in the first quarter. With such a shorthanded Timberwolves team, Minnesota was relying even more on its starting center.  

The T-Wolves struggled from the field early, shooting 39 percent as a team in the first quarter.

Zach Collins made a big impact on slowing down KAT late in the game as well.

It’s very encouraging to see Kanter and the Blazers hold Towns to 17 points and 12 when thinking about the postseason and how Kanter will be able to anchor the defense.  Towns is averaging 24.5 points per game and 12.5 rebounds.

3. Third quarter woes

The Blazers cooled off in the second half. Minnesota outscored Portland, 36-22 in the third quarter after the Blazers went from shooting 64% in the first half to 36% in the third.

Playing a complete game has been a big topic of conversation lately with the Blazers realizing how important that is with two starters out of the game. The one consistent scorer with McCollum out has been Seth Curry. He continued to bring the heat from behind the arc and with Curry scoring eight straight points midway through the fourth, he was a big help in the Blazers being able to hold off the T-Wolves.

The Blazers now have just five games remaining in the regular season and with no timetable on McCollum’s return, Portland will continue to count on Curry’s scoring off the bench. Now Blazer fans are just hoping that Curry’s shot sticks around whenever McCollum returns. 

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers are back home on Wednesday night hosting the Memphis Grizzlies. The game tips off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage tips off 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.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Minnesota Timberwolves

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Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Minnesota Timberwolves

Tonight marks the finale of the Trail Blazers’ four-game road trip, which started off with wins over Chicago and Atlanta before Saturday night's loss to Detroit.

This game in Minnesota is also the final game of a four-game homestand for the Timberwolves. Minnesota is currently 24-13 at the Target Center this season.

The Blazers hold a 2-1-season series record over the Timberwolves as the two get set for the fourth and final meeting tonight.

Both Timberwolves head coach Ryan Saunders and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts spoke with the media before tonight’s game to give updates, coaching philosophies and more.

Timberwolves Injury Update: Robert Covington (right knee), Luol Deng (right Achilles), Derrick Rose (right elbow), Jeff Teague (left foot), and Taj Gibson (left calf) are all out vs. the Blazers.

Rose is out indefinitely after undergoing elbow surgery on Saturday, March 23 to remove bone chips from his right elbow.

Coach Saunders says his team is obviously missing Rose, who brings "that punch" off the bench. He also noted Rose should be in the Sixth-Man of the Year race.

“[Derrick’s] ability to put pressure on defenses in the open court, his ability to break down down defenses, and create open looks for teammates, and just in terms of the energy and the toughness he plays with on the court – we miss that,” Saunders added.

Saunders also discussed how offseason training this summer will be different for all of his players.

Hear from Coach Saunders right here:

Blazers Injury Update: The Trail Blazers will be without Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and CJ McCollum (left knee) for Monday’s game at Minnesota.

With the Trail Blazers battling for positioning in the Western Conference standings as the regular season winds down, Coach Stotts was asked about the importance of finishing in the top four spots out West.

“There’s not a team out there that doesn’t want home court advantage, that being said we’ve won two playoffs series when I’ve been in Portland, and we didn’t have home court in either one. The one time we had home court we got swept, so you always want home court, but it doesn’t guarantee anything,” Stotts said.

Stotts also discussed what he has liked about Enes Kanter’s play as of late:

“It was very encouraging last game against Detroit, against Andre Drummond, he kinda kept us in the game when the offense wasn’t scoring very much. I think it’s really important now with Nurk being out that he and Dame [Lillard]… will hopefully be affective in the pick and roll combination and CJ when he comes back,” Stotts said.  

Stotts also addressed Jake Layman’s shooting slump, saying, “he still has the green light—there’s no question.”

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: How and Where to Watch

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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: How and Where to Watch

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.
 

GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 5:00 p.m. 

Point spread: Portland -3.5

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (4:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the postgame show). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

 

INJURY UPDATES

The Trail Blazers have listed Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and CJ McCollum (left knee) as out for Monday’s game at Minnesota.

For the Timberwolves, Robert Covington (right knee), Luol Deng (right Achilles), Derrick Rose (right elbow) and Jeff Teague (left foot) are out. Taj Gibson (left calf) is doubtful.

 

QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Pistons wear down Blazers after a "brutal" first quarter

Jamie Hudson: Center of attention: Enes Kanter vs. Andre Drummond

VIDEO: Blazers put it simple, "we just didn't make shots"

VIDEO: Kanter shines on a rough night in Detroit


Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

Really? Rose finishes above Lillard in All-Star voting

Really? Rose finishes above Lillard in All-Star voting

Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose finished above Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard in NBA All-Star voting. Needless to say, it didn't sit well with fans in Rip City. Chris, Alex, Jake, and NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh discuss on this edition of the Outsiders Blog.

The final votes and starters for the NBA All-Star game were announced on Thursday. While Portland's Damian Lillard wasn't announced as a starter, he did finish fifth amongst Western Conference guards. That would usually be just fine for Portland fans, but a certain anomaly has Rip City a little upset. Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose finished above him. Rose finished third amongst Western Conference guards, and second in the fan vote. While Rose has had a bounce-back season, it is nothing compared to the season Lillard is having. Rose is averaging 18.6 points, 4.7 assists, and 2.8 rebounds per game. Lillard is averaging 26.2 points, 6.3 assists, and 4.5 rebounds. Unfortunately, the All-Star Game isn't just about stats. How do you feel about Rose finishing above Lillard? Our panel gives us their thoughts. 

Tom Haberstroh: The Derrick Rose phenomenon is one of the most surprising elements of the NBA All-Star vote. He is a cult hero in Chicago but there’s a huge dissonance between the fans (2nd among West guards) and players (3rd) versus the media (zero votes). Damian Lillard doesn’t have the benefit of the massive Chicago market, but there’s no question Lillard is having the superior season. Consistent excellence is boring, I guess.

Alex Haigh: I don't get it. I figured the fans would be stupid enough to vote Derrick Rose, obviously it was happening. But the players, too? Are we ignoring everything that has ever been said about this guy just for the comeback story? Go watch a movie if you love a comeback story that much. Don't give it to Derrick Rose.

Jake McGrady:  I think the Derrick Rose "Stans" are the most obsessive fans in the NBA. I'm sick of it. He's doing what he's doing on the court. It's certainly a drastic improvement from the Derrick Rose that we've seen in the past. Taking it away from players that deserve it just because of the comeback story, the feel-good story... I know it's nostalgia. The NBA's like a fraternity, they're voting up their brother. 

Chris Burkhardt: As country singer Toby Keith once said, "I ain't as good as I once was, but I'm as good once as I ever was." This holds true to Rose. For one night he turned back the clock, scored 50 points, and ever since there was been an odd fascination with Rose rising from the ashes. Don't get wrong, I understand. To see a player that has struggled for so long have a bounce-back season is nice, but let's be real here, he isn't having a better season than Damian Lillard. Rose fans tilted the vote in his favor cause they just love the dude. Players voted him in because a lot of them grew up idolizing him when he was with the Bulls. There is a very real nostalgia factor there. Honestly, this will blow over when Lillard most certainly makes the All-Star team. The All-Star Game is for the fans anyway, so let them have what they want. That's Rose. Rip City will take pride at the end of season when Lillard makes an All-NBA team and Rose doesn't. Nostalgia can only do so much.

Beast Mode: You gotta love Jusuf Nurkic's overall game

Beast Mode: You gotta love Jusuf Nurkic's overall game

The Trail Blazers’ ball movement was back in full swing on Saturday. There were backcuts galore and the late game execution was on point as Portland beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 113-105.

In the first quarter, Portland took advantage of Karl-Anthony Towns picking up two quick fouls. The Blazers had 18 points in the paint to the Timberwolves’ eight and it was Jusuf Nurkic who led the Blazers in scoring in the first with eight as the Blazers were able to jump out to a quick start. Portland led 30-27 after one.   

Despite committing 19 total turnovers, Portland was still able to notch its 6th straight home win over the Timberwolves and improve to 2-1 against Minnesota this season.

While two back-to-back three pointers from Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum put the Timberwolves away, the locker room gave a lot of credit to the Bosnian Beast’s overall game.

“He continues to battle inside. I thought Damian found him on a lot of rolls… He puts his nose in a lot of crowds underneath. He gets his hands on a lot of balls, but the way they're guarding the pick and rolls more and more with them showing so much attention to Dame and CJ whether its Nurk or our other bigs have to be ready to make those plays,” Stotts said.

Nurkic matched his season-high in points with 22 after having an efficient night, going 7-of-10 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. Nurk has now had four 22-point games this season with the last one coming at Golden State in the Blazers loss on November 23rd.

Al-Farouq Aminu had the tough task of slowing down Towns for the majority of Saturday’s game, but on the occasional switch on defense that found Nurkic on KAT, it was clear that Nurkic was up for the challenge.

“You know it’s gonna be a tough matchup. I experience that playing point guard when you know you’ve got a tough matchup, you’ve got to be sharp and on point… Tonight he had his mind right and he played a great game,” Lillard said.  

Nurkic finished with four blocks, including one on Towns that had Nurk fall to the ground with a big smile on his face late in the second quarter.

As someone who enjoys protecting the rim, Zach Collins couldn’t have been happier to see Nurkic unleashed on Towns. 

“I loved it. Him at the rim… He was unbelievable tonight. We needed every bit of it and he definitely stepped up,” Collins said. 

Towns was held under his season average (21.3) after he went 6-of-16 from the floor to score 19 points.

Collins felt that Nurk might have gotten up a little bit more going toe-to-toe with Towns.

“I’m sure he loves going against someone who is one of the best bigs in the league as a competitor he is always excited to go against really good bigs. He definitely accepted the challenge tonight,” Collins said.

Nurkic acknowledged that he enjoyed the traditional big man matchup when given the opportunity. 

“Yeah, he’s a great player. Sometimes I feel he’s flopping a lot, but every time I got a chance to play good defense without fouling was great,” Nurkic said.

But did Nurkic get up for this matchup mentally because of the caliber of center he was matched up against?

No.

“Every game’s some type of KAT out there. There’s a lot of good players in this league,” Nurkic said.

The Blazers now go to 15-11 overall and 10-4 at home.

With such a tight race in the Western Conference, the Blazers know just how important this win was, especially as Portland gets set to head out on the road.

“It’s game we needed to have, you’ll take them any way you can especially against Western Conference foes,” McCollum said.

Nurkic also notched his 13th double-double of the season after pulling down 11 rebounds. He was giving the Blazers second chances too. Seven of his 11 rebounds came on the offensive glass.

With his smiley face blocks on KAT, don't lose sight of the fact that Nurkic is becoming a better passer too...Nurkic finished with four assists.

Now you see why the Blazers credited Nurkic’s overall game?

Remember though how the Blazers committed 19 turnovers? Nurkic had six of those and was still able to overcome that and end up with a +/- of +16... Now that speaks for itself.