Trail Blazers

Blazers show effort vs. Celtics with ‘full-time’ Nurkic on the horizon

Trail Blazers
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While running more movement and motion sets on offense against the Boston Celtics Tuesday night, Portland also looked to run its offense through its playmaking big man Jusuf Nurkic a little bit more.

Despite the offense clicking and Portland playing more of a complete game than the Blazers have shown in their last few losses, they still walked away with a 116-115 loss to the Celtics.  

“I thought it was a well played game by both teams,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said. “We played a very good game. [Jayson] Tatum makes a tough shot at the end… There were a lot of positives to take away from that game.”

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Yes, Tatum hit a step-back three with 8.5 seconds remaining to put Boston up, 116-112.

And even though Norman Powell came right back with a clutch three with 5.4 seconds to go, the Blazers ran out of time.

 

While also explaining that he thought it was a very competitive game, coach Stotts believed the team’s movement on offense was a big positive. Damian Lillard, who led the team with 28 points in the loss, praised his team’s effort. 

“I think our past few efforts was kind of like – it felt like the energy was just taking out of us at certain parts of the game and we just  let them get away from us… And tonight, it was just a game where we played well. Obviously, we could’ve taken better care of the ball, I could’ve taken better care of the ball," Lillard said. 

I liked the way we played. They just played a really good game too. And when it came down to it… I missed my shot and he hits a three.

Damian Lillard

But as the Trail Blazers look to build off of Tuesday’s effort and performance, they’re getting Nurkic back to full strength.

The Blazers starting center played 26 minutes, the most he has played since returning on Mar. 26 following surgery on his fractured right wrist. 

Late in the second quarter, just when the Blazers really needed it, Nurkic brought the extra effort on both ends.

He finished with eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in 26 minutes. Nurkic also finished with a game-high, plus-19.

“His presence on the floor was felt,” Lillard said. “It’s something that we’re looking forward to him building on -- on performances like to night and getting back to his normal rhythm, and his normal condition, and his normal minutes and being a team that has him full-time.”