As expected, it was a high scoring contest in Brooklyn Friday night, but the Blazers were able to slow down the undermanned Nets.
Jusuf Nurkic looked like the old Nurkic that Blazers fans first fell in love with when he was traded to Portland.
The Trail Blazers were looking for their third straight victory as they faced a different looking Nets team.
In Friday’s physical contest, Damian Lillard was cooking from three, especially in the second half.
The Blazers shot 51.6 percent for the game to help them take a 128-109 victory over the shorthanded Nets.
Brooklyn was without Kevin Durant (left hamstring – injury management), James Harden (right hamstring), Nicolas Claxton (health and safety protocols), Bruce Brown (knee), Spencer Dinwiddie (right knee), and Chris Chiozza (right hand).
Both teams got off to a slow start offensively.
Yet that didn’t last long as Brooklyn relied on Kyrie Irving early and often on both ends. The Nets took a 25-23 lead at the end of the first quarter after Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony notched a quick eight points to end the quarter.
Thanks to Anthony’s contributions off the bench coupled with the Blazers overall hot shooting in the first half, Portland took a 59-57 lead at the break.
Portland got back to swinging the ball around to find the open man and the Blazers extended their lead in the third quarter and never really looked back.
Nurkic was aggressive from the jump. In his first eight minutes of action, he notched 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting to go along with four rebounds. Nurk had 11 of the Blazers 15 first points. Between the pick and roll action of Nurkic and Damian Lillard and players cutting baseline, worked against a Nets squad that has to depend on its scoring rather than its defense all season.
Nurkic finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds, while Lillard took advantage of open looks from deep. Lillard recorded 32 points in the win.
It was a physical battle Friday, but Carmelo Anthony looked like vintage Melo with his mid-range game and putback dunk in the first half.
Portland got stops early in the game to help them extend the lead and have its starters get some valuable rest in the final period.
Blake Griffin, who was inserted into the starting lineup with Durant out, brought the energy and the points in the paint.
With no Harden and no Durant, the Nets still had plenty of scoring on the floor at all times. Whether it was Griffin or Jeff Green, Brooklyn’s role players stepped in and knocked down buckets in a variety of ways.
Green was a perfect 3-for-3 from long distance in the first half as he led the Nets with 15 points at the break.
With Portland already dealing with nagging injuries at this point in the season, Damian Lillard and Norman Powell took a couple of hard hits throughout the game. The Blazers will have a much-needed day off Saturday before back-to-back contests on Sunday and Monday.
Lillad to Powell for the jam was nice early in this one:
Portland shot 50.0 percent from the field in the first half.
Next up: The Trail Blazers continue their six-game road trip with game No. 4 in Boston on Sunday. The Blazers and Celtics are set to tip-off at 4:30p.m. PT on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.