The Trail Blazers changed up their offensive sets Tuesday night against the Boston Celtics.
And it worked out well, most of the game.
Despite the Blazers bringing the extra energy Tuesday night, Boston held off Portland, 116-115.
Nearly three minutes into the game, Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic worked their go-to pick and roll action. Portland jumped out to a 38-30 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The Celtics clawed back early in the second quarter after shooting 44.4 percent from three for the half. But thanks to Carmelo Anthony taking advantage of mismatches and Jusuf Nurkic’s extra effort, Portland held a 60-57 halftime lead.
Nurkic looked the healthiest he has looked since returning to action on Mar. 26 following surgery on his fractured right wrist.
Boston held a 92-87 lead at the end of the third quarter after getting to the free throw line and forcing Portland to turn the ball over.
The Celtics outscored the Blazers, 35-27, in the third.
Melo's hot shooting continued in the fourth quarter, that coupled with Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell's clutch threes, it looked like the Blazers could take this one, but they weren't able to get enough stops down the stretch.
The Trail Blazers shot 47.8 percent for the game.
The Blazers were without Zach Collins (left ankle stress fracture).
For the Celtics, Evan Fournier (health and safety protocols) was out.
The Trail Blazers started the game with plenty of player movement and ball movement. In the first quarter alone, the Blazers guards used screens along the perimeter to help get open looks outside the arc. Carmelo Anthony gave Portland a big boost off the bench recording 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting.
Damian Lillard played more off the ball with CJ McCollum taking more point guard duties early on. Lillard finished with 28 points and 10 assists, while McCollum added 16 points.
McCollum and Enes Kanter completed a couple of nice give-and-gos, while the Blazers’ movement on offense was on point most of the night.
Late in the second quarter, just when the Blazers needed it, Jusuf Nurkic brought the extra effort on both ends. As he sprinted back on defense after not getting the-and-one call, which he thought he deserved, he stole the ball from Marcus Smart before stepping out of bounds. But that play seemed to breathe more life into the Blazers. Portland carried that momentum into the start of the third.
Nurk finished with eight points, nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in 26 minutes. Not to mention a plus-21 for the game. Down the stretch, it was Nurkic and Melo who helped lead the defense.
Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum saw the ball go through the hoop early and that’s all they needed to go off against the Blazers. Walker got it done on offense from outside and in.
Midway through the second quarter, Portland looked a little out of sorts, giving up turnovers and second chance opportunities. The Blazers weren't able to get just enough stops in crunch time.
Jusuf Nurkic threw down the hammer late in the second quarter:
Thanks to Carmelo Anthony’s hot start, Portland’s bench outscored the Celtics’ second unit, 34-10.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will tip-off a two-game road trip Friday in San Antonio. The Blazers and Spurs will tip-off at 5:30 p.m. PST on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.