Trail Blazers

Nurkic & Hood return, but Blazers experiments lead to loss vs. Kings

Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers and Kings laced it up once again at Moda Center Sunday night.

Entering their second matchup of the preseason, Portland held a 1-0 record after beating the Kings 127-102 Friday behind impressive play from the Blazers second unit.

This time it was all about experimenting with lineups and getting Jusuf Nurkic and Rodney Hood back into the flow of an NBA game as they made their preseason debuts.

But the Kings evened up the preseason score, beating the Blazers 121-106 Sunday. 

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Portland’s offense took a little bit to get going. The Blazers’ ball movement was there, especially early however, the extra pass wasn’t paying off like it usually does.

The Kings jumped out to a 30-21 lead at the end of the first quarter. But by halftime, the Blazers had found their groove and clamped down on the defensive end a little more. The Kings led by seven at half.

 

The second half for Portland was about experimenting with lineups and giving the young guns a run.

Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. were the only starters to see time in the second half. It was Gary Trent Jr. who carried the Blazers offensively in the third quarter despite surprisingly missing a dunk.

Despite the scrappy play from the end of the bench players battling it out to prove they should see regular season minutes, the Kings starters and rotation players proved to be too much.

Final Box Score: Kings 121, Trail Blazers 106  

The Good:

Nurkic and Hood made their long awaited return to the Moda Center court.  

Hood didn’t force anything and instead made sure to find his teammates, while easing back into game action. In 12 minutes of work, Hood dished out four assists to go along with two points and one block on the night.  Hood has said during training camp that he will be on a minutes restriction for a handful of games to start the season.

He hadn’t played in a game since suffering a torn left Achilles on Dec. 6, 2019 against the Lakers.

While Nurkic has yet to get in an official practice with the team, he still showed off his passing skills and helped his teammates with his solid screen setting. CJ McCollum benefited a couple times from a hard Nurk screen.  McCollum led all scorers at the break with 13.  

Hood and Nurkic did not see the floor in the second half. The Bosnian Beast finished with four points and four rebounds in 13 minutes of play.

 

The Bad:

Portland didn't convert on several open shots after the extra pass was made and left a lot of bunnies short. But hey, that’s preseason.

Anfernee Simons, who suffered a hamstring injury in Portland’s win on Friday, sat out of Sunday’s contest with what Coach Stotts called a “sore hamstring”

The Highlight:

Just look at the length of Harry Giles and Derrick Jones Jr. in this sequence of events:  

The Stat:

CJ McCollum went a perfect 3-for-3 from deep in the first half to score 13 points to lead all scorers at the break.  

The Quote:

“He hasn’t had a practice yet,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said of Nurkic before Sunday’s game tipped off. “I’ll be interested to see his conditioning and see how he feels.”

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Portland and Sacramento will meet three times during the 2020-21 regular season with all three matchups slated to occur in the first half of the season.

Next up: The Trail Blazers will hit the road to face the Denver Nuggets in Portland’s third and fourth exhibition games, beginning on Wednesday, Dec. 16 at 6:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW.