The energy and focus was there for the Blazers on both ends against the Denver Nuggets in Game 4.
Portland also found its stroke from three again.
With both team’s superstars' uncharacteristic shooting performances, the Blazers' role players stepped up. It was Norman Powell who provided a big boost at both ends. With his efficient three-point shooting and aggressive defense, Powell helped the Blazers take a lead early and keep it.
Behind Powell’s 29 points, the Blazers blew out the Nuggets 113-95 to even up the series, 2-2.
At the end of the first quarter, Portland held a 32-24 lead after holding Denver to 39.1 percent shooting.
Despite Lillard only shooting 1-of-6 in the first half, he made sure to attack the rim and get to the free throw line. He was a perfect 7-7 from the line.
Portland extended its lead in the second quarter after a slow start with the Blazers' bench struggling to put points on the board. The Blazers led by 10 at halftime.
Thanks to Powell, Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum carrying the scoring load, Portland took a 93-66 lead heading into the final period.
The big difference: Lillard and Jokic were held to playoff lows in scoring, but the Blazers got the ball moving and had plenty of contributors on the end.
The Nuggets were once again without Will Barton (right hamstring; strain), PJ Dozier (right adductor; strain) and Jamal Murray (left ACL; surgery).
Whether it was from the corner or him slashing through the lane, Powell was efficient and effective on the offensive end from start to finish.
His length and activity on the defensive end also helped the Blazers keep their big lead.
The Blazers started the game with plenty of energy and effort on the defensive end. Thanks to their active hands and extra communication on the defensive end, Portland was able to jump out to a 23-13 lead midway through the first quarter. It also helped that Powell and CJ McCollum caught fire from behind the arc.
Through the first quarter, the Blazers held Nikola Jokic to 3-of-9 shooting after he started the game 1-of-7. The Blazers threw two defenders at Jokic when the opportunity presented itself and it worked out nicely for Portland. Jokic finished with 16 points after going 7-for-18 from the field in 27 minutes.
McCollum, Powell and Nurkic brought the scoring punch in the first half. The trio combined for 38 of Portland’s 57 first-half points.
Between Powell and McCollum’s efficient shooting and the team's effort on the defensive end, the Blazers were able to get enough scoring as Lillard went into playmaker mode after struggling from the field in the first half. Powell finished with 29 points. McCollum added 21 and Lillard notched 10 points and 10 assists.
WIth a bit of a rotation shake-up, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson earned backup five minutes instead of Enes Kanter. The defensive change was not as effective in the second quarter. Denver charged back in the quarter to quickly cut the lead to three. Carmelo Anthony played floor general, informing Hollis-Jefferson where to be on both ends of the court throughout his time on the floor. During the season, Hollis-Jefferson played in 11 games after Portland initially signed him to a 10-day contract at the beginning of April.
Even though Portland stepped up on the defensive end, the Nuggets also missed more open looks than they had been in the first three games of the series. Jokic led the Nuggets at halftime with 11 points on 5-of-12 shooting. He finished with just 16 points for the game.
Norman Powell was a perfect 4-of-4 from the field including 2-for-2 from three in his first seven minutes of work. Powell finished the game shooting 11-of-15.
Next up: Game 5 will tip off at 6:00 p.m. PT in Denver on NBCSNW Tuesday night.