It was a low-scoring first quarter between the Portland Trail Blazers and Minnesota Timberwolves Thursday night.
And then that quickly changed.
The rims were not kind to either team early but that all changed in the second quarter for Portland as the Blazers cruised to a 135-117 victory over the T-Wolves.
Damian Lillard came out of the gate aggressive on the offensive end. In his first five minutes of action, he went 2-of-4 from the field while attacking the rim nearly every possession, which also resulted in finding his teammates in the corner. The only problem? – Portland’s shots weren’t falling. The Blazers started the game going 2-for-9 with the only two buckets made by Lillard.
Fortunately for the Blazers, the Timberwolves were struggling to see the ball go through the hoop as well.
Minnesota took a 29-28 lead at the end of the first quarter.
The second quarter was a different story for the Blazers.
Portland took care of the ball and was able to score in a variety of ways. Thanks to a 47-point second quarter, the Trail Blazers took a 75-56 halftime lead.
Lillard was getting it done inside and out. He led all scorers at halftime with 26.
Portland never really looked back in the second half and continued to put on an offensive clinic. The Blazers also shared the wealth. They finished the game with 25 assists on the night.
The Trail Blazers offense was rolling in the second quarter. Portland also got out and ran.
In the first half, the Blazers had 18 fast-break points.
Damian Lillard was putting a show all night. Lillard finished with 39 points on 13-of-21 shooting and 7-of-12 from three before sitting out the fourth quarter with Portland's huge lead.
Jusuf Nurkic looked like the old Bosnian Beast.
Late in the second quarter, Nurkic came alive. He found a lot of success in the pick and roll with smaller defenders on him. Nurkic showed off his playmaking ability too with a no-look pass to the Lillard on the wing for the assist on Lillard’s made three.
Portland was rolling.
The Trail Blazers bench was a big offensive boost as well. In the first half, Portland’s second unit added 19.
More good news: Trail Blazers forward Rodney Hood, who has missed the past four games with a left quad strain, made his return. Hood entered the game at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter. In his first eight minutes of work, he scored two points and an emphatic block on Anthony Edwards. Plus, Nassir Little, who recently opened up about enduring COVID-19 finally saw his first action of the season.
Portland was still a one step behind on defense more often than not throughout the night. Minnesota missed a lot of uncontested threes as well as a few bunnies Thursday night, which was a big reason for the Blazers jumping out to such a big lead at the end of the first half.
D’Angelo Russell, who entered Thursday’s game averaging 19.1 points per game, was the only Timberwolves player to score at will against the Blazers and take advantage of breaking free with help from many screens on the perimeter. He finished with 26.
The beastly second-quarter dunk from Jusuf Nurkic was nice and gave Portland a good boost heading into halftime.
Terry Stotts (478 career victories) has moved past Scott Skiles for 35th on the all-time NBA wins list.
Next up: The Trail Blazers will hit the road to visit the Sacramento Kings Saturday. Portland and Sacramento will tip-off at 7:00 p.m. PST on NBCSNW.