Two questions were answered Saturday afternoon in the Moda Center as the Trail Blazers mopped the floor with the Denver Nuggets 115-95 to tie their first-round playoff series at two games:
- How is Norman Powell fitting in with the Blazers?
- Can the Blazers win a playoff game with Damian Lillard making just one basket during the entire game?
Powell averaged only 11 shots over the first three games in this series and made just 3-13 from three-point range, while shooting 13-21 from two-point territory.
But he went 11-15 from the floor, including 4-4 from behind the arc and scored a game-high 29 points. He opened the game with a 10-point first quarter.
“I'm just trying to pick my spots,” Powell said. “The first play was called for me, so you know I was just looking to attack downhill, put pressure on their defense, read the rotations and make the right play. I'm just trying to be aggressive and attack. Make the right play.”
Powell is in a position where he is playing guard alongside two other guards, long-time teammates Lillard and CJ McCollum, who take a lot of shots. Has it been hard to find a fit with those two?
“It’s not difficult at all,” he said. “I think my game can fit in to any system and it's just finding my spots. I get a lot of my stuff in the flow of the game -- transition, things like that.”
Down the stretch, when Powell went to the bench for the final time, the Moda Center faithful were chanting “Nor-man Pow-ell” – an official welcome to Portland.
“That was really dope,” Powell said. “At first, I didn't know what they were saying when I was sitting there. And then the guys on the bench were chanting as well, so they got a little smile out of me. I don't smile often when I'm watching the game, so it was definitely nice. It was great, you know, to feel that love from the fans.”
Lillard was two rebounds short of a triple-double while going 1-10 from the field. But he had 10 points and 10 assists while going 1-10 from the field.
But Lillard is a lot more concerned with winning the game than he is with his own points. Even on a poor shooting night, his presence on the floor opens the court up for teammates.
“I thought Dame did a great job,” Powell said. “Honestly, I don't even know that he went 1-10. I mean, I thought he did a great job facilitating, finding guys on the weak side. From all the attention that he's been given in these playoffs and throughout the course of the season, those are the plays we need to make.
“We know he's gonna knock down those shots when the time comes, so I mean, like I said, I didn't even know he had an off night.”
The Nuggets were awful in almost every department. Portland’s defense played a part in their 34 percent shooting that included 29.5 percent from three-point range, but the Nuggets missed some open ones, too.
That included Nikola Jokic, who contributed just 16 points and one assist.
Not likely that will continue, but we will have to wait for Game 5 until Tuesday night in Denver to find out.
And oh yes, it isn’t likely Damian Lillard will be 1-10, either.