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Sport 9 Observations from the Blazers’ Heartbreaking Denver Loss

09:45  22 april  2021
09:45  22 april  2021 Source:   sbnation.com

Powell on Blazers’ First-Quarter Defense, “We Were Getting Punked”

  Powell on Blazers’ First-Quarter Defense, “We Were Getting Punked” Norman Powell discussed the Trail Blazers’ poor defensive effort in Tuesday’s loss to the Clippers.NBC Sports Northwest’s Lindsey Wisniewski highlighted Powell’s postgame comments. According to the former Raptors guard, Damian Lillard voiced his displeasure with the Blazers’ lack of defense in a first-half huddle.

The Trail Blazers (32-25) are coming off a 113-112 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night. It was the third straight game they played without star Damian Lillard, who has been out with an injured right hamstring. Anthony is doing his part to make up for the absence of Lillard. He has scored in double figures in the past four games and is averaging 20 points in that span. Portland should have center Jusuf Nurkic available against Denver . Nurkic sat out Tuesday's loss with inflammation in his right knee.

The Washington Wizards lost to the Portland Trail Blazers 119-109 on Sunday night. Here are five observations from the game Not good: It just keeps getting worse. The Wizards have been playing a sleepy, uninspired brand of basketball in recent games and on Sunday they met a Blazers team that does just the opposite. Though the Wizards edged the Blazers last month in Portland, this time they lost a game that was nowhere near as close as the final score suggested. Portland led by as many as 29 points and the Wizards only cut that down late when head coach Scott Brooks emptied his bench.

For the second night in a row, the Portland Trail Blazers played a spirited, often technically-proficient game, only to fall to a conference rival by a single point. Coming off of a 113-112 loss to the Los Angeles Clippers Tuesday night, the Blazers fell 106-105 to Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday. Once again they could not stop the opponent from scoring inside in the final minutes. Once again they could not connect on the game-winning shot themselves. The loss drops the Blazers to 32-26, just half a game ahead of the 7th-place Dallas Mavericks in the race for the 2021 NBA Playoffs.

a basketball player in front of a crowd © Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports

The Nuggets put all five starters in double figures, led by Jokic with 25 points and 9 rebounds. Portland did a good job defending Denver threes, holding them to 33.3%. 14 fast break points and 16 offensive rebounds offset that weakness for the Nuggets.

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons Preview

  Portland Trail Blazers vs. Detroit Pistons Preview The Blazers look to bounce back at home after a rough road trip.Saturday, April 10 - 7:00 p.m.

Brown recalled telling his team following that Blazers loss , and the subsequent Nuggets win, that the Sixers needed to “reclaim January.” "To look back then and to look where we are now it's been really good," Brown said last week before a 116-94 win over the Bucks. Collectively, the Sixers are 7-2 Henderson is out of basketball, Randle is playing in Spain and Rodriguez is in Russia. The Sixers (24-21), on the other hand, are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference standings. With the Sixers 7-2 record in the last nine games in mind, here are nine observations , facts and stats from that stretch.

The Warriors enter the All-Star break 16-2 in their last 18 games, jolting them to 41-16 on the season, tops in the Western Conference. The Warriors, on the rough end of a back-to-back without three regulars in Portland, remained in it deep into the fourth quarter on Wednesday night. With under four minutes left, they were only down seven. That’s when Draymond Green came gliding over from the help side, went up to contest a Zach Collins drive and delivered a hard foul, but, in the Warriors’ estimation postgame, a clean one.

The returning Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and 5 assists, but he shot only 9-23, 2-10 from distance. Portland also managed only 33.3% shooting from the arc.

Marlow Ferguson, Jr. has a quarter-by-quarter breakdown of the action. Once you’ve checked out that, here are some other observations gleaned from this game.

How to Hide a Guard

Fielding Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Norman Powell provides Portland a near-insurmountable offensive advantage. Any of them can score 20. All of them convert in a variety of ways. Each of them can hit the three.

Denver exposed the weakness of the three-guard attack, though. Somebody has to defend an opposing forward. When those forwards are Michael Porter, Jr. and Aaron Gordon, that’s not going to work out too well. At 6’8 and 6’10, they might as well have been Twin Towers as far as Portland was concerned. Porter, Jr. scored 17 in the first period, relegating MVP-candidate Jokic to an assist man and decoy. The Blazers bottled up Porter, Jr. as the game progressed, but they never ended up solving the forward conundrum except by putting one of their own guards on the bench.

Nurkic Says Blazers Have “No Excuse” for Falling Short of Potential

  Nurkic Says Blazers Have “No Excuse” for Falling Short of Potential After last night’s loss to the Heat, Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic was especially critical of Portland’s lack of output.“We’re not on the same page, man. That’s clear right now… We should be better. There’s no excuse.

Lonzo Ball on SHOULDER INJURY + HEARTBREAKING LAST SHOT LOSS VS BLAZERS | Postgame | Dec 24 - Продолжительность: 1:47 Nobler _ 65 просмотров.

The Cowboys offense made a valiant effort keeping them off the field as they held the ball over 10 minutes more than Green Bay, but it still wasn’t enough. Which brings me to my first topic for this weeks 10 observations They just got finished with a close-call fourth down so every play counts. They have to capitalize on any opportunity that presents itself. The offense burned almost nine minutes on that final drive. Scoring when they did was not a mistake. This is a team sport and unfortunately the guys on the other side of the ball was free fallin’ most of the day.

This officially marks Denver as one of the playoffs opponents the Blazers probably don’t want to see...an increasingly long list of late.

Diving to the Rim

Both McCollum and Lillard seemed to make a point of driving to, and scoring at, the rim tonight. A cynic would say shooting 4-17 combined from the arc will do that to you, but Denver often overplayed on the perimeter. Portland’s guards compensated by converting layups. Unfortunately they weren’t able to draw fouls, shooting only 2 free throws between them. That’s a little bit of a head-scratcher. But it was good to see aggression from every backcourt player, not just Powell.

Nurk on the Boards

Jusuf Nurkic got a little bit of Enes Kanter in his game tonight, grabbing 6 offensive rebounds, many in a critical second-half stretch to keep his team alive on the scoreboard. Nurkic seems to have a special relish for playing Jokic, even five years after the Nuggets traded him.

NBA roundup: Celtics clip Blazers for 4th straight win

  NBA roundup: Celtics clip Blazers for 4th straight win NBA roundup: Celtics clip Blazers for 4th straight winJaylen Brown scored 24 points and Kemba Walker contributed 21 points, eight rebounds and seven assists as Boston won for the fourth straight game and sixth time in the past seven. Robert Williams III added 16 points and seven rebounds and Marcus Smart had 13 points and seven assists.

Moderna Inc says its vaccine is 90 percent effective at protecting against COVID-19 six months after the second dose. This is a downgrade from estimates in its earlier clinical trials, which suggested it could prevent 94.5 per cent of infections, but is proof of long-lasting protection. The updated data, from the company's phase III clinical trial, also showed that the jab was still 95 percent effective specifically against severe COVID after 24 weeks. Although the 90 percent figure is lower than hoped, it is not a shock. Other major vaccine-makers AstraZeneca and Pfizer also saw their efficacy estimates drop.

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The Nuggets, by the way, still remember Nurk. Their commentators spoke with a sense of reverence and joy when describing his play. No matter what, he’s a little special.

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Gallery: The All-Underrated Team for the 2020-21 season (SMG)

Bismack Biyombo et al. watching a person on a court: There was a time where Charlotte Hornets point guard Terry Rozier was considered an inefficient chucker, a player capable of scoring 20 points on any given night but one who'd require a lot of shot attempts to do so.  Now, that couldn't be farther from the truth, as Rozier has blossomed into one of the most underrated lead guards in basketball, averaging 20.3 points nightly this season to go along with 4.1 rebounds, 3.5 assists and 1.3 steals.  Even Rozier's shooting marks are tidy this year, as the Louisville product is hitting 40.4 percent of his outside looks and 83.2 percent of his attempts from the foul stripe, making him a very efficient high-volume scorer on the year.  Rozier is also a feisty defender, using tenacity and quick feet to make life difficult on a nightly basis for opposing guards.  Despite being given a huge role that has led to him posting the highest usage rate of his career this season (24.0 percent), Rozier has responded fantastically for the Hornets, producing inarguably his best campaign as a professional.  Eventually, more people will take notice of how good of a point guard Rozier has become, but that probably won't happen at least until the playoffs, where the Hornets will have a bigger platform to show fans what they've been missing out on in 2020-21.  For the latest Terry Rozier rumors, click here.

As we said, Portland shot just 12-36, 33%, from the arc tonight. That shouldn’t obscure how freely and easily they launch those shots. The amazing thing isn’t that their percentage fluctuates. That’ll happen. But that doesn’t mean the shots were bad. I can’t remember the last time Portland took a bad three that wasn’t against the shot clock. Because their offense is predicated on taking the first open shot, which often comes from distance, they rarely face the 24-second boundary. That makes pretty much every shot good.

Tonight, even missing 2 out of 3 shots, they still took them like they owned the court. Don’t miss this facet of the Terry Stotts offense. Every player is empowered to attempt; every player looks comfortable doing so. That’s not only a rarity among NBA teams, it’s Portland’s best (cynically, only) chance of winning right now.

Lillard-Free Blazers Claw Back from 16-Point Deficit, Shock Spurs

  Lillard-Free Blazers Claw Back from 16-Point Deficit, Shock Spurs The Blazers were without their All-Star, but rallied together for a gritty, thrilling comeback win over San Antonio.With 4:56 left in the third, ESPN gave the Spurs a 93.3 percent chance of winning. But try not to say that too loudly in front of a group led by McCollum, a player known for helping lead seemingly-insurmountable charges. In what could become a signature victory, Portland ran a nine-man rotation and survived the Spurs’ best shot.

Natural Iso for Melo

Speaking of comfortable... Carmelo Anthony looks like he was born in the iso post position. He’s shooting those shots like he was still in the prime of his career. His teammates are setting him up for looks too. It’s now an official part of the offense instead of just a last-ditch bail-out.

Some nights that’s better news than others, but again, here’s a player empowered to do what he does best with no regrets or undue disruption.

The caveat is that ‘Melo still isn’t great at creating space for others. When he’s not the center of a play, he kind of gums up the court. You can tell he came up as a superstar, not a role player.

Norman’s Ouchy Shooting

Norman Powell shot 1-4 from distance tonight, continuing a slump that’s been running most of the past two weeks. In this case, the “1” isn’t as shocking as the “4”. At a certain point, it felt like he gave up shooting from range. That’s not ok. Make or miss, he’s responsible for keeping the threat strong, else weak-side defenders will quickly become a strong-side hassle. Here’s hoping Norm’s stroke returns soon.

The Lillard Effect

Damian Lillard returned from a three-game break due to hamstring rest. He shot 9-23, 2-10 from distance, for 22 points. Even so, his presence settled the team almost immediately. Everyone looked comfortable, more normal, playing off of him. Portland’s pace was quick, but their shots never looked hasty. Instead it seemed like the timing was just right. Don’t sleep on the difference Lillard makes beyond his astonishing numbers. This team doesn’t run the same without him.

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  How to watch Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets: TV channel, NBA live stream info, start time How to watch Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets basketball gameBoth the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets have kept the scorekeepers busy with 75 between them one quarter in. It's still tight, with the Trail Blazers leading 38-37. They have been riding high on the performance of point guard Damian Lillard, who has 13 points.

Secondary Defense

Portland’s defensive woes are well-rehearsed, but we saw more examples of a specific issue tonight. The Blazers actually played decent point-of-attack defense and helped well in the lane. It was far better than their usual efforts. But the secondary rotations just aren’t there.

Examples abound, but two dramatic ones in the fourth quarter will suffice. Midway through the period the Nuggets got out on the break. Lillard got back and forced a miss on a JaMychal Green dunk attempt, a spectacular play. But the third and fourth players down the court were both Nuggets, as Lillard’s teammates jogged behind. Dame’s great effort was wasted as PJ Dozier scooped up the ball and dunked it home with ease.

Dozier would do the same thing with 40 seconds remaining when Nurkic and the Blazers collapsed on a dunk attempt by Jokic, forcing the miss once again. Nobody rotated to stop the clean-up man, and the strong defensive effort was rewarded with an unopposed slam dunk for the opponent. That was waved off, as Nurkic was whistled for a foul on the play, but that was a godsend in this case.

The Blazers might have decent defenders at some positions. Even McCollum looked good on that end tonight. But they don’t play together and they don’t hustle for each other. It shows.

Last Shot Blues

After all the ups and downs, Portland still had a chance to win it with 4.5 seconds left after forcing a jump ball following a Denver miss and an offensive rebound from Aaron Gordon. Powell got the shot at the buzzer, a difficult but still make-able runner down the baseline. The story tonight mirrored last night’s: if it ain’t Lillard taking it, it ain’t going in. This is less a criticism of Portland’s other shooters than a reminder how blessed the Blazers are to have a last-second finisher who never seems to miss. Appreciate Lillard while you have him, Portland.

Up Next

Boxscore

The Blazers now get set for back-to-back home games against the Memphis Grizzlies, starting Friday night at 7:00 PT.

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