The Portland Trail Blazers faced the Houston Rockets Friday night without starting point guard Damian Lillard. During the opening weeks of the season, Portland relied on Lillard’s 31.0 ppg average score for close wins. Against missiles, they will have to manufacture attack points and other safety nets.
As it turned out, points of attack came in abundance and safety nets were not needed. Anfernee Simons fills Lillard’s shoes with self-confidence. Rookie Shaddon Sharp responded to his first NBA start with 14 points, including a few that put Moda center and everyone watching the broadcast on his feet. Josef Nurkic dominated the middle. Josh Hart and Jeramy Grant found slots and played defense. All together, it resulted in a relatively easy 125-111 victory over Houston.
If you missed the match, you can find a quarterly summary here. Next, here are other notes from the evening.
From the start, the Blazers made up for Lillard’s absence – and Houston’s weak defense in general – by willingly sharing the ball. 2-3 passes on a given play have become the norm. They usually set up the action by dribbling hack. Houston was always asking for help from the cavalry and that’s when the fun began.
Counting passes is only half the battle in a game like this. (The Blazers had 30 of 48 buckets.) The infamous “hockey assist,” or pass that creates the assist pass, has appeared frequently. Blazers firing 53.3% of the field attest to the effectiveness of the offense as a whole. Add to that a total of 125 points while firing only 20 free throws. The sly shot has been a staple of Portland’s points production this season. They average 30.6 attempts per game. They didn’t need the charity tape tonight. Most of their looks ended up being loosely guarded.
Norkick plays bully ball
Yusuf Nurkic scored 27 points in a 12-17 shot. The low column was bread and butter. He outplayed the opposing defenders. As a result, he was able to hold his body against his opponent, then quickly twist and put short shots unopposed, even though the other position was literally inches from him. Not having to dribble or hesitate has made Nurkic great for the job.
When things weren’t going well for Nurkic, the flop and choppy play came back, but things went well for most of his 32 minutes on the floor.
Shaddon Sharp got his first start to his NBA career tonight. He came out hard, hit his first jump cleanly, and then went into town. He scored 14 points in a 7-12 shot, but a few minutes punctuated the incredible effort. First, he was willing to pass the ball like his teammates. Secondly, when attacking, he showed a good understanding of spacing, playing with others when he didn’t have the ball. Both of these characteristics came in handy during the plays you’ll be watching on SportsCenter Top 10 tonight:
The Blazers did well on three-pointers, scoring 13 of 35, with a 37.1% lead. See also…
Simmons leads the way
Anfernee Simons stepped into the main recording role tonight with a mixture of authority and restraint. The game launch has not started. It was almost smooth as part of the ball’s movement attack. When the first half ended, Ant picked his spots, and found more and more slots. In the first inning, he scored 7-11 three-pointers and 23 total points. He finished the match with a score of 30. That was all he could hope for when Simmons stepped in for the Ms.
Staying even on the boards has been a secret weapon for the Blazers this season. Nurkic’s length and teammates’ commitment helped continue this story against Houston. Portland scored 45 rebounds, 11 offensive against 39 and 13 for the Rockets.
Not everything went perfectly with the Blazers. We’ll whisper that, because the win was fun and raucous, but Portland didn’t close well with the triple and aren’t in the transition either. The Rockets fired 36.8% of the arc (it dropped to that level near the end of the game) and scored 21 fast break points for 18 for the Blazers. Easy points are the only type Houston can score regularly. Portland didn’t stop them tonight.
Despite this, the Blazers cranked the little Rockets to 17 turns. Opponent’s errors helped Portland open their lead early.
We mentioned Yosef Nurkic above, but Drew Eubanks also provided surprisingly strong energy and attack playing behind your light. Eubanks was the bench player for the game, scoring 10 goals for 4-4 shots. It was a good night to be focused.
The Blazers reflect on their stunning 5-1 start for a few days before facing the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, November 2 at 7:00 PM, Pacific.
#Mustache #rises #Blazers #aim #missiles