Fourth-Quarter Run Completes Portland's Season Series Sweep Versus Pacers

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The Trail Blazers had to gut out the fourth quarter of what had the makings of a blowout in their six-point victory Suns Tuesday night at the Moda Center. Thursday night versus the Pacers, the Trail Blazers decided to take the fourth quarter in the other direction.

After entering the final 12 minutes tied at 74-74, the Trail Blazers used a 21-2 run between the end of the third and the start of the fourth to come away with a 100-86 victory versus the Pacers in front of a crowd of 19,071 Thursday night at the Moda Center.

"We just made plays when we needed to in the fourth quarter," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "In the fourth quarter, it was good to see just the lead kind of expand without having very many mistakes. You win the game shooting 39 percent. You win it holding the other team to 12 points (in the fourth). It was good.”

With the win the Trail Blazers improve to 24-21 overall and 12-10 at home this season. The win is Trail Blazers' fifth straight at the Moda Center and their ninth straight versus the Pacers in Portland. The Trail Blazers have now swept the season series versus the Pacers for the third time in the last four seasons.

Despite both teams shooting less than 40 percent from the field, Thursday's game ended up being one of the more exciting affairs this season at the Moda Center. There was CJ McCollum and Shabazz Napier each beating the buzzer for three-pointers at the end of the first and third quarters, respectively. Then there were impressive putback dunks from both Damian Lillard and Zach Collins. Even a fan got in on the action by "winning" the Century Link shooting challenge (he was awarded $5,000 despite his winning attempt bouncing out of the final barrel, which technically doesn't count) for the first time in Moda Center history.

But for a fanbase that has seen their team struggle to put teams away this season, seeing the Trail Blazers put forth game-changing effort in the fourth quarter was likely the most exhilarating part of the evening, especially after they had to hold their breath in the last five minutes of Tuesday's game.

"The Suns game was up 20 and I think we kind of lost our edge a little bit and when you do that in the NBA, teams make runs and that’s what happened," said Damian Lillard. "Tonight, we had a lead but it wasn’t a cushion that we were comfortable with so I think that played a part in us keeping our focus and that’s something we need to get better at – staying locked in and not allowing teams to take advantage of our slippage."

Staying locked in helped Portland outscore Indiana 26-12 in the fourth quarter thanks to holding their opponent to 4-of-21 shooting from the field and 1-of-8 shooting from three in the final 12 minutes of play.

"I thought we just really defended," said Lillard of Portland's play in the fourth quarter. "I think they had 12, 14 points or something like that in the fourth, but we also played aggressive on the offensive end. Nurk did a great job on the glass keeping balls alive, so did Ed (Davis), so did Chief (Aminu). I just thought our aggressiveness was what allowed us to overwhelm them on both ends of the floor."

TOP SCORERS

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkić put up a double-double in the first half before finishing Thursday's contest with 19 points, 17 rebounds to go with two steals and two blocks in 32 minutes.

Damian Lillard led all scorers with 26 points while also adding eight assist and five rebounds in just under 40 minutes.

CJ McCollum, who had to leave the game momentarily in the fourth quarter due to nausea, went 6-of-18 from the field and 4-of-10 from three to finish with 16 points, three rebounds and two assists in 36 minutes. Shabazz Napier added 13 points off the bench and Al-Farouq Aminu rounded out Portland's double-digit scorers with 12 points to go with nine rebounds.

Ed Davis grabbed five offensive rebounds before finishing the game with eight points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes.

As for the Pacers, both Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison finished with nine made field goals and 23 points.

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NOTABLE

• The Trail Blazers have won five straight games at Moda Center, their longest winning streak at home this season.

• Portland has won nine straight home games against the Pacers.

• The Trail Blazers held Indiana to 12 points in the fourth quarter and 86 points for the game. It was the second-fewest points that Indiana has scored in a game this season and tied the third-fewest points Portland has allowed in a game this season.

• Portland outrebounded Indiana, 57-46 and outscored the Pacers in the paint, 40-36.

• Portland shot 100% from the free-throw line (16-of-16) for the third game this season, the most in the NBA.

• The Trail Blazers had 14 offensive rebounds leading to 24 second chance points, while the Pacers had 10 offensive rebounds and 10 second chance points.

• Portland has scored 100 points in 10 consecutive games, extending their longest streak of the season.

• The Trail Blazers bench outscored their Indiana counterparts, 25-13.

QUOTABLE

"He was huge. That type of effort is what we need from him. When he got in the paint, he was finishing early. He played strong. He was just really locked in. Even on the defensive end, he was contesting shots at the rim. It seemed like every ball that came off the rim, he rebounded it and it wasn’t rebounds that he was waiting to come to him, he was going up above the rim to get them. Those are the kind of games we’re going to need from him. When he plays that way on both ends, we’re a much better team." -- Damian Lillard on the performance of Jusuf Nurkić

NEXT UP

The Trail Blazers finish up a three-game homestand by hosting the Dallas Mavericks in the first meeting between the two teams this season Saturday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest and Rip City Radio 620 AM.