Trail Blazers Correct Mistakes Of The Past To Beat Nets In Brooklyn

by Casey Holdahl
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BROOKLYN -- The first time the Trail Blazers and Nets faced off this season, Portland lost in large part due to an inability to score in the third quarter and get stops in the fourth.

It went the other way in the second meeting Friday afternoon in Brooklyn, with the Trail Blazers shooting 68 percent from the field in the third quarter and making plays on both ends late in the fourth to come away with a 127-125 victory at Barclays Center.  

“The game itself was such a back and forth offensive game and the end of the game wasn’t any different," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "We made some good defensive stops in the last minute and a half and we were able to convert in the other direction."

Portland is now 11-8 overall and 4-4 on the road this season. With the win, the Trail Blazers split the season series with the Nets 1-1.

Though they would finish strong, the Trail Blazers got off to yet another slow start Friday afternoon. While they shot a respectable 40 percent from the field in the quarter, the Nets shot 20 percentage points better, scoring 20 points in the paint in the process. Brooklyn would take their largest lead of the night at 11 points before taking a 32-23 lead into the second quarter.

But the game started to turn in Portland's favor late in the first half. After a Rondae Hollis-Jefferson floater that put the Nets up 46-35 with 5:18 to play in the second quarter, Portland rattled off a 10-0 run, capped by a CJ McCollum three-pointer, over the next two minutes to get to within two points before the intermission.

Portland would take their first lead of the night early in the third quarter after a Damian Lillard layup gave the Trail Blazers a 61-60 advantage. The lead would change 10 times in the third quarter alone, even with Lillard going for 15, Jusuf Nurkić putting up 12 and Portland as a team shooting 60 percent from the field.

“You’d probably have to go to our first game of the season for a quarter like that and we needed it," said Stotts of his team's play in the third. "With Brooklyn, the way they score, we needed it. But it was good to have a good offensive night. I thought the ball moved a little bit better. After a slow start, I thought we made some hard cuts... Obviously Damian Lillard had an outstanding third quarter."

After entering the fourth quarter tied 92-92, the Nets took their first two-possession lead with less than 10 minutes to play in regulation. But after former Trail Blazer Allen Crabbe hit a 13-foot floater with 2:20 to play to put Brooklyn up 121-118, it looked as though the home team might win going away to sweep the season series.

But Portland's defense would have something to say about that. Nurkić would block two shots with both Lillard and CJ McCollum logging rejections as well to shut down four straight Brooklyn possessions. Spencer Dinmiddie's putback with 38.2 seconds to play tied the game at 123-123, and it looked like the Nets might be in position to take the lead after Nurkić's reverse layup was blocked on the next possession. But after Caris LeVert got the rebound, Nurkić would steal the ball right back and flip in the and-1 layup to reclaim the lead at 126-123 with 27.6 seconds to play.

Dinwiddie scored on a layup on the next possession to cut Portland's lead to one, after which Brooklyn intentionally fouled McCollum, sending the guard to the line where he went 1-of-2 to move the score to 127-125 with 11.4 seconds to play.

After a missed three from Dinwiddie, Brooklyn fouled Nurkić, who would also go 1-of-2 from the free throw line. DeMarre Carroll grabbed the rebound and tried to push the ball up the court with less than two second to play, but Nurkić, intentionally or not, committed a foul, Portland's first in the last two minutes, which forced the Nets to inbound the ball with just 0.8 seconds to play. Brooklyn was unable to get a shot off after the inbound, securing the two-point victory for the road team.

"It was a game that we had to go get," said Lillard. I don't think it was an easy game at all. We had to fight for it... We had to get stops, make plays, but we had to grind one out on the road after a tough loss and we got it done."

Nurkić had one of his better games of the season with a double-double of 29 points and 15 rebounds to go with four assists and four blocks. The 7-0 Bosnian scored 12 of his points in the third quarter. His 12 made field goals matched his career-high.

“Shots fell in and we played a good game and we were able to win," said Nurkić, "so that’s all that matters."

Lillard scored 15 of his 34 points in the third quarter while also adding nine assists and four rebounds in 37 minutes. The 6-3 guard out of Weber State went 10-of-19 from the field.

McCollum went 10-of-19 from the field as well, finishing with 26 points to go with five assists. Evan Turner went 6-of-15 for 13 points off the bench.

Next up, the Trail Blazers head to the nation's capital to face the Wizards in the second game of an Eastern Conference back-to-back. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.