Trail Blazers Blow Out Sixers To Start Trip 2-0

by Casey Holdahl
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PHILADELPHIA -- The Portland Trail Blazers used a dominant third-quarter performance to defeat the Philadelphia 76ers 130-115 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,619 Saturday afternoon at Wells Fargo Center.

"Played really well. At the start of the third quarter, we were able to get some separation, but the first half, obviously, I thought both teams went back and forth," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I thought we really played well defensively. We helped each other."

Portland is now 36-23 overall, 12-15 on the road and 15-4 against teams from the Eastern Conference this season. With the win, the Trail Blazers sweep the season series 2-0 versus the 76ers and start a seven-game road trip, one of their longest in franchise history, with consecutive victories.

"Getting these first two is huge for our momentum and us feeling good about ourselves," said Damian Lillard. "And also, they were two games that we could have easily lost. So I think we should feel good about it but understand that this is only the beginning of the trip."

Despite being a 10 a.m. west coast tip-off, the Portland Trail Blazers were the first team to make a move after a slow start to Saturday's contest. After both teams struggled to make shots in the early going, the Trail Blazers put together an 11-0 run to take a 17-12 lead on an Al-Farouq Aminu and-one with just over five minutes to play in the first quarter.

Thanks to that early run and eight first-quarter points from Lillard, the Blazers were able to take a slim 27-25 lead into the second quarter. Portland would go on to outscore Philadelphia by one point in the second quarter, resulting in a three-point halftime advantage for the visitors.

After a close first half, Portland blew the game open in the behind 12 points in the quarter from Jusuf Nurkić and eight from Moe Harkless. The two combined to score 10 points during a 12-2 run that gave Portland a 76-62 lead with 7:19 to play in the third quarter. Harkless also logged two steals and a block during the run.

"I thought Moe Harkless had an outstanding game," said Stotts. "He was able to score when he had his opportunities, he made big help decisions."

After trading baskets for a few possessions after their initial third-quarter outburst, Portland went on a mini 9-2 run to take a 20-point advantage after two Lillard free throws with 4:49 to play in the quarter.

The Trail Blazers would take their largest lead of the night at 109-87 early in the fourth quarter. From there, the 76ers, a team that suffered through boos from their home crowd for a significant segment of the second half, were never able to legitimately threaten Portland's lead, though they did get the advantage down to 12 in garbage time before the Trail Blazers were able to push it back to 15 before the final buzzer.

"It's early game, who first wake up win," said Nurkić. "I thought we did pretty well job defending the three-point line, they didn't make really big runs. We carried over on the offensive end (from the Brooklyn game) really well."

The Trail Blazers were led by Nurkic, who put up 28th double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 rebounds to go with four assists in 24 minutes.
His backup, recently-acquired Enes Kanter, went 6-of-14 from the field for 16 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes.

Lillard shot 5-0 percent from the field for 17 points to go with eight assists and six rebounds in just under 30 minutes. Aminu and McCollum each added 15 and Moe Harkless went 6-of-9 from the field for 14 points, five rebounds, three steals, two assists and two blocks in 22 minutes.

"Honestly, I just feel like I've been a lot more active," said Harkless. "I've been feeling a lot better out there, feeling a lot more healthy. It's been a process, it's been a tough year so far, but I think I'm feeling the best I've felt so far this year. Just feel more comfortable doing a lot of things I was able to do last year."

Jake Layman grabbed a career-best six offensive rebounds to finish with 11 boards and eight points in 27 minutes. Seth Curry added 11 points off the bench.

Ben Simmons led the 76ers with 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. Tobias Harris scored 20 points to go with eight rebounds and both Jimmy Butler and Mike Scott added 15 points to round out Philly's double-digit scorers.

Next up, the Trail Blazers head west, if only for one game, to play their first and only game this season in Cleveland versus the Cavaliers. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 p.m.

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