Nurkic powers Blazers past Thunder
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[March 03, 2017]
PORTLAND, Ore. -- There is a new
man in the middle for Portland, and the Trail Blazers like what they
He is Jusuf Nurkic, the 7-foot, 280-pound center who came to
Portland in a deal with the Denver Nuggets at the trade deadline.
In his fifth game with the Blazers and his home debut, the "Bosnian
Beast" filled up the stat sheet in a 114-109 victory over the
Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday night at Moda Center.
Nurkic contributed 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go with 12
rebounds and career highs in assists (six) and blocked shots (five)
in 38 minutes.
"I feel great to be here," said Nurkic, who was backing up Nikola
Jokic with the Nuggets. "I'm excited every day to spend it with
these guys in this city. They gave me a lot of opportunity when I
came here. I know I'm going to be on the court. I just try to play
and have fun."
"(Nurkic) made a big impact on the game -- rebounding, blocking
shots, passing," Portland coach Terry Stotts said.
"He gives us something we haven't had for the last two years," said
Damian Lillard, who scored 33 points for the Blazers. "He's a guy
who can get the ball on the block and pass and really score. He has
good skills and a good feel for the game."
Six players scored in double figures for the Trail Blazers, who used
a late 16-0 surge to win for only the third time in 10 outings.
Russell Westbrook scored 45 points for Oklahoma City but made only
12 of 36 shots from the field. Enes Kanter came off the bench for 18
points and 10 boards for the Thunder, who saw the end to a four-game
Oklahoma City led 101-94 inside six minutes to play, then went
nearly five minutes without a point as Portland scored 16 in a row
to go ahead 110-101.
Andre Roberson snapped the Thunder's drought with a pair of free
throws to cut Portland's lead to 110-103 with 58.3 seconds left.
Westbrook's three-point play drew the Thunder to within 110-106, and
Alex Abrines' trey with 17.7 seconds to go cut it to 110-109.
Lillard sank two free throws with 14.1 seconds left to make it
112-109. After a timeout, Westbrook rimmed out a 3-point attempt.
Lillard's two foul shots with 8.4 ticks left clinched the verdict.
"Near the end, we were not able to score," Oklahoma City coach Billy
Donovan said. "We missed shots and didn't finish plays at and around
the basket. That was the difference. And (the Blazers) got some
offensive rebounds, a couple of threes -- those plays hurt us."
Westbrook scored 28 first-half points as Oklahoma
City closed on a 12-0 run in the final 1:17 to take a 60-57 lead
into the break. Lillard had 14 first-half points and CJ McCollum 12
for the Blazers.
[to top of second column]
Thunder guard Russell Westbrook (0) drives to the basket on Portland
Trail Blazers forward Maurice Harkless (4) and guard Damian Lillard
(0)during the first half of the game at Moda Center. Mandatory
Credit: Steve Dykes-USA TODAY Sports
Oklahoma City (35-26) upped the difference to 66-60 early in the
third quarter, but Portland (25-35) used a 9-0 spurt to go ahead
69-66. The Thunder carried an 85-81 edge into the final period.
The Thunder extended the margin to 97-89 with 7:30 to go. The
Blazers drew to within 101-97 on Nurkic's three-point play with 5:21
left, then made it 101-99 on a Nurkic layup.
Al-Farouq Aminu converted a layup, then Nurkic scored in a tip-in to
give Portland a 103-101 lead. Lillard followed with a 3-pointer, and
it was 106-101 with 2:51 to play. McCollum knocked down four
straight at the line, and Portland held a 110-101 advantage with
NOTES: Oklahoma City F Taj Gibson connected on a baseball throw from
60 feet as the horn sounded to end the first half. During a
promotion between the third and fourth quarters, a fan -- Peter Crum
from Beaverton, Ore. -- swished a left-handed shot from half-court
to win a new Toyota Sienna. ... Oklahoma City G Victor Oladipo
(back) missed his fourth straight game. Coach Billy Donovan said he
is hopeful Oladipo will be able to return to action in a rematch
with Portland on Wednesday at Chesapeake Energy Arena... Portland F
Ed Davis (shoulder) is facing surgery and will miss the rest of the
season. ... Portland F Evan Turner (hand) is expected to get his
cast off Friday. His return to action should come next week. ... G
Damian Lillard has made a 3-point shot in 40 consecutive games, one
short of the Blazers record held by Cliff Robinson (1995-96). ...
Portland G CJ McCollum scored in double figures for the 51st
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