The Trail Blazers have maintained their winning streak by winning a tough win against the Celtics. Backed by a strong defensive effort, head coach Terry Stotts' team survived a night of offensive shooting. Damian Lillard's 33-point blast pounded Portland to dominate, but the performances of Maurice Harkless and Jusuf Nurkic kept the Blazers afloat.
It was a similar recipe for the Celtics on Wednesday. Kyrie Irving provided the fireworks and Marcus Smart kept Boston in the game with his bitter play at both ends of the field. In the end, Nurkic and Lillard proved to be too much for the Celtics in the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.
Passing Lane Property
Harkless set the tone for the Blazers night by making two flights in the first quarter. With the offensive in trouble, the Portland defense prevented Boston from taking advantage. When the two teams combined to go from 1 to 19 in the second quarter, it was the aggressiveness of the Blazers that gave them the advantage of going at half-time.
Half of Portland's shooting percentage was 35.6%. Despite the bad shot, the Blazers clung to a slim lead by one point thanks to their work in the margins. Boasting benefits in terms of offensive rebound and free throw attempts, the Stotts team was given enough time to find its pace.
The struggles of the second unit
The second renovated Portland unit made its first lost outing. Enes Kanter was the target of the Celtics attack, Rodney Hood and Seth Curry produced a goose egg in 40 minutes of combined work, and Layman suffered notable failures at both ends of the field.
The struggles of the Blazers' reserves have been aggravated by the lively game of the Celtics bench. Gordon Hayward unleashed coach Brad Stevens in the first quarter and Jaylen Brown recorded his second double-double of the season in 30 minutes of action.
The re-tooled rotation of Portland was destined to hit some slowdowns after the break of the stars. Although the Celtics regularly placed Kanter in difficult situations, Stotts remained attached to his new grandfather over Zach Collins.
Nurkic ended the Celtics offense late in the game. The Boston formation was interrupted in the middle of the fourth quarter once the Bosnian beast returned to the field. Nurkic was delighted, the Celtics failing to get out the big guy from his post. At one point, Robert Williams was summoned from the bench to confront Nurkic. The results are not good for the young player not used. Nurkic completed a fierce dunk and helped the Blazers impose a turnaround on the defense. Williams came back on the bench after 30 seconds of action.
Harkless out front
Lillard overcame a difficult night by shooting downhill in attack. He managed to counter pressure on the Celtics perimeter by winning 24 of his 33 points inside the three-point line.
In addition to strong defensive contributions, Harkless was ruthless in attack. Four of his 10 rebounds came on the offensive and he finished with 17 points to complete a strong doubles double.
Al-Farouq Aminu tried two shots from the field, but his only conversion could not have been better. His three-pointer late in the game helped the Blazers prevent the Celtics rally. Apart from her scanty points total, Aminu finished with nine rebounds and two interceptions.
The score of the box
The Blazers are back in action Friday with a trip to Canada to face the Raptors.