Usually a big Damian Lillard night is needed if Portland is to win, but on Saturday it was all about the team’s supporting cast and their defense.
Usually the chants in Portland are for star Lillard. On Saturday, Norman Powell was treated to the adulation of the crowd.
Powell tied his career playoff high with 29 points and the Trail Blazers beat the Denver Nuggets 115-95 in Game 4 for even the first-round series at two games apiece.
“I love these types of games, these kinds of moments. This is the moment when nothing else matters,” said Powell. “You’re stuck throughout the season with stats sometimes, this-that-and-the-other, road trips, but when you get into the playoffs, the only thing that matters is winning.”
Powell had four 3 points and was 11 of 15 off the floor to go with two rebounds, two blocks, one assist and one steal in 34 minutes. When he left the ground with the game firmly in hand, fans chanted “Nor-man Pow-ell! Nor-man Pow-ell!”
“I thought it was really dope,” he said. “At first I didn’t know what they were saying when I was sitting there, then the guys on the bench were also singing, which made me smile.
“I thought the effort we put in from start to finish was exactly the effort we needed,” said Powell. “I thought we were able to take back the effort that we had from Game 3, the way we started the game. We have to keep the same effort, locked in and focused so that all of our guys who are on the ground are locked in. the game. It’s the energy and effort that we need to keep the game going and the series going. “
One of the things people forget about Powell is his championship pedigree. This ring was earned, not given away, when he was one of the main supporting players for the 2019 Raptors. He’s having great times, taken great hits, helped win big games. In that sense, Powell is perhaps exactly the help Lillard needs to reach what would be his first trip to the NBA Finals.
“I’m just trying to pick my spots,” said Powell, who also converted almost as many three points in the first quarter of Game 4 (2) as he had in the first three games of the series (3). . “The first play was called for me, so I was looking to attack downhill, put pressure on their defense, read the spins and make the right play. I’m just trying to be aggressive, attacking and making the good game with the bed I have.
“I think that’s one of the reasons I was brought here, to be another guy who can pick it up and go get it,” Powell said. “Any night any of us can get it started and it’s hard for the defense to know who to keep and who to try to stop.”
NBA 9 Playoffs Live: New York @ Atlanta 30.05 1800
Sunday May 30 6:00 p.m.
Lillard, meanwhile, was 1-for-10 on the field but finished with 10 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds. He also sat for the final quarter after the Blazers led by no less than 33 points in the third.
Although they were in control for most of the first half, Portland took an iron grip on the game by opening the second half with a 12-2 run, with Powell putting in half of those. points, to take a 20-point lead at the start of the third. trimester. And then a 16-2 run – Portland held Denver scoreless for almost three minutes this time around – from 5:55 to 1:55 in the third gave the Trail Blazers a 91-58 lead while securing almost their first home. victory of the 2021 Playoffs.
“It was a great victory for us,” said Damian Lillard. “I think the way we won the game, especially coming out with a lot of energy, we defended, we were aggressive, the ball was moving, and usually we’ll start that way and have crashes, we won’t be I think we did a great job of keeping our focus and maintaining that level defensively, especially starting the third quarter, going into the half with a 10 point lead, we didn’t go out and we messed around. We got out, we got off the hook, we were physical, we were sharp and paid attention to detail. We locked our tracing report and we rose to the challenge. “
CJ McCollum added 21 points for the sixth-seeded Trail Blazers, while great man Jusuf Nurkic contributed 17 points. on 6 of 8 shots, six rebounds, two blocks and one steal in 27 minutes. Carmelo Anthony scored 12 points off the bench in his 37th birthday and Robert Covington added nine points, nine rebounds, one block, one assist and one steal in 36 minutes.
Fans sang “Happy Birthday” to Anthony between the third and fourth quarters, which was a nice touch.
In contrast, Portland held the Nuggets to just 34 percent shooting from the field and 30 percent from shooting three, with Jokic leading the visitors with 16 points in 27 minutes. Facundo Campazzo and Monte Morris finished with 12 points and Green added 11.
It was imperative for Portland that Nurkic – possibly Portland’s best defense against possibly pending MVP Nikola Jokic – avoided trouble after a foul in the previous two games. He managed to do it, and that was a huge factor in those impressive defensive numbers.
NBA 10 Playoffs Live: Phoenix @ LA Lakers 30.05 2030
Sunday May 30 8:30 p.m.
“If you had told me in this game that Lillard was going to be 1-for-10 on the pitch and we were going to be blown away, I probably wouldn’t believe it,” Nuggets coach Michael said. Malone. . “So I have to be a lot better and the urgency has to be there. Maybe this could be a wake-up call for our starting squad, just to play harder. Good things happen when you play hard, and we don’t. haven’t played anywhere difficult enough tonight. “
The series moves into Game 5 on Tuesday night in Denver and the Nuggets team are looking to show a big reaction.
“We had our asses tonight so that should be all the motivation we need,” said JaMychal Green of Denver. “I mean it was embarrassing. So when we go home we have to be the abusers.”