----- Gary Trent Jr. scores 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter as the Portland Trail Blazers top the San Antonio Spurs 125-117 Thursday night at Moda Center.
The race for the 8-seed is on!
With the NBA trade deadline now in the rear view mirror, the Portland Trail Blazers can focus on the Western Conference playoff race knowing what their team is going to be moving forward.
Hassan Whiteside was part of numerous trade-rumors prior to the deadline, but as the clock struck high noon on Thursday he was still part of the team. He celebrated the news by dropping 17 points, 23 rebounds, and four blocked shots in Portland's 125-117 win over San Antonio Thursday night at Moda Center.
Damian Lillard finished with 26 points and 10 assists and Carmelo Anthony scored 20 to lead the Blazers, but it was Gary Trent Jr. who delivered the surprise performance.
Trent Jr. scored 12 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter connecting on 6-of-7 from three-point range.
With the Blazers leading 112-106 with 4:22 to play, Trent Jr. hit three-straight shots from distance to extend Portland's lead to 121-108.
Trent's improved play is not going unnoticed.
''I think he's giving us something to be excited about,'' Lillard said. ''He's been consistent. How he's playing on the defensive end, how he's getting to his spots to be effective and making shots. He's somebody that has to be accounted for, especially on a night like tonight, he came up big for us.''
The Spurs outscored the Blazers 32-37 in the third quarter to take a six-point lead heading into the fourth, but Portland exploded for 39 points to take command of the game.
''It was a good game, until Damian broke it open with his basketball play,'' Popovich said. ''I mean, you know, he got through the double teams and split pick and rolls and found his teammates and they knocked down shots.''
The Blazers' offense was clicking on all cylinders. Portland connected on 53.3% of their shots including 18-of-37 from three-point range.
Up Next- The Trail Blazers will travel to Salt Lake City to meet the Utah Jazz on Friday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena on Friday night. The game is scheduled to tip off at 7:30 PM.
Chad's Take- Race for the 8th seed is on!