Grieving Nurkic Leads Blazers To Playoffs

----- Jusuf Nurkic scores 22 points and pulls down 21 rebounds and CJ McCollum adds 29 points as the Portland Trail Blazers advance to the Western Conference Playoffs with a 126-122 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies Saturday in Orlando.

This one is for Hana!

Shortly before tip off today against the Memphis Grizzlies, Jusuf Nurkic received the news that his grandmother Hana had passed away due to Covid-19. He responded by leading the Trail Blazers to a 126-122 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies earning a berth into the 2020 Western Conference Playoffs and a date against the LA Lakers on Tuesday.

Nurkic finished with 22 points, 21 rebounds, and six assists including a three-point play with 2:39 on the clock giving the Blazers a three-point lead they would no relinquish.

''She would have wanted me to play,'' Nurkic said after the game.

Just like their victory Thursday over the Brooklyn Nets, Saturday was a team-win for the Blazers with multiple guys making game-winning plays down the stretch. Damian Lillard led the team with 31 points and 10 assists, CJ McCollum scored 29 points, and Carmelo Anthony finished with 21 points connecting on 10-for-10 from the free throw line.

''What we've done in these two weeks is really special,'' Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. ''I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys because we were up against it every game, nine straight games where our season was basically in the balance. ... They found a way.''

Following the game, Lillard shared his thoughts on what the match up with the Lakers will look like:

“I’ve been seeing everybody saying what we’re going to do to the Lakers,” Lillard said. “They are the No. 1 seed in the West for a reason. They have the best player in the world on their team, but at the same time, we didn’t fight as hard as we fought in the bubble just to get the eighth seed and go out there and get beat up on. 

“We feel like we have a chance in a series against anybody in this league. We feel like we’ve got a chance in this series. And that’s how we’re going to approach it. But we are going to approach it with a healthy level of respect for them.”

Up next- The Trail Blazers will meet the LA Lakers in game one of their Western Conference first round playoff series on Tuesday. Game is scheduled to tip off at 6:00 PM.

Chad's Take- Jusuf Nurkic was awesome after learning his grandmother had passed away prior to the game. His return has far exceeded all expectations.