----- Damian Lillard scores 29 points and dishes out nine assists as the Portland Blazers take a big step forward in Orlando with a 140-135 overtime victory over the Memphis Grizzlies on Friday afternoon.
Rest and health can do wonders!
The Portland Trail Blazers got a major shot in the arm Friday afternoon when Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins returned to the starting lineup helping to lead the Blazers to a critical 140-135 overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
Nurkic last played on March 25th, 2019 against the Brooklyn Nets before suffering a gruesome compound fracture in his left leg. The injury required recovery and rehab that kept him out-of-action nearly a full-year. He was set to return March 15th against the Houston Rockets, but the league shutdown due to the Coronavirus added another four-plus months to Nurk's wait.
Zach Collins injured his left shoulder in late October forcing him to miss most of the season. Without Collins and Nurkic, the Blazers were forced to piece together a lineup that struggled to find a defensive identity. That changed with their first seeding-game in Orlando.
Jusuf Nurkic played 33-minutes recording 18 points, nine rebounds, five assists, and six blocked shots before fouling out late in the game. Nurkic was active defensively protecting the rim and chasing down shooters at the three-point line. Nurkic impacted the game with a heavy heart. Following the game, he told reporters his grandmother had contracted COVID-19 and was in a coma.
''The last couple days have been some of the hardest days of my life,'' he said. ''Please take care of yourself and wear the damn mask.''
Collins dropped nine points and pulled down seven boards in 37-minutes of action before fouling out late in the game. Collins played with great energy on both ends giving the team a much needed edge.
CJ McCollum led the Blazers with 33 points on 14-of-21 shooting while Damian Lillard poured in 29 points and nine assists.
Memphis rallied from a 13-point, third-quarter deficit to take an 11-point lead, on a 30-6 run, but the Blazers battled back in the fourth. Trailing 112-103 with 5:56 to play, Portland exploded for a 21-12 run to tie the game aided by two clutch three-pointers by Carmelo Anthony.
JA Morant fell on a last-second fast break, sending the game to overtime tied at 124.
McCollum broke the tie to begin overtime with a three opening the floodgates for Portland. Gary Trent Jr. and McCollum followed with two more threes to make it 135-124 and the Grizzlies couldn't get closer than three the rest of the game.
- Carmelo Anthony make seven of his 10 shots including two clutch threes late in the fourth quarter.
- Gary Trent Jr. continues to be the star off the bench this season. He scored 17 points connecting on 4-of-5 from three-point range.
Up Next- Trail Blazers meet the Boston Celtics Sunday afternoon. Game is scheduled to tip off at 12:30 PM.
Chad's Take- So nice to have NBA Basketball back! #RipCity