Hello, Blazer fans. Antonio here. Portland got sweet revenge against Oklahoma City on Tuesday night, staving off a furious comeback to take down the Thunder 115-104.
Despite leading by as much as 24, the Blazers found themselves down by five with four minutes left. Damian Lillard scored or assisted on every bucket after, as the Blazers closed the game on an 18-2 run. Let’s take a deeper look.
Damian Lillard is an MVP Candidate
More needs to be said about this man. Lillard scored 31 in what began as an off-game. The Thunder’s pressing defense, especially from Luguentz Dort, had limited Lillard to 19 points through the first three and a half quarters.
Then, Dame Time.
This is perfect defense from Dort. He does everything right, but Lillard rises over him and buries a beautiful three-point dagger. Lillard would hit four threes to help the Blazers hold off the Thunder. Dame is currently averaging 29 points and 7 assists, leading the undermanned Blazers to the fourth seed. If he isn’t in the MVP conversation soon, I’m not sure what else he can do.
Depth May Finally Be an Issue
Despite three long-term injuries, Portland has remained a deep team. Carmelo Anthony and Anfernee Simons have been putting up numbers to keep the bench offense afloat. However, the team may be getting stretched too thin.
Without Rodney Hood and Harry Giles, the Blazers have won two games while only playing eight players. In both of those games, the opponents were able to storm back in the fourth quarter until Lillard put them away. Without much depth, Portland has started out strong but faltered as fatigue grew throughout the game.
This should not be a pressing issue as Hood and Giles should return to the lineup shortly, but it’s important to note that even an impressive Blazer bench has its limits.
Nassir Little Can Shoot
In his rookie year, Nassir Little shot 27% from three. He was a tantalizing prospect whose hustle and determination made up for his lack of outside shooting. To start this year, Little has been transformed from that prospect into a three-point menace.
The sample size may be small, but Little is shooting an astounding 65% from three so far this season. His stroke looks clean, his shots confident, and he just won’t miss. Is 65% sustainable? No. Little has only taken 17 threes this whole year. But if he keeps this rate up, the Blazers will have another dangerous shooter for opponents to keep their eye on.
With Rodney Hood and Harry Giles doubtful for Wednesday night against the Pelicans, look for Nassir to get some action, and hit some threes.
Next Up: The Blazers travel to the Bayou to face the Pelicans.