Blazers Beat: Trail Blazers return home for Milwaukee, OKC games
What's ahead: The Trail Blazers wrap up a four-game road trip, 4 p.m. Wednesday at Detroit. The Pistons are in full rebuild mode after parting with Andre Drummond and Blake Griffin this season. Then, it's back home to face Milwaukee (7 p.m. Friday) and Oklahoma City (7 p.m. Saturday) in back-to-back games. The Blazers play at the L.A. Clippers, 7 p.m. April 6.
What's behind: Damian Lillard was held scoreless in the fourth quarter, and James Harden led the Brooklyn Nets over the Blazers, 116-112 March 23, even without Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant by his side.
"We didn't play a 'championship-level' team, we played a very good team missing two of their best three players," coach Terry Stotts said. "It wasn't like our last game against Dallas (40-point loss)."
Then came a bunch of good news on the road.
The Blazers acquired Norman Powell from Toronto for Gary Trent Jr. and Rodney Hood, and then, even shorthanded, beat Miami 125-122 March 25 to start the four-game road trip. CJ McCollum was hot (35 points) and Lillard hit three free throws with one second left.
"I felt great in the first half, felt good moving laterally and had my jumper going," McCollum told TNT after the game. "In the fourth I can't be short (on my jumper). I'm getting there." He missed 25 games, and that was his sixth game back from a foot injury.
Powell joined the team in Orlando on March 26 and helped the Blazers beat the depleted Magic 112-105. He had 22 points in a game Lillard sat out (rest, sore knee).
"The way the offense is set up, the way they move the ball, play off one another, it felt really easy to get into the flow and find the different spots," Powell said. "I think I fit perfectly in what they're doing, definitely."
Powell started alongside McCollum and Lillard for the first time March 28 against Toronto in Tampa, Florida, and all three helped Portland win 122-117. McCollum had 23 points and Lillard 22 and 11 assists. Defense allowed Toronto only 10 third-quarter points. Powell got the best of his former team and their new players, Trent and Hood.
Valuable addition: On Powell, Stotts said: "He knows how to play the game. He plays the way we play. He moves well without the ball, he shoots threes, he defends, he's in shape."
Powell said the Blazers players are "focused" and "serious about winning" and "you can see this is a tight-knit group."
Stotts didn't fully commit to a three-guard starting lineup after the Toronto win. "He had minutes both with the starters and the second unit, and he really had an impact on the game in the second half," Stotts said of Powell.
Dynamic duo: Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. are opportunistic scorers, but, oh do they make the most of their time at other parts of their game, particularly defense.
Lillard said some glowing things after Sunday's win against Toronto, in which Jones had 16 points, three rebounds, a steal and two blocked shots and Covington had 13 points, 12 rebounds, two assists, three steals and four blocked shots.
A game earlier, Covington had 15 points, eight rebounds, five assists, one steal and four blocks against Orlando.
"The length, the athleticism, what they're capable of doing. They rebound, they get deflections, they block shots, they contest shots, they read plays, they anticipate things," Lillard said.
For more Blazers coverage, including game stories, see portlandtribune.com.
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