It’s official. Jusuf Nurkic is a legit big man. All you nay sayers out there…it’s time to zip it. If his bundle of double-doubles wasn’t enough, the Bosnian Beast finally logged his first triple-double against the Cavaliers on Wednesday - a perfect ten points, ten assists, ten rebounds, with five blocks as a delightful cherry on top. Nurk has taken the next step, and now that the Beast has a taste for triple-doubles, you know he’s gonna wan’t more.
Going nose to beak with the New Orleans Pelicans last night was a good, challenging place for Nurk to see if he could keep them triple-doubles coming. All he had to do was deal with Julius Randle and Anthony Davis. Of course, everyone needed to deal with Davis too. And even though he’s only averaging just over four points a game, Tim Frazier always gives the Blazers a run for their money. He plays like he’s got something to prove since the Blazers traded him off a few years ago. Plus, Damian Lillard and Frazier are solid buds off the court, and you always play relaxed and better against your friends.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Pelicans had pretty much been mentally preparing for the loss since the end of the first half. Nurk got himself another double-double, Dame dumped in 24 points, but the real show came from Jake Layman. He scored 20 points in 12 minutes, helping the Blazers win, 128-112.
Dame and Nurk were pretty quiet to start the first. The only real impact Dame had was a pair of misguided passes that became turnovers. Dame finally breached the rim with just over two minutes left in the quarter with an easy two. Then he went to the line twice and went two for four. It was a grim scene. McCollum, Maurice Harkless, and Al-Farouq Aminu were happy to pick up the slack and keep the Blazers in the game. Aminu had a fierce air about him during warm-ups. Once he got out on the court, said vibe definitely followed him. He was the Blazers’ high scorer for the quarter with nine points, and helped them hold the lead into the second.
The Blazers bench picked up the pace to start the second quarter. The Pelicans got up by one, but the Blazers got three clear paths straight to the rim and quickly went up five. Coach Terry Stotts started trickling the starters back in around the seven minute mark, but left Jake Layman in to inflict some damage. And HOLY GODDAMN SHIT did he bring the pain!! In five Blazer offensive approaches in a row, Layman had a huge dunk, a spectacular three, a crazy alley-oop dunk, and followed that with two more threes. Layman went from four points to 20 like he was relaxing by a fire sipping on eggnog. The Moda Center’s infrastructure may have been permanently damaged by the crowds response to Layman’s run. He exposed and exploited every weak corner of the Pelicans defense, of which there was many. Layman played the whole quarter and was singlehandedly responsible for the Blazers taking a 74-58 lead into the locker room. It was in-freakin-sane!
The Blazers continued to frustrate the Pelicans in the third. So much so that Coach Alvin Gentry got a little too mouthy with an official and got himself a technical. He was so impassioned he had to be restrained by the rest of the coaching staff. You couldn’t blame him too much. It’s gotta be unnerving when your defense seemingly can’t do anything to stop the opposing team. With just under six minutes left in the quarter, six Blazers were already in double figures.
With three minutes left in the third, Layman returned to the floor to a well deserved, raucous ovation from the crowd. He got a couple good looks from behind the arc, but nothing went down. It didn’t really matter though. He had already done his part to help the Blazers win the game.
The Pelicans reeled the Blazers in quite a bit to start the fourth quarter. They were able to get the their lead under ten, but home team didn’t seem to be bothered by it. The win felt predestined before the final 12 minutes even started.
After the win, Coach Stotts was quite jovial coming into the postgame press conference.
“Anybody wanna talk about Jake Layman?”