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Damian Lillard 'encouraged' by Blazers defense after lackluster Game 2 originally appeared on NBC Sports Northwest
In Game 2 of the Blazers-Nuggets series, the Nuggets made adjustments and were able to light Portland up offensively.
They scored 128 points, their third-highest total in a playoff game in the last 35 seasons.
Everything was clicking for the Nuggets, which included a 42-point second quarter.
Portland had no answers for their opponent, and Damian Lillard felt his team’s lack of defense as soon as the game ended.
“When I walked off the court, I felt like we didn’t play well defensively,” said Lillard.
On the plane ride back to Portland, Lillard re-watched the game multiple times and the tape confirmed his initial thoughts.
“It wasn’t an effort thing,” Lillard said. “When I watched it, it jumped off the screen that we weren’t doing some of the things we had been doing over the last few weeks. It was simple stuff, and we should be encouraged by that.”
Denver won the battle of points in the paint (54-32), second-chance points (19-4), fastbreak points (16-4), and had two reserves in double figures (Monte Morris, Paul Millsap) in comparison to no Portland getting virtually no point production from their bench.
“We weren’t doing the simple things,” Lillard continued. “Our discipline wasn’t there defensively.”
When it comes to making adjustments like Denver did by putting Aaron Gordon on Lillard, Terry Stotts doesn’t think “tactical” adjustments are needed entering Game 3.
“I’m confident with what we do,” Stotts said. “I don’t think it’s about adjustments. I think Denver’s adjustment was that they played harder and more aggressive. If that’s the adjustment, we need to make the same adjustment.”
When asked about a defensive scheme regarding Nikola Jokic, Stotts responded with “we’ll see tomorrow.”
Through two games Jokic is having his way with Portland’s defense:
Vs. Jusuf Nurkic, his primary defender - 29 points on 52.2% shooting.
Vs. Enes Kanter - 17 points on 72.7% shooting.
Vs. Robert Covington - 11 points on 100% shooting.
Where the Portland defense has had success is making it tough on Michael Porter Jr., Denver's second-leading scorer during the series.
Norman Powell has been the primary defender on the second-year forward and has held him to 15 points on 5-for-12 shooting. He’s also forced a couple of turnovers and blocked his shot a few times.
With Game 3 Thursday, it’ll be seen then if the Blazers made the necessary adjustments to contain the Nuggets offense.