After more than four months with no NBA basketball, the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies tipped off their first seeding game of the NBA's resumption.
In the Blazers 'home game' with Rip City fans in attendance via a Zoom livestream, Portland's bigs set the tone early. Zach Collins, who earned the starting nod Friday, worked a two-man game early with Jusuf Nurkic.
Between Damian Lillard taking it hard to the rim with great success early and the Trail Blazers' second unit bringing the offense, Portland took a 35-30 lead after one quarter. The first half then turned into the CJ McCollum show.
The Trail Blazers also threw a 2-3 zone defense at the Grizzlies in out of bounds plays when the shot clock was running down to disrupt Memphis.
Before the NBA's suspension, the Grizzlies had a lot of success in scoring in the paint, but that was a different story against the Blazers' big lineup in the first half.
But then, Portland's ‘doomed' third quarter happened once again. After going 5-of-17 from three in the first half, the Grizzlies started off the third quarter going 3-of-5 from deep.
The Trail Blazers did not go away quietly as this one came down to the wire. Carmelo Anthony came up big with two three-pointers down the stretch to help the Blazers force overtime. Portland ended regulation on a 16-6 run.
Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's first seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:
Dwight Jaynes, Insider: They stole one…. and it was a good one to steal. Not sure they played well but came up with big plays when needed
CJ looking like the CJ from the Denver series last season— Dwight Jaynes (@dwightjaynes) July 31, 2020
Jamie Hudson, Reporter
CJ McCollum was doing a little bit of everything in the first half. McCollum was showing off his mid-range game per usual, but he was also proving he isn't just a scorer, he can facilitate too. Between McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic's playmaking ability the Blazers were on the same page and sharing the wealth on the offensive end. Heading into the third quarter, Portland already had 21 assists.
On the other end, the Blazers big lineup worked together on switches as the Grizzlies seemed to shy away from driving to the basket, especially early on. But foul trouble creeped in for the Blazers. Jonas Valanciunas was taking it right at Nurkic and Collins (the good news for the Blazers, Valanciunas also racked up the fouls). Having Hassan Whiteside off the bench to provide so much depth will be huge moving forward if fouls become a consistent problem.
Mike Richman, Reporter
An 11-0 run to open overtime may very well have saved the Blazers playoff hopes. After things got dicey in a dreadful third quarter, the Blazers closed the fourth quarter strong and then held on after the scorching start to the extra session. Jusuf Nurkic was sensational in his first real game back in action and CJ McCollum strengthened his resume as a big game stud.
Chris Burkhardt, Reporter/Producer
What a difference a Bosnian Beast makes. The Blazers looked as good as they have all season on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. Nurk's presence on offense had the ball moving crisp and clean. Unfortunately for Portland, Nurkic fouled out late, but he did finish with 18 pts, 9 rebs, 5 asts, 6 blks, and 2 stls. He didn't look like a guy that hadn't played a real game in more than a year.
You can listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton:
Up Next: The Trail Blazers face the Boston Celtics for a 12:30p.m. tip-off Sunday. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.
Be sure to check back throughout the day and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!