Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers easy win over the Chicago Bulls

Jamie Hudson
Jamie Hudson has the latest as the Trail Blazers picked up a road win its first of four on the current road trip...
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Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers easy win over the Chicago Bulls originally appeared on nbcsportsnorthwest.com

Both the Trail Blazers and Bulls were short-handed on Wednesday night when the two tipped off from the United Center.

It was the first contest where the Blazers were without starting center Jusuf Nurkic after Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula during Monday's double-overtime win over the Nets.

The Blazers were still without CJ McCollum (left knee) as well.

The Bulls have been dealing with a big injury problem too. Chicago played with a very different looking nine-man rostation with four of its five starters out with injury.

After a slow start for both teams, the Blazers took care of business in the final three quarters and cruised to a 118-98 win. The Trail Blazers now improve to 47-27 on the season. 

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 118, Bulls 98

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers road win:

1. Kanter the focus early

With Enes Kanter starting in the place of the injured Nurkic, the Blazers made sure to get him involved on the offensive end in the first quarter. It was obvious the Blazers were still trying to figure out how to play without their starting center after a sluggish start. But, Kanter was able to make an impact after the first few minutes. He scored seven points on an efficient 3-of-4 shooting in his first stint of nine minutes. 

There's no doubt that the play of Kanter is going to be a major factor for the Blazers as they inch closer to postseason play. It's obviously a luxury to have a veteran and starting caliber player in Kanter.

On the other end of the ball though, the Blazers are definitely missing Nurk's presence on defense. At the break, the Bulls had 28 points in the paint to the Blazers' 18 points in the paint. Both Kanter and Meyers Leonard were making Robin Lopez work hard down low, but ROLO was still able to take advantage. After 28 minutes of work, Lopez had 15 points on 7-of-14 shooting.

2. Portland's second unit steps up again

Once the Blazers bench stepped on the court, Portland's offense really started clicking. The Blazers second unit had 34 points at halftime, lead by Seth Curry with 15 points. Curry went 6-of-7 from the floor including 3-of-4 from three in the first two quarters. Curry and the second unit have been bringing the offense with CJ McCollum out. Portland's second unit had 66 points in the Blazers' win over the Nets on Monday.

It's apparent that Curry is playing with confidence and that means opponents better stay in front of him, but Curry had an easy time getting to the rim and getting his three-point shots off against the Bulls.

A bench that is sharing the ball and scoring the ball is what this Blazers team is in need of right now with two starters out.

3. Unselfish play from the Blazers

The Blazers took a 22-point lead heading into the final period and that was after distributing 23 assists as a team.

Damian Lillard had a team-high seven assists before sitting out the entire fourth quarter. Lillard nearly broke his long streak of scoring in double-digits, but in the final second of the third, Lillard hit a jumper to finish with 11 points. Thus, the streak is alive! Lillard has scored in double-figures for 212 consecutive games.

With the Blazers leading scorer only recording 11 points and Portland still able to get a blowout win over the lowly Bulls, that showed how this Blazers squad can play as a team and can get contribution from several different players.

NEXT UP: Portland travels to Atlanta for the first leg of a back-to-back on Friday night. The Blazers and Hawks tip-off at 4:30pm (PT) on NBC Sports Northwest with our pregame coverage starting at 3:30pm (PT).

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