The Blazers played on Thursday afternoon in their first scrimmage game of the NBA restart and fell to the Indiana Pacers 91-88. A few things were evident. The first among them, Jusuf Nurkic has returned. The Blazer center who has been out since March 25th of last year, after horrendously breaking his left tibia and fibula in an overtime game against the Nets, was set to make his return just days after the NBA went on hiatus for the coronavirus.
Nurkic shined bright leading the Blazers with 14 points, 8 rebounds, and a block in 20 minutes of play. Zach Collins returned too, his old self and the Blazers front court seemed nearly whole again, despite Hassan Whiteside missing the game with a sore left Achilles. The Blazers staring lineup of Lillard, McCollum, Anthony, Collins, and Nurkic dominated in the 1st quarter, putting the Blazers up double digits.
Another thing evident was that Indiana wasn’t messing around, despite missing center Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner. The Pacers outscored the Blazers in the third quarter behind key performances by the Holiday brothers who scored 16 and 13 points a piece.
Mario Hezonja delivered off the bench leading the second unit with 15 points while shooting 50% from deep. Gary Trent added 12 points and was pesky on defense, clawing away three steals, including a late strip with seconds left on the clock, only to nearly lose the ball down the lane, as he dribbled the sideline. He was able to save it with a backwards pass to Jalen Hoard who had the chance to tie the game with a three. His shot was right on key, but bounced off the rim and Indiana ran away with it.