Melo boosts the Blazers past Philly, 118-114

by Kevin Nesgoda

The Blazers got a game in the national spotlight tonight as they took on the Philadelphia 76ers on TNT, and what a wild one it was. Tonight marked the debut of Portland’s brown “Spirit of Oregon” city edition jerseys.

Lineups

Portland: Damian Lillard, gary Trent Jr., Derrick Jones Jr., Robert Covington, Enes Kanter

Philadelphia: Ben Simmons, Seth Curry, Danny Green, Tobias Harris, Joel Embiid


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Game Recap

First Quarter

The Blazers started hot from behind the arc, with Gary (3/3), Dame (3/4), and even DJJ (1/1) getting in on the action halfway through the first quarter.

RoCo was struck in the face yet again, this time by Ben Simmons. After sitting out with a concussion for a pair of games and returning with a mask, RoCo was hit in the face last game inadvertently. He stayed in the game tonight after a short breather.

Kanter’s aggressive offensive rebounding was noted abundantly by Brian Andersen and Reggie Miller. He finished with four in the first period alone.

Simmons was balling out, and his chase-down block on a Simons alley-oop turned to a two-hop assist to Matisse Thybulle.

Dame made up for the five-point swing by getting fouled on a three (making all the free throws) and hitting his fourth one on his next possession. He finished the quarter with 19 of Portland’s 37 points.

Second Quarter

Furkan Korkmaz’s and-one put the Sixers ahead, and although Carmelo Anthony answered with a three, Portland’s offense struggled with Dame resting.

Embiid’s midrange jumper put the Sixers within six, and Terry Stotts picked up a tech for voicing his opinion a little too loudly to the officials.

Kanter bled profusely from his left eye after getting hit by RoCo (how ironic) on a rebound attempt, allowing Embiid to dominate the paint for the final minute-plus of the quarter as the Blazers went ultra-small.

Embiid banked in a fadeaway at the buzzer to finish with 23 first-half points, including 15 in the second quarter alone.

Third Quarter

The two teams battled back and forth in the third, with Seth Curry and Embiid making strides on offense. Portland simply didn’t have the big bodies to compete with Embiid and Howard.

Neither team could take a commanding lead into the final quarter, though. Any time the Sixers threatened to make a run, the Blazers bit back.

Fourth Quarter

Melo smacked some sense into the team with three straight bombs from deep, inciting a 12-4 Blazers run to start the quarter all on his own.

He continued his crazy shooting stretch with a lean-in bank-shot at the buzzer, though he couldn’t manage it on the next possession from three.

Portland’s offensive rebounding was keeping them in the game, but it was the Sixers who came up with a pair of them before drawing a foul and tying the game at the 2:41 mark.

Gary Trent hit his fifth three of the night while Embiid gave Kanter an elbow to the dome on the other end for an offensive foul.

Dame was still struggling to heat up. His first points of the fourth came against Harris in the lane with 1:15 left.

Embiid hit a way-too-easy midrange and Seth Curry tied the game on a transition trey. With the score tied at 114, only 22.1 seconds remained.

Simmons fouled Dame with five left on an iso and Melo used the last timeout when he couldn’t inbound the ball.

Melo used a give-and-go with Covington to draw a blocking foul on Harris with three seconds left. With the Blazers in the bonus, Melo nailed both free throws to give the Blazers a two-point lead.

Former 76er Robert Covington came up with the biggest steal of the night when Ben Simmons basically threw it right to him. Dame hit two free throws to secure the four-point win.

Final Thoughts

What a game. With no margin for error, Carmelo Anthony came up with his best performance of the season. The Blazers closed the game unconvincingly with the shot clock off, but it was smart plays that made things happen: Melo’s give-and-go orchestration and Robert Covington’s interception were the specific plays that won the game.

Player(s) of the Game

Dame scored more and Gary was fantastic, but it has to be Melo. He came up huge when the Blazers needed it most, scoring 17 points in the fourth.

Next Up

The Blazers will host another Eastern Conference foe, the Cleveland Cavaliers, tomorrow night at 7pm.

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