Numerous players contributing to Blazers' surge

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers seem to be getting solid contributions from a lot of players not named Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum as they get serious about a run at a playoff berth.

Newly acquired center Jusuf Nurkic has scored at least 15 points in four consecutive games for the first time in his career and is averaging 14.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his six games as a Trail Blazer.

Nurkic's passing ability has been a surprise. Since coming to Portland, his assist rate has improved from 12.2 percent to 20.4 percent, which during that seven-game stretch ranks fifth in the NBA among centers playing more than 20 minutes per game.

One potential reason for the increase is where Blazers coach Terry Stotts positions Nurkic in the team's offensive sets.

Nurkic is setting up at the elbow more than he was when he was in Denver, where he averaged 9.1 post touches per 36 minutes. As a Blazers, Nurkic is averaging more elbow touches (4.6) per 36 minutes than post touches (4.5).

VIDEO: Jusuf Nurkic, passing extraordinaire

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Reserve power forward Al-Farouq Aminu has averaged 13.7 points and 7.9 rebounds and shot .478 from 3-point range over the last 10 games.

RELATED: Aminu should be starting for the Blazers

In his last four games, reserve center Meyers Leonard has shot .667 from the field and .500 from the 3-point line and averaged 8.5 points in only 16 minutes a game.

Then there is reserve guard Allen Crabbe, who could be an important weapon as Portland (27-35) tries to up its win streak to four games Thursday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at Moda Center.

THURSDAY'S GAME

76ers (23-40) at Trail Blazers (27-35)
At Moda Center

Time: 7 p.m.
TV: CSNNW
Radio: 620 AM

Crabbe scored 23 points, sinking 7 of 10 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range, in the Blazers' 126-121 win at Oklahoma City Tuesday night.

A year ago, Crabbe averaged a career-high 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists, shooting .459 from the field and .394 from 3 and .867 from the free-throw line. That landed him a four-year, $75-million free-agent contract.

We need him to be super aggressive. I've been telling him since last year: 'Shoot the ball.' -- Damian Lillard on teammate Allen Crabbe

After a slow start this season, Crabbe has compiled similar numbers, averaging 10.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting .469 from the field and .866 from the line. The biggest different is from beyond the arc, where he is shooting a much-improved .444.

The Blazers need Crabbe's offense when their top two scorers, Lillard and McCollum, are out of the game.

"We need him to be super aggressive,' Lillard told the media. "I've been telling him since last year: 'Shoot the ball.' "

Against OKC, "He was hitting a bunch of 3's and then he missed one," Lillard said. "The next possession, the ball came back to him and he didn't shoot it. At a timeout, I was like, 'Man, I don't care if you missed the last three. You gotta take that shot.' Because that's a good shot for the team."

Added McCollum: "I always tell him, 'Whenever you want the pill, let me know.' We need him to be aggressive, miss or make."

76ers center Jahlil Okafor is questionable for Thursday's game with right knee soreness. The 76ers are down to Richaun Holmes, a 6-10 second-year pro who was drafted out of Bowling Green in the second round as a power forward, and Shawn Long, who signed a 10-day contract out of the D-League, at the post.

"The realities of our roster are very clear to everyone," 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters. "There's no mystery to what our roster is right now. ... It's going to take some extra effort and extra luck in finding ways to compete."

The 76ers (23-40) have lost five of six and are lottery-bound, but they beat Portland 93-92 at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 20, Robert Covington sinking a game-winning 3 with 4.5 seconds remaining. A win at Moda Center would give them their first series sweep of the Blazers since 2008-09.

KGW.com's Jared Cowley contributed to this report.

Blazers, Timberwolves game rescheduled for April 3

The game between the Blazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves that was postponed because of a wet court has been rescheduled for April 3.

It's the same night as the NCAA men's national championship game, a night the NBA typically avoids scheduling games. The Blazers will play in Utah the next night, while the Wolves have to fly to the Bay Area to play the Golden State Warriors.

The two teams were supposed to play in Minnesota on Monday. But unseasonably warm temperatures caused the ice rink that had been placed under the court to melt, making the playing surface too slippery for a game. The ice is under the Target Center court so the arena could host a college hockey tournament when the Wolves are away.

News & notes

  • The 76ers and Trail Blazers have split the last eight games the teams have played, with Philadelphia winning earlier this season, 93-92, when the teams played on January 20. Portland has won five of the last six at home against Philadelphia.
  • The 76ers have allowed at least 100 points in each of their last eight games, currently the fourth-longest active streak in the league of allowing 100-plus points. Over these last eight games, Philadelphia's opponents are averaging 116.5 points.
  • Lillard (22), McCollum (21), and Crabbe (23) all scored at least 20 points in Portland's win over the Thunder on Tuesday. It was the sixth time this season Portland had three players with at least 20 points.
  • Since February 1, rookie Dario Saric is averaging 16.8 points and 7.8 rebounds. Saric's 16.8 scoring average since February 1 is the highest amongst rookies and his 7.8 rebounding average is second highest during this time, behind the Knicks' Willy Hernangomez, who is averaging 9.2 rebounds.
  • Since missing two games, Aminu has scored at least 10 points off the bench in four of his last five games. Over these last five games, Aminu is averaging 12.8 points, 6.6 rebounds, and is shooting 59.0 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from three-point range.
  • Covington has scored at least 15 points in 10 of his last 12 games and is averaging 16.5 points and 6.8 rebounds over these last 12 games. Over his last four road games, Covington is averaging 18.5 points and 7.3 rebounds.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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