The Blazers pull epic to seal their place in the playoffs

The Oregonians again noticed the alarming lack of wardrobe background and let slip a 15-point lead. They will be in the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season.


With suffering as a flag. With 6 of 7 games won by less than 10 points. The Blazers continue to add to their collection of agonizing bubble wins. But the seventh has a prize. An unlikely reward when they landed in Orlando. The good dynamics and good game developed by the Grizzlies during the first part of the season, foreshadowed that the mission to snatch the eighth place in the West from them was going to be nothing short of mission impossible.

However, those Grizzlies were forgotten. 2 victories in 8 games in the bubble have caused Tennessee to finish in ninth position and finally favored by the innovative play-in, which they saw so unfair when they had 3 and a half games of income over Oregon's. The first quarter featured a match that would be far from what would be seen in the next three. The equality and tension at the beginning barely lasted 5 minutes. From 11-11 that the scoreboard reflected when barely 5 minutes had elapsed, it went to a resounding 20-8 partial in favor of the Stotts, who went 12 points up.

The great choral game and good defensive dynamics, propitiating the failures of the Grizzlies' heavyweights who were certainly eager in attack as income grew, sustained some Blazers who with rotations collapsed. Hezonja, Gabriel or Trent entered the court and the Oregonians began to notice the absence of Nurkic's defensive intensity in the static attacks of Jenkins's or the scoring success of CJ MCcollum or Lillard.

In the second quarter, one of the Grizzlies' banners resurfaced in the victory against the Bucks, which made it possible to seal their final qualification to the play-in. Lithuanian Jonas Valanciunas finished the second set with 16 points, 14 of them scored in the second 12 minutes, accompanied by a Morant, who did not grow in scoring but did grow in accuracy, precision and speed in the direction of play. Those from Tennessee managed to make up the result until they left 6 points at halftime and seemed to have caught that rhythm and intensity that was lacking in the beginning. In the Blazers, a superb Nurkic stood out, accurate in the paint, hit from the outside and intense on defense. He went into the break with 15 points and 17 rebounds, the Bosnian already signed a double-double at the break.

Bad omens were confirmed for the Blazers in the third quarter. Jenkins' men continued to grow their shooting percentages by leaps and bounds and Valanciunas joined Morant and Clarke, with an 80% accuracy from the perimeter. Dalzell's point guard, who again incurred his sin of losses, adding 8 again, was intoned with great penetrations to the past rim and finding a minimum hit from the perimeter. Jenkins' starting point guard became a nightmare for Oregonians, who couldn't find a way to stop him. The outside success and a much more dynamic game in attack put Memphis up 5 with 12 minutes to go.

Terry Stotts and his men had the noose around their necks. They needed to win to stay out of trouble. The reaction was made to wait. With 4 minutes remaining, Portland was still at the same disadvantage as at the end of the third quarter. Morant was still outstanding in scoring, adding another 14 points to finish at 35, and in directing. The pick & roll and the outside shots were back to support the Memphis.

But the Blazers lacked one last fix. And this time it would not be Lillard, who despite not being decisive in key moments was the top scorer with 31 points. Trent Jr. opened the ban with a great triple. He was followed by CJ MCcollum, a reborn Carmelo Anthony and Jusuf Nurkic. The Ohio shooting guard displayed his best aim from the outside, scoring 2 consecutive triples with 2 minutes remaining, which served to pave the way for Oregon's men.

For his part, Anthony returned to develop his best game and accuracy on the perimeter. His was the triple that in the absence of 20 seconds sentenced the game. Hitting from the 3-point line was not the Stotts' only offensive ingredient. A superb Nurkic, who in addition to contributing in attack stopped Valanciunas in his tracks, was a constant danger to the Grizzlies defense with his constant blocking and clearing movements.

With this victory, the Blazers added their seventh win in 9 games in Orlando and managed to seal their place in the playoffs, where they will be for the seventh consecutive season. All of them with Stotts at the front, with whom the Blazers have 7 classifications in 8 seasons. Looking back, the Oregonians face the playoffs with the difficult mission of surpassing the bar of last season, in which they were finalists in the West. In that final, they fell with a crash to the Warriors 4-0. At that time, Nurkic was already out, arriving with a thirst for revenge against the Lakers.

Before those of Vogel, Zach Collins will arrive between cottons, who could barely play 7 minutes against the Grizzlies and who will be a doubt until the last minute. The one from Nevada was destined to be the defender of Anthony Davis, so if he does not arrive he will force Stotts to reinvent himself. The defensive irregularity and the lack of wardrobe background, against the Grizzlies only 9 players played and 3 of them did not reach 15 minutes on the court, they can play a trick on the Blazers. In the early hours of Tuesday to Wednesday, the first round will arrive.

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