The Path Blazers had just a little five-day break final week, as a result of COVID-19 protocols with the Memphis Grizzlies, and used that point for relaxation and apply.
And through the uncommon apply time in a season of quite a lot of video games jammed into a brief period of time, the Blazers put in a few new wrinkles — two zone defenses that had the New York Knicks bewildered Sunday evening in Moda Middle.
For 2 quarters,
Portland jumped to leads as excessive as 25 factors and had been cruising 70-50 at halftime.
However it appeared the Knicks figured some issues out throughout intermission and New York bounced again to outscore Portland 63-46 within the second half.
However the Path Blazers nonetheless managed to hold on for a 116-113 win.
Within the second half, the Knicks regarded extra just like the crew with a five-day break and the Blazers gave the impression to be the crew on a protracted cross-country journey.
Damian Lillard, as he so typically does, carried the house crew on this one. He hit all 11 of his free throws and 6 of 10 from three-point vary en path to 39 factors.
Portland was on fireplace within the first half, hitting 58.1 % of its photographs from the ground and 57.1 % of its threes.
However because the Knicks received higher at attacking the Blazer protection within the second half, in addition they began getting defensive stops.
However they didn’t have it down the stretch.
New York made solely 7 of its 14 photographs within the paint within the ultimate quarter. Mix that with a cussed refusal to shoot threes late within the sport, when it could have helped them shut the hole, and Portland was in a position to pull the sport out.
Coach Terry Stotts has flirted with zone defenses at instances for the final yr or two however by no means appeared to go all-in on them till this sport.
“Really it was two completely different zones,” Stotts mentioned. “It was only a 2-Three after which a 3-2. That is what we have labored on, once we had additional days. We put this in and it form of caught them off guard just a little bit within the first half. And I assumed they attacked higher within the second half.”
They did. Nonetheless, something new being tried on the defensive finish ought to be hailed as progress. Protection, as you’ll have heard by now, is a precedence this season.
However what occurred within the second half would result in the query of how nicely that protection will journey. After opposing groups see it on video, will or not it’s a easy factor to organize for, or will it proceed to trigger issues for different groups?
At its worst, it’s another factor that the opposition wants to organize for when dealing with the Path Blazers, who haven’t been recognized for including quite a lot of new defensive ways.
And the zones additionally appeared to provoke more practical communications among the many Portland defenders. Will which have endurance?
It will likely be attention-grabbing to search out out.