Portland advanced to the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs with a 126-122 victory over Memphis on Saturday afternoon. Damian Lillard (31 points) and CJ McCollum (29 points) were productive throughout the league’s first-ever play-in game, but Jusuf Nurkic was arguably the best player on the floor. The 25-year-old center, playing with a heavy heart after announcing the death of his grandmother, totaled 22 points, 21 rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks in 41 minutes.
Grizzlies rookie Ja Morant scored a game-high 35 points to keep the game close, but the Trail Blazers made more clutch plays down the stretch and punched their ticket to the postseason. They will now enter the playoff bracket as the Western Conference’s No. 8 seed and face the top-seeded Lakers.
Sporting News provided updates during the play-in game between the Trail Blazers and Grizzlies. Check out all of the highlights you missed below.
5:05 p.m. — A valiant effort by the Grizzlies, but the Trail Blazers will advance to the first round of the 2020 NBA playoffs.
4:55 p.m. — CJ McCollum with some TOUGH shots. He hits two contested jumpers in a row over Ja Morant. Trail Blazers 119, Grizzlies 113 with just over a minute to go in regulation.
? CJ MCCOLLUM TAKING OVER [email protected] [email protected] 115
1:15 remaining in Western Conference Play-In on ABC pic.twitter.com/7JPlVOpBYI
4:35 p.m. — Questionable calls on Grayson Allen. First, he gets hit with a personal foul after appearing to block Damian Lillard’s shot attempt. Then, he receives a technical foul for… being too demonstrative? Strange sequence.
4:25 p.m. — The rookies are shining. Ja Morant (21 points, eight assists) and Brandon Clarke (20 points, 4-of-5 on 3-pointers) help give the Grizzlies a lead heading into the fourth quarter.
4 p.m. — After missing his first three attempts from beyond the arc, Ja Morant confidently steps into a 3-pointer. He’ll need to take those shots if his defender chooses to go under screens.
3:40 p.m. — What a performance from Jusuf Nurkic. He is already up to 15 points, 17 rebounds, two assists and two steals.
3:25 p.m. — Kyle Anderson has been terrific so far. He’s got six points and five assists in 12 minutes. He looks extremely comfortable in the pick-and-roll.
Kyle Anderson finds JV twice!
The @memgrizz have surged back to take the lead early in the 2nd Q on ABC. #WholeNewGame pic.twitter.com/atr6HAUU0o
3:20 p.m. — A strong response from the Grizzlies to start the second quarter. They cut the Trail Blazers’ lead down to one point with a 13-2 run.
2:45 p.m. — And here we go. CJ McCollum hits a couple of free throws on the opening possession.
2:25 p.m. — Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, who announced Saturday morning his grandmother had died from the coronavirus (COVID-19), will start in the play-in game.
1:45 p.m. — There was some hope that Tyus Jones would be available for the play-in game, but he is listed as out on the official injury report.
Update: Tyus Jones (right knee soreness) has been downgraded to OUT today against the @trailblazers. https://t.co/R06DtB3Ooo
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