Blazers look to continue proving themselves vs. Nets

The Portland Trail Blazers spent Tuesday night getting defensive stops down the stretch to continue their hot start.

The Brooklyn Nets spent Tuesday struggling to stop anyone on the Sacramento Kings and wound up with the distinction of becoming the first team to allow at least 150 points this season.

Two teams coming off significantly different defensive showings get together Thursday night when Portland hosts Brooklyn.

Portland owns 10 wins in its first 14 games and has yet to allow more than 120 points so far. The Trail Blazers continued their quick start by rallying down the stretch for a 117-110 win over the San Antonio Spurs.

Portland trailed by six with 6:50 remaining and outscored San Antonio the 17-4 the rest of the way. While the Blazers allowed the Spurs to shoot 51.8 percent, they held them to 8 of 20 from the field in the fourth and defended well enough that San Antonio missed nine of its final 11 shots.

Tuesday’s performance occurred after Portland went 4-2 on a six-game road trip that ended with a 117-112 loss to Dallas in which the Blazers let the Mavericks shoot 61.1 percent in the fourth quarter to hang 32 points.

“We’re a good team,” Portland star Damian Lillard said. “That’s how we view ourselves. And we know what makes us a good team. In the past, we had to say ‘somebody needs to get it going’ and the energy on our team now is ‘we’ve got to get some stops.”

Jerami Grant led the Blazers with 29 points against the Spurs and is averaging 31 in his past three games since missing a game last week in Charlotte with an ankle injury. Anfernee Simons added 10 of his 23 points in the fourth quarter while Lillard finished with 22 and is shooting 40.6 percent (26 of 64) in his past four games since a brief absence due to calf injury.

Brooklyn heads to Portland coming off consecutive sub-par defensive performances. The Nets opened their four-game trip with a 110-95 win over the Los Angeles Clippers but turned in disastrous showings against the Lakers and Kings.

After allowing 48.4 percent shooting in Sunday’s 116-103 loss to the Lakers, the Nets were significantly worse in a nationally televised 153-121 loss to the Kings, marking their most points allowed in a regulation game in team history. The Nets allowed Sacramento to shoot 60.2 percent, surrendered 20 3-pointers and were outscored 66-44 in the paint.

“That run was not acceptable from us, all of us,” Brooklyn’s Ben Simmons said. “Players. Coaches. That’s not acceptable. We’ll look at film and see the big differences. I think they just played better than us tonight.”

Kevin Durant scored 27 points and has finished with at least 25 in each game this season, but the Nets gave up 16 straight points in the second quarter as part of a 29-4 run that ultimately sent them to their ninth loss in 15 games.

Brooklyn is 4-3 since suspending Kyrie Irving for at least five games without pay on Nov. 3 after the guard posted a link promoting an anti-Semitic film on his social media accounts on Oct. 27. Irving is not expected to return Thursday and Edmond Sumner will continue to replace him in the starting lineup after scoring 18 points Tuesday.

–Field Level Media