Portland Trail Blazers

Are Damian Lillard and Blazers starting to turn things around?

Larry Nance Jr., Damian Lillard (Portland Trail Blazers)
(NBA Getty Images)

It's still too early to tell if the Portland Trailblazers have turned a corner in their season, but for the moment at least, their current two-game win streak is in part due to the play of Larry Nance Jr. and Nasir Little who have saved the day once again for the team.

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Nance didn't get a ton of minutes early this season after being acquired in a multi-team trade this past August from the Cleveland Cavaliers. New Blazers coach Chauncey Billups was still figuring out his rotations, but when Nance was given extended minutes he showed why the Blazers made the off-season move for him.

Beginning with the game at Phoenix, Nance's performances have been impressive. Against Chicago, a team that was 6-4 in their last ten games heading into Thursday, the Blazers were down 17 points when Nance entered the game playing minutes at center. Portland closed on a 27-14 run.

He eventually finished with 16 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three steals.

In fact, the bench pairing of Nance Jr. and Little has given the Blazers quite the spark on both ends of the floor.

Both players are making a strong case for a starting berth after the recent struggles of Robert Covington. Little has shown the ability to push the ball in transition, play solid defence and knock down some catch-and-shoot threes.

"If anybody has been watching all year, I think that's been consistent," Little has said.

"I think I come in every time, every single game, I bring the same thing. I may not score a lot every game, but I'm gonna play hard, I'm going to play defense and I'm going to try my best to do whatever I need to do in order to give us some kind of a lift."

Portland has now won seven consecutive games at Moda Center (7-1) and sits at 8-8 on the season.

Their slow start has partly been due to Damian Lillard's struggles, who is managing an abdominal injury. Through the first nine games of the season, Lillard didn't look like himself, putting up just 17.8 points per game on 33.7 percent from the field and 21.7 percent from deep.

Across his last six games (4-2), his production has risen to 24.2 points, 7.6 assists, 5.2 rebounds on 44.6 percent from the field and 36.6 percent from the 3-point line.

After a slow start to the game against the Bulls, he came to life in the second half, scoring 16 of his 22 points in the final 24 minutes, while also handing out 10 assists to finish with a double-double.

"I think that we're just starting to as a group just get to know each other and how to play with certain guys," head coach Chauncey Billups said. "That's starting to happen. We still have a ways to go with that."

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