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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/Portland ends season looking to build cohesiveness; first-round picks to come in handy

TRIBUNE PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - After being routed in Game 4, the Trail Blazers biggest guns of 2016-17, guards Damian Lillard (left) and CJ McCollum, call it a season.The Trail Blazers' 2016-17 campaign can be divided into three distinct segments.

Portland's first 59 games were a disaster. A team that entered the season with 50-win expectations staggered to a 24-35 start — 12th among 15 teams in the NBA's Western Conference. The Blazers found themselves outside looking in at a playoff berth.

The Blazers got it together just in time, going 17-7 down the stretch of the regular season thanks in no small part to the infusion of energy provided by the addition of Jusuf Nurkic.

But the 7-foot "Bosnian Beast" suffered a nondisplaced fracture in his right leg seven games from the finish. He played 17 minutes in Game 3 of the playoffs, but he just wasn't ready to provide any of the post presence he gave Portland in his 20-game preview package after the midseason trade with Denver.

The Blazers overtook the Nuggets to make the playoffs, but there was no getting around that the local quintet was badly outmatched by Golden State — not only the best team in the NBA this season, but with the potential to be maybe the best ever.



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