NBA

Sixers aiming for sweep of Trail Blazers

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Portland Trail Blazers seem to be getting solid contributions from a lot of players not named Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum as they get serious about a run at a playoff berth.

Newly acquired center Jusuf Nurkic has scored at least 15 points in four consecutive games for the first time in his career and is averaging 14.9 points, 8.2 rebounds and 4.0 assists in his six games as a Trail Blazer.

Reserve power forward Al-Farouq Aminu has averaged 13.7 points and 7.9 rebounds and shot .478 from 3-point range over the last 10 games.

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In his last four games, reserve center Meyers Leonard has shot .667 from the field and .500 from the 3-point line and averaged 8.5 points in only 16 minutes a game.

Then there is reserve guard Allen Crabbe, who could be an important weapon as Portland (27-35) tries to up its win streak to four games Thursday night against the Philadelphia 76ers at Moda Center.

Crabbe scored 23 points, sinking 7 of 10 from the field and 5 of 7 from 3-point range, in the Blazers' 126-121 win at Oklahoma City Tuesday night.

A year ago, Crabbe averaged a career-high 10.3 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists, shooting .459 from the field and .394 from 3 and .867 from the free-throw line. That landed him a four-year, $75-million free-agent contract.

After a slow start this season, Crabbe has compiled similar numbers, averaging 10.5 points, 2.7 rebounds and 1.3 assists while shooting .469 from the field and .866 from the line. The biggest different is from beyond the arc, where he is shooting a much-improved .444.

The Blazers need Crabbe's offense when their top two scorers, Lillard and McCollum, are out of the game.

"We need him to be super aggressive,' Lillard told the media. "I've been telling him since last year: 'Shoot the ball.' "

Against OKC, "He was hitting a bunch of 3's and then he missed one," Lillard said. "The next possession, the ball came back to him and he didn't shoot it. At a timeout, I was like, 'Man, I don't care if you missed the last three. You gotta take that shot.' Because that's a good shot for the team."

Added McCollum: "I always tell him, 'Whenever you want the pill, let me know.' We need him to be aggressive, miss or make."

After trading Nerlens Noel to Dallas and losing Joel Embiid for the season due to a knee injury, Philadelphia was left with Jahlil Okafor at center. Okafor is questionable for Thursday's game with right knee soreness. The 76ers are down to Ricaun Holmes, a 6-10 second-year pro who was drafted out of Bowling Green in the second round as a power forward, and Shawn Long, who signed a 10-day contract out of the D-League, at the post.

"The realities of our roster are very clear to everyone," 76ers coach Brett Brown told reporters. "There's no mystery to what our roster is right now. ... It's going to take some extra effort and extra luck in finding ways to compete."

The 76ers (23-40) have lost five of six and are lottery-bound, but they beat Portland 93-92 at Wells Fargo Center on Jan. 20, Robert Covington sinking a game-winning 3 with 4.5 seconds remaining. A win at Moda Center would give them their first series sweep of the Blazers since 2008-09.