Portland Trail Blazers

Damian, Blazers dominate Warriors

Lillard's 44 leads Portland past Golden State in ESPN showdown
Staff report

Damian Lillard turned Wednesday night's game with Golden State into a duel with Kevin Durant and although he lost that battle, the Blazers' point guard won the war with a 123-117 victory at the Moda Center in a nationally-televised game.

Portland led by 15 early on and never trailed in winning for the 10th time in its last 11 home games and snapping a seven-game losing streak to the Warriors.

Lillard finished with 44 points, while Durant tossed in 50.

 

UTAH 115, PORTLAND 96

PORTLAND - The Utah Jazz kept right on moving toward the NBA Playoffs Sunday night with a scorching performance in Portland.

An eight-game win streak turned into nine after a 115-96 win at the Moda Center as the Jazz - all decked out in orange and white - got 27 points from Donovan Mitchell to lead a team effort that overcame a 39-point performance from Damian Lillard.

Portland had its nine-game win streak at home snapped as it prepped for the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.

PORTLAND 118, SACRAMETO 100

It wasn't that long ago that C.J. McCollum dropped 50 points onto an NBA team in three quarters of action. Now, Damian Lillard has another 50-point game to his name.

Lillard didn't fight Portland coach Terry Stotts' decision to sit him in the fourth quarter, even though was was well within reach of his career high for points at 58. Having scored a season-high 50 in 29 minutes -- the fourth 50-point game of his career -- Lillard saw no reason to tempt fate.

Lillard scored 22 points in the third quarter, and the Blazers beat the Kings 118-100 on Friday night.

"I saw we were up 20 and I was like, 'OK, if we keep this lead, there's really no reason to go back in there," Lillard said. "I'd rather have a 50 in 29 minutes with some character than go out there and chase 60. I feel like that's bad karma."

Lillard scored at will, making 16 of 26 shots -- including eight 3-pointers -- and all 10 of his free throw attempts. His only action in the fourth came when Stotts sent him to the scorer's table briefly after Sacramento cut Portland's lead to 13.

When Shabazz Napier stopped the Kings' run with a 3-pointer, Lillard looked at Stotts and the two men nodded in agreement that his night was over.

Lillard, who also had six assists, joined McCollum and Houston's James Harden as the only players to score 50 points through three quarters this season.

 

PORTLAND 109, CHARLOTTE 103 (OT)

PORTLAND - Ahead by 17 points with 7:14 left in the game, the Portland Trail Blazers seemed headed for their ninth straight home with enough fans could head to their nearest Uber ride and go home.

Not the case.

The Charlotte Hornets rallied to send the game into overtime before Portland pulled out a 109-103 victory at the Moda Center Thursday night, ending a three-game skid.

Jusuf Nurkic led Portland with 24 points and 14 rebounds, while C.J. McCollum added 22 points and Damian Lillard scored 18 points and dished out eight assists.

Kemba Walker scored 40 pointsfor Charlotte to lead all scorers.

Portland led 92-75, but was outscored 22-5 in under six minutes. Amazingly, neither team scored in the final 1:45 of regulartion, which ended at 97-all.

The Blazers improved to 30-25 on the season an are a half-game ahead of Denver in the race for sixth place in the Western Conference heading into a game at Sacramento Friday.

 

 

McCollum dazzles Portland's diehard fans

Portland shooting guard sets franchise record in win over Chicago
Staff report

PORTLAND - Fans who got to the Moda Center late Wednesday night missed a performance for the ages by CJ McCollum.

Taking advantage of an unispired opponent, McCollum scored 28 points in the first quarter, setting a franchise record for points in a quarter by one player, as the Portland Trail Blazers beat Chicago 124-108.

McCollum, in his fifth year with the Blazers, finished with 50 points in the win on 18-of-25 shooting from the field, including six three-pointers.

The win moved Portland to 29-22 overall, good for sixth place in the Western Conference, a game behind Oklahoma City and 1.5 games behind Minnesota in the battle for the Northwest Division title.

Portland plays at Toronto, the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, Friday.

Chicago dropped to 18-33.

With McCollum scoring from the opening minute, the Blazers led 43-19 after one quarter and cruised to their eighth straight win at home. McCollum, who hit four three-pointers in the first quarter, sat out the fourth quarter and finished just nine points short of the team scoring record held by Damian Lillard.

Lillard finished with 13 points and seven assists.

 

Blazers hitting mid-season ice storm

Denver hands Portland another home loss
Staff report

PORTLAND - A scorching loss to Denver Friday put the Portland Trail Blazers in an unusual spot - struggling at home.

After falling 102-85 to the Nuggest at the Moda Center, Portland sat at 16-16 overall, and in seventh place in the Western Conference. But, they're 7-10 at home, making the Blazers the lone playoff-bound team with a losing record at home.

Last season, the Blazers were 25-16 at home.

Portland will look to battle out of a three-game losing streak at the Los Angeles Lakers, a team it's beaten 14 consecutive times, Saturday night - in Los Angeles.

SATURDAY

Portland plays at the Los Angeles Lakers, Minnesota plays at Phoenix, Denver plays at Golden State, Oklahoma City plays at Utah.

 

DAME DRAWS ROAD TRIP IRE

Damian Lillard drew national attention Tuesday for ... reacting to fans of the Minnesota Timberwolves following Portland's 108-107 loss in Minneapolis Mondday night.

While walking to the team bus, bystanders began shouting what has been described as anti-gay insults in the direction of Lillard, who played 37 minutes in the game. He finished with 17 points and 13 assists, but was visibly unhappy with media regarding the officiating during the game.

Lillard, an All-Star point guard, attempted just one free throw in the game and his teammates had just four others. Minnesota attempted 21 free throws.

His last-second attempt at a victory fell short. The incident at the bus was not 30 minutes later.

"I don't bother nobody," Lillard told ESPN. "They were straight disrespectful."

Cellphone video captured an irritated Lillard approaching the hecklers, asking, "Which one of you all said that?" A woman in the area pointed out one of the individuals, and that person apologized. Sources at the scene say no action was taken against the fans.

Athlete Ally, a non-profit group trying to end homophobia in sports, issued a statement on Tuesday.

"The use of these homophobic slurs have no place in sports or in society," Executive Director Hudson Taylor said. "Fan sections remain one of the most unsafe places for the LGBTQ community, and will remain so if these slurs aren't met with condemnation and continued education."

Portland, 16-14 and in fifth place in the Western Conference, returns to action Wednesday at the Moda Center against San Antonio, 21-10 and in third place in the conference.

 

Bell shines, sparks Warriors' win

Oregon alum helps Golden State stymie Lillard, Portland
AP Report

Dunks, blocks, and the gravity of being in the perfect place at the perfect time. It would be easy to say that of course Jordan Bell can do this on a great team like the Warriors, but a roster like that should be even harder to crack for a rookie. Yet here he is fitting in like he has been playing in the system for years. That’s impressive.

As some of the Warriors other stars get old, which will happen eventually, the front office can be happy knowing it got someone like Bell to fill the roles. If he keeps making plays like this, maybe he’ll become a Warriors headliner.

Bell isn’t likely to win a regular spot in the Warriors starting lineup this season. But, over the last five weeks, Bell has evolved from occasionally being relegated to the inactive list to earning semi-regular minutes to becoming a very valuable member of the bench.

And his coach, Steve Kerr, also has evolved from benching Bell for learning purposes to saying he deserves more minutes to, this week, announcing that the forward/center is been “outstanding” in his rookie season.

The latest examples came Monday night, in a 111-104 win over Portland. With Draymond Green sitting out due to sore right shoulder, Kerr inserted Bell into the lineup for his third start. His numbers were excellent: 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, six rebounds, two assists and one block over 26 minutes. He was plus-14, best of anyone on the team.

But, as often is the case, Bell’s performance includes moments that astound the observer. In this instance it’s a third-quarter chase-down block of a layup by Blazers star Damian Lillard, the trailer on a two-on-one fast break.

Bell, who concedes that his bad-pass turnover triggered the Portland break, immediately remembers a sequence last week in New Orleans, where a Warriors turnover gave the Pelicans a three-on-one break.

“They missed, got the rebound again and missed again,” he recalled. “I was just standing there and coach was like, ‘Get down there. You’re a rookie. That’s how you have to be successful on this team. You have to play hard.’

“I was about to walk down. And then I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get taken out.’ So I just ran down and happened to be in the right place.”

It’s one of several highlight plays for the Warriors. No, it was more than that.

“That chase-down block after the turnover was spectacular,” said Kevin Durant, who drained a jumper seven seconds after the block. “That play kind of got us going.”

If Lillard makes the layup, it trims the Warriors lead to nine, 66-57, with 9:32 left in the quarter.

Instead, with Oracle Arena roaring and the team energized, the Warriors turn up the energy and, less than three minutes later, have a 21-point lead, 80-59.

 

Nurkic continues to lift Blazers

Portland's new center shows off again in overtime win
Associated Press

PORTLAND — Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts called it "Nurkic Fever" before the game, and the love for Jusuf Nurkic had only grown by the end of the night.

The 7-foot center had a career-high 28 points and 20 rebounds, and Portland beat the Philadelphia 76ers 114-108 in overtime on Thursday.

Nurkic, who was acquired last month in a trade with Denver, also had eight assists and six blocks in Portland's season-high fourth straight win.

The "Bosnian Beast" has quickly become a fan favorite for the Trail Blazers, and Stotts was asked before the game if he was surprised. "It's easy to do," the coach said. "Nurkic fever? Why not?"

On the court afterward, Nurkic smiled when he was told about the coach's comments. The crowd roared.

"I love being here," he said. "I appreciate what the city is doing for me. I just want to give them back something."

Damian Lillard added 24 points for Portland, but did not make a 3-pointer, snapping a streak of 42 games with at least one 3.

Philadelphia rookie Dario Saric had a season-best 28 points, while Robert Covington scored 24 in the 76ers' sixth loss in seven games.

Covington's layup at the buzzer in regulation tied at 97. Nurkic's tip-in gave the Blazers a 102-99 lead, but Covington made a 3-pointer to tie it again at 102.

Lillard's free throws gave Portland a 106-104 lead with under two minutes left in the extra period. His layup extended the lead to four.

Allen Crabbe's floater with 20.9 seconds left helped seal the victory for the Blazers.

"That's as dominant a performance as we have played against this year from an interior player," 76ers coach Brett Brown said about Nurkic. "Twenty rebounds and 28 points. That's a dominant effort."

Nurkic has been a spark for Portland, one of a number of teams jockeying for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. It began the day in ninth in the standings, just below the Denver Nuggets.


Portland bests hot Cousins

Blazers defense snubs the Kings in 112-95 win
Jan. 26, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have it Tuesday night.

The Sacramento Kings forward, unstoppable in the Kings’ past two games, found his match in the Portland Trail Blazers’ defense.

Cousins, coming off games of 56 and 48 points, missed 17 of his 21 shots and scored just 17 points against Portland interior defense in the Blazers’ 112-95 win at the Moda Center.

C.J. McCollum scored 18 points, Damian Lillard had 15 points and 13 assists as Portland had seven players score in double figures.

With the win, Portland (21-26) moved into a virtual tie with Sacramento (20-25) for eighth in the Western Conference. The Blazers have won six of their past eight.

Cousins was coming off a franchise-high 56-point performance Monday night against Charlotte, but never got untracked against a Portland defense led by Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee.

Cousins missed nine of his first 10 shots and went 1-of-7 during the second half before leaving midway through the fourth quarter with Portland having the game in hand. Cousins also struggled at the free throw line, making 9 of 17.

“He’s a very good player, able to score in many ways, but I thought for the most part we did a good job on him,” Leonard said. “We were really locked in on what we needed to do tonight and it was just a great team effort.”

Though Cousins played 46 minutes before fouling out against Charlotte, Sacramento coach George Karl was hesitant to use fatigue as a reason for Cousins’ sub-par outing.

“As a coach I don’t like that excuse. As a human being, it’s probably a justifiable excuse,” Karl said. “He’s been so good I’m not going to complain. He’s been our horse and we’ve ridden him to a lot of good things.”

Portland’s offensive balance also played a big role in the Blazers’ win. Seven players scored between 11 and 18 points. Portland reserves Gerald Henderson, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis were among those in double figures.

“Their bench hurt us more and that’s a sign of a good team. When you overshoot your emphasis on their No. 1 and 2 strengths, it usually opens up other opportunities. They had some guys jump in and take advantage of that,” Karl said.

Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 11 assists for the Kings, who lost in double overtime on Monday night.

Portland led 58-52 at halftime after leading for most of the first half.

The Trail Blazers maintained a narrow margin for much of the third quarter, but momentum eventually moved in their favor after Cousins missed two free throws, then committed an offensive foul. Portland immediately scored seven consecutive points for its largest lead of the game at 81-67.

Portland led 88-74 after three and continued to pour it on early in the fourth quarter. Crabbe and Henderson hit 3-pointers as the Blazers increased their lead to 100-79 with eight minutes remaining.

Blazers bid Kobe adieu

Portland routes Lakers in Bryant's final game in the Rose City
Jan. 23, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - While Damian Lillard was the star of Portland’s victory over the Lakers, it was Kobe Bryant’s night.

Lillard had 36 points, including five 3-pointers, and the Trail Blazers beat Los Angeles 121-103 on Saturday night for Bryant’s last game in Portland.

“Growing up, I was a Warriors fan but when the playoffs came I was a Lakers fan because we never made the playoffs. I was on Kobe’s back, like, `Let’s go Kobe, let’s go Shaq.” Lillard said. “Now to play against him, and to know him, it’s been a pleasure.”

CJ McCollum added 28 points for the Blazers, who led by as many as 27 points in the first half on the way to their eighth straight victory over the Lakers.

D’Angelo Russell came off the bench with 21 points for the Lakers, who dropped their sixth straight game. But all eyes were on Bryant, a Portland nemesis dating back to the 2000 Western Conference finals, who finished with 10 points.

It was the second of a back-to-back for the Lakers, who fell 108-95 to the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night. The game was played on the 10th anniversary of Bryant’s 81-point game against Toronto, which remains the second-highest scoring game in NBA history.

Because of the back-to-back, there was speculation that Bryant would not even play against the Blazers, but he started. It was Bryant’s 62nd career game against Portland.

Bryan finishes 6-26 in Portland, his worst record in any city. But while the Blazers have pestered him during regular season games, most fans remember the 2000 conference finals. Portland was up by 15 points in the fourth quarter of Game 7, but the Lakers -- led by Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal -- came back to win.

Still, there is grudging respect for Bryant, evident in the mixture of cheers and boos when Bryant was announced in pregame introductions, and an occasional “Kobe! Kobe!” chant broke out among the fans.

“There were too many Lakers’ supporters for my taste, but I’m glad they showed Kobe some appreciation,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said, adding with a grin, “maybe a little too much.”

Bryant called the night “a blast.”

“I have so many great memories here. Most of the time I ended up on the losing side of things during the regular season,” he said. “The fans, the playoff battles ... great memories. I just tried to take it all in tonight.”

Bryant said Portland, Sacramento and San Antonio were among his favorite places to play.

Portland pushed its lead to 35-20 in the first half, with Lillard and McCollum combining for 24 points. Gerald Henderson’s 15-foot jumper pushed the lead to 43-24.

The Lakers closed the gap to 53-46 after Lou William’s jumper and free throw. Williams hit a 3-pointer that got the Lakers within 59-52 at the end of the half, but McCollum answered with his own 3 and the Blazers led 62-52 at the break.

Portland extended the lead to 101-76, going on an 18-4 run to close out the fourth quarter. The Lakers closed within 103-88 after Russell’s 3-pointer and free throw and fans chanted “We want Kobe,” but Bryant was already done for the night.

A fan behind the Lakers’ bench held a sign that read “Thank You Kobe.” Bryant embraced both Lillard and McCollum after the game and left the court to a loud ovation.

It was the sixth time Lillard had 30 or more points against the Lakers.

Blazers shoot past Thunder

Lillard, McCollum lead 3-point barrage in comeback victory
Jan. 10, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - After hitting his third consecutive 3-pointer, Damian Lillard flapped his arms above his head and motioned to the crowd while screaming, “Come on, man! Let’s go!”

“I got some good looks at the rim and let them fly,” Lillard said.

The star guard scored 31 points, including five 3-pointers in the last 3:07, and the Portland Trail Blazers rallied to beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 115-110 on Sunday night.

Portland coach Terry Stotts said calling Lillard’s performance “big” would be an understatement.

“You don’t see that very often,” Stotts said.

C.J. McCollum added 22 points for Portland, which hit a season-high 19 3-pointers to snap a three-game losing streak. Lillard finished with eight 3s, which matched his career high.

Thunder guard Russell Westbrook nearly had his fourth triple-double of the season but fell short with 25 points, 15 assists and nine rebounds. Last season, Westbrook led the NBA with 11 triple-doubles.

Kevin Durant had 28 points for Oklahoma City and has scored 20 or more in 23 consecutive games.

With 3:19 remaining, Andre Roberson hit a buzzer-beating 3 to put Oklahoma City up 103-95. That started a 3-point shootout. Lillard hit three straight 3s, and Allen Crabbe drained another to cut the Thunder’s lead to 108-107 with two minutes left.

Lillard wasn’t done. He hit two more 3s to give Portland a three-point lead, and an offensive foul on Oklahoma City with a minute left brought fans to their feet. But it was Mason Plumlee’s block for the Blazers with 30.9 seconds left, Lillard said, that made all the difference.

“Changed the game completely,” Lillard said. “That was the game-winner right there.”

Lillard finished with 17 points in the final quarter. Durant went scoreless in the fourth.

“They played well in the fourth, and we didn’t,” Durant said. “All those made shots kind of broke our backs.”

The loss ended a four-game road win streak for the Thunder.

The Blazers and Thunder kept it close in a sloppy first quarter. Steven Adams slammed a one-handed dunk for Oklahoma City, and Maurice Harkless answered with a 3.

Portland led 52-46 at halftime. Westbrook had just two points heading into the break.

Lillard’s eight points in two minutes allowed the Blazers to open their lead to 65-55 in the third quarter. Quick points from the Thunder, including a 3-pointer and a free throw by Adams and a running jumper from Durant, trimmed Portland’s lead to two.

The Thunder rallied to take the lead, but McCollum’s 3 at the buzzer to end the third brought the Blazers to 85-80.

Blazers playoff history by season

NBA PLAYOFF HISTORY

FINALS
1992      Lost to Chicago, 4-2  
1990      Lost to Detroit, 4-1 
1977      Def. Philadelphia, 4-2

WESTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFFS BY YEAR
2015      vs. Memphis
2014      Def. Houston, 4-2
               Lost to San Antonio, 4-1
2011      Lost to Dallas, 4-2
2010      Lost to Phoenix, 4-2
2009      Lost to Houston, 4-2
2003      Lost to Dallas, 4-3
2002      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
2001      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
2000      Def. Dallas, 3-1     
               Def. Utah, 4-1
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-3     
1999      Def. Phoenix, 3-0     
               Def. Utah, 4-2     
               Lost to San Antonio Spurs, 4-0
1998      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1      
1997      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1     
1996      Lost to Utah, 3-2
1995      Lost to Phoenix, 3-0     
1994      Lost to Houston, 3-1     
1993      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0     
1992      Def. Los Angeles Lakers, 3-1     
               Def. Phoenix, 4-1     
               Def. Utah, 4-2      
               Lost to Chicago, 4-2     
1991      Def. Seattle, 3-2     
               Def. Utah, 4-1
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-2      
1990      Def. Dallas, 3-0
               Def. San Antonio, 4-3
               Def. Phoenix, 4-2
               Lost to Detroit, 4-1
1989      Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 3-0
1988      Lost to Utah, 3-1
1987      Lost to Houston, 3-1      
1988      Lost to Utah, 3-1       
1987      Lost to Houston, 3-1     
1986      Lost to Denver, 3-1     
1985      Beat Dallas, 3-1      
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1
1984      Lost to Phoenix, 3-2
1983      Def. Seattle, 2-0
               Lost to Los Angeles Lakers, 4-1
1981      Lost to Kansas City Kings, 2-1
1980      Lost to Seattle, 2-1
1977      Def. Chicago, 2-1      
               Def. Denver, 4-2
               Def. Los Angeles Laker, 4-0
               Def. Philadelphia, 4-2

Team founded 1970-71 season

Blazers lose homecourt edge

Utah's 111-105 win in Portland finalizes the playoff push
April 11, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Trevor Booker scored a career-high 36 points and the Utah Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-105 on Saturday night at the Moda Center with both teams missing key players.

Portland’s hopes of home-court advantage in the playoffs slipped away. The Blazers won the Northwest Division, but the four teams with the best records in each conference get home court in the post season and the Blazers can’t catch the Los Angeles Clippers, who beat the Grizzlies 94-86 on Saturday night.

The Jazz led by as many as 15 points, but Portland kept it close throughout the second half. Damian Lillard hit a short jumper to pull the Blazers to 101-99, and Robin Lopez’s layup tied it at 101 with 2:33 to go.

Rodney Hood’s short jumper gave the Jazz back the lead, and Booker added a pair of free throws for a 105-101 Utah lead and the Blazers couldn’t catch up. Hood finished with 21 points.

Lillard led the Blazers with 28 points, and CJ McCollum had 26.

The Blazers did not have LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sore left foot. It was unclear when the All-Star forward was injured, but coach Terry Stotts said before the game that an MRI was negative.

Portland also was without Arron Afflalo, who has a right shoulder strain and might not be available until midway through the first round of the playoffs. Afflalo was hurt in the Blazers’ 116-105 loss at Golden State on Thursday night.

The Blazers started 7-foot-1 center Meyers Leonard in Aldridge’s place alongside fellow 7-footer Lopez.

The Jazz, already eliminated from the playoffs, rested regular starters Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors for the game. Guard Trey Burke did not make the trip to Portland because of a sore back.

Utah was coming off an 89-88 loss at home to Memphis on Friday night.

Booker started for the just the fourth time this season and had 19 points in the first quarter alone as the Jazz built a 32-19 lead. Booker’s previous season-high for points this season was 17.

McCollum scored 10-straight points, pulling the Blazers to 44-42. But the Jazz went on a 10-2 run to go up 54-44 and led 56-46 at the half.

McCollum’s basket and a pair of free throws pulled the Blazers even with Utah at 56, and they briefly pulled ahead 59-58 on a free throw from Lopez.

Leonard’s dunk gave the Blazers a 79-77 lead and McCollum pushed it to 86-81 with a long jumper. But the Jazz went on a 13-0 run, capped by Chris Johnson’s layup with 6:54 left, to go ahead 94-86.

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