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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.


Timbers slice up Minnesota in opener

Portland pounds the expansion club 5-1 before home crowd
Staff report

PORTLAND - The Portland Timbers are going to need a bigger log if Friday's season opener was any indication of the season ahead.

Sparked by a goal in the 14th minute, and capped by three goals in the final 11 minutes of play, Portland beat expansion Minnesota United 5-1 in the season opener for both teams Friday at Providence Park.

Newcomer Lawrence Olum scored first for Portland, and Diego Valeri and Fanendo Adi each talled twice as the Timbers pounded the visitors before yet another raucous, sold out crowd. The Timbers edged Minnesota 13-11 in shots, but had a 6-2 edge in shots on goal.

Both of Adi's goals were in extra time.

Portland returns to action Sunday at Los Angeles against the Galaxy, and returns home March 18 to play the Houston Dynamo.

 

 

 

Timbers ready to rock Portland

Portland starts Season 7 in MLS at home vs. expansion foe
March 3, 2017 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

A season after getting largely overworked by a schedule that seemed to not end from the title season the previous year, the Portland Timbers are back to chase their second league title.

Portland opens its 2017 MLS season Friday against Minnesota United at Providence Park.

A late-season slump caused the Timbers to miss out on the playoffs last season, but it helped the team recupperate for this season and retool its lineup.

Leading scorer Fanendo Adi remains as the team's top offensive threat, while midfielder Darlington Nagbe is working his way into the national landscape on Team USA. And, fan favorite Diego Chara isn't going anywhere. Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson returns as well.

Two key losses are defender Nat Borchers, who retired, as did long-time captain Jack Jewsbury.

“We are hoping that it is going to be a very good season,” striker Fanendo Adi told the press at training on Tuesday. “We had a very successful preseason, playing friendly games against very good teams, so we are hoping that will translate into the games that matter the most. Hopefully we will go into the game on Friday with confidence from our last game.”

Of course, the Timbers have had their fair share of success in recent years. They finished the 2013 season on top of the West before making a run to the Conference Championship in the postseason, then surged to MLS Cup 2015, where their 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC made history for the club.

In both of those seasons, the Timbers were bouncing back from disappointment. The 2012 season marked Portland’s worst year in their MLS era, forcing the club to make their only coaching change since joining the league as they finished second-to-last in the West. The 2014 campaign, like 2016, was saddled with high expectations after the Timbers’ first-place finish in their conference the year before. But a slow start to the season saw them fall just short of a playoff spot, missing out on the sixth and final seed by a single point.

The Timbers would like to break out of their boom-and-bust cycle. Yet for now, they’re focused on moving past the disappointments of 2016 as they start a new season.

“Everyone needed to rest after 34 games in the season,” said Adi. “It was a good offseason, but now that we are back there is just one thing on the plate: we play for trophies, we play to win games as they come. We are going to lose some, but the focus of every game is to come into the game and win.

The Timbers’ leading scorer for the last two seasons, Adi believes it is the players behind him in the formation that could make this season special.

 

 

Super Bowlers, but super brand?

Where do the Patriots sit among top US sports brands?
Sportland Oregon staff

When you reflect on all the pro teams from the five major leagues across the US: NFL, NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and even Major League Soccer, what's the top brand name for fans across the nation and even worldwide?

The New England Patriots might be No. 1 in terms of Super Bowls won in the past decade, but does anyone in Greece know who they are?

In this episode, we ponder that question as well as the recent NBA trade that send DeMarcus Cousins to New Orleans, sorta SNL-style, too.

Oregon is gearing up for its NCAA Tournament run, but what about Gonzaga? The Zags might be a No. 1 seed, but does the NCAA really want a school from Spokane playing in the final? We chat that up as well as how coach Mark Few might be playing the tournament up to his players.

We also hit on the key event for the upcoming week: the Daytona 500. All recorded at Pour Sports in SE Portland.

LISTEN NOW



Walton reaches national listing

Big Red gets spot on all-time greatest centers
Jan. 19, 2016

Bill Walton might have only averaged 13.3 points per game during his NBA career, but he still ranks as one of pro basketball's all-time greats. In fact, an ESPN.com poll released in 2016 has Walton at No. 10.

Walton led the Portland Trail Blazers to their lone NBA title in 1977, earning the league MVP as well as Finals MVP in the process. Portland led the league in wins midway through the following season when a foot injury ended Walton's season and started a string of injuries that kept him from ever again fully displaying the talents that made him the top draft pick in 1974.

He played later with the Clippers organization and Boston Celtics, earning an NBA title in Boston in 1986.

THE LIST

No. 10 - Bill Walton, Portland Trail Blazers, San Diego/Los Angeles Clippers, Boston Celtics (1974-87)

No. 9 - George Mikan, Minneapolis Lakers (1947-56)

No. 8 - Patrick Ewing, New York Knicks, Seattle Supersonics, Orlando Magic (1985-2002)

No. 7 - David Robinson, San Antonio Spurs (1989-2003)

No. 6 - Moses Malone,  (1974-95)

No. 5 - Hakeem Olajuwon, Houston Rockets, Toronto Raptors (1984-2002)

No. 4 - Shaquille O'Neal, Orlando Magic, Los Angeles Lakers, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, Cleveland Cavaliers, Boston Celtics (1992-2011)

No. 3 - Bill Russell, Boston Celtics (1956-69)

No. 2 -Wilt Chamberlain, Philadelphia/San Francisco Warriors, Philadelphia 76ers, Los Angeles Lakers (1959-74)

No. 1 - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Milwaukee Bucks, Los Angeles Lakers (1969-89)

Blazers get back to winning ways

Portland returns home and ends three-game skid in overtime
March 9, 2016 / Staff report

PORTLAND - Though it took a little longer than they’d hoped, the Trail Blazers found relief at home from their recent road woes.

Damian Lillard had 41 points and 11 assists, and Portland snapped a three-game losing streak with a 116-109 overtime victory over the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night.

It was Lillard’s 15th straight game with 20-plus points, the second-longest streak in the NBA behind Kevin Durant’s 48. CJ McCollum added 18 points for Portland, which moved into sixth place in the Western Conference.

“Coming off three losses in a row, this was a must-have,” Lillard said. “We had to have this one.”

John Wall had 20 points and 11 assists for the Wizards, who have lost three straight. Ramon Sessions added 21 points off the bench, while Marcin Gortat had 19 points and 10 rebounds.

Wall hit a 3-pointer with 15 seconds left in regulation to give Washington a 104-102 lead, but McCollum hit a pull-up jumper with 5.4 seconds to go to tie it at 104. The game went to overtime when Gerald Henderson swatted away Gortat’s attempted layup.

“Gerald Henderson made a heck of a play in protecting the rim,” Wall said.

Blazers coach Terry Stotts described the block as “fantastic.”

Lillard hit a 3-pointer that gave the Blazers a 111-106 lead in the extra period. Wall answered with a 3 for the Wizards, but Lillard’s layup with 23.5 seconds left made it 113-109 and Portland hung on for the win.

The Wizards led by as many as 13 points in the third quarter, but Portland wrestled back to lead 85-81 going into the fourth.

“That was a really important win for us, especially fighting back in the second half after getting down early,” Stotts said. “After losing three in a row and to gut out an overtime win, it was really important for us.”

The Blazers were back home after a six-game road trip that started with three wins but ended with three losses, capped by a 123-103 loss at Detroit on Sunday.

Henderson was key off the bench for Portland, finishing with 12 points and seven rebounds, as well as the monster block.

“This was huge,” Lillard said. “Especially with Utah losing. It was a chance to separate ourselves a little bit more. With another tough trip coming up, this was a huge opportunity to protect our home court.”

The Blazers head to Golden State on Friday. The Blazers beat the Warriors 137-105 in Portland last month behind 51 points from Lillard.

Washington was without guard Bradley Beal, who did not travel with the team to Portland because of a sprained pelvis he sustained on Saturday during a disheartening 100-99 loss to Indiana. Beal, who has struggled with injuries this season, is the team’s second-leading scorer, averaging 17.8 points.

The game was marred by a scuffle between Henderson and Alan Anderson with 1:23 left in the first quarter. The players got into a shoving match and had to be separated by teammates.

Upon review, Anderson was ejected for an elbow to Henderson’s face. Henderson got a personal foul and both got technicals.

Anderson was averaging 9.2 points and 2.6 rebounds after missing the first 55 games of the season following left ankle surgery.

The Wizards went on a 12-point run to open the second half, going up 67-54. Portland answered with a 17-4 run to tie it at 71, capped by Lillard’s 3-pointer.

Big season ahead for Timbers' fans

There's new goals after the team won the MLS title in 2016
Feb. 7, 2016 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Is there anything close to a dynasty brewing for the Portland Timbers?

That’s one of the things fans of the team can dream about after the franchise won the Major League Soccer title in only its fifth year of play.

And, it’s brought the teams’ fans bragging rights throughout the Northwest in regards to league results. Neither Seattle or Vancouver, their Cascadia Cup rivals, have even played in the league championship since it began in 1996.

When the 2016 season begins, not only will defending the title be among dreams of fans, but winning more than just one will as well.

Looking at the history of the league, three franchises: D.C. United, Houston and the Los Angeles Galaxy have won back-to-back titles, but none has won three straight. That will be among the thoughts of fans when the team begins play March 6 with its season opener at Providence Park against the Columbus Crew, its opponent in the league finale.

Blazers own Houston

Portland destroys the Rockets on the road, 96-79
Feb. 6, 2016 / Associated Press

HOUSTON - The Portland Trail Blazers were determined that this trip to Houston would end much better than their last visit here when they were stung by a tough overtime loss to the Rockets.

That was clear from the beginning of this one. Damian Lillard had 21 points and 10 assists and the Trail Blazers built a big lead early and rolled to an easy 96-79 win over the Rockets on Saturday.

In their last game here they led by 15 in the fourth quarter before Houston rallied to force overtime and got a 108-103 win on the day coach Kevin McHale was fired in November.

“We talked about it for a little while after and we was sick about that one,” Lillard said. “We talked about it. Especially coming into tonight, we said to remember what happened last time.”

On Saturday, the Trail Blazers were up by 19 at halftime and scored the first six points of the third quarter to make it 61-36 with about 10 minutes left in the quarter.

James Harden made four quick points after that before the Trail Blazers used a 13-2 run -- with 3s from Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu -- to push the lead to 74-42.

The Rockets scored the last 11 points of the quarter, with the first nine from Harden, to cut the lead to 74-53 entering the fourth. But Portland opened the fourth with an 8-2 spurt.

“That was a really good win,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Defensively we were solid all (game). For the most part we took away and they didn’t get 3s or transition.”

Harden led the Rockets with 33 points.

“We’re just a slow step on everything,” Harden said. “When you get a slow step, you give guys confidence early on in the game. They kind of rode that wave out and were making shots.”

The Trail Blazers had six players with 10 or more points. McCollum and Gerald Henderson had 16, Maurice Harkless had 14, Aminu had 11 and Mason Plumlee had 10.

The Rockets made a bit of a game out of it when they scored 11 straight points to get within 89-78 with about 3 minutes left. But Portland used a 5-1 spurt after that to fend off the late charge.

Houston entered the game shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range but made just 7 of 36 for a season-low 19.4 percent. But it wasn’t just the Rockets’ long-range shooting that was terrible on Saturday -- they shot just 32.5 percent overall, which is also a season-low. They were also outrebounded 54-43.

“It’s disappointing the way we came out and played this game,” Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “As important as this game was it’s disappointing to say the least.”

The Trail Blazers led by six at the end of the first quarter and opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run to extend the lead to 42-25.

The Rockets got within 44-30 after an alley-oop dunk by Dwight Howard with about 7 minutes left in the second quarter. But Houston couldn’t do anything on offense after that, making just one field goal the rest of the first half to trail 55-36 at halftime.

Houston made four free throws in that span but missed 11 shots and had five turnovers.

Toronto finally finishes in PDX

The Raptors score a 110-103 win, their first in Portland since 2006
Feb. 4, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Kyle Lowry credited backcourt teammate DeMar DeRozan for Toronto’s latest win.

Lowry had 30 points, DeRozan added 29 and the Toronto Raptors snapped Portland’s five-game winning streak with a 110-103 victory over the Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

“DeMar was aggressive and stayed aggressive throughout the game,” Lowry said. “His aggressiveness really helped set the tempo and set the standard for us throughout the game.

Damian Lillard had 27 points and 11 assists, while CJ McCollum added 21 points for Portland in the matchup between two of the league’s dynamic backcourts.

The Raptors, who have lost only one of their last 14 games, led by as many as 16 points in the first half. But the Blazers chipped away in the third quarter and came within 85-81 on Meyers Leonard’s jumper in the fourth. Lowry answered with a 3-pointer and Portland couldn’t get closer.

Toronto extended its lead to 94-81 on Lowry’s 3 with 6:52 left in the game. The Raptors made 12 of 19 3-point attempts in the game, with Lowry scoring seven of them to match his career high.

Lillard hit a jumper and Allen Crabbe made a pair free throws to pull Portland within 106-101 with 55.3 seconds left, but McCollum missed a 12-foot jumper and Toronto hit free throws to end the threat.

“We understood it was going to be a challenge tonight,” DeRozan said. “They’ve got a great backcourt that plays extremely hard and it’s a team that’s fighting for something so we had to meet the challenge tonight.”

After a loss at home to the Denver Nuggets on Monday that snapped their franchise-best 11-game winning streak, the Raptors rebounded with a 104-97 victory over the Suns.

The Raptors’ game against the Blazers was the first of a six-game road trip.

Portland was without starting forward Noah Vonleh, who injured his left ankle in the Blazers’ 107-95 victory over Milwaukee. Maurice Harkless, who had played a combined seven minutes in the last five games, was the surprising starter in Vonleh’s place.

Going into the game, Lillard and McCollum were averaging a combined 44.9 points per game, ranked third in the league, but DeRozan and Lowry were close behind and averaging 44.

Before the game, Blazers coach Terry Stotts joked about the matchup: “Let’s play two-on-two.” Raptors coach Dwane Casey, who used to work with Stotts on Rick Carlisle’s Mavericks staff, replied: “I’ll go with that.”

A fast-break dunk by DeRozan put the Raptors up 18-10 in the first quarter, and he would lead all scorers with 12 points in the period.

Boosted by eight 3-pointers, Toronto led by as many as 16 points in the first half. But a late 8-0 run pulled the Blazers within 53-47 and the Raptors led 50-51 at the half.

McCollum’s 3-pointer closed Portland within 73-69, but Lowry answered with his own and Toronto was able to keep the Blazers for gaining ground.

“They play well together,” Lillard said. “You can see it, you can hear it in how they communicate with each other. They’re a group, they’re a unit.”

Leonard was charged with a flagrant foul on Bismack Biyombo after a review late in the game.

Blazers keep streaking

CJ's big game puts Portland's win streak at 5 games
Feb. 2, 2016 / Staff

PORTLAND - CJ McCollum picked a great night to bust out a 30-point performance.

In a game where Damian Lillard scored just 14 points and missed all six of his 3-point attempts, McCollum scored 30, dished out five assists and grabbed four rebounds as the Portland Trail Blazers beat Milwaukee 107-95 at the Moda Center.

The victory moved Portland's season-high winning streak to five games and put the Blazers within two games of .500. The team remained a half-game ahead of Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, and kept them just 1.5 games behind Houston, which beat Miami Tuesday.

Portland plays host to Toronto, which has won nine of its last 10 games, Thursday night in the finale of a seven-game homestand. The Blazers have a five-game homestand in February that includes games with Houston, Utah and defending league champion Golden State.

The Blazers play the Rockets three times in the next three weeks.

Al-Farouq Aminu added 16 points and five rebounds in the win Tuesday, in which the team got 40 points from its bench.

 

 

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