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.

It's 'Go Time' for Blazers with new GM

Neil Olshey earns the nod as team heads for Draft, new coach selection
June 8, 2012

The rebuilding proess for the Portland Trail Blazers finally has a point man as the team named Neil Olshey, a highly-regarded executive with the Los Angeles Clippers, as the team’s general manager Wednesday.

“Neil is someone we’ve had on our radar for quite a while,” Miller during an afternoon press conference. “Over the past two seasons he has demonstrated success in constructing a roster, managing salary cap and evaluating player talent. We feel very fortunate to have him in Portland and are thrilled about what this means for the future.”

The 10th general manager in Trail Blazers history, Olshey comes to Portland from his position as the Clipper’s Vice President of Basketball Operations for the past two seasons. Placing third in votes for the 2011-12 NBA Executive of the Year Award, Olshey was responsible for all facets of basketball operations and player personnel moves while with the Clippers, and will hold the same responsibilities as General Manager of the Trail Blazers.

“I am very pleased to have Neil as our new general manager,” said Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen. “He has the skills and the vision to successfully guide our organization into a new era of Trail Blazers basketball. He’s proven that he can quickly turn around a franchise, and we are confident he can do that in Portland.”

Under Olshey’s direction, the Clippers transitioned into a playoff team this past season after he assembled one of the deepest rosters in the NBA prior to the 2011-12 season. During a six-day span, Olshey added Chris Paul, Caron Butler and Chauncey Billups while re-signing DeAndre Jordan to a team that already featured Blake Griffin, Mo Williams and Eric Bledsoe.

“I am very grateful for the opportunity to become a part of this successful franchise,” said Olshey. “Portland is a great basketball city with a rich tradition, an incredible fan base and committed leadership. I’m joining an organization that has a strong foundation and a bright future. I couldn’t be more excited and I’m ready to hit the ground running.”

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Blazers get into national spotlight with Hibbert

Portland makes a play for Indiana All-Star, restricted free agent, Jay Hibbert
July 2, 2012 /

The Portland Trai Blazers have offered restricted free agent center Roy Hibbert a four-year, $58 million contract, both and ESPN The Magazine reported Sunday.

The $58-million offer sheet is the maximum allowable under the collective bargaining agreement.

The Pacers also met with Hibbert early Sunday morning, but they didn't offer him a maximum contract, the Indianapolis Star reported Sunday. The max they can offer Hibbert is five years for $79 million.

The Pacers were aware there was a strong possibility a team would offer Hibbert a max contract after he and his agent, David Falk, decided against negotiating an extension back in January.

Hibbert is coming off an All-Star appearance and he's one of the few true centers in the NBA, having averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks last season.

Pacers getting heat on Hibbert contract

Indiana hasn't made much noise with free agency, so Hibbert's a must
July 9, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

"Roy Hibbert, come back to Indianapolis!"

Although there's plenty of sentiment he'd be getting overpaid, Hibbert is seen as a core element to the future of the Indiana Pacers, so his move to Portland is highly tenuous at best, which should be the view from Portland as the signing deadline approaches Wednesday.

Portland signed Hibbert, a 7-foot-2 center restricted free agent who became an All-Star in his fourth year, to a four-year, $58 million contract two weeks ago. Indiana has the right to match his contract offer by Wednesday.

Many Indiana fans were skeptical at best of the need to re-sign Hibbert, who averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds during the playoffs, but that was before the free agency period got going last week and players began moving, including Ray Allen to the NBA Champion Miami Heat, Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics and Jason Kidd to the New York Knicks.

Indiana? It signed Miles Plumlee, who ... is not Dwight Howard or anyone with a marquee names fans of the Pacers were excited about signing. That left Pacers Insider Mike Wells, who writes for, to lobby the team needs to sign Hibbert quickly.

"I can’t believe I’m about to admit this, but I’m with (fellow Pacers columnist Bob Kravitz) in saying the Pacers need to match Portland’s four-year, $58-million offer to Roy Hibbert. It’s still unknown if they’ll match. The league’s moratorium period ends Wednesday. I didn’t feel that way last week.

"I changed my mind over the weekend because there’s too much action going on around the NBA that doesn’t include the Pacers. Boston, Miami, New York and Brooklyn have already agreed to deals with free agents or trades.

"Unless the Pacers plan to get involved in all the wheeling and dealing that’s going on, they’ll have to use team continuity to try to close the gap on the Heat in the East."


What about Terry?

Former Blazer Terry Porter would be a good choice for coach
May 21, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning,

Remember Terry Porter?

One of the all-time greatest players in the history of the Portland Trail Blazers?

Porter once coached in the NBA, but his name has seldom been brought up as a possible coach of the Blazers, a team without a coach.

What about Terry as coach of the Blazers?

Porter has been a reporter for the Blazers, an assistant with numerous teams and a head coach in both Milwaukee and Phoenix. Currently, he's an assistant in Minnesota under coach Rick Adelman, who was his coach in Portland.

Portland's management could do a heckuva lot worse that hire Porter as head coach.

He's got a significant background in Portland as a player, experience as a head coach in the league and people love him here.

In chasing Steve Kerr to be general manager, the Blazers have established that they'd do whatever it takes to get their man as GM. What about Terry Porter as coach? He expressed interest publicly in the job last year, although only if the team came after him.

The Blazers could do a heckuva lot worse than chase after Porter as head coach, but that's kind of what they've been doing lately - a heckuva lot worse.


Blazers season finally ends

Portland loses in Utah to close 2011-12 with seven straight losses
April 26, 2012

The end finally showed up for the Portland Trail Blazers.

What started as a highly-promising season that had them as one of the NBA's best teams after 10 games, ended Thursday night with a 96-94 loss at Utah in the final game of the 2011-12 season.

Guard Wesley Matthews had a chance to put the Blazers ahead at the end, but his 3-point attempt missed with 2.4 seconds left and Portland finished the season with seven straight losses and a 28-38 record.

The Blazers will miss the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

Utah finished the season with a five-game win streak with two of the wins over Portland. The Jazz, who missed the playoffs last season, won nine of their final 13 games to finish 36-30 and in eighth place in the Western Conference. They'll play San Antonio in the first round.

Portland, which was two games behind Utah with 13 games left, lost 10 of its final 13 games and finished eight games behind the Jazz.


Blazers get hammered in Texas, 124-89

Summer begins after one more game at Utah
April 23, 2012

After Thursday, it'll be all about the ping pong balls, unless there's movement on the administration front.

The Portland Trail Blazers lost their sixth straight game Monday, getting blown out at San Antonio, 124-89, to fall to 28-37.

Portland got 24 points from Wesley Matthews and 14 points and 10 rebounds from J.J. Hickson, but stayed close only midway through the first quarter. The Spurs played the starting line-up that has it battling Oklahoma City for the top record in the Western Conference, while Portland played two of its starters from the beginning of the season.

San Antonio improved to 48-16.

Tim Duncan had 18 points and eight rebounds to lead the Spurs, who shot 58 percent from the field and had a 34-19 edge in assists.

Portland plays at Utah, which holds the last playoff spot in the West, Thursday night. The Jazz will know if the game has any bearing on its playoff standing as it plays Phoenix, which is a game behind in ninth, Tuesday night in Phoenix. The Suns play the Spurs at home Wednesday.

The Blazers appear headed for the No. 11 spot in the NBA Draft, but could also get a top-5 pick from New Jersey depending on the Draft Lottery, which takes place May 30. New Jersey retains its pick if that pick is in the top 3.

Portland is working to hire a general manager after going all season with an acting GM, and also will be looking for a head coach prior to the Draft, which is June 28.






Blazers drop home finale to Utah

Jazz keep rolling toward playoffs with 112-91 win at Rose Garden
April 18, 2012

The season is almost over for the Portland Trail Blazers. And, their fans.

Utah's starting backcourt of Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward went off for 50 points and Portland shot just 39 percent from the field in Portland's home finale at the Rose Garden Wednesday night.

Portland got 21 points from Wesley Matthews and 16 points each from Nolan Smith, J.J. Hickson and Luke Babbitt, but dropped its fourth-straight game with three more road contests left in the 2012 season.

The Blazers, who were among the league's hottest teams in the first 10 games, dropped to 28-35. They play at Memphis Saturday, at San Antonio Monday and close the season at Utah on April 26.


Kings rally through court, Blazers for 104-103 win

Sacramento's late basket takes fans off stadium issues
April 15, 2012

Marcus Thornton's basket with 3.4 seconds left upended the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday afternoon.

Sacramento, behind Thornton and DeMarcus Cousins, rallied from a 10-point, second-half deficit for a 104-103 win that overcame a 31-point effort by Wesley Matthews.

Matthews, made a 3-point shot with five seconds remaining, but missed a desperation, half-court shot at the buzzer as the Blazers lost for the fourth time in their last five games. Matthews scored 19 points in the third quarter alone, when the Blazers made six 3-point shots.

Raymond Felton scored 19 points, Nicolas Batum had 14 and J.J. Hickson continued to look strong with 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers, who again played without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge. 

Portland, 28-33, plays at Phoenix Monday and at home Wednesday against Utah, which is the team's home finale.

Sacramento fans, who get to see San Antonio, Oklahoma City and the Los Angeles Lakers in their final three home games, were active in commentary about arena issues after plans for a downtown facility broke down on Friday. The new developments caused one local official to comment that dealing with the Kings's owners, the Maloof family, was worse than dealing with North Korea.


Dallas avenges last-second loss

Mavs roll into Portland for routine 97-94 victory
April 13, 2012

Without LaMarcus Aldridge to hit a last-second shot, the Portland Trail Blazers fell 97-94 to the Dallas Mavericks Friday night, a loss that extinguished whatever miraculous hope the team's fans had of reaching the NBA Playoffs for the fourth consecutive year.

Nicolas Batum had 20 points and eight rebounds and J.J. Hickson had 13 points and 10 rebounds starting in place of Aldridge, who sat out a second straight game with a hip injury. Aldridge is listed as day-to-day.

Portland fell to 28-32 and can win only as many as 34 games with a six-game win streak.

Dirk Nowitzki had 24 points to lead Dallas, which lost to the Blazers on a last-second shot in Dallas a week earlier. The Mavericks, the defending league champions, improved to 34-26 and are in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, 1.5 games ahead of Houston and Denver, which are tied at 32-27. Phoenix, 31-28, and Utah, 31-29, are also in the battle for a playoff spot.

Portland plays five of its remaining six games on the road, beginning at Sacramento Sunday. The Blazers' final home game is Wednesday against Utah.


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