Blazers start playoff surge

Portland beats Dallas for its sixth-straight home game
Staff Report

PORTLAND - Damian Lillard hit his first nine shots - including seven 3-pointers - and scored 31 points to lead the Portland Trail Blazers past the Dallas Mavericks 117-108 Saturday night at the Moda Center for their sixth consecutive home win.

Lillard, who didn’t miss a shot until late in the third quarter, went 10-of-15 from the floor and handed out nine assists to lead the Blazers. CJ McCollum scored 26 points, while Evan Turner had 17 points and Al-Farouq Aminu added 13.

Portland tied a season high with 18 3-pointers. Six Blazers made at least two each, led by Lillard’s seven, which many saw as a statement he should be on the Western Conference All-Star team after two years of essentially being snubbed by the conference coaches.

NBA All-Star reserves, voted by the coaches, will be announced Tuesday. Portland’s next game isn’t until Monday, and by then, many coaches will have already voted. Saturday’s performance might have been Lillard’s last All-Star statement.

Lillard didn’t see Saturday’s game as an All-Star audition, but rather, what he’s supposed to do.

“I gotta play at a certain way and perform at a certain level for us to be able to win games,” he media members after the game. “That’s why my job is. I don’t have anything else to say about it.”

Turner spoke up on Lillard’s behalf.

“He’s been playing at a high level,” Turner said. “An All-Star level. They screwed him the last two years, right? When’s the make-up call? They owe him a couple. That’s case enough.”

Former Blazer Wesley Matthews led Dallas with 23 points. Dirk Nowitzki and Dennis Smith Jr. scored 21 points each, with Nowitzki setting a season high.

Portland led by 18 points in the second half but had trouble putting away the pesky Mavericks. Dallas whittled away at Portland’s advantage during the fourth quarter, getting as close as five points with 36 seconds remaining. A dunk by the Blazers’ Ed Davis with 17 seconds left put the Mavericks away.

The win improved the Blazers' record to 25-21, and 13-10 at the Moda Center - a relief to fans as the team was once 7-10 at home and were the only potential playoff team with a losing record at home.

Portland  plays Dallas, 15-31, twice more this season, with both of the games in Dallas.


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.


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



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.

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.






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