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.

 

NBA coaches finally select Lillard again

Damian gets third trip to All-Star Game
Staff report

The NBA chose to honor Damian Lillard again for his consistent play and social work - with a spot in the All-Star Game.

A unique All-Star Game at that set for Sunday, Feb. 18, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The 14 reserves, including reigning NBA Player of the Year Russell Westbrook, were selected by the NBA’s head coaches and announced Tuesday night.

Joining Lillard and Westbrook as reserves in the Western Conference player pool are LaMarcus Aldridge of the San Antonio Spurs, Jimmy Butler and Karl-Anthony Towns of the Minnesota Timberwolves, Draymond Green and Klay Thompson of the Golden State Warriors.

Lillard will play in this third All-Star Game after being left off the roster the past two seasons.

With Green and Thompson earning spots alongside starters Stephen Curry and Kevin Durant, the Warriors are the first team to have a record-tying four All-Stars in consecutive years.
The Eastern Conference reserve pool includes three first-time All-Stars: Bradley Beal of the Washington Wizards, Victor Oladipo of the Indiana Pacers and Kristaps Porzingis of the New York Knicks. They are joined by Al Horford of the Boston Celtics, Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kyle Lowry of the Toronto Raptors and John Wall of the Wizards.   

The 67th NBA All-Star Game, featuring Team LeBron vs. Team Stephen, will air on TNT and ESPN Radio. The midseason classic is being promoted as potentially reaching fans in more than 200 countries and territories in more than 40 languages.

Under the new All-Star Game format that replaces the traditional matchup between conferences, Curry and Cleveland’s LeBron James – the All-Star starter from each conference who received the most fan votes in his conference – will serve as team captains and draft the team rosters from the pool of players voted as starters and reserves.  

All-Star team rosters will be unveiled on Thursday.

Curry and James will select the team rosters without regard for conference affiliation. Each captain will choose 11 players to complete a 12-man roster. The 2018 NBA All-Star Draft rules are as follows:

The eight All-Star Game starters (aside from Curry and James) will be drafted in the first round.

The 14 All-Star Game reserves will be drafted in the second round.

As the top overall vote-getter among fans, James will have the first pick in the first round (starters). Curry will have the first pick in the second round (reserves).

The starters, announced last week, were selected by a combination of fans, current NBA players and a media panel. The East starter pool is James, Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks), DeMar DeRozan (Toronto), Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers) and Kyrie Irving (Boston). The West starter pool is Curry, DeMarcus Cousins (New Orleans Pelicans), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Kevin Durant (Golden State) and James Harden (Houston Rockets).

 

Damian could easily be whining

Lillard gets All-Star Game flack from potential teammate
Staff Report

In the wake of Russell Westbrook's whining, complaining comments about teammate Paul George being, at least, temporarily left out of the All-Star Game, it's not hard to wonder ... how come Damian Lillard isn't whining about someone else not being left off the big roster that's going to be separated into two, basically playground teams.

That's how far the All-Star Game has devolved to get people to pay attention. There's now two captains who pick teams based on a draft system.

They should hold the draft on game day - make it like the captains used to do when they were younger. That would get some attention at the start of the game. Then, make them trade a couple guys at halftime. Like the playground days.

Instead of whining like Russell, Damian took the high road Wednesday in talking to media:

"I respect Russ a lot, so it was kind of disappointing to see him say that," Lillard said prior to Wednesday's game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. "Because he's played against me, he's played against our team, he knows what I've accomplished. Not just this year, but over my career. So it was a little bit disappointing, but I know that I earned my spot this year. And that's pretty much what it is: I earned my spot."

What are the odds Westbrook and Lillard end up on the same team?

Pro sports has always been about, heck being in the public eye, has always been about getting headlines, and that means shooting your mouth off on a regular basis.

Westbrook could have gotten some of the same headlines by saying people might say Damian is having a great season, and he's been overlooked the past couple years (and he has), but Paul George is having a great season and deverses a spot as well. So if Damian pulls a muscle and needs to sit out, or anyone else does, then Paul George should be the first call. Otherwise, he'll probably be at home toasting those of us who are still working while he's got a weekend off.

 

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.


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 SI.com 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, oregonsports.com

"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 Indystar.com, 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."

 

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