What's Oregon, Portland need?

The Ducks are almost an elite-level program, while Timbers can't win
April 8, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

After two consecutive berths in the NCAA Tournament, and at least one win each season, the University of Oregon's men's basketball program is definitely headed in the right direction toward winning a national title.

When that might happen is a big question. That's the opening topic of Episode 8 of Sportland, Oregon 2014, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

Coach Dana Altman has led the Ducks to consistent success since taking over the program from Ernie Kent in 2010. Cast members Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber chat up the next step for Oregon starting with an unprecedented third consecutive trip to the tournament next season.

Then, it's off to the Portland Trail Blazers, who are back in the NBA Playoffs for the first time in three seasons. The Blazers are headed for a final record that's 20 games over .500, but they were that far above .500 at mid-season. Since then, they're .500, and might be the least dangerous playoff team in the Western Conference.

The Portland Timbers are as dangerous and exciting as any team in Major League Soccer after five games, but they just can't turn those qualities into a win so far. Saturday's 4-4 draw with Seattle showed off that factor as the team led 4-2 entering the final 15 minutes.

The Winterhawks get some air time, as well as the Roofball World Championships.


Blazers avenge loss in Sacramento

Portland returns home and pounds the Kings' starters in 109-91 route
Dec. 26, 2012

After having their five-game win streak snapped by a team with lockerroom trouble, the Portland Trail Blazers bounced back like a potential playoff team should and beat Sacramento 109-91 Wednesday at the Rose Garden.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 28 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Blazers.

"The way we played (three) days ago wasn't us,'' said Nicolas Batum, who had 18 points for Portland. "We wanted to get back on track against this team. It was so good to beat them in a big way.''

J.J. Hickson added 17 points and 14 rebounds for the Blazers, who built a double-digit lead in the second quarter and then ran away from the Kings, leading by as many as 26 points. Rookie point guard Damian Lillard had 17 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds.

John Salmons led the Kings with 19 points. Reserve Isaiah Thomas had 12 points and Jason Thompson added 11. The Kings are 1-12 on the road this season - the only win coming Dec. 8 against the Blazers.

Portland has won nine of its last 10 games at home. The Blazers tied up the season series with the Kings after losing to them 108-96 on Sunday in Sacramento, which snapped the Blazers' five-game winning streak. Sacramento shot 56 percent from the field in that game, but after a good start Wednesday, went cold and shot just 40 percent for the game.



An inspired line-up of Sacramento Kings rallied from an early deficit to end Portland's five-game win streak with a 108-96 victory over the Blazers Sunday night.

Sacramento, which played without starting center DeMarcus Cousins due a team suspension, scored 15 straight points in the second quarter to turn a 10-point deficit into a five-point lead and pushed it forward from there. Marcus Thornton led the team with 22 points.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 11 rebounds and J.J. Hickson had 14 points and 11 rebounds to lead Portland, which had moved into eighth place in the Western Conference with its win streak.

The loss dropped the Blazers to 13-13 overall and into ninth place with Utah's win over Orlando.



Damain Lillard scored 25 points, J.J. Hickson hauled in 15 rebounds and Nicolas Batum doled out eight assists in one of the best team performances of the season for the Portland Trail Blazers Saturday night.

Combined with the return of LaMarcus Aldridge, the Blazers ended a four-game win streak by Phoenix and extended their own to five, 96-93, at the Rose Garden.

Aldridge, who sat out Thursday's win over Denver with an ankle injury, scored 17 points and grabbed nine rebounds in 37 minutes of action.




Following a stretch of six losses in eight games, the Portland Trail Blazers, somewhat amazingly, moved themselves into the realm of challenging for a playoff spot Thursday night with a 101-93 win over the Denver Nuggets.

Nicolas Batum scored a team-high 22 points and J.J. Hickson added 18 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Blazers, who improved to 12-12 while playing without All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge sat out the game with an ankle injury that has left in day-to-day as to when he will return to active duty.

Luke Babbitt added 14 points off the bench, including a key three-point shot as Portland pulled away from an 84-81 lead. Portland hit 14 three-pointers from 36 attempts.

The Nuggets could not overcome missing all 22 of their three-point shots and fell to 14-13 overall.

With the win, the Blazers are tied with Phoenix and Toronto for the longest win streak in the NBA at four heading into a home game with Phoenix Saturday night.


Gordon shows his bigtime game

Archbishop Mitty's 6-8 forward lights up for 43 points in LSI opener
Dec. 26, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

If it weren't for a few missed dunks, Aaron Gordon might have set a single-game scoring record at the Les Schwab Invitational Wednesday night at Liberty High.

Instead, he settled for 43 points as the Archbishop Mitty High from San Jose, Calif., beat Southridge of Beaverton 80-70 in boys basketball action.

Gordon, who is 6-foot-8 and among the best high school players in the nation, made 20 of 25 shots from the field, with four of the misses coming on attempted dunks, to lead the Monarchs to the quarterfinals of the 16-team holiday tournament, where they will face four-time defending Class 6A state champion Jesuit.

The Crusaders beat Sheldon 77-39 in their opener to improve to 8-0 on the season.

The tournament record is 46 points, according to tournament organizers.

"We got a chance to watch them play," Monarchs' coach Tim Kennedy said. "We don't expect Aaron to get so many good looks at the basket like he did today."

Southridge got 21 points from A.J. Monterrosi in the loss, which dropped it to 4-4.

The Skyhawks represented themselves well throughout the game inspite of Gordon's huge size advantage. Scrappy play had the team within 56-54 late in the third quarter before a pair of turnovers turned into easy baskets for the Monarchs, who scored the first eight points of the third qaurter to take a 68-54 lead.

Gordon finished with 15 rebounds as well.

"We played okay today," said Gordon, who has publicly narrowed his college choices to Washington, Arizona and Kentucky, "but we gave up way too many points. We have to do a lot better job on defense."

On the day, the three out-of-state teams all won. Gonzaga Prep of Washington, D.C., beat Clackamas 90-51, and Neumann-Goretti of Philadelphia, beat Tigard. In other games, Century beat Columbia River of Vancouver, 58-47, Central Catholic beat Jefferson 84-67, West Linn beat Sprague 78-59 and Lake Oswego beat Sunset, 59-39.

In the quarterfinals, Jesuit and Archbishop Mitty meet at 5:30 p.m., following Century's battle with Gonzaga Prep at 4 p.m. Lake Oswego meets Central Catholic at 7 and West Linn faces Neumann-Goretti at 8:30 p.m.






Pilots keep streaking with win over Oregon

Portland beats the Ducks 68-49 for fourth-straight victory
Dec. 21, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

After going five minutes without scoring to start the second half, the Oregon Ducks got a pair of three-point shots from Jordan Loera to cut a 45-35 deficit to four points, and eventually cut the margin to 49-46.

But, that's as close as Oregon got to the host Portland Pilots, who powered through the end of the game for a 68-49 victory in non-conference women's basketball action Friday afternoon at the Chiles Center.

Sophomore Kari Luttinen scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Pilots, who improved to 5-7 with their fourth-straight victory.

"We're a young team, and we've just settled down in the last stretch of games," Portland coach Jim Sollars said. "We're taking better shots and are able to make a higher percentage of those better shots, and that's showing in our results."

Portland beat three teams from the Big Sky Conference entering the game and have added a Pac-12 team to their resume.

The Pilots play host to Portland State, Dec. 29.

Ariel Thomas scored 12 points to lead Oregon, which dropped to 2-9. The Ducks had a significant sign of optimism on their bench, though, as sophomore Ellizabeth Brenner, fresh from helping the volleyball team to the national championship match, was in street clothes and preparing to regoin the team.




Prep hoop season closes in on big tournaments

The Les Schwab Invite and Nike Interstate Shootout are just a week away
Dec. 19, 2012 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Jesuit continued on its pace toward a fifth consecutive state title with an 88-55 win over South Salem Tuesday night, improving the team to 6-0 on the season heading into a game Firday at Silverton.

The Crusaders narrowly survived a series of three games against Class 5A schools early in the season, including an overtime win over Jefferson, but have won their past two games by 33 points each time.

They begin play in the Les Schwab Invitational Dec., 26 against Sheldon.

Lake Oswego, which lost to Jesuit in the state final last year, is also set for the LSI and will play Sunset in its opener.

In girls play, Oregon City won the Iolani Classic in Hawaii with a 49-44 victory over Dr. Phillips Academy, whch had been previously unbeaten, in the final.

The Pioneers begin play in the Interstate Shootout Dec. 27 against Southridge, which it beat 79-38 two weeks ago, in one half of the tournament, which has two 16-team brackets.

One team that is skipping out on the Interstate tournament is defending state champion South Medford, which is traveling out of state to to Maryland for an eight-team tournament. The Panthers will play in a four-team tournament in San Francisco in January as well.


Singler making most of playing time

South Medford legend gets plenty of attention in the Motor City on, off court
Dec. 6, 2012

Kyle Singler keeps making the most of his opportunities.

Despite being named the Most Valuable Player of the 2010 NCAA Final Four while leading the Duke Blue Devils to the men's basketball title, his draft stock was always shaky and after being taken in the second round of that year's draft by Detroit, he spent the following year in Europe while the NBA Lockout took place.

Back in the U.S., Singler found his way into the Pistons' starting lineup on Nov. 14, when starting guard Rodney Stuckey came down with a head cold and the team shuffled its lineup. Since then, Singler has averaged nearly 10 points per game and had a double-double against the Blazers last week during a 108-101 win for Detroit, and Stuckey has had to come off the bench - and even done so happily.

Since losing their first eight games, the Pistons are 5-5.

Singler, who led South Medford to the Class 6A state title in 2007, has become a favorite for fans off the court as well, producing a video of trick shots from around the Detroit area, including Comerica Park - home of the Tigers, and Ford Field - home of the Lions. In one shot he even makes a trick shot of the winshield of a passing car.

"The car one took me a bit, took me a while," Singler told a Detroit writer. "It's all luck, but there's definitely a little skill involved."

Taka a look.


Nets ease past Blazers with late surge

Brooklyn breaks from a 74-all tie to win 98-85
Nov. 25, 2012

NEW YORK - Deron Williams had 15 points, 12 assists, four blocked shots and three steals and the Brooklyn Nets tuned up for their first outing against the New York Knicks with a 98-85 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday at the Barclays Center.

Kris Humphries had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Nets, who play host to the Knicks Monday in a game postponed by Superstorm Sandy.

Portland got a standout performance from Wes Matthews with 20 points, and J.J. Hickson added 19 points and 10 rebounds for Portland, which played without LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Blazers played evenly into the fourth quarter when the Nets went on a 9-0 run to break a 74-all tie and take over the game.

Damian Lillard had 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds for Portland.

Aldridge was in uniform, but did not play after receiving treatment from the training staff.

Portland dropped to 6-7 and will play at Detroit (3-11) Monday in the second game of an 11-day road trip.

While the Pistons have struggled this season, former South Medford standout Kyle Singler has fit into the team's line-up and long-term plans averaging 24 minutes, 8.8 points and 48 percent shooting.

Blazers fans getting boost in polls

Damian Lillard leads an optimistic view of the coming season(s)
Nov. 5, 2012 / By Chase Kunkle,

Outscored again in the fourth quarter - for the fourth time in ... four games, the Portland Trail Blazers dropped to 2-2 on the season Monday night with a 114-91 loss at Dallas. The Blazers got outscored 31-12 in the final quarter to turn a competitive game into a rout, at least on the scoreboard.

But, even after a sub-par performance, there's plenty of optimism for Portland's diehard fans.

Damian Lillard. He's just the second rookie in league history to start his career with three straight games of 20 points and 7 assists per game, living up to Rookie of the Year hype. His ability to slash and create his own shot at will has fans salivating at the mouth. And, his teammates, too - especially Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews, who desperately needed space for open shots last season but didn't get that. Matthews is shooting 50 percent from 3-point territory through four games. Lillard is getting great press this week for being the top ROY candidate.

There's Lillard and there's hustle. If there was a stat for hustle, the young Blazers team would be leading the NBA. It's the heart we haven't seen in recent Blazers teams. Heart shows up online, too. After Monday's loss, Lillard posted on Facebook: “Tough one, but my head gone always be up. I'm just trying to learn and continue to grow.”

The Blazers were ranked 13th out of 15 Western Conference teams at the beginning of the season, mostly because there are so few players with more than two years of experience in the league, and that's an issue for the bench, and an issue for defense, and an issue in the fourth quarter. But, the team is 2-2 with an overtime win on the road and season-opening pounding of the Los Angeles Lakers. They're not playing like the No. 13 team out of 15.

There's plenty of light at the end of the tunnel.

Next up: the Clippers at home on Thursday night.


Blazers tame Harden, Rockets in OT

After getting burned by the Spurs, Oklahoma City brushes Portland aside 106-92
Nov. 3, 2012

Red-hot James Harden cooled off enough for the Portland Trail Blazers to take Houston into overtime Saturday night, and the Blazers then scorched the home team for a 95-85 victory.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists to lead the Blazers, who held Harden to 24 points on 8-of-24 shooting from the field.

Portland got 20 points, nine assists and six rebounds from rookie Damian Lillard and held a 28-19 edge in assists by game's end.

Portland, 2-1, won despite being outscored 23-6 off the bench.



Nov. 2, 2012

The Portland Trail Blazers looked like a playoff contender for a second straight game, even if they didn't win Friday.

Oklahoma City, spurned by San Antonio the night before, got plenty of pressure from the Blazers before settling in for a 106-92 victory in their home opener.

Russell Westbrook scored 32 points, Kevin Durant added 23 points, 17 rebounds and 7 assists, and Kenyon Martin tossed in 19 points off the bench to lead the defending Western Conference champions, who lost on a last-second shot to the Spurs Thursday.

Portland trailed by 1 late in the third quarter, but couldn't overcome the Thurnder's inside game and shaky outside shooting. The Blazers hit just 36 percent of their field-goal attempts, 26 of which were from 3-point territory.

LaMarcus Aldridge led the Blazers with 22 points and 15 rebounds, while rooking point guard Damian Lillard had 21 points and 7 assists. Portland's bench got outscored 42-15.

The Blazers, 1-1, travel to Houston Saturday to face red-hot James Harden and the Rockets.


Terry Stotts is as good a good fit for Portland

Tue, 10/09/2012 - 1:47pm
Cliff Pfenning
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The Portland Trail Blazers finally answered the question about their head coach by naming Terry Stotts to the position Tuesday afternoon.

After months of uncertainty, the team has a leader with experience in the position.

Stotts gets credit for helping develop the offense the Dallas Mavericks used to win the 2011 NBA Championship.

Of course, that offense had Dirk Nowitzki at its center, Jason Terry dashing down the lane and Jason Kidd handling the ball. Don't forget the energetic, involved owner, Mark Cuban, and years of previous near-misses as a playoff team.

In Portland, Stotts takes over a franchise basically re-starting its drive to become a playoff team, which chose him as coach over ... Caleb Kanales, who is regularly noted for having started with the team as a video coordinator.

Stotts inherits a team with an All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge, but is mostly waiting to be developed or recogonized for their consistency such as Nicolas Batum. Only Aldridge has as many as six years of experience in the league among the current roster.

Portland's has - plenty of potential - had to be a key in Stotts wanting to move to the Rose City, something that plenty of other possible coaches apparently weren't hyped about, even without the stress of needing to win right away. Stotts can grow with the team, as Portland's fans learn to love the roster of young guns.

So, it's "Rise With Us!" again. From the coach to rookies to international standouts.



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