What's PDX known for best?

What do sports fans mention first? Soccer or basketball?
By Cliff Pfenning,

When drivers for Uber or Lyft pick passengers up at the airport and describe Portland on the way to a downtown hotel, the many nicknames for the city easily glide off the pallet - Rose City, Bridgetown, Bridge City, Stumptown among the top ones.

And, Portland has two very distinct monikers for sports: Rip City and Soccer City. Or is it Soccer City and Rip City?

That's the Sports Jury question for this week, which you can vote for on the front page of

Portland has an equally fanatic fanbase for both basketball and soccer, but which one would come up first as in if there were an election and every resident could only vote for one? Ultimately the outcome might be 50.1 - 49.9 percent. One of the names would need to come first. What do Portlanders know Portland best for?

Is it Rip City? Portland got the nickname in 1977 during the NBA Title run, when radio play-by-play commentator Bill Schonely came up with it to highlight the key moments of the stirring season. Bill Walton, Maurice Lucas, Lionel Hollins, Bobby Gross, Dave Twardzik - they were Red Hot and Rollin' in the Rip City. Portland began a sellout streak at Memorial Coliseum that engrained 12,666 - a full house - in everyone's mind.

Portland is Rip City.

By 1977, though, Portland had already developed the nickname Soccer City from its inaugural season in the North American Soccer League due to the large, loud crowds that took over Civic Stadium for Timbers games. When the team actually outperformed its expansion expectations and reached the playoffs, not only did the Timbers win, they set attendance records twice on the way to Soccer Bowl '75.

The team and league folded less that a decade later, but the rebirth of the franchise in 2001 and it's move to Major League Soccer in 2011, have come with a fanatacism the rest of the nation has watched and admired as the way to support an American team with European flavour.

Portland is Soccer City, USA.

But with just one vote, which one gets it?



Lillard dazzles on somber night for basketball

Portland beat the Lakers 127-119 in first post-Kobe game
Associated Press

It was a game that had to be played, and the Portland Trail Blazers came out on top.

In their first game since the death of legend Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers honored one of the franchises' most revered players led by an address to the crowd by Lebron James. 

Once the contest began, James and teammate Anthony Davis combined for 59 points, but Portland's Damian Lillard nearly matched that himself.

Lillard hit seven three-point shots and went off for 48 points, just missing his second career triple-double with 10 assists and nine rebounds. He notched his first triple-double earlier in the week.

Portland got an amazing performance from center Hasan Whiteside, who hit 13 of 14 field-goal attempts on the way to 30 points. He also grabbed 12 rebounds. C.J. McCollum added 19 points for Portland.

The Blazers overcame a 61-40 deficit in rebounds by creating a 17-5 edge in turnovers. The Lakers also missed 10 free throws.

In 40 minutes, Lillard hit 17 of 30 shots and had just one turnover. McCollum made 8 of 22 shots and did not have a turnover.

Portland, which improved to 22-27 and moved to with two games of Memphis, which lost to New Orleans Friday, in the race for the No. 8 playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers return to action Saturday with a home game against Utah (32-16).



Portland bests hot Cousins

Blazers defense snubs the Kings in 112-95 win
Jan. 26, 2016 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - DeMarcus Cousins didn’t have it Tuesday night.

The Sacramento Kings forward, unstoppable in the Kings’ past two games, found his match in the Portland Trail Blazers’ defense.

Cousins, coming off games of 56 and 48 points, missed 17 of his 21 shots and scored just 17 points against Portland interior defense in the Blazers’ 112-95 win at the Moda Center.

C.J. McCollum scored 18 points, Damian Lillard had 15 points and 13 assists as Portland had seven players score in double figures.

With the win, Portland (21-26) moved into a virtual tie with Sacramento (20-25) for eighth in the Western Conference. The Blazers have won six of their past eight.

Cousins was coming off a franchise-high 56-point performance Monday night against Charlotte, but never got untracked against a Portland defense led by Meyers Leonard and Mason Plumlee.

Cousins missed nine of his first 10 shots and went 1-of-7 during the second half before leaving midway through the fourth quarter with Portland having the game in hand. Cousins also struggled at the free throw line, making 9 of 17.

“He’s a very good player, able to score in many ways, but I thought for the most part we did a good job on him,” Leonard said. “We were really locked in on what we needed to do tonight and it was just a great team effort.”

Though Cousins played 46 minutes before fouling out against Charlotte, Sacramento coach George Karl was hesitant to use fatigue as a reason for Cousins’ sub-par outing.

“As a coach I don’t like that excuse. As a human being, it’s probably a justifiable excuse,” Karl said. “He’s been so good I’m not going to complain. He’s been our horse and we’ve ridden him to a lot of good things.”

Portland’s offensive balance also played a big role in the Blazers’ win. Seven players scored between 11 and 18 points. Portland reserves Gerald Henderson, Allen Crabbe and Ed Davis were among those in double figures.

“Their bench hurt us more and that’s a sign of a good team. When you overshoot your emphasis on their No. 1 and 2 strengths, it usually opens up other opportunities. They had some guys jump in and take advantage of that,” Karl said.

Rajon Rondo had 15 points and 11 assists for the Kings, who lost in double overtime on Monday night.

Portland led 58-52 at halftime after leading for most of the first half.

The Trail Blazers maintained a narrow margin for much of the third quarter, but momentum eventually moved in their favor after Cousins missed two free throws, then committed an offensive foul. Portland immediately scored seven consecutive points for its largest lead of the game at 81-67.

Portland led 88-74 after three and continued to pour it on early in the fourth quarter. Crabbe and Henderson hit 3-pointers as the Blazers increased their lead to 100-79 with eight minutes remaining.

Can the Blazers run with it?

Some fast-action offense might be the answer for upcoming season
Augst 18, 2015 / Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

Amid the fun of home runs and Mid-Summer Classic that is baseball, the NBA sort of sneaks in all the free agent signings/unsignings and the Portland Trail Blazers are playing their role in all of it.

But, not too heavily.

Three of their starters left via FA and they traded the fourth leaving a whole line-up of changes ahead. That's the key element of this week's Sportsland, Oregon episode, recorded at Pour Sports sports bar in Southeast Portland.

The team has it's marquee player back - point guard Damian Lillard, and signed for the next six years. But, the rest of the starting line-up is a mystery with some likely options. Gerald Henderson at shooting guard. Al-Farouq Aminu at small forward. Mason Plumlee at center? Meyers Leonard as Kevin Love power forward/outside shooting specialist?

The team's tempo might be the key to the season, and not putting too much pressure on winning.

Then it's off to golf, soccer, some college football talk, and good community causes. All recorded at Pour Sports in Southeast Portland.




Another fourth-quarter rally ends skid

Portland loses Aldridge, but beats Kings to end three-game streak
Jan. 19, 2015 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Even after losing All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge to an injury, the banged-up Trail Blazers found a winning combination.

Damian Lillard scored 22 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:20 remaining, and Portland ended a three-game losing streak Monday night with a 98-94 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Lillard had six points during the final 80 seconds and helped rally the Trail Blazers (31-11) from an 11-point, second-half deficit. Wesley Matthews scored 17 for Portland.

The news wasn’t all good for the Blazers, though, because Aldridge exited in the second quarter with a left thumb injury. Portland coach Terry Stotts said the status of Aldridge, who leads the team with averages of 23.5 points and 10.4 rebounds per game, was “under further review.” X-rays after the game came back negative.

The loss of Aldridge added to an already-depleted Portland front line, with centers Robin Lopez (wrist) and Joel Freeland (shoulder) out for extended periods. And without three of its top inside players, Portland got whipped on the boards by Sacramento (16-25), which outrebounded the Blazers 53-35.

“Being relatively undersized, we had to create some offense with our defense,” Stotts said.

Stotts turned to lightly used reserves Thomas Robinson and Will Barton for long stretches. They, along with Lillard and Matthews, were vital in helping Portland own the fourth quarter, when the Blazers forced eight turnovers and outscored Sacramento 31-19.

“I thought Will and Thomas’ energy would have a chance to change the game,” Stotts said.

The Kings were led by Rudy Gay with 26 points, while DeMarcus Cousins had 22 points and 19 rebounds. But in a game Sacramento dominated for three quarters, the Kings’ eight fourth-quarter turnovers proved to be their undoing.

“That’s eight more possessions that we had that they didn’t,” Lillard said. “It came down to us just tightening up. We got a little more physical on defense, got a little more stingy, and offensively we valued those possessions.”

The Blazers, trailing 75-67 after three, grabbed an 84-83 lead with 5:03 remaining on a 3-pointer by Nic Batum that capped a 12-2 spurt.

Cousins tied it at 89 on two free throws with 1:50 left, then fouled out 8 seconds later.

“That was huge,” Lillard said. “In my opinion, he’s one of the best bigs in the league. It would have been a handful down the stretch to stop him.”

Lillard gave the Blazers the lead for good at 91-89 on a reverse layup. Portland held off Sacramento by making five free throws during the final 1:02.

“I thought we did a great job. The pace of the game was good. I thought we fought hard tonight and gave ourselves a chance to win. It’s a disappointing loss, but I’m happy with the effort from the guys,” Kings coach Tyrone Corbin said after his team’s fourth consecutive loss.

“If we play and compete this hard every night, we’ve got a chance.”

Sacramento dominated most of the first quarter, and Darren Collison and Ben McLemore hit 3-pointers to ignite a 23-5 run for a 25-14 Kings lead.

Portland ran off nine consecutive points to cut the deficit to 31-27 early in the second. A 7-0 surge, punctuated by Meyers Leonard’s fast-break dunk, gave the Blazers a 47-43 lead 3 minutes before halftime. But the Kings had a strong finish to the quarter, and Cousins’ tip-in not long before the buzzer gave Sacramento a 56-51 halftime lead.

Sacramento continued to control the game during the third quarter, using an 8-0 run to build a lead as large as 11 points.

Blazers streak past Bulls

Portland wins its sixth-straight game, 105-87, over Chicago
Nov. 21, 2014 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - Damian Lillard had 21 points and nine assists to help the Trail Blazers beat the short-handed Chicago Bulls 105-87 on Friday night.

However, Mike Dunleavy’s flagrant foul on Lillard in the third quarter, followed by Taj Gibson’s painful left ankle injury, marred Portland’s sixth straight win.

Lillard was going up for a 3-pointer when Dunleavy barreled into him, knocking him down. Wesley Matthews ran over and pushed Dunleavy, and Aaron Brooks in turn shoved Matthews. LaMarcus Aldridge stepped in to separate the group.

Dunleavy was served with a flagrant foul, while Matthews and Brooks got offsetting technicals. Lillard made all three shots.

Afterward, Lillard called it a cheap play.

“When I was shooting the ball I saw him coming at me and I thought, `He’s not stopping,” Lillard said. “Anything could have happened.”

Dunleavy called it an “awkward moment.”

“I was going to intentionally foul him, but he went up to shoot,” he said. “What was I supposed to do?”

Chicago lost Gibson in the third quarter when he sprained his left ankle. Gibson, who came down on Portland’s Wesley Matthews, clutched his ankle and grimaced in pain before he was helped off the court. The 6-foot-9 forward was averaging 12.9 points and 5.9 rebounds coming into the game.

Coach Tom Thibodeau said he didn’t think it was serious, but Gibson left the Moda Center in a boot and on crutches.

“We’ll see where he is tomorrow,” Thibodeau said.

The Bulls were already limited without Derrick Rose, who missed his fourth straight game with a sore left hamstring. Pau Gasol missed his third game with a left calf strain.

They were also missing starting guard Kirk Hinrich, who left Thursday night’s 103-88 loss to the Sacramento Kings with a chest contusion. X-rays were negative, but Thibodeau said before the game that Hinrich was day-to-day.

Rookie Nikola Mirotic came off the bench and had season highs with 24 points and 11 rebounds for the Bulls.

Aldridge added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Blazers, who got Nicolas Batum back after he missed four games with a right knee contusion.

Portland jumped out to an early 25-9 lead after Aldridge’s 3-pointer. Lillard had seven assists in the first quarter alone and finished three short of matching his career high.

The Bulls closed the gap in the second quarter with an 8-0 run that pulled them to 39-35. The rally was short-lived and the Blazers went up 51-39 after a 10-0 run, capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Lillard.

Portland led 61-42 at the half.

Aldridge passed to Robin Lopez for a dunk to put Portland up 70-45 before the Blazers sat their starters for the final period.

“Obviously Chicago didn’t have three of their main guys, but I liked our demeanor,” coach Terry Stotts said. “I liked our disposition, the way we came out of the gates. Our defense was solid.”

Despite the drama, Lillard thought it was one of the Blazers’ most complete games of the season.

“We started the game really well and then they found their way back in -- and we picked it right back up,” he said.

Officially a loss

Portland struggles with shooting and bad breaks in Warriors loss
Nov. 2, 2014

PORTLAND -  Warriors guard Klay Thompson was getting pestered by Portland’s Wesley Matthews, so in a split second he scrapped his plans to drive to the hoop and instead just shot on the run.

The shot fell with 8.9 seconds left on the clock, and Thompson finished with 29 points in Golden State’s 95-90 victory over the Trail Blazers on Sunday night.

“If I had a jumper I was going to shoot it and if he was on my hip I was going to try to get to the rim,” Thompson said. “Since he was right there I decided to try a tough floater and it went in.”

It was the Warriors’ third straight win to open the season -- their best start since 1994-95 when they opened 5-0.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Blazers, who dropped to 1-2 to start the season.

Portland hit just seven of 27 3-point shots in the game, and also had a key possession turned into a turnover with 14.5 seconds when officials overturned a call following a scramble and gave the ball to the Warriors to set up Thompson’s shot. Portland had two turnovers thereafter, and will look to end a two-game skid against the Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night.

After wrestling for the lead throughout the fourth quarter, Aldridge’s layup and a fadeaway jumper with 2:01 left gave Portland a narrow 90-88 lead.

Andre Iguodala missed the second of a pair of free throws for Golden State with 26.3 seconds to go to keep the Blazers in front. But Thompson nailed the floater to give the Warriors a 91-90 lead with under 10 seconds on the clock.

“We bring him (Thompson) off a little counter-screen on the baseline and Matthews chased him, but this is what Klay has become now. He’s not just a jump shooter. He’s a guy who can get into the paint and use his size and strength to get shots up like that,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

Steph Curry made free throws the rest of the way for the final margin. Curry finished with 21 points for the Warriors.

Thompson scored a career-high 41 points the night before in a 127-104 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers. Thompson combined with Curry to score 72 of Golden State’s points.

Coach Steve Kerr said before Sunday’s game that he was impressed -- but not only with the scoring outburst from the duo known as the Splash Brothers.

“It’s a tandem that’s playing both ends of the floor. That’s exciting,” he said.

Thompson and Curry scored Golden State’s first 16 points against the Blazers, and the Warriors built a 24-14 first-quarter lead after Thompson’s 3-pointer.

Golden State led by as many as 12 points, but Portland closed the gap to 38-27 following Matthews’ 3-pointer and Thomas Robinson’s basket. The Blazers couldn’t pull in front but kept it close and trailed by just 51-48 at the half.

Portland briefly pulled ahead 68-66 late in the third quarter on Will Barton’s 22-foot pull-up jumper and the game was tied at 68 going into the back-and-fourth fourth.

Robin Lopez, who had collected five fouls, hit a short jumper to give Portland an 80-79 lead with 5:49 left. Andrew Bogut’s tip-in and Thompson’s dunk gave the Warriors back an 85-84 lead.

Lopez finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Blazers.

There was talk about Damian Lillard’s slow starts after the first two games of the season. He had totaled just six first-half points and was 2-for-10 from the field.

The All-Star guard’s first-half woes continued against the Warriors, and he was 1-for-8 for five points. Lillard finished with 11 points.

Lillard said he’s struggled for a game or two in his young career, but never for a series.

“I think it’s just one of those stretches you have to go through, and that you can grow from,” Lillard said.

Blazers Coach Terry Stotts was unconcerned.

“Dame just plays the game,” he said. “He’ll get his shots.”

Blazers close out preseason on high note

Lillard, Kaman lead Portland past the Clippers in Los Angeles, 99-89
Oct. 24, 2014 / Associated Press

LOS ANGELES - Damian Lillard scored 18 of his 21 points in the first half and Chris Kaman scored all 13 of his points in the first half as the Portland Trail Blazers concluded their preseason with a 99-89 victory against the Los Angeles Clippers on Friday.

Lillard scored seven points in Portland’s 17-4 first-period run that gave the Trailblazers a 25-16 lead with 3:08 left. He also scored his team’s final seven points of the first half for a 54-46 halftime lead for the Trail Blazers (4-3).

Meyers Leonard scored nine of Portland’s first 12 points in the second quarter to get out to a 40-30 lead with 6:29 left in the first half. He finished with 14 points. Wesley Matthews scored eight of his 10 in the third quarter, and Joel Freeland scored 10 points off the bench.

Blake Griffin scored 21 points in three quarters, including 17 in the first half, for Los Angeles (2-6). The Clippers held an opponent to less than 100 points for the first time this preseason. Griffin scored his team’s last nine points in the first quarter to cut the Trail Blazer lead to 27-21.

The Clippers bench, led by Jared Cunningham’s 10 points in the fourth quarter, cut a double-digit deficit to 89-86 with about two minutes to play. A C.J. Wilcox basket made it 93-89 with 1:08 to play, but Portland’s Will Barton answered with 43.8 seconds to play. CJ McCollum made two free throws with 28.1 seconds to play, then stole the ball and dunked for a 10-point lead.

J.J. Redick added 14 points, Chris Paul had eight points and 11 assists, and DeAndre Jordan had nine rebounds for the Clippers.

Portland throws a party

The soccer world takes in the Rose City, and more on this episode
August 6, 2014

Portland showed off big-time Wednesday night, with the world of soccer playing attention to Soccer City, USA. And, the Major League Soccer All-Stars did their part to represent the nation's league with a 2-1 victory over Bayern Munich at Providence Park.

The joy in Portland and some thoughts on the soccer community were key elements of the 14th episode of Sportsland, Oregon, recorded this week from the Pit Stop in Southwest Portland.

Cast members Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber, moved to the record crowd at Sunday's NWSL game, then to how soccer challenges basketball and the Trail Blazers for the top sport in the city.

The NFL, Major League Baseball, Ducks and Beavers and even Roofball talk takes up the rest of the podcast.


Aldrige deserves attention

Thu, 04/24/2014 - 8:03am
Cliff Pfenning
Cliff Pfenning's picture
Last seen: 7 hours 33 min ago
Joined: 2010-07-01

For all the talk of the offensive power LaMarcus Aldridge had displayed in the first two games of the NBA Playoffs, it was his defense that quietly carried the Portland Trail Blazers to victory Wednesday night.

Aldridge went off for 43 points on 18-of-28 shooting Wednesday, just three nights after scoring 46 points, which put him among NBA greats for playoff output in a two-game stretch.

But, his defense absolutely shut down Houston's Deight Howard, who began the game by scoring the Rockets first 13 points - all in impressive style. At the half, Howard had 25 points, and had TNT commentator Shaquille O'Neal boasting his season-long badgering of the NBA's most intimidating player had finally gotten through. And, he wouldn't shut up about it, even when Charles Barkley tried to get a word in.

Barkley - pro sports best overall commentator - pointed out that whatever Howard had done in the first half, it wasn't going to be enough if the rest of the Rockets didn't fulfill their game they were on the path to another loss.

Aldridge's play garnered only a brief few seconds at the end of the halftime commentary - and it was his offensive output of 23 points.

All the commentators missed out on the work Aldridge did on Howard at the end of the first half and start of the second half. After dominating the game's opening 20 minutes - primarly against Robin Lopez, Howard drew a defensive match-up with Aldridge and scored only one point in the next 16 minutes. Aldridge kept Howard away from dunk territory and forced him to be a shooter. Howard responded by basically throwing the basketball in the direction of the basket, not actually shooting.

Without dunking, Dwight Howard is just a good big man, not the dominating center Shaq slobbered all over at halftime.

Houston is likely to produce the same offensive attack Friday in Game 3, but will also have the freedom to shoot and attack with abandon as the underdog that knows the 2-0 series edge the Blazers have, it's only nine total points that separate the two teams after two games. And, the Rockets have played sub-par in both of those games, while the Blazers have gotten career-defining performances from its top player.

This series is far from over, but not if Aldridge continues his incredible play - and there's nothing to indicate he won't. If that happens, it's not going to take long to look at the rest of the league and wonder if Howard, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year, can't stop him, who can?




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