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 - 9:03am
Cliff Pfenning
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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?




Who do you root for?

Is there a Final Four underdog? And, can LMA lead Portland to a series win?
March 31, 2014 / By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports Journal

How can anyone root for Kentucky as an underdog in the NCAA Tournament? Well, they are, according to their seeding in this year's tournament at No. 8. Connecticut, a regular national champion, is seeded No. 7, but reached the Final Four along with UK.

So, who's an underdog this year?

That's a key topic for the Sportsland, Oregon crew during this week's episode, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

With Wisconsin reaching the Final Four, the cast of Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber discuss the frustration of Oregon's second-half collapse against the Badgers in the third round. How far away are the Ducks from a regular trip to the Elite Eight and Final Four?

Then, it's off to the Blazers and the danger they faced just last week of seemingly being on a path to ninth place in the Western Conference. Once LaMarcus Aldridge returned from an injury, the team settled down and won three straight to reclaim their position as a potential No. 4 seed.

Portland Timbers, Portland Winterhawks and Roofball all claim some portion of discussion of the show.


Broncos perform a super blowout

Seattle wins in a big, but really disappointing way
Feb. 3, 2014

We're they on the take?

The Denver Broncos played so poorly in Sunday's Super Bowl, it might have caused more than a few fans to wonder if they were giving their version of "Eight Men Out," only on a football field.

Final score 43-8. What a disappointment - from the TV viewer side. Even the commercials were disappointing.

That's the main topic of the third episode of Sportsland, Oregon, recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

Cast members Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber delve into the game and the many subplots, as well as reflect on the Super Bowl in general - the games worth remembering.

Then, it's onto the Blazers and their two All-Stars - LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, a 1-2 punch the franchise hasn't had in two decades.

They've been the key to the team's impressive season, as well as a lack of injuries.

The Ducks and Beavers are on the line-up as are the Winter Olympics. And, of course, the first event of the Roofball season, the 2014 World Championships set for Sunday.


Oregon tops the list for 2013

The Ducks didn't reach the title game, but they had our attention
Dec. 30, 2013

The University of Oregon football team took its fans through highs and lows pretty well this season, and that put the Ducks at the top of the list for memories of the 2013 calendar year for the cast of Sportsland, Oregon, which recorded its 28th episode Monday night.

Oregon had the BCS Title Game squarely in sight until and loss at Stanford, and then slipped out of a BCS game with a punishing loss at Arizona, both of which had fans beginning to look in the direction of first-year coach Mark Helfrich.

But, at 11-2, it's tough to claim Helfrich isn't qualified for the job. So, it's time to relax, find a successor to Nick Aliotti at defensive coordinator, and look toward winning the 2014 Pac-12 title and a spot in the BCS Playoffs.

The show cast: Derek Weber, Marlon Thomas and host Cliff Pfenning, then move on to the NFL and its glorious final day that broke the hearts of Dallas Cowboys fans everywhere.

And, the Portland Trail Blazers, who've quietly dazzled the pro hoop world, took another late-game shot to the chest in the form of a two-point loss at New Orleans, which gave the team its first two-game losing streak of the season with a game at Oklahoma City up next.

It's all recorded at Blitz Pearl in Northwest Portland.

Lillard hits another game winner

On the way to 36 points, Blazers' point guard sinks Clevelend in final second
Dec. 17, 2013 / Associated Press

CLEVELAND - The Portland Trail Blazers kept it real simple with the game on the line. Just get the ball to Damian Lillard, and get out of the way.

No need for any fancy calls when Lillard’s on the court.

The point guard made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining, lifting Portland to a 119-116 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday night.

“There is no explaining it,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “Damian had it going, so we ran it through him.”

Lillard had a career-high eight 3-pointers while scoring 36 points. The 2013 NBA Rookie of the Year also had a fadeaway jumper as time expired to give Portland a 111-109 overtime victory over Detroit on Sunday.

“That was cold-blooded,” Cleveland guard Dion Waiters said. “We knew Lillard was getting the ball. That was a big-time shot.”

Anderson Varejao’s tying basket for Cleveland with 7.1 seconds left prompted a Portland timeout. Lillard took the pass at mid-court, dribbled to the top of the key and buried the winning shot over Alonzo Gee from about 26 feet out.

“He’s more capable of dribble-driving by you and finishing,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said. “Their last game he drove by somebody and shot a pull-up. So you pick your poison.”

Lillard had enough time to drive to the basket, but he decided to shoot from beyond the arc.

“I didn’t want to get in too deep because they’ve got some giants in there,” Lillard said. “And Alonzo Gee is a great athlete, so I didn’t want to drive on him. I gave him a move to get him off balance, and I wanted to be ready when I froze him.”

Portland (22-4) has the best record in the NBA and is 11-0 against the Eastern Conference. The Blazers have won five straight and are 12-2 on the road.

Kyrie Irving’s bid for a tying 3-pointer from about 35 feet bounced off the back of the rim at the buzzer. Irving and Waiters scored 25 points apiece for Cleveland.

Miami Heat superstar LeBron James took to Twitter to praise both teams.

Playoff pressure starts to build for Blazers

Sure they can win, but what about the playoffs? And, it's bowl time
Dec. 9, 2013

After wins over Indiana and Oklahoma City in the same week, the Portland Trail Blazers moved up to No. 1 in the weekly Power Rankings produced by Sports Illustrated.

In the Western Conference, though, they're No. 2 - that's the sentiment of the cast of Sportsland, Oregon, from Episode 26 recorded Monday night at Blitz Pearl.

Portland has wins over the Pacers, Thunder and San Antonio Spurs, and have started the season at 18-4, which has them headed for a high playoff seed. But, the playoffs are a different animal and the Blazers haven't been tested there in two seasons. San Antonio, which reached the NBA Finals last season and is 15-4, got the nod in the West Monday, with Portland at No. 2.

Other topics included the Oregon and Oregon State bowl games, the Oregon snow fight scandal and late-game scoring in the NFL, all during the weekly show, which is headed for its fourth season.


Monday, Dec. 9, 2013 - Records through Sunday.

1. San Antonio (15-4)

2. Portland Trail Blazers (17-4)

3. Oklahoma City Thunder (15-4)

4. Houston Rockets (15-7)

5. Los Angeles Clippers (13-8)

6. Dallas Mavericks (13-8)

7. Denver Nuggets (12-8)

8. Golden State Warriors (13-9)

9. Phoenix Suns (11-9)

10. Memphis Grizzlies (9-10)

11. Los Angeles Lakers (10-10)

12. Minnesota Timberwolves (9-11)

13. New Orleans Pelicans (9-10)

14. Sacramento Kings (4-11)

15. Utah Jazz (4-18)



Blazers shoot down another contender

LMA scores, rebounds big in 111-104 win over Houston
Dec. 12, 2013 / Associated Press

PORTLAND - LaMarcus Aldridge’s big night against the Houston Rockets wasn’t about the stats, the All-Star votes or the fans chanting ‘’MVP! MVP!’’

‘’This was a “we needed a win’ night for me,’’ said Aldridge, who had 31 points and a career-high 25 rebounds in the Trail Blazers’ 111-104 victory Thursday.

For Aldridge, it was important that Portland (19-4) come away with a win after losing to the Rockets earlier this season - a rare blip for the Western Conference leaders.

It was the first time in franchise history that a Blazers player scored 30 or more points with 25 or more rebounds.

‘’I’m blessed,’’ Aldridge said. ‘’(But) I felt tonight, it was needed.’’

Dwight Howard had 32 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, who beat the Blazers 116-101 on Nov. 5. That was one of just two losses at home this season for Portland.

The Trail Blazers led by 10 early in the fourth quarter, but Chandler Parsons hit a 3-pointer to narrow it to 93-88 with 7:07 left. Houston closed to 97-95 after James Harden made a layup and a free throw with 4:45 to go.

Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer pushed Portland’s lead to 102-95 before Wesley Matthews’ layup and free throw made it 108-96 with 2:04 left and all but put the game out of reach for the Rockets.

‘’They made some big plays down the stretch,’’ Howard said. ‘’It seemed like every time we would close the gap, they came down and got a great shot. This was big for them.’’

Blazers center Robin Lopez added 16 points and 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season, a career high.

Portland was coming off a 105-94 victory in Utah on Monday. The Blazers have scored 100 or more points in 10 consecutive games.

Houston had won two straight, including a 98-88 victory over the Orlando Magic on Sunday.

The Rockets (15-7) were without Omer Asik, who missed his fourth straight game with a bruised right thigh. Houston did get back guard Jeremy Lin, who missed the previous six games with a sprained right knee.

Rockets coach Kevin McHale was not with the team because of the death of his mother. Her funeral is scheduled for Friday in Minnesota. Assistant coach Kelvin Sampson ran the club against the Blazers.

‘’Portland is obviously really good, and they’re really good in this gym,’’ Sampson said. ‘’They are playing with a lot of confidence right now.’’

Neither side was able to get in front by more than five points in the first half. Portland held a 21-20 lead after the opening quarter. Aldridge was just 1 for 7 from the floor but he had nine rebounds.

Houston went ahead 32-28 on Parsons’ layup and Howard’s hook shot, and the Rockets led 44-43 at halftime. Neither team shot well, with Portland at 32 percent and Houston at 36 percent. The Rockets had just five first-half assists.

The Blazers opened the second half with an 11-3 run capped by Matthews’ 3-pointer to take a 54-47 lead. Portland stretched the lead to 59-49 on Lopez’s dunk and free throw. Aldridge got rolling with 11 points and eight rebounds.

The Rockets closed the gap to 70-68 late in the third quarter when Howard hit a pair of free throws and dunked. Omri Casspi tied it at 70 on free throws with 2 minutes left.

The game was tied going into the fourth quarter, but Portland scored 10 unanswered points to go up 86-76.

‘’I think we go into games with a certain level of confidence, but, at the same time, we realize that we’re playing hard and our success is because we’re playing hard,’’ Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ‘’Our record is what it is, but it’s not easy. You have to compete every night.’’

Blazers show early power

In the Western Conference, Portland looks like a playoff team
Nov. 11, 2013

The Portland Trail Blazers entered the NBA season as a potential playoff team in the Western Conference, but strong play from its two leaders and a developing bench have the team moving ahead of those expectations.

In the first Western Power Rankings of the season, the Blazers are battling for homecourt edge in the first round - that's the view of the cast of Sportsland in the 25th episode of 2013.

Portland's schedule has been light on top teams, but the Blazers have a home win over San Antonio - the Spurs' only loss of the season - giving it some spunk in the rankings.

But, it's early. The West has 10 of the top 13 teams, according to Monday's Sports Illustrated Rankings of the entire league, so there's likely to be some wild swings in terms of power.

Here's the Western Power Rankings (with records following Monday's games):

1. San Antonio (7-1)

2. Oklahoma City (5-1)

3. Houston (5-3)

4. Portland (5-2)

5. Los Angeles Clippers (5-3)

6. Minnesota (5-3)

7. Phoenix(5-2)

8. Golden State (4-3)

9. Dallas (4-3)

10. Memphis (3-4)

11. New Orleans (3-4)

12. Los Angeles Lakers (3-5)

13. Denver (2-4)

14. Sacramento (1-5)

15. Utah (0-8)

That's just the start of the show, which delves into Oregon's loss at Stanford as well as college bowl predictions and the nature of soccer scheduling that has the Portland Timbers taking two weeks off before the second leg of its Western Conference finals series with Real Salt Lake.



Phil works on a monarchy

Sportsland delves into Mickelson's win, the Dodgers, Ducks and NBA rankings
July 22, 2013

Give Phil Mickelson credit - he knows how to take the drama out of a classic golf event.

That's what a 4-under round will do during the final round of an epic round at the British Open.

The cast of Sportsland, Oregon delves into the Open and how it translated to the West Coast audience as part of Episode 18, recorded at Blitz in the Pearl District of Northwest Portland.

Cliff Pfenning, Derek Weber and Marlon Thomas chat up golf, Major League Baseball, the Oregon football team, rank the franchises in the NBA's Northwest Division and drugs in baseball, all in an entertaining sixty minutes of commentary, aided by soccer insider Lynette Nixon.

Are the Blazers next to the Thunder in the NW rankings?

Who will the Ducks play in the college football title game?

And, just how old is Phil, anyway?

All recorded at Blitz Pearl.


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