damian lillard

Lillard real judge for 2021 will be after All-Star Game

Playoff success will easily overshadow another All-Star Game snub
By Cliff Pfenning, Publisher

Social media lit up around the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday when the NBA exposed its line-up for the upcoming All-Star Game ... and Damian Lillard was not a starter for the Western Conference.

Lillard, Dame to the league's fans, got stiffed. Turns out it was by the NBA's fans, who picked Lebron James, Steph Curry and Luka Doncic as the starting guard trio, even though players and the league's media picked Lillard for the third spot.

Dame got stiffed for that third spot.

But, really, who cares as the big prize is on the court after the All-Star Game, which is set to be played between the end of the pandemic-shortened regular season and the unshortened playoffs on March 7 in Atlanta.

Would have been nice, really nice, for Damian to get into an All-Star starting role for the first time in his nine-year career.

This season is his most deserving as he's averaging nearly 30 points, four rebounds and eight assists per game to lead the Blazers to fourth place in the West, regularly closing out games with the decisive shot. And those decisive shots have been highlight worthy night after night for viewers on ESPN and the web.

But, Doncic, in his third year with Dallad, is hot right now, and even a bit outspoken about his team's motivation to win as the Mavericks struggle to reach .500 and a spot in the playoffs.

That's the real judge of the season for Dame, and he is an All-Star for the sixth time, so at least the league respects him. His fellow players and those who cover the league voted him to a starting role, but fan votes carry more weight. As do the playoffs, and fan voting has nothing to do with those games.

Portland is lined up for a first-round battle against Phoenix currently, although that's entirely volatile with seventh place and a meeting with the Lakers only 1.5 games away with seven games left on the schedule. Four of those games are against current West playoff teams.

The Blazers play at Phoenix on Monday, then at the Lakers next Friday.

 

BLAZERS WIN SIXTH STRAIGHT

NEW ORLEANS - Damian Lillard showcased his clutch credentials with 43 points, including a go-ahead three-point play with 16.5 seconds left, to lift the Trail Blazers to their sixth consecutive victory, 126-124 over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night.

Lillard also added 16 assists – his third consecutive game of at least 30 points and 10 assists — for a team playing without backcourt mate CJ McCollum and center Jusuf Nurkic.

“Our guys fought hard, but we just could not contain him at all,” said Pelicans coach Stan Van Gundy. “Stopping them is 90 percent stopping him.”

Lillard had 11 fourth-quarter points and was clutch in the final seven minutes. JJ Redick gave the Pelicans a 105-103 lead with 7:34 left, capping a 7-0 New Orleans run, but Lillard then came off the bench and immediately hit a 3-pointer as Portland regained the lead. Anfernee Simons added a 3-pointer on the next possession to make it 109-105.

The Pelicans retook the lead on a pair of 3-pointers by Lonzo Ball and Redick and led for the final time at 124-123 with 26.4 seconds left after Zion Williamson made two free throws. Williamson’s finished with 36 points.

But Lillard drove past Ball on the left side of the lane for the layup and drew contact to put Portland up 126-124.

“There were 26 seconds on the clock, and I knew that whether we scored or not, if we just got a quality shot and gave ourselves enough time, even if we fouled and they made both free throws, we still would have had a chance to tie and go into overtime,” Lillard said. “So, it was really no pressure on that possession.

“I just wanted to attack, make an aggressive move. I was able to get some space. I drew contact and I just focused on the finish.”

The Pelicans had a final chance, but Ball missed a 3-pointer and Brandon Ingram threw up an airball at the buzzer.

Lillard had 11 points in the third quarter as the Blazers outscored New Orleans 35-22 to take a 94-91 lead, with Gary Trent Jr. hitting a 3-pointer from the right wing at the buzzer.

Lillard hit three consecutive 3-pointers in a 1:44 span as part of his 15-point, first-quarter flurry, which keyed a 21-8 run and produced a 35-30 Portland lead. The Blazers led by as many as 11 in the first quarter, but the Pelicans, shooting 52 percent closed out the period with an 11-5 run.

Lillard played the entire first quarter, but when he sat for the first six minutes of the second, the Pelicans made a move, taking a 45-43 lead behind Williamson’s eight points on an array of power moves to the basket from the high post. New Orleans used a 28-9 run to take a 53-45 lead.

During one five-minute stretch, New Orleans made nine consecutive shots, including two 3-pointers by Ball and one each by Eric Bledsoe and Willy Hernangomez, to stretch its advantage to 64-49. Ball’s 16 first-half points on 4-of-5 shooting from long range helped the Pelicans to a 39-24 edge in the second quarter and gave the Pelicans a 69-59 halftime lead.

Dame got stiffed by fans

Fri, 02/19/2021 - 7:34am
Cliff Pfenning
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Social media lit up around the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday when the NBA exposed its line-up for the upcoming All-Star Game ... and Damian Lillard was not a starter for the Western Conference.

Lillard, Dame to the league's fans, got stiffed. Turns out it was by the NBA's fans, who picked Lebron James, Steph Curry and Luka Doncic as the starting guard trio, even though players and the league's media picked Lillard for the third spot.

Dame got stiffed for that third spot.

But, really, who cares as the big prize is on the court after the All-Star Game, which is set to be played between the end of the pandemic-shoertened regular season and the unshortened playoffs on March 7 in Atlanta.

Would have been nice, really nice, for Damian to get into an All-Star starting role for the first time in his nine-year career.

This season is his most deserving as he's averaging nearly 30 points, four rebounds and eight assists per game to lead the Blazers to fourth place in the West, regularly closing out games with the decisive shot. And those decisive shots have been highlight worthy night after night for viewers on ESPN and the web.

But, Doncic, in his third year with Dallad, is hot right now, and even a bit outspoken about his team's motivation to win as the Mavericks struggle to reach .500 and a spot in the playoffs.

That's the real judge of the season for Dame, and he is an All-Star for the sixth time, so at least the league respects him. His fellow players and those who cover the league voted him to a starting role, but fan votes carry more weight. As do the playoffs, and fan voting has nothing to do with those games.

Portland is lined up for a first-round battle against Phoenix currently, although that's entirely volatile with seventh place and a meeting with the Lakers only 1.5 games away with seven games left on the schedule. Four of those games are against current West playoff teams.

The Blazers play at Phoenix on Monday, then at the Lakers next Friday.

 

 

Blazers gain some momentum

A 121-105 win over Phoenix leads right to key Memphis contest
Staff Report

The NBA playoffs might not be so far off after all for the Portland Trail Blazers.

After a 121-105 win over Phoenix at the Moda Center Tuesday night, the team moved up a full game in its race to catch Memphis for the eighth playoff spot with the Grizzlies losing at home to Orlando Tuesday.

The win/loss moved Portland to within 3.5 games of Memphis, and the Grizzlies will be in town Thursday. A win would pull te Blazers to within 2.5 games with 15 games left in the regular season. And the Blazers will still have three home games in a row following Thursday's game.

Damial Lillard led the Blazers with 25 points, and C.J. McCollum and Trevor Ariza added 22 points each as the team snapped a two-game losing streak.

The win avenged a 127-117 loss in Phoenix Friday night in which 6-foot-10 forward Aaron Baynes hit a Suns team record nine three-point shots. Baynes made just one of seven three-pointers Tuesday and finished with seven points and two rebounds. Devin Booker led the Suns with 29 points.

Portland improved to 29-37 with its third win in its last five games.

Phoenix dropped to 26-39.

 

 

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).

 

 

Oregon women duel with UCLA

4CAST: Ducks, Timbers, Damian, High School Hoops
Staff report

The Oregon Ducks will look to hold onto their spot atop the Pacific 12 Conference and move up in the national rankings tonight when they play host to the UCLA Bruins at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon enters ranked No. 9, while UCLA is No. 7 for the time, having lost to Oregon State Friday night.

ESPNU will be on hand to televise the game.

One key note in the game is Oregon's Ruthie Hebard, who has made her last 30 field-goal attempts to set an all-time NCAA record.

The Ducks are

2. PORTLAND TIMBERS KEEP PRESEASON MOVING FORWARD

The Timbers dropped a 2-1 decision to FC Dallas Saturday, but kept its drive to the regular season on track by playing many of its predicted starters for most of the game. Forward Fanendo Adi and midfielder Diego Valeri were among the group that played 80 or more minutes.

Newcomer Samuel Armenteros, who joined the club last week, scored for Portland. Former Timbers forward Maximiliano Urruti scored both goals for Dallas.

Portland plays the New York Red Bulls on Wednesday. The regular season begins March 3 in Los Angeles.

3. DAMIAN LILLARD ALL-STAR

Damian Lillard, representing the Portland Trail Blazers for the third time at the All-Star Game, scored a team-high 21 points in 21 minutes, but Team Steph lost 148-145 to Team LeBron at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Liillard made 9 of 14 shots from the field and grabbed three rebounds. All five of his misses were from beyond the three-point line.

Portland (32-26) returns to action with a game Friday at Utah (30-28), and Saturday at Phoenix (18-41). The Blazers are currently tied with Denver for the sixth spot in the Western Conference, just a half-game behind No. 5 Oklahoma City, and one game ahead of the No. 9 Los Angeles Clippers.

4. PLAYOFFS BEGIN FOR 3A, 2A, 1A BASKETBALL

The smaller schools across the state begin their playoffs Wedensday when the Class 1A boys and girls play the first of two rounds of games 16 teams playing elimination games. The eight winners of Wednesday's games will be paired with a league champion for the eight-team tournament play-in round Saturday with seeding among the 16 teams taking place at that time.

The Class 3A and 2A teams have a one-game play-in round Saturday having reached the end of their regular season this past weekend.

At CLASS 3A, De La Salle North Catholic of Portland is seeded No. 1 in the boys bracket, while Salem Academy is seeded No. 1 in the girls bracket.

AT CLASS 2A, Western Mennonite is seeded No. 1 in the boys bracket with Kennedy seeded No. 1 among the girls.

 

 

 

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).

 

Where's Damian's big mouth?

Thu, 01/25/2018 - 9:46am
Cliff Pfenning
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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."

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.

 

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.

 

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.


Blazers own Houston

Portland destroys the Rockets on the road, 96-79
Feb. 6, 2016 / Associated Press

HOUSTON - The Portland Trail Blazers were determined that this trip to Houston would end much better than their last visit here when they were stung by a tough overtime loss to the Rockets.

That was clear from the beginning of this one. Damian Lillard had 21 points and 10 assists and the Trail Blazers built a big lead early and rolled to an easy 96-79 win over the Rockets on Saturday.

In their last game here they led by 15 in the fourth quarter before Houston rallied to force overtime and got a 108-103 win on the day coach Kevin McHale was fired in November.

“We talked about it for a little while after and we was sick about that one,” Lillard said. “We talked about it. Especially coming into tonight, we said to remember what happened last time.”

On Saturday, the Trail Blazers were up by 19 at halftime and scored the first six points of the third quarter to make it 61-36 with about 10 minutes left in the quarter.

James Harden made four quick points after that before the Trail Blazers used a 13-2 run -- with 3s from Lillard, C.J. McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu -- to push the lead to 74-42.

The Rockets scored the last 11 points of the quarter, with the first nine from Harden, to cut the lead to 74-53 entering the fourth. But Portland opened the fourth with an 8-2 spurt.

“That was a really good win,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Defensively we were solid all (game). For the most part we took away and they didn’t get 3s or transition.”

Harden led the Rockets with 33 points.

“We’re just a slow step on everything,” Harden said. “When you get a slow step, you give guys confidence early on in the game. They kind of rode that wave out and were making shots.”

The Trail Blazers had six players with 10 or more points. McCollum and Gerald Henderson had 16, Maurice Harkless had 14, Aminu had 11 and Mason Plumlee had 10.

The Rockets made a bit of a game out of it when they scored 11 straight points to get within 89-78 with about 3 minutes left. But Portland used a 5-1 spurt after that to fend off the late charge.

Houston entered the game shooting 35.5 percent from 3-point range but made just 7 of 36 for a season-low 19.4 percent. But it wasn’t just the Rockets’ long-range shooting that was terrible on Saturday -- they shot just 32.5 percent overall, which is also a season-low. They were also outrebounded 54-43.

“It’s disappointing the way we came out and played this game,” Houston coach J.B. Bickerstaff said. “As important as this game was it’s disappointing to say the least.”

The Trail Blazers led by six at the end of the first quarter and opened the second quarter with a 13-2 run to extend the lead to 42-25.

The Rockets got within 44-30 after an alley-oop dunk by Dwight Howard with about 7 minutes left in the second quarter. But Houston couldn’t do anything on offense after that, making just one field goal the rest of the first half to trail 55-36 at halftime.

Houston made four free throws in that span but missed 11 shots and had five turnovers.

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