damian lillard blazers

Blazers getting plenty of rest for next season

Portland's playoff run gives it momentum in the off-season
By Cliff Pfenning, oregonsports.com

Whenever the 2020-21 NBA season begins, the Portland Trail Blazers will likely have a key national commentator on their side - Charles Barkley.

Barkley famously predicted the Blazers, then likely the hottest team in the league heading into the playoffs, would sweep the league's top team, the Los Angeles Lakers, in their first-round match-up if they won the first game of the best-of-seven series, which they did.

The Lakers, however, spoiled that prediction by winning the next four games, thus ending the Blazers' season.

Portland, though, did reach the playoffs, and got more than three weeks of rest from when the deciding fifth game ended to when the NBA Finals will end.

The start of the 2020-21 season looms in either November or December, and Portland has a roster that appears capable of finishing in a variety of spots within the Western Conference, although topping the Lakers might be a stretch. The Blazers do, though, have one of the best players in the league - Damian Lillard - and that makes them a dangerous opponent for any team. The series with the Lakers showed off what the team needs to be dangerous for a series, not just a game.

As long as they have Lillard, though, they'll be attractive to television viewers and commenators, Barkley included.

 

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.

 

Blazers ready for home cooking

Portland returns from road trip with playoff spot in sight
Jan. 19, 2016

A season-high performance from long range helped the Portland Trail Blazers bounce Monday back from a discouraging loss and refocus on reaching the playoffs for the third straight season.

The starting backcourt of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum helped the Blazers roar back from an embarrassing 25-point loss to Philadelphia for a 108-98 win at Washington on Monday in which they shot a season-best 54.8 percent from long range.

Lillard and McCollum, who both sat out the 76ers game with slight injuries, combined for 41 points and went 8 of 16 on 3s as the Blazers won for the fourth time in five games.

“Winning three (in a row) and then getting beat by a (76ers) team that only had four wins - the ability to come back and lock in and not dwell on what had happened is big for us,” said Meyers Leonard, who scored 18 points.

Next up for the Blazers (19-25), the Southeast Division-leading Atlanta Hawks on Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

Hawks can create some breathing room atop the Southeast Division with their closest pursuer banged-up and trudging through an exhausting stretch.

The Hawks, however, need to carry the balance they’ve shown in their last few home games out on the road beginning with Wednesday night’s opener of a four-game trip against the Portland Trail Blazers.

Atlanta (25-17) has been jockeying with Miami for the division lead and carries a slim advantage into this matchup with Portland (19-25). The Heat, already saddled with key injuries, are amid a vicious slate in which only two of 16 games come at home.

One of those contests is Jan. 31 against the Hawks, who don’t have it much easier until then with five of their next six away from home.

They’ve lost four of six outside Atlanta to fall to 10-10 on the road, but a pair of home victories this week showed signs of them regaining the balance they used during last season’s 60-win campaign.

After shooting a combined 40.3 percent, including 16 of 55 from 3-point range, in road losses to Charlotte and Milwaukee last week, Atlanta shot the ball well and used its deep rotation in home wins over Brooklyn and Orlando.

The Hawks hit 55.7 percent despite missing 21 of 29 from long range in a 114-86 rout of the Nets on Saturday before having one of their most effective nights from deep with a 9-for-19 effort in Monday’s 98-81 victory over the Magic.

The reserves were key in both wins, providing 53 points, 24 rebounds and 18 assists against Brooklyn, and 47 points, 17 rebounds and 19 assists versus Orlando.

“Our bench has been doing great,” starting forward Paul Millsap said. “When they get in the game, they push the tempo, they get after it on defense, and when you have the whole team contributing, the whole team out there fighting hard, it makes us a tough team.”

The constant stream of fresh legs wreaked havoc on the perimeter, forcing the Nets and Magic to miss 30 of 42 long-range attempts -- a welcome sight for a Hawks team that ranked seventh in the NBA last season with a 34.1 defensive 3-point percentage.

“Their defensive energy is fueling everything else, so hopefully we can continue to get the starters to feed off that, too,” coach Mike Budenholzer said of his reserves. “It’s been good to see that for a few games in a row.”

The perimeter focus needs to remain against the Trail Blazers, who rank third in the league with an average of 10.3 3-pointers and fifth with 28.4 attempts per game. The outside defense was clicking in the first meeting against Portland, which missed 19 of 24 from beyond the arc in a 106-97 loss at Atlanta on Dec. 21.

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