Portland Trail 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.

 

Nurkic returning in time for ... next season prep

Blazers just about out of playoff hunt for 2020
Staff Report

If there were a time for the Portland Trail Blazers to get hot during the 2019-20 NBA season, this would be just about the perfect time. 

Not only do the Blazers have their top two scorers in Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum on the court, but Carmelo Anthony has shown off his consistency and Hassan Whiteside is regularly a stud in the middle. So, what does the team need to get going? Jusef Nurkic - yes.

Nurkic has been recovering from surgery for nearly a year, but is expected to return this week, with the team 4.5 games from a playoff spot. At 28-37, they're nine games under .500 with just 17 games left in the season. As Memphis is 32-32 in eighth place in the Western Conference, it's likely the Blazers will need to finish at .500 to tie or edge the Grizzlies for that spot, needing to pass both New Orleans and Sacramento to achieve that. 

That's a 13-4 finish to accomplish that feat - reach .500. 

But, that would be the way to head into the playoffs - on fire. And, Memphis is a testament to that being possible as it won 11 consecutive games at one point this season to move into the eighth spot.

And the next five games are at home, beginning with Phoenix Tuesday. Thursday, the Blazers match-up with Memphis, the easiest way to make up ground on the Grizz.

 

BLAZERS SCHEDULE

March 10 vs. Phoenix, 26-38

March 12 vs. Memphis, 32-32

March 15 vs. Houston, 39-24

March 17 vs. Minnesota, 19-44

March 19 vs. Dallas, 39-26

 

 

 

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).

 

 

Blazers look to next streak

After Houston loss, Portland has more key games ahead
Staff report

The win streak is over, but it certainly put the Portland Trail Blazers on the map of teams to watch for as possible title contenders.

Next up is Boston.

James Harden scored 42 points, including a pair of 3s down the stretch, and the Houston Rockets snapped the Blazers’ 13-game winning streak with a 115-111 victory on Tuesday night before a rowdy crowd at the Moda Center.

“They’re the No. 1 team in the league for a reason,” Portland’s Damian Lillard said afterward. “We’ve just got to make a few more plays and make a few more shots if we want to beat a team like that.”

Portland’s winning streak was tied for the second-longest in franchise history. The team also won 13 consecutive games in 2007.

Al-Farouq Aminu had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, for Portland. The Blazers had also won nine straight at the Moda Center before the loss.

Jusef Nurkic had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Lillard added 20 for the Blazers. But, Lillard’s backcourt mate C.J. McCollum had just six points on 4-of-15 shooting, and combined with Lillard to miss all 12 of their 3-point shots combined - easily their worst performance of the season.

And, yet, Portland lost by just four to drop to 44-27 overall.

Chris Paul added 22 points for the Rockets, who have won six straight and 23 of their last 24 and have the best record in the NBA at 57-17.

Boston is second in the Eastern Conference at 48-23, 4.5 games behind Toronto, which is 53-19.

 

Blazers begin stretch run

4CAST: NBA, NCAA Tourney, Winterhawks, MLS/NWSL
Staff report

The Portland Trail Blazers start the first of four consecutive games against teams at the top of the the Western Conference and Eastern Conference with the Houston Rockets tonight.

Houston leads the Western Conference and will take on the Blazers at the Moda Center at 7:30 p.m., a game set to be televised by TNT.

Portland, with a 13-game winning streak through Monday, then gets Boston - the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 team - on Friday.

They head to Oklahoma City Sunday and play at New Orleans next Monday.

With the win streak the Blazers vaulted into third place in the Western Conference and first place in the Northwest Division. The conference strength is significant this season as all eight playoff teams are at least nine games above .500. The Blazers have just 12 games to go in the regular season.

Oklahoma City is 43-29 and just two games behind Portland in the race for the division title, while New Orleans is 40-30 and tied for fifth place in the West with Utah. The Pelicans may be a first-round playoff opponent for Portland.

2.NCAA WOMEN'S TOURNEY

Central Michigan, and 11th seed in the NCAA Women's Tournament 11th, scored a huge upset of Ohio State Monday, and will get the University of Oregon in the Sweet 16 Saturday in Spokane, Wash. Oregon is 32-4 on the year, while Central Michigan is 30-4.

Oregon State, meanwhile, gets second-ranked Baylor on Friday. The game is set for Lexington, Ky., Friday. Baylor is 33-1, while OSU is 25-7 following its upset of Tennessee in Knoxville, Tenn., on Sunday.

The Pac-12 got two more teams into the Sweet 16 Monday - UCLA and Stanford, and has four teams in the Sweet 16.

3. WINTERHAWKS HEADED FOR PLAYOFFS

The 72-game regular season came to a close with a 5-4 loss to Spokane Sunday for the Portland Winterhawks, but the season begins anew Saturday. Portland, which finished the regular season at 44-22-1-5 for 94 points, plays the Chiefs in a seven-game series with the first two games in Portland Saturday and Sunday.

4. TIMBERS/THORNS EYE LEAGUE PLAY

The Portland Thorns and Portland Timbers return to the pitch Saturday with league matches. The Thorns, who drew with Houston 0-0 Saturday at Merlo Field, open NWSL play at North Carolina Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Portland won its second NWSL title last season.

The Timbers, 0-2 in MLS action, play at Houston Saturday at 12:30 p.m. Portland has scored just once in its two games, and is looking for its first win under new coah Giovanni Savarese.

ALSO

In Pac-12 softball, Sixth-ranked Oregon is 25-5 heading for a weekend off before a three-game series with rival Oregon State March 29-31 in Corvallis.

Oregon State recovered from a 12-0 loss Saturday to beat Cal 8-3 Sunday and earn a 2-1 series win in Corvallis. Oregon State is 19-10 heading into a three-game series at UCLA Friday.

In Pac-12 baseball, top-ranked Oregon State is 18-1 on the year, matching the 1951, 1962, 2013 and 2017 teams for the best record through 19 games. OSU has won 13 consecutive Pac-12 games dating back to the 2016 season. The Beavers start a three-game series with Washington on Friday.
 
In other Pac-12 action, Oregon starts a three-game series with Cal starting Friday. Oregon is 8-2 at home this season.

 

Stotts Coach of Year material?

Blazers coach has award rating on the line this week
Staff report

Has Terry Stotts elevated the Portland Trail Blazers enough to be voted Coach of the Year in 2018? Well, maybe, especially if the Blazers can do something like sweep the next four games and head to the NBA Playoffs on a huge roll.

That's a key part of this week's Sportsland, Oregon podcast featuring Cliff Pfenning and Derek Weber.

The Blazers plays host to Houston - the Western Conference leader - Tuesday, then Boston - the Eastern Conference’s No. 2 team - on Friday. They head to Oklahoma City Sunday and play at New Orleans next Monday.

With the win streak the Blazers vaulted into third place in the Western Conference and first place in the Northwest Division. The conference strength is significant this season as all eight playoff teams are at least nine games above .500. The Blazers have just 12 games to go in the regular season.

Oklahoma City is 43-29 and just two games behind Portland in the race for the division title, while New Orleans is 40-30 and tied for fifth place in the West with Utah. The Pelicans may be a first-round playoff opponent for Portland.

Also, the podcast focuses on the NCAA Tournament, NFL free agency, Timbers and Thorns, Tiger Woods and the start of the 2018 International Roofball Federation schedule.

SPORTSLAND PODCAST

 

 

Ducks, Beavers await tournament pairings

4CAST: NCAA women, Oregon men, Blazers, Thorns
Staff report

The Oregon and Oregon State women's basketball programs will get their official NCAA Tournament placements tonight, giving their fans and end to more than a week of waiting.

The Ducks won the Pac-12 Tournament title last weekend for the first time, a day after Oregon State's regular season ended. The Ducks are likely to receive their highest tournament seed in the program's history.

Oregon, 30-4, enters the tournament ranked No. 6 nationally, and with a nine-game win streak. The Ducks were a 10 seed last year, but played into the Elite Eight before losing to Connecticut 90-52.

Oregon State, 23-7, is ranked 13th. The Beavers were a No. 2 seed last year, but got knocked out by Florida State in the Sweet 16.

The women's tournament begins on Thursday.

2. OREGON NIT

The Oregon men's basketball team missed out on the NCAA Tournament - Arizona, UCLA and Arizona State received spots - but did get into the NIT and will play host to Rider on Tuesday night at Matthew Knight Arena.

Oregon reached the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals and is 22-11 overall. Rider, 22-9, won the regular-season title in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference title, but missed out on the automatic berth to the NCAA Tournament by not winning the MAAC tournament. It's the first-ever meeting between the schools. Rider is located in Lawrenceville, N.J.

3. BLAZERS MIAMI

Portland, in third place in the Western Conference, will put its nine-game win streak up against Miami, the No. 7 team from the Eastern Conference.

The Blazers are 40-26 and two games ahead of fourth-place New Orleans, Minnesota and Oklahoma City.

Miami is 36-31 and has a two-game win streak.

4. PORTLAND THORNS PRESEASON

The Portland Thorns lost their first of three preseason games Sunday, 1-0, to the Chicago Red Stars at Merlo Field. The team plays again Wednesday and Saturday Merlo Field in preparation for the start of the season, March 24. Wednesday's game is against the U.S. National Under-23 squad.

ALSO

The Portland Winterhawks rebounded from Saturday's loss with a 2-0 victory over Everett at the Moda Center, and have three games remaining in the regular season. The Hawks play again Friday against Seattle at the Moda Center.

 

 

Blazers keep surging

TUESDAY 4CAST: Portland rallies, Thorns, Hawks reunion, PSU hoop
Staff report

Damian Lillard kept the Portland Trail Blazers winning streak going Monday night with another stellar performance.

Lillard scored a game-high 39 points, including 19 points in the fourth quarter as Portland rallied past the Los Angeles Lakers, 108-103, at the Staples Center.

Portland (38-26) won for the seven-consecutive game, and stayed a game ahead of three teams in the race for third place in the Western Conference. The Blazers play host to the New York Knicks tonight.

Lillard scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, hitting 4 of 5 three-point shots.

The win was also the 15th-straight over the Lakers.

2. SINCLAIR'S SEASON PREP IS INTERNATIONAL

Christine Sinclair scored two goals to lead Canada to a 3-0 win over South Korea in the third round of Group Stage play at the Algarve Cup, but the Canadians will play only for fifth in the 25th annual tournament. Sweden, which beat Canada 3-1 on the first day of the tournament in Portugal, will play the Netherlands Wednesday for the title.

Sinclair's two goals gave her 172 for her international career - within reach of Abby Wambach's record 184. Portland begins its regular season March 24 at North Caroina.

3. WINTERHAWKS GET PLAYERS OF WEEK; PROMOTE REUNION

THe Western Hockey League honored Portland's Cody Glass as the Player of the Week, and goaltender Andrew Farkas as the Goaltender of the Week for the work in keeping the Hawks battling for a top playoff seed.

After a pair of road games tonight and Wednesday, the Hawks return homre and will honor the 1998 Memorial Cup champions with a reunion and team Hall of Fame induction for four of the key members: Marian Hossa, Andrew Ference, Brendan Morrow and Todd Robinson.

4. PSU OPENS BIG SKY TOURNAMENT

Portland State got 24 points from Sidney Reilly and beat Northern Arizona to open the Big Sky Tournament Monday. The Vikings face third-seed Eastern Washington Wednesday.

The PSU men's team opens the Big Sky tournament today against Sacramento State.

ALSO:

THE NBA ACADEMY

Columnist Derek Weber looks over the NBA's strategy to address high school players using colleges for one year only.

 

Portland keeps hot streak going

4CAST: Blazers, Oregon, OSU men, Western Oregon, Timbers eSports
Staff report

A 108-99 win over visiting Minnesota moved the Portland Trail Blazers a game closer to third place in the Western Conference and extended their win streak to five.

Damian Lillard scored 35 points after missing his first seven shots, and CJ McCollum added 19 for Portland, which is just 0.5 games behind Minnesota in the race for third place in the West. The Blazers trailed 78-75 entering the fourth quarter, but outscored Minnesota 33-21 the rest of the way and split their four-game series at 2-all.

There are three other teams within a game of the Timberwolves in the tightly-knit conference race, which includes three other teams battling for a playoff spot.

Portland plays host to Oklahoma City - one of the third-place hopefuls - Saturday.

2. DUCKS, BEAVERS FALL IN WASHINGTON

Both the Oregon and Oregon State men's basketball teams lost by a basket Thursday night to rivals in Washington.

The Ducks, who swept the Arizona schools last weekend at home, fell 78-76 at Washington State, while the Beavers lost 79-77 at Washington.

The schools swap opponents for games Saturday night.

3. WESTERN OREGON TOURNAMENT SEMIS

Western Oregon's men's basketball team gets its first action in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference tournament today against Seattle Pacific University. The Wolves, who won the GNAC regular-season title, beat SPU both times the faced each other this season, both of which were in the team's current 20-game win streak. Today's game, in Alaska-Anchorage, leads into the NCAA Div. II Western Region next week.

4. TIMBERS ESPORTS SIGNEE

Edgar Guerrero of McMinnville is the first signee of the Portland Timbers' eMLS team, the club announced Thursday. Guerrero will lead an 11x11 team in the 19-team, expansion eMLS, which uses a Playstation 4 and expects to launch in April with a tournament in Boston.

 

 

Blazers back to business

TUESDAY 4CAST: Portland looks to Dame for 50 again, women's hoop, Timbers, Winterhawks
Staff report

The Portland Trail Blazers play host to the Sacramento Kings tonight at the Moda Center with fans looking for Damian Lillard to possibly score more than 50 points, Lillard having done so in the last game with the Kings, Feb. 10.

Portland enters the game with a three-game win streak and has won five of its last six games to pull within three games of third place in the Western Conference standings, which are now led by Houston.

2. GEORGE FOX NABS NCAA SPOT

The 12th-ranked George Fox women's basketball team will head into action Friday at Weverly, Iowa, in the first-round of the NCAA Div. III Tournament, which features 64 teams just as the Div. I tournament does. The Bruins will face Saint Benedict of St. Joseph, Minn., in the first round, with a game against either host Wartburg or Webster Saturday.

George Fox is making its 14th trip to the tournament, having won the title in 2009. It reached the Final 8 two seasons ago. Senior Kaitlin Jamieson, a 6-3 senior from Forest Grove, leads the team at 11.9 points per game.

The tournament field includes MIT from Boston, but no other team from the West Coast.

3. TIMBERS ANNOUNCE PRE-GAME DEAL

The Portland Timbers today announced the club has entered into a multiyear, multifaceted partnership with Sightbox, as the club’s official vision care partner. As part of the collaboration, Sightbox, the season presenting partner for the Timbers, holds exclusive logo rights on all Timbers training apparel to be worn during training sessions and pregame.

Alaska Airlines will still be on the front of the Timbers' game kit.

Portland's MLS season begins Sunday in Los Angeles against the Galaxy.

4. HAWKS GET GAME TIME

Portland's Winterhawks play at Tri-Cities tonight, then prepare for a string of five games in six days, including a four-game road swing that starts Saturday. The Hawks play Seattle at Memorial Coliseum Friday, then hop on their bus for games at Tri-Cities Saturday, Seattle Sunday and Prince George, B.C., on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Portland has already clinched a WHL playoff spot with 11 games left in the regular season.

 

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