Where and how to watch the game: Trail Blazers host Magic

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Where and how to watch the game: Trail Blazers host Magic

If you already get NBCS Northwest on your TV at home, but you are not able to be home during a Trail Blazers game, you can now stream the game live at the NBC Sports App.  You can download the NBC Sports App at www.nbcsports.com/sports-mobile.  Or, you can stream the game online at our live stream page, NBCSportsNorthwest.com/BlazersStream.

The Portland Trail Blazers (7-6) snapped its two-game losing streak on Monday night after beating the Denver Nuggets, 99-82.  Portland now concludes its six game homestand on Wednesday when the Trail Blazers host the Orlando Magic (8-6).

In Monday’s win, Blazers rookie Caleb Swanigan got his first career start in place of Noah Vonleh.  Swanigan finished with six points, five rebounds, and two blocks before fouling out in 20 minutes of action. Jusuf Nurkic and CJ McCollum each scored 17 points to lead the way for the Blazers, while Damian Lillard added 15 points, seven assists and five rebounds. 

The Blazers’ second unit came up big on Monday, outscoring the Nuggets’ bench 42-14. 

[NBC Sports Gold "Blazers Pass" 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 -- click to learn more and buy]

As for the Magic, Orlando is set to wrap up a four-game West Coast trip with this contest against the Blazers on Wednesday.  Orlando started off the season going 6-2 and since then the Magic have gone 2-4.   

Orlando is coming off a 110-100 loss to the Warriors on Monday night.  In the loss, Nikola Vucevic finished with 20 points, five rebounds and four assists.   Evan Fournier added 16 points.

Fournier has reached double figures a total of 13 times this season.  Orlando definitely knows how to put points on the board.  The Magic rank fifth in the NBA in scoring, averaging 109.8 points per game.

The Trail Blazers will still be without Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) on Wednesday night, while the Magic will be without D.J. Augustin (strained left hamstring) and Jonathan Isaac (sprained right ankle) vs. the Blazers.

Portland has won four of the last five meetings vs. Orlando at the Moda Center. 

Our Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams will help set the stage for Wednesday’s Blazers and Magic game with Rip City Live on NBC Sports Northwest starting at 6:00pm.

And if you can’t get to a TV, you can check out our pregame coverage with The Scoop Pregame Show streaming live on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest.



Quick Links:

Revenge of Nurk strikes again

Shabazz Napier and the quote that keeps him going

Revenge? Nurkic took Jokic completely out of the game Monday


 

Video:  Shabazz Napier needs a nickname

Video:   Blazers bench comes up big, beating up starters in practice?

Video:   Rip City is loving them some Biggie

Video:  One big night for the Blazers second unit

 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Tip-off: 7:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Rip City Live (6:00pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming of the game: Watch the game on your phone on the NBC Sports App.  Download the  app at http://www.nbcsports.com/sports-mobile .  Or check out NBCSportsNorthwest.com/BlazersStream online.

Live streaming coverage on Facebook: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. 

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Revenge? Nurkic took Jokic completely out of the game Monday

Revenge? Nurkic took Jokic completely out of the game Monday

The talk prior to Monday night's Trail Blazer matchup with Denver was whether it would be a revenge game for Jusuf Nurkic. The Portland center, a former Nugget, insisted it was not.

After watching the way the game played out, I'm certain Nurkic took great pleasure in the outcome of the contest and the way he dominated Denver center Nikola Jokic. But what happened Monday night -- the 99-82 Trail Blazer win -- had a lot more to do with Nurkic's knowledge of Jokic from all those practice sessions when they were teammates, than it did with simple revenge.

Nurkic manhandled Jokic. And it seemed as if he knew exactly what he was doing -- just as he did last season in their meeting. And what he was doing was being physical with his former teammate. He made it a rough night, which Jokic didn't seem to like. Jokic went 2-for-9 from the field and scored six points on the same day he was named the Western Conference's player of the week. Jokic finished the game lurking around the three-point line, looking like a man who had lost his way.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Nurkic's dominance was the story of the night. The Nuggets' best player and a rising star in the NBA was taken completely out of the game. That was enough for not many to notice that Nurkic finished with a whopping seven of his team's 22 turnovers. I have no idea why Portland is suddenly experiencing an uptick in turnovers. It's certainly not because the team is forcing the ball upcourt on fastbreaks -- since the Blazers are at the bottom of the league in that department.

Since Coach Terry Stotts has been here, there's never been much attention paid to fastbreaks, partly, I'm sure, to keep the turnovers down. Bu,t if  you're going to turn the ball over anyway, you may as well try to run a little more. I would think. Those easy baskets off the break can perk a team up and can wake up an offense.

But it wasn't an issue Monday. Nurkic took care of that.

 

 

Shabazz Napier and the quote that keeps him going

Shabazz Napier and the quote that keeps him going

If one ever wondered what an example of fight, a picture of determination or a testament to the virtue of hard work looked like, people on the Trail Blazers will point you to the locker of point guard Shabazz Napier.

“I don’t know how you would put it, or what the politically correct way to phrase it is, but  …  Shabazz is a dog,’’ guard Pat Connaughton said. “He fights. All the time.’’

Added captain Damian Lillard: “He’s an every-day guy. That’s 100 percent a fact.’’

It is that fight, and that relentless work ethic that is at the center of one of the developing trends on the Blazers in the past week: the emergence of Napier in the regular rotation.

In the last three games, Napier has played 20, 20 and 15 minutes, marking the first time in his two seasons in Portland that he has played 15 minutes or more in three consecutive games.

“He’s had three good games in a row,’’ coach Terry Stotts said. “Getting him on the court, in various capacities, is something that will probably continue.’’

He has earned the minutes through practice, where Lillard says Napier is “a handful to go against,” and by way of his performance when called upon. Against Memphis, he went 5-for-8 and scored 12 points, and against Brooklyn he went 5-for-7 for 11 points.

[NBC Sports Gold "Blazers Pass" 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 -- click to learn more and buy]

Then Monday against Denver, he had eight points and three assists, and helped direct a rarity in the Lillard-McCollum era – a six-and-a-half minute shift where neither star was on the court – during which Napier and the Blazers increased the lead from two to 12.

But while his teammates see his dogged practice approach, and fans see his ready-when-called-upon game performance, it has been something behind the scenes that drives Napier.

It’s a single voice, from back in his youth.

“My mother instilled this quote in me,’’ Napier said. “She said, ‘The easiest thing you can do in life is quit.’ That has stayed with me since I was young. I never wanted to be a quitter. I always wanted to win.’’

**

After he was the 24th overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, not much has gone Napier’s way.

He started seven straight games his rookie season with Miami after Dwyane Wade pulled his hamstring, but by the end of the season he was out of the rotation, needed a sports hernia surgery and was eventually traded to Orlando for a late-second round pick.

He never found a role in Orlando and after one season was traded to Portland for cash, where he found himself behind Lillard and McCollum, two rising stars in the backcourt who average around 35 minutes a game. His prospects for playing time didn’t improve when the team also signed Evan Turner, a play-making point-forward.

“My NBA career hasn’t panned out like I wanted it to,’’ Napier said. “But at the end of the day, I’m not going to quit.’’

It’s probably too early to say if Napier has secured a set-in-stone role on this Blazers team, but as the team tries to find its early-season footing, Stotts hasn’t been shy in turning to Napier to gain some traction.

On Monday against Denver, the second unit with Napier, Connaughton, Turner, Noah Vonleh and Ed Davis was instrumental in the comfortable 99-82 win over the Nuggets.

That included a seven-minute stretch to start the second quarter, when neither Lillard nor McCollum played, which Lillard figured was the longest time he has ever sat during a second quarter. It was also the first time in the past three seasons that Stotts has strayed from his security blanket of having either Lillard or McCollum on the court during a competitive game.

“It was something I actually toyed with going into the season … I wanted to give it a look,’’ Stotts said. “It worked out well tonight and we’ll see how it goes going forward.’’

If Napier and Turner become a reliable ball-handling duo, it could ease some of the wear-and-tear that Lillard and McCollum endure over a season. Last year, Lillard (36.2 minutes) ranked 9th in the NBA in minutes while McCollum (35.8) ranked 11th.

“He can do a lot of things, and he can definitely bring something to the game to give us a break,’’ Lillard said.

Part of Stotts’ willingness to experiment with the non-Dame-CJ lineup could be attributed to Napier’s steadiness. In 101 minutes this season, Napier has just two turnovers. Meanwhile, he is shooting 60 percent from the field (18-of-30) and has made 5-of-9 from three-point range.

“He’s in a tough position, because Dame and CJ play such heavy minutes,’’ Davis said. “But I think he should be in the rotation. He has proven that and given us a spark.’’

Napier would rather that spark turn into a fire, but in the meantime, he figures he will stick to his mom’s quote from his youth.

“I’m a competitor, and everyone wants to play. But this is not my first rodeo,'' Napier said. "This is my fourth year and it’s been like this the entire time, so I just keep working, keep pushing, and never lay on my laurels. I understand that if it’s going to come, it’s going to come. I just have to be ready for it.’’

Revenge of Nurk strikes again

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Revenge of Nurk strikes again

The Trail Blazers big three showed up Monday night against the Nuggets and brought home the victory at Moda Center. CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic both put up 17 points and Damian Lillard added in 15. The Blazers will host Orlando on Wednesday night. 


Box Score: Blazers 99, Denver 82


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Where and how to watch the game: Trail Blazers host Nuggets

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Where and how to watch the game: Trail Blazers host Nuggets

If you already get NBCS Northwest on your TV at home, but you are not able to be home during a Trail Blazers game, you can now stream the game live at the NBC Sports App.  You can download the NBC Sports App at www.nbcsports.com/sports-mobile.  Or, you can stream the game online at our live stream page, NBCSportsNorthwest.com/BlazersStream.

The Portland Trail Blazers (6-6) are now .500 on the season after suffering a 101-97 loss to the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. Portland now gears up to face the Denver Nuggets (8-5) on Monday night.

In Friday’s loss, Damian Lillard, finished with 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds.  Lillard went 7-of-16 from the field, including 1-of-5 from three-point range.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

The Blazers point guard did suffer a minor injury to his left ring finger in the loss to the Nets on Friday.  Lillard has been wearing a wrap and extra padding on his ring finger, but he told the media on Sunday that he would not wearing the wrap against the Nuggets.

Denver is off to a great November.  The Nuggets have won five of six games this month.  Denver beat the Orlando Magic, 125-107, at home on Saturday night.  Jamal Murray scored a career-high 32 points vs. the Magic, while Nikola Jokic had 12 points and 17 rebounds.

Monday’s game marks the first of four regular season meetings between the Blazers and Nuggets.  As Jusuf Nurkic gets set to face his former team, he told the media after practice on Sunday that he wants "no, drama."  Nurkic also had this to say about the Nuggets, "I'm not worried about them...  I'm trying to do my best and our team is looking forward to any game." 

Denver is looking to end its losing streak against the Blazers in Portland.  The Nuggets have lost eight consecutive games in Portland and are 2-14 against the Blazers in the last 16 meetings.

As for the injury reports, the Blazers will be without Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle sprain) and for the Nuggets, Gary Harris (right shoulder soreness) is listed as questionable.

Our Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams will help set the stage for Tuesday’s Blazers and Nuggets game with Rip City Live on NBC Sports Northwest starting at 6:00pm.

And if you can’t get to a TV, you can check out our pregame coverage with The Scoop Pregame Show streaming live on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest.

 


Quick Links:

Trail Blazers leave us with a lot of questions following loss to the Nets

Just a few reason why the Trail Blazers lost to the Brooklyn Nets  

Jusuf Nurkic’s fourth quarter benching is perplexing  

 

Video:   Despite the loss, still plenty of Rip City highlights

Video:   Three things that went wrong

Video:   “There’s nothing else to say, we should have won”

Video:   What to make of Terry Stotts and his use of Jusuf Nurkic


 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Tip-off: 7:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Rip City Live (6:00pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming of the game: Watch the game on your phone on the NBC Sports App.  Download the  app at http://www.nbcsports.com/sports-mobile .  Or check out NBCSportsNorthwest.com/BlazersStream online.

Live streaming coverage on Facebook: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. 

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Jusuf Nurkic's fourth quarter benching is perplexing

Jusuf Nurkic's fourth quarter benching is perplexing

Of all the head-scratching things that happened on Friday during the Blazers’ 101-97 loss to Brooklyn – and there were plenty of them – none is more perplexing than the fourth-quarter benching of Jusuf Nurkic.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

Just a few reasons why the Trail Blazers lost to the Brooklyn Nets

Just a few reasons why the Trail Blazers lost to the Brooklyn Nets

Throughout the game Friday night, even while the Trail Blazers were suffering through a rough third quarter, my feeling was that Portland still had control of the game. No matter how poorly the Trail Blazers played, I couldn't envision them actually losing on their home floor to the Brooklyn Nets.

But they did.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

How does such a thing happen? Let me count the ways:

  • The most obvious thing first: Jusuf Nurkic didn't play during the final 11 minutes of the game. The Nets went with a small lineup so Portland obliged them by going small, too. In other words, the Nets dictated Portland's lineup throughout the fourth quarter. Nurkic was having a big game and that's the way the Nets lose -- by allowing the other team's big man to score virtually at will. This madness has got to stop. The league's fascination with "going small" is at epidemic proportions and it's fine if you have Draymond Green to defend small men or even Al-Farouq Aminu. But Aminu is out injured -- again -- and not available. And Green doesn't play for Portland. Yet, there the Blazers are, struggling on offense with less than their best lineup on the floor down the stretch of the game. Portland doesn't -- even on a platoon basis in the final minute -- turn the tables and make a little man try to defend Nurkic.
  • All of this happens, of course, because the Trail Blazers are so predictable on defense that teams just go to a high pick-and-roll late in games and wait for Portland;s inevitable switch on the pick. It happens every time and the opposing offense can get that big-on-small matchup whenever it wants. Heck, Portland even switches when there is no pick -- just players changing places. The Nets wanted it virtually every time down the court late in the game, leaving poor Davis, the lone big, to try to keep up with Russell. What would be wrong with changing coverages once in a while? Why not blitz the pick and roll and take the ball out of Russell's hands? I have no idea. But if you're going to just switch that pick-and-roll every time, you might as well leave Nurkic in the game because he'd be just as ineffective as Davis at guarding Russell.
  • Portland's starting guards were just 13-for-32 from the field. The Blazers, as a team, were only 7-for-20 from three-point range. That won't cut it. This team's ball and player movement continues to hit lulls during games. If that cannot be corrected, it's going to be a long season. The last thing I thought we'd be worried about this season with this team is the offense.
  • I'm getting a bit tired of mentioning this, but the Trail Blazers are last in the NBA in fast-break points per game. The only real reason for this to happen is that this team's coaching staff doesn't want it to run. Fast breaks don't happen by accident -- they have to be practiced. Obviously, a decision has been made that the risk (turnovers and rushed shots) is not worth the reward (easy, uncontested baskets). I just don't see how you survive in the NBA without at least an average number of fast breaks. Portland averages 4.6 points per game off the break. Golden State gets 27.2.

The Trail Blazers are better than a 6-6 team, given the schedule they've played so far. I expected much more than this and I think everyone connected with the team did, too

Trail Blazers leave us with a lot of questions following loss to the Nets

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Trail Blazers leave us with a lot of questions following loss to the Nets

Despite a 10 point third quarter lead, the Trail Blazers came up short Friday night at Moda Center against the Nets. The key possesion late was a Nets missed free throw that Portland was unable to rebound. It would have given the Blazers the ball down only three points. Instead, they were forced to foul again and found themselves down four with only seconds to go.  

[NBC Sports Gold "Blazers Pass" 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 - click to learn more and buy]

Box Score: Nets 101, Blazers 97

Watch: Highlights

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Trail Blazers' announcer Brian Wheeler ready to return to radio

Trail Blazers' announcer Brian Wheeler ready to return to radio

Brian Wheeler is nearing a return to the Trail Blazers.

Wheeler, the Trail Blazers' longtime play-by-play announcer, will be behind the microphone for the team’s next game, Monday at home against Denver, NBC Sports Northwest has learned.

Wheeler has missed the season’s first 12 games as he battled scrotal lymphedema, a condition that sidelined him four games during the 2013 season.

Scott Lynn, a former Portland radio and television personality who now lives in Florida, filled in for Wheeler.  

Wheeler, 55, is in his 20th season with the Blazers. At one point, he had a string of 1,359 consecutive broadcasts over 16 seasons. He signed a multi-year extension with the team in September.

Wheeler has been on a low-calorie, medically-supervised diet in hopes of losing weight and alleviating his condition.

 “I’m hoping it will be a short time away,’’ Wheeler said in October. “I love my job and the people I work with; I feel I’m letting them down in some ways. The team was kind enough to give me an extension so I could continue doing what I enjoy the most. I owe it to them and all the loyal listeners to be at my best, and I can assure everyone, I will be as soon as possible.’’

FLASHBACK- Meyers Leonard's surprise reunion with Marine brother

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FLASHBACK- Meyers Leonard's surprise reunion with Marine brother

If you have somehow never seen this clip, grab some tissues and hit play. 

From the YouTube description by John Castelli:

Here is a piece that I cut for the finale of The Journey: Big Ten Basketball 2012 about Meyers Leonard. It was produced/directed/shot by Matt Engel. Having a close relationship his entire life with big brother Bailey, Meyers was shocked when his brother, who was currently on duty as a U.S. Marine, flew to Illinois to surpise Meyers and watch him play for the first time in years.