Final seconds doom Blazers in Milwaukee

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Final seconds doom Blazers in Milwaukee

The Blazers were oh so close to coming home 3-0 but costly turnovers and a blocked shot sealed their fate in the final moments. 

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum both scored 26 points in the loss but the star of the night was Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo who scored a career high 44 points, had 8 rebounds and a key block late in the game. 

Box Score: Milwaukee 113, Portland 110

Jason Quick's Rapid Reaction:

How to stream Blazers at 76ers

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How to stream Blazers at 76ers

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 (10-7) continue its five-game road trip with a stop in Philadelphia (9-7) on Wednesday in the Blazers second game of the trip.  Portland is ridding a two-game winning streak after beating the Memphis Grizzlies 100-92 on Monday night.

CJ McCollum led the way in Monday’s victory with 24 points and eight rebounds.  Damian Lillard played through a right ankle sprain that he suffered near the three-minute mark in the second quarter.  Lillard came back to start the second half and finish with 21 points and four assists.

Wednesday’s injury report does not have Lillard listed, so it is safe to say, the Blazers point guard will play through his ankle sprain on Wednesday night.  

Noah Vonleh got his second straight start at power forward on Monday and he continued to impress.  Vonleh scored 11 points and pulled down 18 rebounds to go along with three blocks.

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

The Sixers are coming off a 107-86 home win over the Jazz on Monday.  It was a career night for Ben Simmons who led Philadelphia with a career-high 27 points.  Simmons also had 10 rebounds and four steals.  Joel Embiid played through left knee soreness vs. Utah, but ended up with 15 points and 11 rebounds.

Embiid is now one of five NBA players averaging at least 20 points and 10 rebounds per game.   The other four in that group include, DeMarcus Cousins, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Anthony Davis and Karl-Anthony Towns.

As for the injury reports, the Blazers have listed Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) as OUT for Wednesday.  For the 76ers, Justin Anderson (tibial stress syndrome/shin splints, left leg), Markelle Fultz (right shoulder soreness/scapular muscle imbalance) and Nik Stauskas (sprained right ankle) are all OUT vs. the Blazers.

This is the first of two meetings between Portland and Philadelphia this season.  Last season the two teams split the season series 1-1.

Our Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams will help set the stage for Wednesday’s Blazers and 76ers showdown with Rip City Live on NBC Sports Northwest starting at 3:00pm.

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 3:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest.

 


Quick Links:

Blazers survive injury scare to take down the Grizzlies

Damian Lillard exits early (but eventually returns) after apparent right ankle injury

Plenty of heroes in a game that was critical for Blazers to win

 

Video:   Highlights- Vonleh rebounds, Lillard survives ankle scare

Video:   Vonleh on his 18 rebounds… “Damn, they coming too easy!”

Video:   To the surprise of no one, Lillard is one tough dude

Video:   Vonleh belongs, commanding more minutes


 

Game Details:

Where:  Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia PA

Tip-off: 4:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Rip City Live (3:00pm), 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 3:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. 

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Lessons in leadership: How Damian Lillard is mentoring Jusuf Nurkic

Lessons in leadership: How Damian Lillard is mentoring Jusuf Nurkic

When the Trail Blazers emerged from the halftime locker room last week during a dreadful performance in Sacramento, all but one of the players headed to the court to warm up.

Jusuf Nurkic, the team’s young and promising center, was the only one to avoid the court, instead plopping himself on the bench, his warm-up hoodie snug over his head.

From the court, team captain Damian Lillard took notice, and walked to Nurkic on the bench. It had been a rough half for the Blazers, and an even tougher outing for Nurkic, who at that point had more turnovers than points.

Leaning in, Lillard tousled Nurkic’s hoodie, then took a seat next to him. What would follow is another layer in what is a powerful and unique relationship between two of the team’s pillars.

“I know what it’s like to be young and counted on,’’ Lillard later explained.

The relationship is powerful in how it has impacted Nurkic.

“Damian Lillard,’’ Nurkic said, “is the best thing that has happened to me in my life.’’

And the relationship is unique in that Lillard’s mentorship is coming from an interesting perspective. When Lillard first joined the Blazers, he said he looked to star LaMarcus Aldridge for guidance and support, but was left to figure it out on his own.

It’s why Lillard describes this undertaking with Nurkic as “different” from any of his other endeavors with teammates. This one is deeply personal.

“It’s going to sound crazy,’’ Lillard said, “but it’s almost what I wish I had with LaMarcus.’’

**

The awkward Lillard-Aldridge dynamic has long been rumored and insinuated, but never openly discussed like Lillard did this week.

Lillard says the two never had a problem, and that Aldridge has already heard everything he says in this article. Lillard’s point in bringing up his experience with Aldridge is that it helped shape his approach in how to mentor Nurkic.

“Me and LaMarcus had a good relationship. We never had a single argument. We really got along,’’ Lillard said. “I’m just saying the stuff I want to go out of my way to do for (Nurkic), is the stuff I wish I got from LaMarcus.’’

[NBC Sports Gold "Blazers Pass" 15-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest - limited time offer of $31.50 until Dec. 1 - click to learn more and buy]

Aldridge’s reticence never bothered Lillard; the more he was around Aldridge, the more he understood him as an introvert, who was more comfortable leading by example than through encouragement or inspiration.

But at the same time, Lillard couldn’t help but wonder what it would have been like in his early NBA years to have guidance and assurance that he was on the right path.

“I wish it was like more of a brotherhood, more of a line of communication, with me as young player and him as an All-Star,’’ Lillard said.

There was always an unmistakable unease around Aldridge and Lillard, mostly created by Aldridge’s jealousy of the attention and adulation showered upon Lillard by the fanbase and the franchise. Lilllard, who is as perceptive as he is personable, admittedly “walked on eggshells” around Aldridge, acutely aware of the elder’s sensitivity, and in hopes to avoid “stepping on his toes.”

“It wasn’t his personality (to reach out),’’ Lillard said. “But as a younger player, I came into the league wishing … and thinking he was going to take me under his wing, like his lil’ bro.”

One of those times was when Lillard was in his third year. It was the playoffs, in Memphis, and the Trail Blazers guard was struggling mightily against Mike Conley and the vaunted Grizzlies defense.

By that time, still young at 25, he had established himself as a two-time All-Star, a playoff hero, and one of the pillars of the franchise. But in this playoff series, the Grizzlies' pressure, as well as his performance, cause some rumblings inside of himself. Either Aldridge didn't sense it, or he figured Lillard had it covered, but there was no emotional support from Aldridge.

“There were times when I needed it, it just didn’t happen,’’ Lillard said. “It didn’t make me no less of a player. I figured it out. But it would have calmed things in my mind in games.’’

Lillard said in his heart, his confidence never wavered. He believed in himself and he knew he always found ways to succeed, and he figured he would again in that series. Still, he admitted he cast a hopeful eye to Aldridge, looking for assurance, advice, encouragement, an invitation to dinner ... anything. But Aldridge never bit.

“I had confidence in myself, but I wanted (Aldridge) to be like, ‘Man, let’s go eat. You are going to be good. You are going to be an All-Star,’’’ Lillard said. “I wanted him to talk to me like that … but (he didn’t).’’

The Blazers lost that Memphis series, and months later, Aldridge left the Blazers to sign a free agent contract with San Antonio. After Aldridge left, Lillard knew it was his time to lead, and he knew his leadership would be much different than Aldridge’s approach.

So when Nurkic arrived in a trade last February, stinging from his treatment in Denver, and thirsting for affirmation, Lillard saw shades of his younger self.

So he gave Nurkic what that young Lillard wanted. He gave him his attention. His knowledge. His support.

“I just know what it might be like to not have that,’’ Lillard said.

**

That night in Sacramento, when Lillard approached Nurkic at halftime and tousled his head while offering encouragement, didn’t end well for the Blazers or Nurkic. The lowly Kings beat Portland 86-82 while Nurkic scored just four points on 2-for-7 shooting.

But the night wasn’t over with the halftime pep talk, or the final buzzer. 

“I talked to (Lillard) the whole way back on the plane,’’ Nurkic said. “The whole flight.’’

Nurkic said they talked about the Kings game. His early season struggles. What the team was going through, and what Nurkic needed to do moving forward. He said their talk was a blend of encouragement and criticism.

It has been that way from the start, Lillard both embracing Nurkic while also establishing a firm line of accountability.

In their first meeting as teammates after the February trade, Lillard in the locker room provided Nurkic with his cell phone number and a team-wide directive.

“The first thing I remember him saying is: ‘We don’t make excuses here, man,’’’ Nurkic said. “I was like, ‘Yeah, I need that.’’’

Nurkic came to Portland with a somewhat sullied reputation as a pouter and malcontent with bouts of laziness. Nurkic said, if anything, he was usually quick to make excuses.

“It’s a bad habit, and habits are hard to change,’’ Nurkic said. “Probably the hardest thing to change in life is habits. If you have a bad one, it can stick with you. After he told me that, I really focused on that.’’

After Nurkic took Portland by storm last spring, and helped vault the Blazers into a late run into the playoffs, he has experienced an uneven start to this season. Some games he looks like one of the NBA’s elite centers, and others he looks unpolished and undisciplined.

Through the ups and downs, Lillard has been able to study Nurkic and know the right buttons to push.

Nurkic says he texts Lillard often, and earlier in the season after a rocky opening trip, Lillard could sense through those messages that Nurkic was experiencing some doubt. Lillard put him at ease, telling him he would make sure he was more involved in the offense. He also told him to stop over-thinking the game.

“He reminded me it’s just a game,’’ Nurkic said. "That it's supposed to be fun.''

The next night, Nurkic played freely and was dominant in a win over the Lakers, finishing with 28 points, 5 rebounds and 5 assists. After the game, he credited his resurgence to having fun again, and thanked Lillard and CJ McCollum for helping guide him through his lulls.

It has not been all hugs and pats on the back, though.

When Nurkic was forced to the bench just 1:24 into the game after picking up two fouls at home against Memphis, Lillard spit daggers.

Nurkic chuckled at the memory.

“After I got the two quick fouls, he was (lowers his voice to mimic Lillard) ‘Come on Nurk, man. You have to be smarter than this,’’’ Nurkic said. “He comes at me hard. Which is good.’’

Later, in a home game against Brooklyn, a tiring Nurkic blew a defensive assignment, and Lillard snapped at him.

“He started telling me ‘why this, and well that, and he this …,’’ Lillard remembered. “He started coming with excuses and I told him, ‘I ain’t trying to hear that (expletive). Do what you are supposed to do. We depend on you.’’’

And during Monday’s win at Memphis, Lillard stood in the middle of a third-quarter timeout huddle to demonstratively lecture Nurkic, holding up coach Terry Stotts’ address to the team.

Nurkic says he welcomes that type of feedback because he trusts Lillard and knows he has his – and the team’s – best interests at heart.

“There’s no lying. That’s the best part about him,’’ Nurkic said. “He’s straight and he will tell you. For me, that’s like a dream come true. To have a superstar in the league as a leader, a friend and a teammate – all of those ways – it leads me to be a better person, better teammate and better player.’’

**

The first time Lillard and Nurkic met, it was not friendly.

It was last November, at the Moda Center, when Nurkic was with the Nuggets, and the two had a slight dustup on the court.

The two teams had played the week before in Denver, and after Lillard led a late comeback that included the game-winner, he made a passing judgment on what was then Denver’s foreign tandem of big men, Nurkic and Nikola Jokic.

“These two big dudes in Denver,’’ Lillard remembers thinking, “they might be soft a little bit.’’

But on this night in the Moda Center, Nurkic was fouled by Blazers center Mason Plumlee. As Nurkic went to the free throw line, Lillard went to talk to Plumlee, and his path crossed Nurkic. The Bosnian center nudged Lillard, who squared and pushed Nurkic in the chest.

“He bumped me, and I pushed him, and we said something to each other,’’ Lillard said.

The player he thought was soft left an impression.

 “I remember thinking, ‘Ah, this dude … there’s a little something to him,’’’ Lillard said.

Three months later, Nurkic was walking through the Blazers’ locker room doors for the first time. He locked eyes with Lillard and tapped his wrist, aping Lillard’s signature “Dame Time” move.

“I had read what people said about him, that he had a bad attitude … but when we first got him, he was like a big teddy bear,’’ Lillard said.

Soon, he saw how Nurkic played. It was unselfish and skilled. Then he saw how enthusiastic and positive Nurkic was as a teammate, often the first one off the bench to cheer a teammate.

 “After that first game in Utah, I thought ‘if we can get the most out of this guy, we could be pretty good,’’’ Lillard said.

So he watched him. And counseled him. And he noticed signs that reminded him of how he felt as a 23-year-old player. It sparked memories of the void he felt with Aldridge.

“With Nurk, I know how good he is, how good he could be, I know what he means to the team, so I don’t want to let that opportunity slip,’’ Lillard said. “I don’t want him to feel any less important. I don’t want to be like (sucks teeth) ‘he good enough he will figure it out.’

“I want to help him figure it out and let him know I’m a supporter,’’ Lillard said. “If I want the best for this team, I feel like it’s my job to support him, but also hold him accountable.’’

 Nurkic says he not only sees, and hears, Lillard’s leadership, he feels it.

“I definitely feel it. I definitely feel it. I’ve never had somebody like this, somebody like Dame,’’ Nurkic said. “He is there for me, no matter if I’m good or bad. He is an amazing person, and he will make me better.’’

Plenty of heroes in a game that was critical for Blazers to win

Plenty of heroes in a game that was critical for Blazers to win

There were plenty of Trail Blazer heroes to go around Monday night in Memphis as Portland pulled out a 100-92 win over the Grizzlies. Here is my list:

  • Damian Lillard -- Come on, playing the second half on a badly sprained ankle? There are not a lot of players who would have -- or could have -- done that. And he came up big down the stretch. I just hope no further damage was done by playing on it.
  • Noah Vonleh -- The man played under 31 minutes and totaled 11 points and a whopping 18 rebounds. He played with confidence and toughness against a physical team. He's getting better with opportunity. And that's often what happens in the NBA. You need a chance and Vonleh has made the most of his chance this time.
  • Shabazz Napier -- His 16 points off the bench were critical, as was his cool playmaking under pressure. He's carving out a niche for himself on a team that already has two outstanding point guards. I really like the way he competes.
  • Meyers Leonard -- He was 4-for-4 from the field to spark a big second-quarter surge for the Trail Blazers. Against undersized defenders he did a lot of work inside and didn't even attempt a three-point field goal. He's playing well enough that I'd assume we're going to see a lot more of him.
  • CJ McCollum -- A total of 24 points and eight rebounds and a very big jump shot to all but seal the game. If he's not the very best shooter in the league he's right there near the top.

There are still four games left on this road trip with tougher games ahead, including perhaps the toughest Wednesday night at Philadelphia. But there is no question that a loss Monday would have been a brutal way to start the trip. Memphis without Mike Conley at point guard, coming in with a four-game losing streak, is a team you must beat.

Mission accomplished.

Blazers survive injury scare to take down the Grizzlies

Blazers survive injury scare to take down the Grizzlies

The Blazers survived an early scare to pick up the 100-92 victory over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Trail Blazers were left holding their breath late in the first half after they saw star point guard Damian Lillard head to the locker room with a left ankle injury. However, Lillard being Lillard, he was on the court to start the second half and played the remainder of the game.  A game where the Blazers picked up a much needed win to start the five-game road trip.

Final Score: Blazers 100 – Grizzlies 92

 

Damian Lillard exits early (but eventually returns) after apparent right ankle injury

Damian Lillard exits early (but eventually returns) after apparent right ankle injury

UPDATE: Lillard returned to the floor and started the second half for the Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers star guard Damian Lillard had to head to the locker room early after rolling his right ankle late in the first half against the Grizzlies. Lillard was driving for a layup and appeared to step on the foot of Grizzlies small forward Chandler Parsons, rolling his right ankle and falling to the floor. 

After subbing out of the game Lillard tried to loosen the ankle back up while on the bench, but eventually left to be treated in the team’s locker room.

During halftime the Trail Blazers announced Lillard is PROBABLE to return with a right ankle sprain

Be sure to follow up on Twitter @nbcsnorthwest for all the latest updates.

Conley, perhaps Evans, out for Grizzlies tonight vs. Trail Blazers

Conley, perhaps Evans, out for Grizzlies tonight vs. Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers open a five-game road trip this evening in Memphis and it's a journey that should tell us a lot about where this Portland team is at this point of the season. Following the game against the Grizzlies, the Blazers travel to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Washington and New York.

Two wins on this trip are a must and three would have to be considered a good trip.

And Memphis just may be a very good place to open this journey. The Grizzlies will be without point guard Mike Conley (Achilles injury). That takes 17.1 points per game out of the lineup and his team is 0-3 without him this season. Even more critical, guard Tyreke Evans is listed as questionable. Evans is the leading scorer off the bench in the NBA at 17.7  points pet game and made big shots against the Blazers in the 98-97 Memphis win over Portland in Moda Center in early November. Evans tallied 21 in that game. He is nursing a sore right shoulder.

[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 must also keep an eye on former Oregon Duck Dillon Brooks, a rookie who made key plays at both ends of the court in the earlier win at Portland. Brooks was a draft-day steal by Memphis with the No. 45 pick.

And don't forget, this is an early game in our time zone. Coverage begins tonight on NBC Sports Northwest at 4 o'clock with Rip City Live.

How to stream Blazers at Grizzlies

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USA Today

How to stream Blazers at Grizzlies

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 (9-7) hit the road for a five-game trip starting with the Memphis Grizzlies (7-8) on Monday night.

Portland got a bounce back win on Saturday night against the Sacramento Kings with a 102-90 victory after losing to the Kings in Sacramento on Friday night.

CJ McCollum led the way with 25 points in Saturday’s win.  Damian Lillard added 22 points.  Off the bench, Meyers Leonard scored 11 points and pulled down eight rebounds in a season-high 22 minutes of action.

[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 Grizzlies, Memphis is riding a four-game losing streak after losing to Houston at home, 105-83 on Sunday night.  Chandler Parsons scored a team-high 17 points and Marc Gasol added 15 points in the loss.

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley missed his second straight game on Sunday.  Conley is dealing with a sore left Achilles tendon.  Conley’s timetable has been set that he will be out for at least two more weeks. 

Looking at the injury reports for both teams, the Blazers will be without Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle), while the Grizzlies will be without Conley (left Achilles), as well as Ivan Rabb (concussion), Wayne Selden (right quad) and Brandan Wright (right groin).  Tyreke Evans (right shoulder) is listed as questionable.

This is the the second of four meetings between Portland and Memphis this season.  Memphis won the first meeting, 98-97 earlier this month on November 7th at Moda Center.

Our Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams will help set the stage for Monday’s Blazers and Grizzlies game with Rip City Live on NBC Sports Northwest starting at 4:00pm.

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 4:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest.

 


Quick Links:

Trail Blazers get the bounce back win over Sacramento

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard defends coach Terry Stotts

 

Video:  Blazers grab much needed bounce back victory

Video:  They call him… Shirt off Dame

Video:  Kings uncrowned as Blazers get win

Video:  Whatcha gonna do when Bosnian Beast comes for you?

 

Game Details:

Where:  FedEx Forum, Memphis TN

Tip-off: 5:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Rip City Live (4:00pm), 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 4:30pm at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. 

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Trail Blazers get the bounce back win over Sacramento

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Trail Blazers get the bounce back win over Sacramento

It was the second of a back to back against the Sacramento Kings and the Blazers righted the ship from last night's loss and took the second game of the series.

[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: Portland 102, Sacramento 90

Quick Hits

 

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard defends coach Terry Stotts

Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard defends coach Terry Stotts

Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard on Saturday went to the internet to defend coach Terry Stotts after fans showed frustration and offered criticism on the team’s Instagram account.

“I saw the Instagram post, and the most recent comment was about Coach Stotts, and I disagreed,’’ Lillard said Saturday before the Blazers played Sacramento.

Stotts has made several bold moves in the last week, ranging from benching starting center Jusuf Nurkic for all but 53 seconds of the fourth quarter of a loss to Brooklyn, to implementing a three-point guard lineup in that fueled a win over Orlando and Friday night inserting little-used Jake Layman and Meyers Leonard into the rotation in the first quarter of what turned out to be a loss in Sacramento.

The Blazers’ are 8-7 in what is considered a favorable early-season schedule, and have lost several close games, causing some fans to grow restless.

“People are going to talk; it’s not the first time and it won’t be the last,’’ Lillard said before Saturday’s game. “But the coaches don’t turn the ball over at the end of the game. The coaches don’t miss shots. The coaches don’t miss free throws. Coaches don’t forget and blow defensive assignments.

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

“Now, If we was getting beat by 25 every night and not in position to win, then maybe you need a change,’’ Lillard said. “When a team isn’t competing or a team isn’t behind the coach, then that’s when you need a change. But when everybody is on board and everybody respects him, and we in position to win games. At that point that becomes a weak statement.

“That’s why we do what we do and people are spectators,’’ Lillard said .”Because they are so quick to give up and so quick point the finger, and that ain’t fair. This game ain’t fair but I wasn’t going to sit there and look at the comment and not say nothing because sometimes people can talk stuff into existence when there really isn’t much behind what they are saying.’’