Trail Blazers' Zach Collins dealing with 'frustrating' start to Summer League

Trail Blazers' Zach Collins dealing with 'frustrating' start to Summer League

LAS VEGAS – Zach Collins on Sunday said he felt better about his second Summer League game, but the Trail Blazers rookie says he remains frustrated that his offensive game is sputtering.

“I thought I played a little better; just couldn’t hit a shot,’’ said Collins, who had five points on 1-for-7 shooting in the Blazers’ 70-64 loss to Boston. “It’s frustrating. I don’t feel like offensively I’m playing as well as I could be, and that ball isn’t going in right now. I just have to keep going at it.’’

In the Blazers’ first game on Saturday, Collins was 3-for-13, after which he described his play as “terrible.’’

The Blazers coaching staff is trying to temper expectations of the No. 10 overall pick – both of Collins and the fan base – by focusing on what they are saying is solid defense.

Collins, who is admittedly his harshest critic, says his defense should never waver. 

“I feel like my defense is going to be there consistently, because that’s an effort thing,’’ Collins said. “That’s something I can control – the effort.’’

Offensively, Collins said he felt like he rushed shots inside and said he needs to get to the basket more often. Whether or not that is a byproduct of him feeling pressure to produce in front of his hometown, or to live up to his No. 10 draft position, Collins said it doesn’t matter.

“Regardless of where I’m drafted, I hold myself to a high standard,’’ Collins said. “Obviously, I’m not hitting shots right now, but I have to know the work I’ve put in to get to the point that the shots are eventually going to fall.’’

Jim Moran, the Blazers’ Summer League coach, said the biggest thing that will help Collins is the weight room.

“What excites us the most is his work ethic, his ability to pop and shoot 3’s and he listens, pays attention,’’ Moran said. “I’m excited once he gets around our weight staff and gets a chance to hit the weight room and bulk up he will really be able to expand his game.’’

In the meantime, Collins is learning how to deal with frustration.  

“It’s hard. He’s out here and he wants to play well, miss a couple shots and things don’t go his way and it gets frustrating ,’’ Moran said. “He’s very hard on himself … that’s one thing, he has a high standard for himself, he always thinks there’s something he could do better and that’s something we like as coaches.’’

Nurkić's return to Denver spoiled by Nuggets

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USATI

Nurkić's return to Denver spoiled by Nuggets

Nurkić's return to Denver was left sour by the Nuggets, as the Trail Blazers three game winning streak was snapped 104-101 Monday night at Pepsi Center. 

The Trail Blazers got four looks in the final 30 seconds to win or tie the game, but, in the end, Denver closed the game on an 18-8 run. 

The Nuggets were propelled to victory behind a career-high 38 points from Jamal Murray. Will Barton had a rough night against his former team, going 0 for 7 from the field. He did have two crucial free throws to put the Nuggets up by three points with 1.8 seconds remaining. 

BOX SCORE: Denver 104, Portland 101

Damian Lillard shot well from the floor for the second straight game, scoring 25 points on 10 of 18 shooting. 

Jusuf Nurkić tallied a double-double 19 points and 12 rebounds, including one soul-stealing block against Nikola Jokic in his return to Denver. 

Next up, the Blazers host the Minnesota Timberwolves Wednesday at the Moda Center.

How to stream Blazers vs. Nuggets

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How to stream Blazers vs. 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 (25-21) are all set for a one-gamer on the road with a matchup against the Denver Nuggets (23-23) on Monday.

Portland is coming off a 117-108 home win over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night.  That victory was the Blazers third straight win and sixth consecutive home victory.

Damian Lillard made his first nine shots vs. the Mavs. He finished with 31 points, nine assists and also had five rebounds. CJ McCollum added 26 points.

It was the 12th time this season that Lillard has scored at least 30 points.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 11-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

The Denver Nuggets have lost two in a row as well as six of its last eight overall games, but the Nuggets are 16-6 when playing at the Pepsi Center this season.  Denver’s most recent loss came on Friday night, when the Suns defeated the Nuggets 108-100.

In the loss, Jamal Murray had 30 points and five rebounds.  Murray had missed Wednesday night’s game vs. the L.A. Clippers because of concussion symptoms.

As for Monday’s injury reports, the Blazers are not reporting any injuries, while the Nuggets have listed Kenneth Faried (left ankle soreness) as questionable and Paul Millsap (left wrist ligament injury) is out.

Portland is 12-11 on the road this season.  The Blazers will look to get their fourth straight victory for the first time this season when they visit Denver.

Our coverage of the Trail Blazers and Nuggets showdown starts with Rip City Live at 5:00pm on Monday as Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams get you set for all of the action.

You can catch all the postgame reaction and interviews from the Trail Blazers locker room live on Talkin' Ball immediately after the game on NBCSportsNorthwest.

 


Quick Links:

Blazers’ Jusuf Nurkic receives timely lesson before return to Denver

Lilard en fuego from deep in Trail Blazers win

Top 5 moments in Blazers win over Mavs

 

Video:  Lillard put on an All-Star performance against the Mavs

Video:  Shabazz tries to play it cool after his first NBA dunk

Video:  Mejri threatned to come into Blazers locker room

Video:  LIllard- Don’t take the bait

 

Game Details:

Where:  Pepsi Center, Denver CO

Tip-off: 6:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Rip City Live (5:00pm), 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 noon at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/NBCSNorthwest. 

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Blazers' Jusuf Nurkic receives timely lesson before return to Denver

Blazers' Jusuf Nurkic receives timely lesson before return to Denver

Jusuf Nurkic says he is “super excited” to make his first appearance in Denver as a Trail Blazer on Monday, so perhaps it was good timing Saturday that he received a stern message from his mentor, team captain Damian Lillard.

The message: Be smart. Don’t take the bait.

In the Blazers’ past two games, Nurkic has received a late-game technical after initiating confrontations with an opponent. On Saturday, Lillard quickly got in front of Nurkic and pushed him away from a dustup with Dallas center Sal Mejri.

As the referees reviewed the play, which would result in a Nurkic technical, Lillard sternly talked to Nurkic.

“You just have to be smart enough and sharp enough not to take the bait,’’ Lillard said. “If it happens two games in a row, it’s like, come on now. We don’t have to be tough with nobody; be smart.’’

The previous game, with the Blazers up eight over Indiana, Nurkic was given a technical with 2:02 left for talking trash after blocking Victor Oladipo, who was also given a technical by retaliating with a push to Nurkic’s chest.

On Saturday, the Blazers were up 10 over Dallas with 4:36 left when Nurkic and Mejri became entangled under the basket, which was punctuated by Nurkic pushing Mejri.

Lillard and Nurkic have formed a tight bond since Denver traded the 7-footer to Portland last February. Nurkic has said Lillard is the best thing that has happened to him in his life, and he nodded Saturday as Lillard scolded him.

“Do what we have to do to win the game,’’ Lillard said. “It just doesn’t make sense. I think if there is a two-point game, or three-point game, and it happens the way it happened tonight – they shot three free throws in row - that could cost you a game. So Its better to get that across and learn that lesson in a game like tonight where we have a cushion and you let people know  … you can’t take the bait.’’

It could be an apt discussion in preparation for Monday’s game at Denver, where Nurkic became disgruntled and outspoken about what became a diminished role. The Blazers and Nuggets have faced each other three times since the trade, but all three meetings have been in Portland, including one last season in which Nurkic wished the Nuggets a “happy summer” after leading the Blazers to a key victory that all but assured them a playoff spot over the Nuggets.

Monday’s matchup also figures to play heavily in the postseason conversation. Portland (25-21) is in sixth in the West, two games ahead of  Denver (23-23), which is one spot out of the playoff hunt.

“That’s a game I look forward to, definitely,’’ Nurkic said Saturday. “Super excited … looking for another win.’’

Nurkic, who is averaging 14.4 points and 8.0 rebounds,  smiled and shrugged when asked how he thought he would be received by the Pepsi Center crowd.

“I don’t care,’’ he said. “I had ups and downs there, but I still love it. I have friends and almost a family there. At the end of the day, it’s part of the job. It’s not going to distract me, whatever they do.’’

Lillard, for one, figures to be on high alert. He said after three encounters, Nurkic should be over the emotions of facing his former team. Still, in the grand scheme, Lillard said he hopes Nurkic, and the rest of the Blazers, understand the importance of keeping their heads as the playoffs become more in focus.

“I know all my teammates pretty well,  and I don’t think we have one soft person in here,’’ Lillard said. “I don’t think there is one person in here who has to back down from an altercation if it came down to it. But two games in a row we’ve had situations where we have a lead, we have to secure the game and put the game away, then something like this happens. We have to be smart.’’

Lillard en fuego from deep in Trail Blazer win

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Lillard en fuego from deep in Trail Blazer win

Damian Lillard lit it up from behind the arc tonight going 7 for 9 against the Mavs. Lillard finished with 31 points as the Trail Blazers home winning streak was extended to six games. Up next, the Blazers will travel to Denver for a Monday night game. 

Box Score: Portland 117, Dallas 108

Quick Hits:

How to stream Blazers vs. Mavericks

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How to stream Blazers vs. Mavericks

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 (23-21) look to continue its winning-streak after getting five wins in a row with a 100-86 victory over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.  The Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks (15-30) Saturday.

In Thursday’s win, Damian Lillard led the way with 26 points. Jusuf Nurkic had his 10th double-double of the season with 17 points and 19 rebounds.

Portland’s defense was dialed in the final period and held the Pacers to just two points in the opening seven minutes of the fourth quarter.

[NBC Sports Gold “Blazers Pass” 11-game Blazers package for fans without NBC Sports Northwest $34.99 – click to learn more and buy]

As for Dallas, the Mavericks are now riding a two-game losing streak after dropping a close one to the Denver Nuggets on Tuesday.  The Nuggets took the 105-102 victory. Mavs rookie point guard Dennis Smith Jr. scored a team-high 25 points and also had five assists.

The Mavs have been bringing the offense this month and currently rank ninth in the NBA in offensive rating with 109.1 points per 100 possessions.

This season Dallas is struggling to rack up wins though. Harrison Barnes is leading the way in scoring with 18.7 points per game. Former Trail Blazer Wesley Matthews is averaging 18.3 points on 43 percent shooting from the floor and 36 percent shooting from deep.

Saturday night’s contest will be the first of three regular season meetings between the Blazers and Mavs.

Looking at the injury report for the Blazers, Portland has listed Shabazz Napier (upper respiratory) as probable for Saturday’s contest. For the Mavericks, JJ Barea (left groin strain) is listed as questionable, Seth Curry (stress reaction, left tibia), Dorian Finney-Smith (left knee quadriceps tendinitis) and Nerlens Noel (left thumb surgery) are all out vs. the Blazers.

Our coverage of the Trail Blazers and Mavericks game starts with a special hour-long Rip City Live at 5:30pm on Saturday as Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams get you set for all of the action.

You can catch all the postgame reaction and interviews from the Trail Blazers locker room live on Talkin' Ball immediately after the game on NBCSportsNorthwest.

 


Quick Links:

Home sweet home

Mark Stein: This is the year Portland will break up Lillard and McCollum
 

 

Video:  Bosnian Beast helps life the Blazers over the Pacers

Video:  The $5k bucket challenge that had everyone talking

Video:  They call him the Bosnian Beast for a reason

Video:  Cedric the Entertainer stole the show after the Blazers win

 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Tip-off: 7:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  Special hour-long Rip City Live (5:30pm), 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 noon 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 hire former referee Don Vaden as a consultant

Trail Blazers hire former referee Don Vaden as a consultant

There is a new member on Trail Blazers, but Friday’s transaction had nothing to do with adding shooting, perimeter defense or veteran leadership.

Still, the addition of Don Vaden gives the Blazers something no other NBA team currently has: a former NBA referee to serve as a consultant who offers everything from education on league rules, background on referee personalities and tendencies, and views into how to avoid, or draw, fouls.

Although Vaden signed on Friday, he has been around the Blazers since January and has already offered these insights and coaching tips to players and coaches:

*Vaden has instructed rookie Zach Collins that his defensive style of vertically challenging shots – which often drew fouls early in the season – is fundamentally sound and will eventually earn the respect of the officials.

*Ed Davis, who has been called for a rash of pushing fouls underneath the basket, needs to keep his arms closer to his body if he intends to get away with the move.

*And if you thought Damian Lillard has increasingly tried to draw fouls while attempting three-pointers, it’s because Vaden admits with a sheepish chuckle: “That’s being taught.’’

“He’s going to be a tremendous resource,’’ coach Terry Stotts said.

Vaden has 30 years of experience between the NBA and WNBA. He spent 15 seasons as an NBA referee, retiring in 2003, and spent 15 years in the WNBA, where he worked as the director of referees and their officiating programs.

The position is unique in today’s game, but not groundbreaking. Vaden says the Houston Rockets years ago employed a former referee for a similar role. Vaden says his company, Interactive Consulting, is open to signing with other teams.

Vaden was at Thursday’s Blazers-Pacers game and offered the team a few observations and explanations. While CJ McCollum prepared to shoot a jumper, a foul was called under the basket as a Pacers defender wrestled with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic. McCollum made his shot, but after review, the basket was disallowed and play resumed after an inbound.

Vaden explained that the basket would have counted had McCollum been in the upward shooting motion of his shot when the foul occurred, and Nurkic would have been awarded a free throw.

Also, he pointed out how a player should have been called for an offensive foul while going up for a layin, because his off-ball arm was extended beyond a 90-degree angle.

And he also eased the mind of Blazers guard Pat Connaughton, who thought he was fouled on a shot. Vaden confirmed he was.

He said he hopes these types of observations and comment can help clear the minds of players and better educate them why fouls are, or are not, called.

Vaden’s hire comes at a time when tensions between players and referees have escalated.  He said he hopes that escalation doesn’t reach the Blazers.

“I look at it this way: We are in the same office. They have to be able to work together and they have to figure it out,’’ Vaden said.

“There is enough problems in the league between referees and players that I don’t want it to happen here, and I don’t want it to happen within the league. So the more we can help figure that piece out, and open the lines of communication, the better off we will be.’’

Home sweet home

Home sweet home

The Blazers extended their home winning streak to five tonight with a solid performance against the Indiana Pacers. Jusuf Nurkic returned to form with a stellar 19 point, 17 rebound game. Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 26 points. Next up Portland will host Dallas on Saturday night. 

 

It was also not your usual postgame press conference as a special guest took over...

Box Score: Portland 100, Indiana 86

Quick Hits:

 

Mark Stein:This is the year Portland will break up Lillard and McCollum

Mark Stein:This is the year Portland will break up Lillard and McCollum

Long time NBA writer Mark Stein, who spent 17 years writing for ESPN, has now signed on with the New York Times and published a 'Newsletter' today in which he laid out eight predicitions for the year. Among them was this gem:

"This is the year Portland will break up the potent backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum."

Stein explains his logic about balancing the roster in detail and you can click the link to read the full Newsletter. 

Through 43 games this season, McCollum is averaging 21.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 3.3 assists while shooting 42.6% from three.

A trade of this magnitude would certainly be a major shake up to Portland but could offer huge upside if the right talent was brough back in return.