Welcome Back CJ! Blazers roll to 2-0

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Welcome Back CJ! Blazers roll to 2-0

Early on in this young season the Trail Blazers defense looks much improved and is a big reason they are 2-0 following a 114-96 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday. Portland scored 62 points in the first half, and defensively was giving the Pacers fits. The second half started sloppy, but then CJ caught fire, scoring the final 12 points of the third quarter. Once The Closers checked in, it was all over. 


Final Score: Portland 114 - Pacer 96

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.’’

Blazers enter new, uncharted territory in latest offensive woes

Blazers enter new, uncharted territory in latest offensive woes

SACRAMENTO -- Of all the things that could have gone wrong for the Trail Blazers this season, few -- if any -- thought it would be what ails the team today: a sputtering, below-average offense.

The Blazers’ disappointing 8-7 start has been largely defined by an offense that can’t run, can’t shoot, and is having the damndest time taking care of the ball.

 “Still a little slow,’’ point guard Damian Lillard acknowledged while trying to come up with a reason why. “I’m not sure … I’m really not sure. This is new. We haven’t had a good rhythm or flow to our offense.’’

Once the hallmark of a Terry Stotts team, where the combination of movement, unselfishness and freedom formed a beautiful, flowing brand of basketball, the Blazers’ offense this season has for large stretches been hard to watch.

If it’s not late game turnovers, it has been botched close-range shots, and if it hasn’t been questionable shot selection, it’s been too much 1-on-1.

And the Blazers’ fast break? Ha! … Let’s just say they have earned the distinction of the NBA’s worst – which was further cemented Friday in Sacramento, when the Blazers had zero fast break points for the second time this season.

 “I guess that’s part of our identity: we are not a fast-break team,’’ coach Terry Stotts lamented. “As much as we try and push it, for whatever reason, those fast break points are not there.’’

 Coming into the season, the Blazers’ top concern was with their defense, which spent much of last season as the NBA’s worst. The offense, a Top 10 fixture in Stotts’ first five seasons, would be there the players and coaches assured, as reliable as Oregon’s November rain.

 But the opposite has happened. The defense has been solid, if not impressive, whole the problems on offense have been widespread. Jusuf Nurkic has been off, Maurice Harkless has been anonymous and Evan Turner erratic. And while Lillard is scoring, he is shooting just 40 percent from the field and 32 percent from 3-point range.

 “It’s different things on different nights,’’ Stotts said after the 82-point game in Sacramento. “We didn’t execute when we needed to … we didn’t set screens – too many turnovers, misreads or whatever … again, a combination. Missed some easy ones at the rim …”

 It has left the Blazers in the most unexpected territory – ranked last in the NBA in assists, last in fast break points, 26th out of 30 in shooting and in the bottom half in turnovers and points. Overall, that almost certain Top 10 offense has slipped to 19th … all against what is considered a favorable schedule.

 Whether the offense is broken, or just in a slump will likely be revealed over the next two weeks, when the Blazers hit the road and start to face tougher competition.

 The captain, for one, is confident.

 “It might sound crazy, but I’m not concerned,’’ Lillard said. “Because we’ve always beee a good offensive team. I just have faith the offense is going to come around.’’

Trail Blazers lucky that loss to Kings was by only four points

Trail Blazers lucky that loss to Kings was by only four points

My first thought Friday night after watching the Trail Blazers' latest debacle, that 86-82 loss at Sacramento, was that Portland had lost a game it should have won. But I must correct that appraisal ever so slightly. The Blazers lost to a team they should have beaten -- but they certainly deserved to lose the game.

In fact, it's difficult to figure out how they kept it so close. Check it out:

  • The Blazers shot 37 percent against a team not known for its defense.
  • The Blazers allowed one of the worst rebounding teams in the league to get a 44-44 draw on the boards.
  • The Blazers got only 12 points out of their starting front court.
  • The Blazers made only 7 of their 25 three-point shots.
  • The Blazers got only 22 points off their bench.
  • The Blazers turned the ball over 18 times.
  • The Blazers got only four points to go with four turnovers from Jusuf Nurkic.
  • The Blazers had ZERO (0) fastbreak points. Again.
  • The Blazers got only 28 points in the paint and made just 14 of their 38 shots in that area.

Just how in the world could you expect Portland to beat even one of the worst teams in the league with stuff like that going on?

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

And I haven't even mentioned that wacky lineup Coach Terry Stotts put on the floor in the second quarter that featured no starters along with Jake Layman and Meyers Leonard. I have no problem with either of those guys playing, by the way -- but just not together and not without a couple of starters out there helping them get their shots. Leonard and Layman came into the game having played a total of just 17 minutes apiece for the ENTIRE SEASON. Not that I think either of those players can't help this team -- they can at least make shots, as can Pat Connaughton, a career .404 shooter from three-point range who isn't getting enough looks right now.

Within a week, the local squad has lost to Brooklyn and Sacramento. But at least they got those losses the old-fashioned way -- they deserved them.

So here we are, headed into a Saturday night rematch with the Kings. Portland should win, of course. But the Blazers better make sure they deserve to win.

How to stream Blazers vs. Kings

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How to stream Blazers vs. Kings

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 (8-7) get right back at it against the Sacramento Kings (4-11) on Saturday night after another inconsistent offensive night for the Blazers on Friday in Sacramento.  The Kings ended up beating the Blazers, 86-82 after only two Blazer players reached double figures.   

In the loss, Damian Lillard finished with 29 points and four assists, while CJ McCollum added 19 points, three assists, three rebounds, as well as three steals.  As a team, Portland shot just 37 percent from the field and finished with a 28 percent mark from deep.

Jusuf Nurkic, got into early foul trouble vs. the Kings and went 2-of-7 of the floor to score just four points. 

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

Friday’s win meant  that the Kings snapped a three-game losing streak.  Off the bench, Willie Cauley-Stein led the way for Sacramento with 22 points and 10 rebounds.  George Hill added 14 points and five rebounds.

The Blazers get a quick turnaround on the rematch as they host the Kings Saturday night in a home and away back-to-back series.

Looking at the recent history between these two teams, Sacramento has lost eight straight games in Portland.

For the Blazers, Al-Farouq Aminu (right ankle) will not play on Saturday night. Harry Giles (bi-lateral knee rehabilitation) and Vince Carter (kidney stone) are both out once again for the Kings.

Our Dan Sheldon, Dwight Jaynes, and Orlando Williams will help set the stage for Saturday’s Blazers and Kings game with a special hour-long Rip City Live on NBC Sports Northwest starting at 5:30pm.

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:

Blazers offensive woes end in loss to Kings

From the shadows to the spotlight: Shabazz Napiers and his sudden ascent

 

Video:  Blazers uncrowned by the Kings

Video:  Blazers played down to their opponent

Video:  From the shadows to the spotlight: Shabazz Napiers and his sudden ascent

 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Tip-off: 7:00pm

Television: NBCS Northwest

Live NBC Sports Northwest coverage:  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 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

Blazers offensive woes results in loss to Kings

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USATI

Blazers offensive woes results in loss to Kings

It was a struggle all night offensively for both teams, though it was the Sacramento Kings who edged out a win over the Trail Blazers 86-82 Friday night at the Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. 

It is Sacramento's 4th win of the season, snapping Portland's three game winning streak.

The Trail Blazers got 29 points from Damian Lillard on 9-24 shooting. CJ McCollum added 19. The rest of the team scored just 34 points. 

BOX SCORE: BLAZERS 82, KINGS 86

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

QUICK HITS: 

From the shadows to the spotlight: Shabazz Napier and his sudden ascent

From the shadows to the spotlight: Shabazz Napier and his sudden ascent

In a Trail Blazers’ season filled with ups and downs, the latest ascent has been propelled by an unlikely source: point guard Shabazz Napier.

With dead-eye shooting, nearly mistake-free ball management, and pesky defense, Napier has in the last week evolved from spot duty to bonafide rotation player quicker than you can say “Shabazzle Dazzle.”

The surprise is not in his ability – teammates like Damian Lillard have called him a “handful” in practice – the surprise rather, is in his ability to carve out a niche in what was an already crowded backcourt.

With a two-time All-Star (Lillard), a future All-Star (McCollum) and an $18 million play-maker (Turner), Napier faced the most formidable of roadblocks with the Blazers.

But Napier this week said he has leaned on a quote by his mom, instilled in him from his youth: “The easiest thing to do in life,” his mother told him “is to quit.’’

This fall, knowing he faced a roster loaded with obstacles and after missing all of training camp with a hamstring injury, Napier worked.

And now, his coach is finding he can’t quit Napier.

It was the fourth straight game Napier has played 15 or more minutes, and against the Magic his playing time created one of the most intriguing lineups of the season – Lillard, McCollum and Napier at the same time.

From a defensive standpoint, it seems unlikely Stotts will feel comfortable playing the three point guards together for long stretches. And with Napier forging his way into the conversation, the rotation now sits at a robust 10, with injured starter Al-Farouq Aminu scheduled to return by the end of the month.

So what happens next?

Does the three-point-guard lineup become a thing?

Does Napier eventually go back to spot duty that has defined his first three NBA seasons?

Or does he fade into the considerable shadow cast by Lillard and McCollum?

It will be one reason to tune in Friday when the Blazers play in Sacramento in their quest for three consecutive wins.

And it will be one more reason for Napier to remember his mom’s quote. After all, as Napier says: “I’ve never been a quitter.’’