Jamie Hudson

Iman Shumpert vs. Jusuf Nurkic: "Dirty screens" and a conversation that will have to wait until April 10th

Iman Shumpert vs. Jusuf Nurkic: "Dirty screens" and a conversation that will have to wait until April 10th

SACRAMENTO – It was a rare scene outside of the Trail Blazers locker room on Monday night.

The Golden 1 Center is constructed in a way that has the Sacramento Kings locker room on the opposite end of the court as the visiting team locker room.  

After the final horn sounded and Sacramento took a 115-107 win over Portland, Kings shooting guard Iman Shumpert was seen outside of the Blazers locker room.

Shumpert wanted to “have a conversation” with Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic, but he was not allowed in by team security.

The conversation never took place, at least not in the arena, but what led to the need for Shumpert to talk with Portland’s lead security guard to get to Nurkic?

For one, “dirty” screens.

Nurkic set hard screens at the top of the key to get Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum open to drive the lane. In turn, Shumpert hit the deck.

“I know in the first quarter, Nurk was setting screens and he was saying Nurk was setting some bad screens, basically. He was hot about it. He was mad about it and I didn’t see the screens so I don’t really know, but from what I heard he thought Nurk was setting some dirty screens,” Lillard said.

Shumpert seemed to take exception to the hard screen on the court and that was only beginning.

The Kings shooting guard would not give specific details on what led to the chippiness between he and Nurkic, but he did say we could all review the game film to get a better look.

“Y’all got the TV, you all can watch it. Review the game tonight,” Shumpert said.

“Some stuff happened out there that we needed to have a conversation about,” Shumpert added.

Shumpert was hit with a technical foul at the 10:23 mark in the third quarter.

Then almost two minutes later in the game, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was charged with a technical foul for arguing with the referees on a non-foul call when he felt that CJ McCollum got hit while going up for a lay-in.

Immediately following the game both Lillard and Coach Stotts were seen talking to Shumpert on the court.

The only comment Coach Stotts would make in his postgame interview about the combative play on the court, was this:

“I think everybody felt like it was a chippy game, no question.”

Shumpert was barking at Nurkic throughout the game and even when Shumpert was not in the game, he was yelling from the bench.
Outside of the locker room after the game, the Blazers team security told Shumpert that Nurkic was still showering and he would not be able to come out of the locker room and speak to him at that moment.

Shumpert made his way back to his own locker room and was able to calm down before talking with the media.

“The game is over. I just wanted to have a conversation with the man. Nothing malicious, nothing crazy. I didn’t go over there and bombard the locker room. I’m sure everybody realizes we’re big enough to rush the locker room. We’re athletic enough to get in there. I didn’t go in there and bully into the locker room.  I just wanted to have a conversation,” Shumpert said.

When Nurkic was asked about Shumpert he had this to say, “I’m not worried about him. He’s going into retirement soon. I just said what I said. I’m not worried about a guy who’s going into retirement soon.”

Shumpert claimed he sustained minor injuries to his hand and shoulder and was upset that he will not be able to play with his daughter.

Anyone who has followed Shumpert over his eight-year NBA career knows that he can be an emotional player who feeds off of other people's energy.

It was not just Nurkic’s screens that were getting Shumpert hyped on Monday night. 

Shumpert admitted he fed off of Portland’s team security, which had spoken with the Kings guard as the game became tense.

“He was a little passionate and you become part of the game… I’ll take whatever energy you give me. I was having a tough time shooting the ball and you know, he talked to me enough I made the next three. That’s what we needed at the moment… After that we rolled,” Shumpert said.

Shumpert went 2-for-9 from the field. His only baskets were from three as he finished with six points.

Being a guard, Lillard said after the loss that he understands what Shumpert was going through, but he in no way feels Nurkic had any intention to be dirty.

“I think all of us guards feel that way, you know, bigs trying to give their guard an advantage, so they might lean into it sometimes, but I don’t think there was anything dirty there,” Lillard said.

Shumpert postgame just wanted to make sure we all knew this…

“Like I said, it’s for two men to have a conversation. It’s not for everybody to be a part of. Nobody to hype up or anything like that. It’s for two men to have a conversation that’s it,” Shumpert said.       

The conversation -- to be continued…

Portland hosts Sacramento in the third and final meeting of the season on April 10th.

That’s a long time to wait. But that’s probably not too long to forgive and forget.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Sacramento Kings

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Sacramento Kings

SACRAMENTO -- The Kings have won two straight games, defeating both Charlotte and Detroit late last week. Sacramento has not won three games in a row since early December. They will have a chance to catch Portland on its back-to-back and possibly pick up an always important Western Conference win.

Before the Blazers and a Kings tipped off, Sacramento’s head coach Dave Joerger and Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts addressed the media.

Sacramento will hit the road for the next six games after tonight's matchup against the Blazers, which means the Kings want to finish the homestand out strong. Sacramento will have played seven of its last eight games at home after tonight's game. 

Coach Joerger made sure he gave credit to Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic for his performance in their last meeting, saying, “It was very, very impressive."

In that game earlier this month, Nurkic finished with a beast 5 x 5 game with 24 points, 23 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and five blocks. The Blazers won that game 113-108 in overtime on New Year's Day in Sacramento.  Tonight's game will be the second of three meetings between these two teams.

So how does Sacramento avoid Nurkic going off on them yet again?

"Play six dudes, man,” Coach Joerger joked.

“We’ve got to be as physical with him as possible. One thing that he’s very effective at delivering blows on screens… He gets Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum open. He does a good job of that and gives them space to operate,”  Joerger added.

Coach Joerger also expects it be “an energy game” for his team in order for them to get the win.

Hear from Coach Joerger right here: 

Blazers Injury Updates: Maurice Harkless (left knee) is questionable for tonight’s game at Sacramento. Coach Stotts said Harkless will going to go through warm-ups and then we will see how he feels. The Blazers just announced about 50 minutes to tip-off that Harkless WILL NOT play tonight. 

Hear from Coach Stotts right here: 

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings: How and Where to Watch

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Sacramento Kings: How and Where to Watch

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

GAME HEADLINES

A complete game: Despite the loss, Portland played another complete game in Denver. Five players scored in double figures, Al-Farouq Aminu missed a double-double by one point and the bench chipped in despite no one having an outstanding game. In the battle down low, Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was just one point away from tying his career-high, while Trail Blazers big man Jusuf Nurkic had a difficult time staying on the floor after getting into early foul trouble. The loss follows what was maybe the Blazers most complete game in the win over Charlotte on Friday night at Moda Center. Regardless of the opponent, the Blazers will look to try and put another complete game together Monday as they take on the 22-21 Sacramento Kings and they'll need it on the second night of a back-to-back. 

Share the rockIn each of the last six games, the Trail Blazers have logged 25 or more assists as ball movement has become a focal point for the team and specifically point guard Damian Lillard. If Portland wants to make a run at a first round playoff series win, they'll need to continue to keep a focus on moving the ball and make teams pay for double teams and over rotations. 

Kings rolling: Sacramento has won two-games in row, defeating both Charlotte and Detroit late last week. The Kings have not won three games in a row since early December. They will have a chance to catch Portland on its back-to-back and possibly pick up an always important Western Conference win. For Portland, who has its eyes on being a higher seed in the playoffs, they discussed after Sunday's loss to the Nuggets just how important it is to get a win in Sacramento and avoid two-straight Western Conference losses. Losing in the West is almost like losing twice in one game with how tight the conference race is right now. 

INJURY UPDATES

Portland: Per Blazers, Maurice Harkless (left knee) is questionable for tonight’s game at Sacramento.

Sacramento: The Kings have no injuries to report.

QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: The Stotts Decision: Do you foul, down by 1 with 27.7 to go?

Jamie Hudson: Fixing the Fouls: Jusuf Nurkic takes ownership as foul trouble plagues Trail Blazers

VIDEO: Highlights from the game in Denver

VIDEO: Taming the beast

GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 7:00 p.m. 

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (6:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Point Spread: Sacramento -2

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

Fixing the Fouls: Jusuf Nurkic takes ownership as foul trouble plagues Trail Blazers

Fixing the Fouls: Jusuf Nurkic takes ownership as foul trouble plagues Trail Blazers

DENVER – The boo birds were out in full force on Sunday night, with Jusuf Nurkic visiting his former team.

From the introduction to Nurkic shooting foul shots, the boos were heard throughout the Pepsi Center.

For the past two seasons, the matchup between the Trail Blazers and Nuggets has been marked on a lot of people’s calendar with the battle between two big men who were at one point teammates becoming a must see matchup. 

On Sunday it was mostly a one-sided fight, though.

Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic scored a season-high 40 points to help the Nuggets beat the Trail Blazers in the final seconds, 116-113.

“Jokic is a hell of player. He is difficult to guard. He scores inside, scores outside. He passes. You know, we didn’t do a very good job with him tonight, no matter who was on him,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame.

Jokic was just one point away from tying his career-high, while his opponent, Nurkic had a difficult time staying on the floor.

“For me, I know how much I need to be out there and play how well I know I can play, but if I’m not doing that, I’m hurting my team,” Nurkic said.

With less than 30 seconds into the game, Nurkic picked up his first personal foul. Picking up a foul that quickly should have been a clue that Nurkic was going to rack up them up against his old team.

It was at the 9:19 mark in the third quarter when Nurkic picked up his fourth foul.  He played the last 58 seconds of the game with five fouls.

Nurkic admitted picking up quick fouls changed the way he likes to play.

“I just can’t have that, because then everything changes -- Our flow, our pace, our game… It’s really tough when you’re out there and you can’t really play the way you want,” Nurkic said.

“I really need to do a better job and that’s on me,” Nurkic added.

It was obvious that the Blazers did not have the man-power to slow down the 7-foot, 250 pound center.

“Jokic was scoring on everybody… Chief was guarding him. He’s a little undersized. Zach was a little light sometimes. It was tough,” Stotts said.

Jokic also added 10 rebounds and eight assists to go along with his season-high of 40 points.

In the loss, Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 26 points, and CJ McCollum had 18 points. Lillard was unable to get the tough go ahead three-pointer to fall at the buzzer.  

As everyone knows, it’s easy to look at the final possession and put so much emphasis on just one missed shot, but games are not decided by one play.  The Blazers more so recognized that not having Nurkic out on the floor for big stretches in the second half made for a difficult night. 

“We need Nurk to be able to stay out on the floor and it’s tough matchup for both those guys to try and guard each other, but no excuses – we got to figure out a way to win,” McCollum said. 

Lillard had Nurkic’s back on some questionable fouls called.

“I thought he had some cheap ones. In the first half they called a few on him that kind of put him in a bad position, maybe made it tougher for him to get into the game, get into the rhythm of the game,” Lillard said. 

“We’re professionals and mentally you’ve got to be able to put stuff behind you and still go out there and do what you’ve got to do -- I thought he did. When he was in the game he was scoring around the rim, rebounding the ball, but it’s just, you know, it’s tough when you’re in that position in foul trouble,” Lillard added.   

For the Bosnian Beast he says he will learn from this game.

“I’m gonna watch film and see what I’m doing wrong,” Nurkic said.

Portland also gave credit to what Jokic is able to do as a 7-footer.

“He’s able to do different things with the ball. He can pass obviously off the pinch post, he can pass from the top of the key, and he has range out to three-point line,” McCollum said.

Nurkic would not go as far to say that Jokic is a guard playing in a big man's body, but almost.

“He’s a great player… It’s almost like guarding the perimeter guy, but you’re not you know. Obviously he can pass,” Nurkic said.

But hey, the good news for the Blazers they can still even the season series. With a smirk on his face, Lillard wrapped his postgame interview with, “We’ll see them two more times.”

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Denver Nuggets

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Denver Nuggets

Portland will finally be able to put their newfound ball movement and success over the Eastern Conference to the test against the No. 1 team in the Western Conference, the Denver Nuggets.

Before tonight’s NW Division rivalry game tipped off, both Nuggets head coach Mike Malone and Blazers head coach Terry Stotts gave injury updates and more.

Nuggets Injury Update: Gary Harris (hamstring) who was initially listed as “questionable” will be a game-time decision.

Coach Malone says Harris will go through warm-ups and tests, but he will most likely be out tonight vs. the Blazers.

Coach Malone discussed how his team did not have enough energy last night in their road loss to the Suns. Malone is happy to be back home and he hopes his team will feed of the energy from the crowd.

Malone also addressed how difficult it is to get Will Barton back in the flow with the second unit after Barton has missed 39 games. Coach says it’ll take time for Denver's bench to find a groove again. 

“Our bench unit has had pretty good chemistry and synergy all year long. I thought last night that the unit was not playing the way we needed them to play and that's not surprising because Will missed those 39 games. I think the more he plays, the more comfortable he’ll get and just as important if not more, the guys on the court with Will will get more comfortable as well,” Malone said.

Hear from Coach Malone right here:

Blazers Injury Report: Maurice Harkless (left knee) will not play tonight against Denver and there is now new update on his status. Harkless has missed the last two games.

In the first meeting of the season between Portland and Denver on November 30th, the Nuggets led by as many as 17. Despite the Trail Blazers best efforts to complete the comeback, Denver held on and snagged a 113-112 win. There are a few key things that Coach Stotts would like to see differently tonight.

“I think we gave up 68 points in the first half. They got to the paint too much. They shot the three well in the first half. We did a better job with that defensively in the second half. Basically we’ve got to do what we did in the second half. We played good basketball, we played catch up most of the half,” Stotts said.  

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets: How and Where to Watch

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets: How and Where to Watch

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

GAME HEADLINES
A real test for Portland
As the Trail Blazers embark on quick two-game road trip that includes a tough back-to-back against the Denver Nuggets and the Sacramento Kings, Portland will finally be able to put their newfound ball movement and success over the Eastern Conference to the test. With a 127-96 beat down of the Charlotte Hornets Friday night, Portland has now won a season-high four straight games and 11 of its last 15. Three of the last four wins for Portland came against the bottom half of the Eastern Conference.

It will be a change of pace for the Blazers to now go to the Mile High City and lace it up against the No. 1 team in the West, the 28-12 Denver Nuggets.

In order for the Blazers to get a win in Denver, Damian Lillard believes the Blazers “have to take this [current] brand of basketball onto their court and get another win."

Nuggets continue to hold down the No. 1 spot in the West
Denver remaines half a game ahead of the Golden State Warriors in the standings to claim the No. 1 spot in the West. The Nuggets have continued to have success despite former Trail Blazer Will Barton being sidelined with a hip and core injury that he suffered during the second game of the season.

Barton underwent surgery on his hip in October, but he has been nearing the end of his rehabilitation. Barton was upgraded to questionable for Denver’s game against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday. The Nuggets have won seven of their last eight games.

The Blazers may catch a break, however, because they should have fresh legs in comparison to the Nuggets. Denver plays its fourth game in six days when they face the Suns in Phoenix on Saturday night. Portland will have be in Denver since the early afternoon on Saturday, while the Nuggets will be landing in the Mile High City in the early hours of Sunday morning.  Also keep in mind, the Nuggets will be playing in their fifth game of the week when they host Portland. The schedule has been rough for Denver recently, who is currently in the midst of an 11 game stretch over just 19 days.

Nikola Jokic = Triple-Double Machine
Denver is continuing to rely on its post presence this season. Of course, there’s a lot of history between the Trail Blazers and Nuggets after Denver decided to build around Nikola Jokic instead of Jusuf Nurkic. The February 2017 trade between the Blazers and Nuggets has turned out to be a big gain for Portland with Nurkic now having his best season of his career in just his third season in a Blazers uniform.

Jokic is also putting up his best numbers of his four-year career. The 23-year old had consecutive triple-doubles against the Miami Heat and the LA Clippers this week. In his last five games, Jokic is averaging 27.2 points, 12.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists, 1.4 steals and one block.

Jokic has notched a total of five triple-doubles this season, which currently ranks him fifth in the NBA. Russell Westbrook is holding down the number one spot on the triple-doubles list with 13.  

A revenge game for Blazers?
After Friday’s dominate win over the Hornets, All-Star point guard Damian Lillard expressed that the Blazers were upset they let one get away when Denver came to Portland in late November.

"They came here and got one. We had a shot at the end of the game to beat them, and we didn't feel like we played that well,” Lillard said.

In that first meeting of the season between Portland and Denver on November 30th, the Nuggets led by as many as 17.

Despite the Trail Blazers best efforts to complete the comeback, Denver held on and took a 113-112 win, which at the time was was the Nuggets’ fifth straight victory and the Blazers’ fourth loss in five games. In the loss, CJ McCollum had 33 points, but he was not able to knock down the go ahead jumper as time expired. But now the Blazers seem to be hitting their stride. Sunday’s matchup vs. Denver will be a good measuring stick for where Portland really stacks up in the West.


INJURY UPDATES
Portland has listed Maurice Harkless (left knee), Caleb Swanigan (G League) and Wade Baldwin (G League) as out for Sunday's game at Denver.

QUICK LINKS
Dwight Jaynes: 
Nurkic nearly gets triple-double while awaiting Bosnian votes

Jamie Hudson: The numbers don't lie as Trail Blazers dismantle Charlotte Hornets

Scoop Podcast: Terry Stotts: Zoologist and World Traveler 

VIDEO: Highlights: CJ leads the way over Charlotte

VIDEO: It's a Moda Center block party


GAME DETAILS
Where to Watch:
 NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 5:00 p.m. 

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (4:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Point Spread: Denver -4

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

The numbers don't lie as Trail Blazers dismantle Charlotte Hornets

The numbers don't lie as Trail Blazers dismantle Charlotte Hornets

The Trail Blazers exploited the Charlotte Hornets early and often on Friday night. 

It was one of the most complete games that Portland has played all season. The Blazers themselves would not say it was THE most complete game of the season though, as Portland dismantled Charlotte with a final score of 127-96. 

“I liked the demeanor of our team the entire game at both ends of the floor. I thought we were really locked in, played the right way,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame.

CJ McCollum led all scorers with 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting, including 5-of-11 from three. As a team, the Blazers shot 55.9% from the floor and that was with the bench playing all but two minutes of the fourth quarter. 

GET THAT OUTTA HERE!
After Damian Lillard blocked Kemba Walker at the 10:31 mark in the third quarter, that put the total blocks for the game at 11, which is a season-high for the Blazers. 

That block also marked Lillard’s third one of the game, which tied his career-high for most in a game.

Then just a little over three minutes later, Lillard blocked Walker again to notch a new career-high of four.

Lillard realizes it is all about knowing your opponent’s tendencies in order to gain an anticipation advantage to get the swat. 

“Before the game, we were talking about finishing the homestand strong and just understanding how Kemba makes them go… I knew it was going to be a defensive challenge. So I just tried to come out and set the tone and I knew he liked to raise up off those pick and rolls, pull up for threes, get the big off balance and raise up for pull-up jumpers, so I just kept fighting over the top and I was trying to get a good contest, but I could tell he didn’t see me on a few of them, so I just went a head and blocked him,” Lillard said.

The Blazers big men were also getting in on the block party. 

Meyers Leonard matched a career-high in blocks with three. The last time Leonard had three blocks in a game was during his rookie season at Detroit on November 11th of 2012. 

While Jusuf Nurkic was chasing a triple-double in the second half (in points, rebounds, and assists), he also chipped in on the block party.

“Nurk did a great job of protecting the rim. Dame had some great chase down blocks from behind... And we just defensively tried to locked in and be engaged,” McCollum said after the win. 

Nurkic finished with 11 points on 5-of-6 shooting, to go along with 11 rebounds, eight assists (matching a career-high), and six blocks (also, matched a career-high).

Nurkic joked with a big smile about Lillard having so many blocks, “Dame got four, man. He started chasing me, man. I was like I can’t have the same amount of blocks that he have.”

“I just try to affect the game in many ways,” Nurkic added. 

Portland had 10 blocks at the half, which had tied their previous season high. With the total of 16 blocks on the night, Portland was just one shy of tying a franchise record of 17 that came against New Orleans back in 1979. 

TURNOVERS? WHAT TURNOVERS?
Portland never trailed against the Hornets on Friday and the Blazers biggest lead was 35 points. 

But perhaps the most impressive number all night was the lowest number --

JUST ONE.

The Blazers turned the ball over just one time in the first half and that was in the final seconds of the second quarter. 

Clearly that is how you take care of the ball, but what does McCollum chalk it up to? 

Sometimes you have to have luck on your side. 

“I think a little bit of luck, good ball movement, guys just taking shots when they’re there and not overthinking,” McCollum said.

Lillard credited the team as a whole in the first half. 

“We were pretty sharp this morning at shootaround. We pretty much said it to each other, for the first part of this game… We were communicating what was coming to each other, so I think we were just in a much better position to make those plays,” Lillard said.      

“We were just sharp. We made it hard for them. We defended well. And then on the offensive end we played well on that end too. We just played a really good game overall as a group,” Lillard added. 

The Blazers finished the game with nine turnovers and a season-high in assists with 31. 

Portland’s season-low in turnovers for a game this season is six, which they had against the Clippers on November 8th.

“For our offense, when we take care of the ball that makes a difference… First half to go almost the entire half without a turnover led to a lot of good transition and I think that’s important for us,” Stotts said.

“Good transition” as Coach Stotts put it, mean yet another season-high for the Blazers – this time it’s a season-high in fast break points with 26.

RIP CITY ON THE RISE
All of those impressive numbers adds up to one thing...

Portland now sits in the fourth spot in the Western Conference standings at 26-17 overall.

The rising Trail Blazers will get a real test as they travel to Denver to take on the Nuggets on Sunday, the #1 team in the Western Conference.

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Charlotte Hornets

usatsi_11969914.jpg
USA Today Images

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Charlotte Hornets

Tonight's game is the first of two meetings between the Trail Blazers and Hornets this season and will be the last of a five-game homestand for Portland. This is another chance for the Blazers to take advantage of a bottom Eastern Conference team.

 

Over this current homestand, the Blazers have defeated the Houston Rockets, New York Knicks and Bulls, but also dropped one to the Oklahoma City Thunder last Friday.

 

Before tonight’s game, Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts and Charlotte’s head coach James Borrego talked with the media. 

 

Blazers Injury Report: Damian Lillard (left elbow) is available for tonight’s game after being listed as questionable. Maurice Harkless (left knee) is out.

 

The Blazers' assists have been up in the last five games and for Coach Stotts he mentioned that there’s two parts to the equation: More ball movement and more finishing.

 

Matchup vs. Charlotte: Coach Stotts also talked about how the Hornets are using point guard Kemba Walker this season.

 

“[He's] probably getting to the rim a little bit more. I think the team relies on him a little bit more. In my mind his always been very difficult to guard… He does a little bit of everything,”  Stotts said.

 

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

 

The Hornets have struggled as of late, losing six of their last nine games.

 

Coach Borrego discussed the challenges that the two-man game of Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic present.

 

“They’ve played so well together the last couple of years. I think they have a great rhythm in that pick and roll. They put a lot of pressure on your defense… They have multiple shooters out there,” Coach Borrego said.

 

Hear from Coach Borrego right here:  

Terry Stotts: Zoologist and World Traveler

Terry Stotts: Zoologist and World Traveler

This week's special guest on the Scoop Podcast has been here in Rip City for the last seven years and I found out that he is quite the world traveler.

It's time to sit down with Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

I find out what type of player Stotts was back in his high school days. Oh yes, we take a trip down memory lane!

Did you know that Stotts has a bachelor's degree in Zoology? You heard that right. We've got some major Zoology talk in this podcast and how it relates to Stotts' plan was to become a dentist. Imagine that for a second... Paging Dr. Terry Stotts, it's time for little Timmy's filling.  

Plus, we go around the world with Stotts who played in various countries during his seven years playing in Europe and he lived in Guam for five.

Speaking of memory lane, we go back to Stotts' NBA Draft Night and what that experience was like for him in the 80s. He laughed and said things were a lot different back then.

Also, we talk hobbies, analytics, and so much more with Coach Stotts on The Scoop Podcast below. 

An in and out of the lineup veteran, Nik Stauskas says it's nothing new

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USA Today Images

An in and out of the lineup veteran, Nik Stauskas says it's nothing new

The Trail Blazers won their third game and improved to 7-3 in their last 10 games after taking care of business on Wednesday night and beating the Chicago Bulls 124-112.
The Blazers biggest lead was 19.

The biggest question mark, though -- What is going to happen with Maurice Harkless, who was out with left knee sorness, which in turn means, what is going to happen with the Trail Blazers’ rotation?   

With Harkless out Wednesday night that meant Nik Stauskas was back in the rotation after not playing in the last three games.  
In his 16 minutes of action, Stauskas shot 3-of-4 from the floor to score eight points to go along with his three assists and three rebounds.

Stauskas credited the flow of the second unit after getting back out there. 

“I think the ball was moving from side to side… we were able to get a couple stops out there…it was good player movement, we had a lot of cutting off the ball, we executed our plays well and guys were making shots,” Stauskas said.

This is talked about all the time -- You have to “stay ready” when you drop out of the rotation, but Stauskas knows how to do this all too well. 

“I’ve been doing it for five straight years now… So pretty routine for me. It’s not always fun, it’s not always easy. I’ve been around with a number of different teams now so I know how it goes. When you fall out of the rotation it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re out of the rotation forever. It just means you gotta wait for things to change, you gotta wait for your opportunity and whenever it comes you just have to stay ready…. It’s more just mental, It’s more just continuing to believe in yourself, continue to stay positive, continue to encourage your teammates and be happy for their success," Stauskas said.

“Those are the toughest things because you just tend to look at yourself and ‘ah, I’m not playing’ and you can get negative real quick so for me its about just staying positive and bringing great energy every day,” Stauskas added.

The 25-year-old shooting guard has played for a total of four different teams and is now in his fifth season. This season with the Blazers, Stauskas is averaging 6.2 points in 38 games played. 

Overall it was a big night for the Blazers’ bench in Wednesday’s win. Portland’s second unit outscored the Bulls’ bench 59-41. The Blazers’ bench was led by Seth Curry’s 17 points, while Zach Collins added 16.
Curry gave props to Stauskas for staying ready.

“Nik was great. He was active on both ends. He did a good job defensively. He knocked down shots and that’s what we need from him… He was ready to play. He continued to work on his game even when he didn’t get minutes the past few games. He was just a professional,” Curry said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned after the game that Stauskas had a great practice on Tuesday and Stauskas seconded that.

“I just hadn’t been in the rotation the last couple games and I was playing some one-on-one with the rooks, Anferee and Gary, just trying to make sure I’m staying ready, staying sharp and whatnot. Anytime you’re not playing you’re just trying to stay ready and keep your skills sharp, keep your conditioning up and whatnot…Coach watched practice yesterday, so maybe he liked what he was seeing and he trusted me today…glad he did,” Stauskas said.

Coach Stotts is not the only who has been taken notice of Stauskas and the Blazers' bench. Portland’s team captain Damian Lillard knows how important it is to get the Blazers’ role players playing with confidence.

“We had a lot of guys come in and play well and it’s good to just get guys feeling good about themselves and playing confident and going out there and doing it in a game. The more we can get those type of efforts out of guys and have guys believe that they can do it, the better off we will be as a group,” Lillard said.

Stotts said there has not been a plan put in place of how the Blazers will proceed with Harkless’ knee issues. Harkless has played in just 26 games this season.   

One thing is for sure though; the Blazers can count on Stauskas to put in the work in case his name is called.

“I always try to put in extra work. But just in the case where I wasn’t playing…not just shooting more, but trying to like compete. Play some one-on-one, run up and down a little bit just so you get that conditioning part of things. I feel like that’s the most important part when you’re not playing,” Stauskas added.

Next man up. 

Always stay ready.

Be a pro.

Pick your cliché but Blazers fans can rest easy knowing that a knock-down shooter in Stauskas is always ready.