Jamie Hudson

Scoop Journal: Who else wished they were partying it up in Jurassic Park on Thursday night?

scoop_journal.png
NBC Sports Northwest

Scoop Journal: Who else wished they were partying it up in Jurassic Park on Thursday night?

Welcome to The Scoop Journal, where every week I empty my notebook of wide ranging Trail Blazer thoughts, observations, and randomness. I hope you enjoy this light-hearted weekly blog...

June 14, 2019

Dear Scoop Journal,

This is my first journal entry since the Trail Blazers season ended and it seems fitting to write down my random Trail Blazers/NBA thoughts today since the season came to an end last night with the Toronto Raptors taking home the 2019 NBA Championship.

Now that I’ve had a night to sleep on it, with all the injuries for the Warriors, and the celebrations in Toronto, here are my latest Blazers and NBA thoughts:

*Everyone I talk to today, I want to ask them this question: How bad did you wish you were partying it up in Jurassic Park on Thursday night in Toronto? (Toronto knows how to celebrate a championship!)

*First off, Congrats to Toronto and the Raptors fans on earning their first NBA Championship! I know I’m not alone in thinking Blazers fans are happy for their fellow northern neighbors.

*It’s so hard not to think about what it would be like here in Portland for the Blazers to win a title in the modern NBA era. Rip City will go absolutely crazy when the next championship happens here. This is something I think about often. Obviously, I can’t wait for that day!   

*There were so emotions for Golden State fans on Thursday night. It was the last game played at Oracle Arena, the Warriors had just lost Kevin Durant to a ruptured Achilles a couple days before Game 6, and then Klay Thompson goes out with what we all later learned was a torn ACL.

*Injuries are the worst part of the game. You hate to see players go down with these horrific injuries.  

*And not to mention, Thompson and Durant will both become free agents this offseason. This summer is going to be very interesting and next season could now be wide open.  

*I saw a Blazer fan tweet this out on Thursday night and I think this is how every non-Warrior fan was feeling:

*For now, NBA fans wish for a speedy recovery to all the players who went down with major injuries this season.

*Let’s now shift our focus to the NBA Draft. Thursday evening can’t come soon enough. Who will the Blazers pick at No. 25? Or will Portland trade the pick in a package deal? We’re about to find out!

Blazers Pre-draft Workout: Late-bloomer KZ Okpala is looking to showcase his versatility

usatsi_12346433.jpg
USA Today Images

Blazers Pre-draft Workout: Late-bloomer KZ Okpala is looking to showcase his versatility

TUALATIN – The Portland Trail Blazers held their third pre-draft workout on Thursday morning at their practice facility. Portland’s fourth and final workout will take place this Sunday.

The Blazers hold the No. 25 pick in this year’s draft, to be held on Thursday, June 20.

Portland brought in six hopefuls on Wednesday, David Crisp (Washington), Matur Maker (Slovenian League), KZ Okpala (Stanford), Samir Sehic (Tulane/Vanderbilt), Jaylin Walker (Kent State), and Cameron Young (Quinnipiac).

Stanford forward KZ Okpala, whose full name is Chikezie Okpala, is the biggest standout from Wednesday’s group.

Okpala is projected to be a mid to late first round pick, which could mean he is available for the Blazers at No. 25. Okpala has been linked to the Nets and Jazz in several Mock Drafts.

At 6’9”, 215 pounds, Okpala is the definition of a ‘3 & D’ guy.

Okpala talked with the media after his workout, discussing what stood out to him about the workout with the Trail Blazers saying, “The energy. Everybody was playing extremely hard, we’re competing, that was the biggest thing.”

While attending Esperanza High School in Anaheim, California, Okpala only played the guard position despite his huge growth spurt. He even brought the ball up when he grew to 6’8”.

“It’s just a blessing, Okpala said. “Nothing more than a blessing. [I was] 5’10” coming in as a freshman [in high school] and now I’m 6’10” almost. I’ve got guard skills, that helps with my versatility for sure.”

 “Whatever position coach needs me to play, I can do it,” Okpala said. 

With his size he looks to be a lock for the modern NBA and that is what Okpala is looking to showcase.

“Versatility, that I can handle it for my size, get downhill, get to the middle, I have a quick first step, play-make, can shoot it, and then defensively I think that’s where I can come in on a team and make an impact right away just because I think I can really get after it, Okpala said. “I can guard 1 through 4. I’m just confident on the defensive end and the offensive end.”

During his sophomore year of college, Okpala earned 2018-19 All-Pac-12 First Team selection.

At Stanford, he averaged 16.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. He played in 29 games his sophomore year, while averaging 46.3% from the field, 67.1% from the free throw line, and 36.8% from three-point range in 32.7 minutes per game.

The sophomore forward spoke with the Blazers team physiologist during the NBA Combine last month, which may show that Portland has had some interest in the young fella.

Okpala has been very busy during the pre-draft workout process.

“I’m getting up there. I think [this] is my ninth. I think I have a couple more… I just take it one day at a time really,” Okpala said. “It’s been so exciting, every place I go, the atmosphere, just meeting all the staff and front offices it’s been a blessing."

The 20-year-old also said he grew up watching the Blazers backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

“What they did in the playoffs is amazing, Okpala said. “I know the culture out here is incredible.”

Portland City Council is committed to keeping Trail Blazers in PDX

usatsi_8455970.jpg
USA Today Images

Portland City Council is committed to keeping Trail Blazers in PDX

The Portland City Council is determined to keep the Portland Trail Blazers in Rip City for the long-term.

Wednesday morning ahead of the City Council Session at City Hall, the Trail Blazers organization was honored by the city.
Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts, along with General Manager Neil Olshey, and Senior Vice President of Venue Operations Chris Oxley sat in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Nick Fisher, and the rest of the City Council while Wheeler proclaimed June 12th, 2019 Trail Blazers Day.

“This is a proclamation honoring the Portland Trail Blazers. I’d like to thank coach Terry Stotts and Neil Olshey, Chris Oxley, and the Blazers staff for joining us this morning. I want to congratulate the Blazer players for having a truly incredible season this year,” Mayor Wheeler said.

Commissioner Nick Fish spoke to Stotts and Olshey directly, as well, showing his commitment to keep Portland an NBA city.

“I want to make a pitch for the future,” Fish said. “We were very lucky to have an owner of this team that invested freely in building great teams and keeping [them] here… We lost Mr. Allen to cancer. His sister is now running the team and obviously will be making some decisions about the team in the next few years about the direction of the team and her intentions."

“I wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity too for the city to go on record of saying, we’ll do everything that we can within our power to keep the Trail Blazers here forever,” Fish added.

Commissioner Fish made sure to drive home his point that the city is determined to keep the Blazers in Rip City, adding, “there will be other cities competing for the Trail Blazers, there may be owners that have fancy ideas, but the Trail Blazers belong in Portland and the city is committed to keeping you here.” 

Mayor Wheeler then concluded the presentation to the Trail Blazers with a simple, but powerful statement:

“The Blazers are part of the DNA of this city.”

It’s obvious that Mayor Wheeler understands how much the Trail Blazers are rooted in this city and it’s clear the City Council is prepared to keep this team in Portland well into the future.

June 12th, 2019: It's Trail Blazers Day as the Portland City Council honors the organization

June 12th, 2019: It's Trail Blazers Day as the Portland City Council honors the organization

PORTLAND – Wednesday morning ahead of the Portland City Council Session at City Hall, the Trail Blazers organization was honored by the city.

Trail Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts, along with President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, and Senior Vice President of Venue Operations Chris Oxley sat in front of Mayor Ted Wheeler, Commissioner Nick Fisher, and the rest of the City Council while Wheeler proclaimed June 12th, 2019 Trail Blazers Day.

“This is a proclamation honoring the Portland Trail Blazers. I’d like to thank coach Terry Stotts and Neil Olshey, Chris Oxley, and the Blazers staff for joining us this morning. I want to congratulate the Blazer players for having a truly incredible season this year,” Mayor Wheeler said.

Mayor Wheeler addressed Stotts and Olshey directly in front of a packed house at City Hall in downtown Portland.  

“I want to thank them for re-energizing the city," Wheeler said. "I just have to say this on a personal note, the Blazers played hard right down to the final buzzer and people in this city noticed it, people in this city were inspired by it and I thank you.”

Wheeler also shared his gratitude for the Rip City faithful.

“I’d like to thank the Blazers fans throughout the city for supporting the Blazers on their journey to the Western Conference Finals.”

“We’re so proud to have a team like the Portland Trail Blazers here and their entire organization and this is a proclamation on behalf of the entire Portland City Council honoring you for the great things you do in this community, not just on the court, but beyond, in helping to serve young people and people throughout this community all throughout this year,” Wheeler said.

Portland’s Mayor then read the proclamation that included a brief history of the franchise, mentioning Blazer greats, Clyde Drexler, Bill Walton and Terry Porter, along with honoring the Blazers late owner Paul Allen.  

Wheeler finished the proclamation by stating, “Now therefore, I, Ted Wheeler, the Mayor of the City of Portland, Oregon, the City of Roses, do hereby proclaim June 12th, 2019 to be Portland Trail Blazers Day in Portland and encourage all residents to observe this day.”  

Before the Council took a photo to remember Trail Blazers Day, Olshey spoke to the public about how grateful he was for Paul Allen’s sister Jody Allen taking over the team this past season.  

“No organization has a greater owner right now than Jody Allen… Her motivating us everyday led to us acquiring Rodney Hood, it led to acquiring Enes Kanter, it helped us see it through when Jusuf Nurkic went down and the adversity we faced,” Olshey said.

Olshey went on, saying, “I want to thank her in front of this body for everything Jody has done for our organization.”

Portland’s GM also formally announced that Damian Lillard received the NBA’s prestigious J. Walter Kennedy Award on Wednesday. The award is given annually to an NBA player, coach or staff member who has shown “outstanding service and dedication to the community.”

Coach Stotts finished the City Council address, by thanking them for the tremendous honor.

“I’ve been in the NBA for over 25 years… I’ve been to all the cities, know all the teams, and to be the head coach of the Portland Trail Blazers in this city, with this fan base, we are very fortunate and as much as you appreciate what we do, we appreciate the city,” Stotts said.

ASU guard Luguentz Dort thinks he would "fit pretty well" with Trail Blazers

usatsi_11936191.jpg
USA Today Images

ASU guard Luguentz Dort thinks he would "fit pretty well" with Trail Blazers

TUALATIN – Friday afternoon the Portland Trail Blazers held their first 2019 pre-draft workout.

Portland holds the No. 25 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft held on June 20. 

Six NBA hopefuls worked out for the Blazers on Friday, including Luguentz Dort (guard, Arizona State), Amir Hinton (guard, Shaw University/Lock Haven University), Jaylen Hoard (forward, Wake Forest), Jeremiah Martin (guard, Memphis), Markis McDuffie (forward, Wichita State) and Shamorie Ponds (guard, St. John’s).

The six players were put through a series of tests in front of Trail Blazers General Manger Neil Olshey, including one-on-one, three-on-three, and spot-up shooting drills.

Of the six participants, Arizona State’s Luguentz Dort is the one player who is projected to go late in the draft and should be available for the Blazers at No. 25.

Friday’s workout with Portland was Dort’s second pre-draft workout after participating in a Phoenix Suns’ workout last week. He says he will have about 10 more before draft night.

The 20 year-old guard is confident he can bring “a lot” to an NBA team.

“Defensively I bring a lot of energy,” Dort said.  “I bring a lot of intensity and on offense I’m gonna knock down the open shot, get to the rim, just play hard, run the floor.”

Dort decided to make the leap to the professional ranks with the help of Arizona State head coach Bobby Hurley, after just one season with the Sun Devils.

“[Coach Hurley] was really happy. He was the first one who actually told me to leave. We talked a little bit and since I’ve been doing my pre-drafts we’ve been staying in contact,” Dort said.

As a freshman, Dort averaged 16.1 points, 4.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 1.5 steals in 21.5 minutes of play. He started 33 of 34 games and earned Pac-12 Freshman of the Year honors. 

At 6-4 and 215 pounds, Dort says he takes prides in his defense.

“When I step on the floor I want my man to feel me on defense, so I’m always playing hard and making it tough on them,” Dort said.

At the NBA Combine two weeks ago, Dort interviewed with 12 different teams. Between his first two pre-draft workouts and talking with teams at the Combine, Dort feels he has received a lot of “good feedback.”

“They all told me to keep doing what I’m doing – drive to the basket… play hard on defense.”

Dort is excited about the possibly of the Trail Blazers drafting him.

“I like how fast they play. I like guards they have and I feel like I can fit pretty well,” Dort said.

For the young fella, he says now it’s all about “getting my body ready” for the next level.

Rip City Future is bright: Trail Blazers rookie Anfernee Simons praised for “crazy potential”

Rip City Future is bright: Trail Blazers rookie Anfernee Simons praised for “crazy potential”

As all of Rip City reflects on the Trail Blazers 2018-19 season, April 10th 2019 will most likely be a date that fans and players will remember for years to come. It was the last game of the regular season and Portland fans got a glimpse into the future.

On May 21st the media got a glimpse behind the scenes of the future and rookie Anferenee Simons.

At exit interviews on Tuesday with the season in the books, the Blazers offered up their thoughts on the season as a whole, what their summer plans will entail, and more.

The Blazers also discussed the future of the franchise with the potential of the Blazers' rookie shooting guard.

In that April 10th home game where Portland rested it stars and let the end of the bench play nearly the entire game, Simons led the charge that eventually led the Blazers to clinch the third spot in the Western Conference. Simons dazzled on offense with 37 points and nine assists. 

That was the first real glimpse of the rookie’s potential.

“I think about it sometimes, especially when people comment, ‘Oh you wouldn’t be here unless Anfernee scored 37,’ so it’s a pretty fun moment, but I kind of just not harp on it too much and try to get better,” Simons said with a smile.

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard did harp on Simons’ bright future.

“He’s potential is crazy,” Lillard said at Tuesday’s exit interviews. “I mean, I think last year I was here watching both of his workouts for the team, and he just looked so young. When I was watching him he was so explosive. He was a shot maker, you know, he can get to spots on the floor that a lot of people struggle to get to and he can do it.”

“Being able to shoot the ball, being that type of athlete, a really good floater, but I think his demeanor is what’s so big,” Lillard added. “It kind of reminding me of myself a lot, with just how in a room full of grown men in the locker room, he’s never uncomfortable… If everybody is on one side, he doesn’t just agree with everybody just because he feels like he has to or something like that. He stands on his own two feet.”

Simons played in 20 regular season games and averaged 3.8 points on 44.4% shooting, including 34.5% from three after hitting 10-of-29 attempts.

The 37-point game in the last regular season contest did give Simons more confidence moving forward.

Lillard is confident in the young gun as well.

“He works, he puts the time in. He doesn’t complain. I think he has a lot of qualities about him that make me believe that if he just keeps working and keeps developing, I think when I’m on my way out, you’ll all be talking to him every day,”  Lillard said.

Another Trail Blazers veteran who mentioned the potential of Simons at this week’s exit interviews was Al-Farouq Aminu.

“I wish I was the type of professional that he was coming into the league. I kind of pat myself on the back as well, just because I’m a vet, and all the vets that we do have. I think it’s a two-way street… You usually see guys that are around in this league for a long time, they usually have somebody that they can pattern themselves after. I remember when I went to Dallas, I just learned how to be a pro,” Aminu said.

Chief also had a fun story that he shared with the media. During the season the Trail Blazer wings participate in a friendly three-point shooting competition after practice. Simons, who usually working with his fellow rookie Gary Trent Jr. after practice, somehow convinced Aminu and the rest of the guys to let him compete.

Simons won the three-point shootout.  

“We usually don’t let rookies even play. So, it was kind of awkward man. We had a lot of guys go down… We should’ve really not let him get in there, man. He got lucky by even getting in there,” Aminu joked.

“That’s the kid, man. He makes the most of his opportunity,” Aminu said.

“It was the dark days, a couple of dark days for sure,” Aminu laughed.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has been pleased with the rookie’s development as well.

"He makes the game look easy... He's got excellent offensive instincts... I think this is a big summer for both him and Gary [Trent Jr.],” Coach Stotts said.

Simons acknowledged that he is confident that he can be a rotation player next season, but added, “obviously, I’m not in control of that, so I just got gotta control what I can control.”

The 19-year-old said the coaching staff has not talked to him about his role for next season yet, but Simons said they did discuss “just getting better, learn a lot, and make sure you take everything seriously in Summer League because they empathized that was going to be big for me this summer.”

Simons will workout and spend most of his summer back home in Florida.  

With just a little over a month away from NBA Summer League tipping off on July 5th, Simons said he’s ready to go repeat and bring back a second straight Summer League Championship.

The countdown is on and the future is in good hands.

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers this off-season.Get Local Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.Download the app, log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now 

Enes Kanter uses his platform for good, uses basketball as his escape

Enes Kanter uses his platform for good, uses basketball as his escape

TUALATIN – There are still many question marks surrounding Enes Kanter’s future.

The Trail Blazers center along with, Al-Farouq Aminu, Rodney Hood, Seth Curry, and Jake Layman (restricted) will all become free agents this summer.

Portland owns Kanter’s non-Bird Rights, so a team will easily be able to offer him a lot more money this summer. 

One thing is certain:

Kanter has enjoyed his time in Rip City.

Since Kanter landed with the Trail Blazers in mid-February, he has shown his appreciation and love for the organization and the city. Kanter was an integral part in Portland making it to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years. 

The Trail Blazers center started off Tuesday’s exit interview by saying, "signing here was the best thing that ever happened to me in my career."

“It’s been an amazing experience… This team, this organization, the whole state, not just made me a better basketball player, but made me a better person on and off the court… From day one, they opened their arms, they gave me a warm welcome. From the first week, I felt like I was part of this team for years,” Kanter said.

Kanter also said his experience in Portland will play into his offseason decision.

The 7-footer mentioned “winning” is one of his highest priorities when thinking about his offseason decision on where he will end up next season.

Over the last few months, Kanter has been extremely vocal about the Turkish government reportedly requesting an INTERPOL "Red Notice" for him back in January because of his alleged ties to exiled U.S. based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen, who Kanter has openly supported.

Being a professional athlete, Kanter has used his platform to educate people on what is going on in Turkey.

 “I’m going to spend some of my time in Washington DC this summer because whenever I go there most of the senators just always sit down and talk about all the stuff that’s going on back in Turkey,“ Kanter said.  

Kanter added, “I’m trying to use this platform to be a voice of all those innocent people [in Turkey] that don’t have one.”

Because Kanter cannot travel outside of the United States, he is going to be keeping busy with youth basketball camps.

Along with his usual workouts and offseason training, Kanter will be hosting over 30 kids’ camps in different cities across the US. All for free.

Kanter feels he is able to give back by not charging families money to come to his camps.

Kanter discussed at exit interviews that life has been hard with his situation, and he does feel that he has been put on the earth for a reason. He is also thankful to have basketball in his life.  

"Basketball is like my escape...as soon as I step on the court, all I care about is my teammates, basketball and winning. But as soon as I wake up in the morning... The fight begins."

Kanter will continue the fight for people in Turkey and weigh all of his options this offseason. NBA free agency begins July 1st at 9:00pm pacific time.

Meyers Leonard’s special moment came in Western Conference Finals

Meyers Leonard’s special moment came in Western Conference Finals

Adversity.

That is one word that comes to mind when reflecting on the Portland Trail Blazers 2018-19 season.

This year’s Trail Blazers squad has been through a lot. From owner Paul Allen passing away just three days before the regular season started, to losing Jusuf Nurkic to a season-ending leg injury with nine games remaining in the regular season.

The Trail Blazers have overcome a lot this season, but Portland was not able to overcome the willpower of the reigning champs, the Golden State Warriors, on Monday night. The Warriors took Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals, 119-117 in overtime.

Portland did not go away quietly though.  

As the Trail Blazers captain Damian Lillard put it immediately following Game 4; guys stepped up throughout all the adversity. 

“We lose our owner [Paul Allen]. We dealt with injuries, CJ [McCollum] missed a lot of games at a crucial stretch in the season, and we just kept answering the call, and that takes a group of guys to maybe go from not playing minutes, stepping up, giving us good minutes, trusting each other, leaning on each other. It takes a real group to be able to come together in those hard times on more than one occasion, and I thought we did that,” Lillard said.

On Monday night, Trail Blazers center Meyers Leonard stepped up in a big way for the second straight game after starting for the second consecutive game.

Leonard injected much-needed energy into the team, and into the Moda Center crowd.

“I just went out there and played confident,” Leonard said.

Playing with confidence is something Leonard has not always done. He will be the first to admit, it has been difficult for him to be self-assured on the court throughout his career.

For anyone who has not followed Leonard’s seven-year NBA career, it may be difficult to fathom that there have been times over the past few seasons that Trail Blazers fans have booed Leonard.

But, chants of “Meyers Leonard” erupted midway through second quarter of Game 4 after Leonard had already scored 20 points on the night.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was happy for his big man.

“Again, he, in the first half, was outstanding, 25 points,” Stotts said. “And, he was playing with confidence. He certainly had an impact on the game, much like Game 3, and again we needed him and he played well and I’m happy for him.”

Leonard had 25 points at the break and ended up finishing with a new playoff and regular season career-high 30 points. ‘The Hammer’ also pulled down 12 rebounds.

Monday night marked Leonard’s second double-double of his postseason career.

Another role player who had stepped up for the Blazers various times throughout the season and playoffs was Seth Curry.

Curry has preached all season long how his teammates know their roles and he continued to do so after the Blazers season had come to and end.

“Everybody worked hard, everybody did their job, everybody played their roles… Everybody in this locker room should be proud,” Curry said postgame.  

Curry also gave a lot of credit to Leonard.

“Meyers was great. He was great this whole series. He played with confidence. When he was left open, he knocked the shots down,” Curry said. 

“For a guy who didn’t play at times through the playoffs, to get his number called in the Western Conference Finals and show up like that says a lot about who he is,” Curry said.   

Leonard played a total of 61 regular season games this past season and played in 10 of the Blazers’ 16 postseason games.

But to quote Lillard, "it’s special" that Leonard was given his biggest opportunity in the Western Conference Finals.

“I think tonight was special.  I just remember in the first half, I looked up and in my mind, I remembered him just making a bunch of shots, and then I looked up and I was like, this dude got 25 points and I was like, he really killing right now,” Lillard chuckled.

“I think that just goes into what I said earlier, all season long, we have had things happen and guys have had to step up, and he’s a prime example of that,” Lillard said. “Not just this year, but over the last seven years, a lot of people have had a lot to say about him and what he doesn’t do and all those things… They get online and they say things and they don’t really know what goes on behind closed doors. They say things without knowing...knowing, but without taking into consideration that we’re people… They just beat you down, beat you down, beat you down, and I think he’s been through that.”

There’s no question, this Blazers team has a special bond and Leonard made sure to mention that postgame.

“Unfortunately our season is over, this is a very special team, guys that really care about each other and come to work every single day, ready to go,” Leonard said.

On the night the boos turned into ‘Meyers Leonard’ chants, the 2018-19 season’s playoff run came to an end. Yet, don’t forget the a confident Meyers Leonard could be the Blazers starting center for 2019-20 season with Nurkic not back from injury and Enes Kanter likely not on the roster.

Rip City might be chanting a lot more for Meyers next season.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4

PORTLAND -- Facing elimination on Monday night, the Portland Trail Blazers did not roll over in front of their homecourt. Portland came out with energy on both ends, and got a nice scoring punch from its starting center.  

The Blazers biggest lead on the night was 17 points in Game 4.

After sustaining a 12-0 Warriors run late in the third and early into the fourth quarter, Golden State tied the game at the 4:34 mark of the final period.

With under a minute to go, the game was all tied up at 111, and that’s where it stayed at the end of the regulation.

In overtime, it was back-and-forth until Draymond Green hit a dagger three-pointer with 39.6 seconds remaining in OT. The Warriors complete the sweep and beat the Trail Blazer 119-117.

Final Box Score: Warriors 119, Trail Blazers 117

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 4 loss:

1.  Blazers went away from the pick-and-roll early

The pick-and-roll had been the Blazers’ bread and butter all season long when center Jusuf Nurkic was healthy.

The Trail Blazers continued to play through the pick-and-roll with Enes Kanter, but it hasn’t been nearly as effective.

Portland started Meyers Leonard at center for the second straight game on Monday night. But even though Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned that his team would not make many more adjustments while addressing the media pregame, Damian Lillard played more off the ball and it was rare to see Lillard and a Blazers big run the pick-and-roll to start the game.

The Warriors have defended Lillard extremely well all series. With less pick-and-rolls, Lillard was able to get free more often on offense. In turn, he had a good shooting night, but it wasn’t enough against the back-to-back champs.

2. Warriors missed Iguodala on both ends

Andre Iguodala did not play for the Warriors after suffering a left calf strain in Game 3. Iguodala was initially listed as questionable for Game 4. 

Alfonzo McKinnie started in place of the injured Iguodala. The young McKinnie hesitated to shoot after not shooting so well to start the game. It was obvious that Warriors missed Iguodala’s presence on both ends.    

Quinn Cook and Jonas Jerebko also got more minutes.

With no Kevin Durant, and no DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors lack of depth showed on Monday night. However, Golden State showed its experience in overtime and was able to complete the sweep.  

3. The Leonard effect

Chants of “Meyers Leonard” erupted in the second quarter after Leonard had already scored 20 points on the night. It wasn’t just his scoring though that was getting the Blazers crowd amped up, Leonard took an offensive charge and got a steal within a couple of minutes of each other in the third quarter. He also posted a double-double. 

Leonard was bringing the energy into the team and the crowd. The Warriors were just able to outlast the Blazers. 

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

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Golden State Warriors in Game 4

usatsi_12748325.jpg
USA Today Images

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Golden State Warriors in Game 4

PORTLAND – It all comes down to this. Portland now faces elimination as the Trail Blazers get set for Game 4 vs. the Golden State Warriors tonight. The Blazers are looking to avoid the sweep and have said they are playing for pride.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr addressed the media before tonight’s game got underway.

Coach Stotts discussed how he believes the Warriors deep playoff experience has helped them in this series.

“I think their experience certainly has shown, there’s no question; how they ramped it up in the third quarter in Game 2 and to come back from an eight-point deficit with four-and-a-half [to play], I think they showed the mettle that helped them win their championship.

Tonight facing elimination, Stotts thinks it all comes down to the mental part of the game.

“We have made some changes that have been effective… I think understanding the mentality coming out of halftime, whatever it is, approaching this as a Game 7… I think it’s a much more a mental disposition than it is Xs and Os and strategies right now. 

Hear from Coach Stotts right here:

Warriors Injury Update: Coach Kerr confirmed Andre Iguodala (left calf) will not play tonight. Iguodala was initially listed as questionable.  

Kerr also mentioned Alfonzo McKinnie, Quinn Cook, and Jonas Jerebko will all most likely see more minutes with Iguodala out.

Hear from Coach Kerr right here:

Former Oregon Ducks star and Parkrose High School hero Keanon Lowe also talked to the media prior to Game 4.

Lowe tackled an armed student at Parkrose on Friday afternoon.

“I’ve grown to love that place,” Lowe said after coaching football at Parkrose for only a year.

“We were in the headlines and it wasn’t a tragedy. I’m thankful for that,” Lowe said.

Hear the entire Lowe interview right here: