Elle Leonard's trick shots keep breaking the internet


Elle Leonard's trick shots keep breaking the internet

Here is a life lesson that all basketball fans should write down and keep in their back pocket, just in case they forget: NEVER challenge Elle Leonard to a game of H.O.R.S.E.

Leonard loves to work on her basketball game and has been posting videos to social media all season long. She hits them left-handed. She hits them right-handed. She hits them underhanded. Heck, she's even hit them over her shoulder with her back to the basket. 

Now she's stepping her game it up. Her latest trick shot - going with a ball in each hand and shooting them at the same time. The result, as you would expect - Nothing be net.

Oh, I forgot to mention these weren't just normal shots. Leonard took the balls from the rack, dribbled both of them to the corner, and shot both of them all in one fluid motion. I can't explain it well enough, so watch the video below for yourself.


Breaking down how Meyers Leonard scored a career-high 30 points in Game 4 vs. the Warriors

Breaking down how Meyers Leonard scored a career-high 30 points in Game 4 vs. the Warriors

The Portland Trail Blazers are out of the playoffs but they did get to the Western Conference Finals, and one of the reasons they were so competitive and Games 3 and 4 against the Golden State Warriors was Meyers Leonard. He pretty much could not be stopped in the first half, and Leonard finished with 30 points and 12 rebounds, smashing home five 3-pointers.

Leonard got it going early thanks to the Blazers offense sharing the ball and making the right read. Cutters reacted to help defenders properly, and hockey assists put Leonard on the board early.

It helped that Leonard wasn’t shy about pulling the trigger, which is always a question of concern for him. Golden State dared Moe Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu to shoot all series long, but when they did the same thing against Leonard, it backfired on them.

Leonard petered out in the second half, partly due to his defenders staying higher and tighter on him and partly because Portland’s wing players made poorer decisions with the ball when he was open.

When Leonard was above the 3-point line in the second half, his defender no longer sagged into the lane, instead staying tight on him so he couldn’t get any space for 3-point buckets. 

Eventually the Warriors began to fully switch the 1-5 pick-and-roll with Leonard and Damian Lillard, putting Kevon Looney onto the Blazers PG and Klay Thompson on Leonard. That stalled his progress a little bit as well.

Leonard's Game 4 might not be remembered the way it would have had Portland won, but it's an example of what he can bring to the table and why management has been willing to stick with him for so long.

Watch the full video breakdown above to re-live the best game of Meyers Leonard's career.

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Olshey: "Everyone who comes through here has gotten better"

Olshey: "Everyone who comes through here has gotten better"

It was exit-interview day for the Portland Trail Blazers, the final chance for the media to interview the key players, coach and management of one of the most surprising teams in the franchise’s 49-year history.

There weren’t a lot of shocking happenings – other than President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey announcing that the team has extended the contract of head coach Terry Stotts. But that wasn’t much of a surprise, either, since Stotts had just engineered a run to the Western Conference finals for a team predicted before the season to win 42 games and miss the playoffs.

The pertinent video is on this website and I invite you to peruse it, but in the interest of time, let me hit a few of the highlights for you, in order of the players’ appearance:

CJ McCollum: “It was an incredible season based on what we went through. Expectations weren’t that high. It was a pretty incredible year.”

Meyers Leonard: “The last two games were what I know in my heart I can do. Heading into this offseason I feel very confident in what I’ve done. I’m happy to know I feel I gave the staff and the organization confidence in me. I’m going to come back next year ready for a more definite role.”

Evan Turner: “It was dope. We did a lot of great things this season. We went from being a playoff-caliber team to a potential championship-caliber team. We’re legit.”

Al-Farouq Aminu: “I’ve been here four years now. It’s the longest I’ve ever been at one organization. I don’t think you heard me complain too much.”

Damian Lillard: “People who might not have believed before, people who thought I was crazy for thinking we could push that far, now I’m sure a lot of people believe it more than they did before. We were coming off a sweep in the first round (last season). It’s a great feeling just to know, OK, we had a 15-plus lead in three of the four games. We know that we were capable of winning those games. And if those things go our way, we’re looking at going to the Finals.”

Maurice Harkless: “Overall, we have a lot to be proud of this season. We would have liked a better outcome. But that’s a huge accomplishment by us as a team.”

Enes Kanter: “It’s been an amazing experience. This team made me a better person and a better player. It was the best thing that ever happened in my career.”

Rodney Hood: “I’m not sure (about his free-agency). Obviously, we know it’s a business. We’ll see how everything works out this summer. I’m on the record with how much I love it here and I want to be back. I want to be embraced. That’s a big word that means a lot to me. Whether that equals to a dollar amount,  that’s what I’m looking for.”

Zach Collins: “(On whether he’d like to be a starter next season) Yeah, absolutely. I think this playoff run, not only for myself but for the team, it was a great experience. And now we’ve been there and we know what to expect. For me personally, going through that and being able to play a big role and help our team win a lot of games the playoffs, I’ve already learned so much, just in the last month in the playoffs.”

Anfernee Simons: “(The last game of the regular season) obviously gave me a lot of confidence. It was a good kick-start for the summer. (And in the summer league) I want to prove myself. I am young but I’m still able to play with the best of them. I can’t wait.”

Neil Olshey: “(On Stotts’ contract extension) We win every year. It’s year No. 7 – six straight playoff appearances. Two division titles. A trip to the conference finals. And we still have one of the youngest rosters in the league. But it goes beyond wins and losses. It’s alignment, partnership, Our young players develop. It’s a commitment to a longer-term view. One of the things I’m most proud of is everyone who comes through here has gotten better.”

Terry Stotts: “(On where he ranks on the list of Trail Blazer coaches) Doctor Jack (Ramsay)  is a Hall of Famer and Rick Adelman will be. I’m not going to touch those guys. They are idols of mine. I don’t even presume to be in that category. There have been a lot of great coaches here.”

Sweep? Doesn't matter -- it was a great season for the Trail Blazers

Sweep? Doesn't matter -- it was a great season for the Trail Blazers

It was a great season for the Portland Trail Blazers. Let’s get that out of the way right here and now. Don’t listen to anyone who tells you anything different.

It doesn’t really matter that the Golden State Warriors completed the sweep of the Trail Blazers with a 119-117 overtime win Monday night in the Moda Center.

In the big picture, it’s meaningless, really. The Blazers weren't going to win the championship, anyway. The Warriors were always going to be too much for them and perhaps everyone else in the league.

The Trail Blazers accomplished too much this season to allow the outcome of this series to spoil what they did.

This was a team that Las Vegas figured might win 42 games. It was a team that wasn’t supposed to make the playoffs and, after the devastating injury to Jusuf Nurkic certainly wasn’t expected to win many playoff games, let alone a series.

But the Blazers won enough to capture the third seed in the Western Conference, then knocked off Oklahoma City in five games and won a seventh game on the road to decide their series with the Denver Nuggets.

This was a big step for this team, which can now go into next season knowing they were in the NBA’s Final Four and played the defending champions tough in three of the four games.

“I think it’s more than just the playoff run,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “I think the fact that we had a very good regular season, the fact that we were able to win two series, we were competitive in this series, even though it was a sweep – we played competitively.

“But I think (next season) is a long way away from now. I think when that time comes, we’ll be able to reflect. I think it’s a little too early to look at how this series helps us right now. Right now, it kind of stings.”

Damian Lillard, the captain, was not at all reluctant to put this accomplishment in perspective.
“It’s the Western Conference finals,” he said. “The other night after our game, I was looking for another game on TV and I was like, there’s two series going on right now and we’re one of them. For me, we’ve shown what we’re capable of. We can get it done. And our route here was as hard as anybody’s.
“We played the Thunder, great team. We played Denver, great team. So it wasn’t like we just eased our way in. We earned this. We got here. I think we showed this is who we are.

“This is what we’ve capable of. It’s not like some random thing. We’re in the playoffs every year. We bounce back every year regardless of how it ends. And this year we pushed it even further. So I think we showed we have it in us.

“So now we take this experience and move forward again. Obviously, you don’t want to go out with a sweep. We could have easily won every game. We just didn’t. Just got to keep going.

“We’ve shown that what we’ve been believing in and what we hang our hats on, works. That has taken time. We’ve invested a lot in our culture and our togetherness and that stuff. We’ve proven that works.

“We just ran up on a high-powered team and we still played well enough to beat them, but it was just those small lapses, those stretches when you give a game away against a team like that.”

Monday’s Game 4 was a lot like the previous two games, Portland frittered away a 17-point lead in the face of a Warrior charge and missed a chance to win the game at the end of regulation when Lillard’s right-handed hook shot trickled over the rim and then had another game-winner at the end of overtime when his three-pointer from the right corner missed.

What separated this game from all the others in the series, though, was the emergence of Meyers Leonard, not only in the starting lineup for the second straight game, but as a major factor in the game.

Leonard played 40:11, scored 30 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead his team in both categories. He was 10-12 from the field in the first half with 25 points but got only four shots in the second half.

But for a man whom Stotts had buried on the Blazer bench for a good portion of his seven seasons with the team, it was a big coming-out party.

And it left serious questions about why he hasn’t been used more frequently by a team that often hungers for another outside shooter. Leonard hit 5 of his 8 three-point shots in the game.

“Again, he, the first half was outstanding,” Stotts said. “Twenty-five points and he was playing with a lot of confidence. He certainly had an impact on the game, much like Game 3. And again, he played well and I’m happy for him.”

I would say Leonard was outstanding for more than the first half, he just didn’t get the ball much after intermission and that wasn’t his fault. Stotts normally throws compliments Leonard’s way about as frequently as it snows here in July.

But Golden State Coach Steve Kerr was willing.

“Meyers Leonard was fantastic,” Kerr said. “I thought the game softened up when Meyers Leonard started making threes. We had to make some adjustments and as soon as we did that, Damian’s eyes lit up. He started to see single coverage and he got going.”

The Warriors got their usual triple-double from Draymond Green, and it included a big three-pointer in overtime. Steph Curry also chalked up a triple-double that included 37 points and 13 rebounds.

The Trail Blazers have exit interviews scheduled for Tuesday and there will be full written and video coverage on this website.

And with that, a season that could almost qualify as magical, comes to an end.

Meyers Leonard’s special moment came in Western Conference Finals

Meyers Leonard’s special moment came in Western Conference Finals


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. 

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Meyers Leonard on Game 4: "Have pride. Simple as that"

Meyers Leonard on Game 4: "Have pride. Simple as that"

For Meyers Leonard, it was a special opportunity Saturday night, a rare chance to start a playoff game.  And for Leonard, there haven’t been a lot of chances to start ANY games.

He didn’t get off the bench at all in 21 Portland games this season and was in the starting lineup only twice – with one of those being that final contest of the year when the Trail Blazers rested the starters and turned the game over to their young players, other than the 27-year-old Leonard.

He did not play in 10 of his team’s final 16 games of the regular season and then sat out five of the Trail Blazers’ last seven playoff games before going the entire fourth quarter of Game 2 against Golden State.

And it’s not as if he hasn’t been a solid playoff contributor during his career. In 24 playoff games, he’s shot 50.6 percent from the field and 45.2 percent from three-point range.

In 2014-15, as a 22-year-old, second-year player. Leonard hit 10 of 13 three-point field goals over a five-game playoff series vs. Memphis.

In the spotlight of a must-win game Saturday night, Leonard knocked down half of his 12 shots from the floor, three of seven from long distance and scored 16 points in a very consistent performance at both ends of the floor.

“I thought Meyers played great,” Damian Lillard said Sunday. “Meyers had a great game.”

No matter how infrequent his appearances, Leonard always keeps himself ready.

He wasn’t anxious to talk about the frustration and disappointment he has suffered during a career that has seen him spend more time on the bench than on the court. He doesn’t criticize his coaching staff or cause dissension over his situation, even though, at various times, his production has appeared to merit more minutes on the floor and Trail Blazer fans have demeaned him on the talk shows and social media because of his salary.

“What I'll say is, I'm thankful that Coach Stotts and the staff and my teammates, for that matter, had the belief in me and know that I can play,” he said Sunday prior to his team’s practice. “It's been up and down, and I approach every day the same as if I'm going to play.

“I try to prepare as best I can, and I used this quote last night, it's one that I really like. It's what the (Navy) Seals talk about: You don't really rise to the occasion, you fall back on training.

“I put a lot of work in, and I feel that I'm very dedicated to myself and to my team to improving and being ready to play when my number is called.  So, although the minutes have been up and down and it's, I guess, not consistent, my goal is to remain consistent when I'm counted on.

“In a pretty big game, obviously, it's been, whatever, 19 years since the Blazers have been in the Western Conference finals, I feel that I did a pretty darned good job being ready to play and trying to help us win.”

And, as always, Leonard is resolute about what his team must do to keep from making this series a 4-0 Warriors’ sweep Monday night.

“Have pride,” he said. “Simple as that. You know, we can easily just say, well, we're down 0-3, no one else has ever done it, why not just get to the summer?

“That's not who we are. That's not, certainly not our mindset. And we have a group of guys that really care and love to win, and so we're going to come out tomorrow night and we're going to fight and we're going to give them a really good effort.”

Something Leonard always does.

Stay ahead of your team in the Western Conference Finals. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more. Download the app, log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now

Meyers Leonard felt "bittersweet" after Game 3

Meyers Leonard felt "bittersweet" after Game 3

PORTLAND – Another poor shooting third quarter doomed the Trail Blazers on Saturday night.

“It was essentially one really good half of basketball, and then we’re talking about the World Champs,” Meyers Leonard said postgame.

Those World Champs have been here before. It’s nothing new for the Golden State Warriors to be down in a Western Conference Finals game and then be able to tighten up defensively while piling on the points.

Golden State now takes a commanding 3-0 series lead after Game 3’s 110-99 victory.

Similar to Game 2 of the series, the Blazers let this one slip away after a great first half.

The biggest adjustment for both teams was the insertion of a new center in their starting lineups.

Golden State started center Damian Jones in place of Andrew Bogut, while the Blazers went with Meyers Leonard.  Neither player had seen many minutes in the first two games.

The Blazers had the advantage with the lineup change, particularly in the first half. With Leonard in the lineup, it looked as though Portland’s plan was to outshoot the Warriors instead of trying to slow them down.  

[RELATED]: Are all those games, all those minutes, catching up with the Trail Blazers?

Leonard finished with a new playoff career-high 16 points on 6-of-12 shooting, including 3-for-7 from three, and he was the first Trail Blazers player to score in double figures on Saturday.

Leonard’s positive impact didn’t go unnoticed by Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

“He had a terrific first half like the rest of the team,” Stotts said. “I liked his spacing and the way he played in Game 2 in Golden State. He can space the floor, and he and Dame [Lillard], and he and CJ [McCollum], have a good two-man game.”

Leonard’s previous playoff career-high was set back in April of 2015 during the Blazers First Round series against the Memphis Grizzlies, when he scored 13 points.

Leonard was pleased with his individual performance.

“It’s a little bittersweet because we lost,” Leonard said.

The Blazers were outscored 29-13 in the third quarter. Leonard had just one three-pointer in the quarter.

“This one stings for me personally, because I was given a bigger opportunity and I feel that for a good majority of the night I was helping us win that game and making an impact, but we didn’t come out with a win, so back to the drawing board and come back Monday night ready to go,” Leonard said.

The Trail Blazers center made sure to make a point that even though he was happy with his game, he was disappointed in the overall result.

“This isn’t about me, it’s about the team. Winning at the end of the day is all that matters. So, I’ve got to find a way to be a little bit better and come out Monday night and try to the get the job done,” Leonard said.

Leonard had 13 of his 16 points by halftime. There were a few times he hesitated from deep, and he acknowledged he knows he is in the game to space the floor, saying that is one of his jobs.

“I think I’ve put a lot of work in and all I want to do is help this team win and when I came off the floor, I think it was sometime in the second quarter, you know, the fans were pretty loud, it was a pretty special feeling, “Leonard added.

Now, the 27-year-old is eager to look at the film.

“I feel personally that I have taken more contested shots and that I’m doing a better job of that, however, I’m sure when I look at the film either late tonight or tomorrow, I’ll probably see four or five attempts that maybe I could’ve gotten up,” Leonard said.

The 7-footer was an in-demand interview after the game.  A rotating cast of media members came by to talk to the Blazers' big man, and there was one phrase he kept repeating several times: 

“If felt good to be out there tonight," Leonard said.

The positive impact was felt, but it wasn’t enough to get by the back-to-back champs.

Stay ahead of your team in the Western Conference Finals. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more. Download the app, log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now

Are all those games, all those minutes, catching up with the Trail Blazers?

Are all those games, all those minutes, catching up with the Trail Blazers?

There is just one question left after the Golden State Warriors disposed of the Portland Trail Blazers 110-99 in Moda Center Saturday night:

Are the Trail Blazers, trailing 3-0, going to waste the jet fuel for their charter aircraft to go to Oakland for a Game 5 of this seven-game series?

Not sure. But it’s going to take a better effort to extend this series than Portland gave in the second half of Game 3.

Halftime? That was the perfect name for what happened over the last two quarters. Portland scored 66 points in the first half and just 33 in the second. Half!

And it was a crazy night for the Trail Blazers, who got solid play off the bench and from surprise starter at center, Meyers Leonard.

The problem was the starting guards – and that doesn’t happen often to the Blazers. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined to go 7-23 from the floor and 3-13 from three in the second half, as their team shot 30.8 percent from the field and 25 percent from three after halftime.

For the game, the duo was 12-38 and 5-19 … AND just 13-20 from the foul line, the driving force behind their team’s 20-33 mess at the free-throw line. And they also combined for six turnovers, five by Lillard.

And after watching them play for the entire season, I must say I’ve never seen them as worn down as they looked Saturday.

“Everybody’s tired,” Lillard said. “It’s the third round of the playoffs after a long season. Last series I got a lot of attention and the same thing in this series. It takes a lot to deal with that and then go out there and chase guys around on the defensive end.

“But everybody’s putting that effort out. And I feel fine enough to go out there and play 40 minutes like I have been. But it’s definitely tiring.”

McCollum spoke about the blitzing the Warriors have done on Portland’s pick-and-rolls and their double-teaming.

“They’ve been up at the level of the screen and in iso situations they do a good job of loading up,” McCollum said. “So you never are really by yourself. The elbows, boxes. Sometimes they just send a second defender. They are very smart about how they structure their defense.

“But you know, we have to do a better job. That’s what elite defenses do. They make it difficult on you and try to get the other guys to beat you.”

And of course, the Blazers’ “other guys” are often not up to the task.

Leonard, who had been buried on the bench a good part of the season (and his career, for that matter), gave his team 31 solid minutes, hitting 6 of 12 and 3-7 from long range.

“He had a terrific first half, like the rest of the team,” Coach Terry Stotts said of Leonard. “I liked his spacing and the way he played in Game 2 in Golden State.

“You know, he can space the floor, and he and Dame and he and CJ have a good two-man game. Obviously, it’s designed to help our offense a little bit. It really looked good in the first half. Not so much the second half. But that wasn’t his fault.”

Of course, Jusuf Nurkic isn’t available, but I’ll never understand how a player can be deemed important enough to play the entire final quarter of Game 2 and then start Game 3 of the conference finals after not playing AT ALL in 21 games during the regular season and starting only twice. And, in fact, he did not play a single minute in Game 1 of this series, either.

A little more playing time along the way might have made him even more effective. But that’s the Meyers Leonard Story and it’s been a mystery long enough to convince a lot of people that Leonard can’t play. Until the conference finals, I guess.

Stotts was asked about his team’s second half.

“Our offense,” he said. “Our offense fell apart. We missed some shots. Took some tough shots. Didn’t move the ball as well. They were scoring so we were taking the ball out of the net and didn’t get anything in transition.

“I said at the beginning of the series, to beat Golden State you’ve got to be able to score. Scoring 33 in the second half is not going to do it.”

Draymond Green had a sensational game for the Warriors at both ends of the court and he made a telling remark at the end of his post-game media session.

The Warriors really bought into resting players this season and it may be the reason they looked so much like the fresher team Saturday night.

“You know,” Green said, “Steve (Kerr) and our entire organization has been on board, making sure our guys get as much rest as you possibly can through a rigorous season. It’s a rigorous schedule and especially right now with Kevin (Durant) out, those rest days during the year, they make a difference for us.

“So that’s been good and sometimes it may cost you a game or two during the regular season but it’s more important to be healthy at this time of the year. I understand that. We’re trying to play into late, mid-June every year. It’s good to be healthy so I think its making a difference for us.”

Portland’s final chance to extend the series comes Monday night at Moda. But by now, it’s firmly established which team is the best in the West.

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

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

PORTLAND – As the saying goes, it really isn’t a series until somebody loses at home. The Trail Blazers came out determined not to let that happen in Game 3 on Saturday night.

As expected, the Trail Blazers crowd was loud and, as expected, the Blazers shot better at home. Lineup changes helped Portland jump out to a big lead and sustain it, but it wasn’t easy.

The Blazers led by as many as 18 points in the first half.

It was a similar type third quarter in Game 3 to what happened in Game 2. Golden State charged back on Portland and outscored them 29-13 in the third on Saturday night.

And just like Game 2, the Warriors made timely buckets and the Blazers were not able to convert from the field or from the free throw line. Golden State now takes a commanding 3-0 series lead with a 110-99 Game 3 victory.

Final Box Score: Warriors 110, Trail Blazers 99

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 3 loss:

1. Starting lineup changes

The biggest adjustments for both teams in Game 3 was getting a big man in the starting lineup, who hadn’t played much all in the first two games of the series.

It was first reported about an hour before tip-off that Golden State was going to start center Damian Jones in place of Andrew Bogut. The Blazers went with center Meyers Leonard into the starting slot, while Enes Kanter came off the bench.

Jones came back from a pectoral injury this series. He hadn’t played since December. The Blazer had the advantage with the lineup change. Leonard made a positive impact on the defensive end to start the game, alerting shots at the rim.

But Leonard not only tried to anchor the defense, he was the first Trail Blazers player in double figures. A 7-footer who can space the floor has always been one of Leonard’s best attributes. Leonard hesitated on a few of his three-point attempts, but he was still effective from deep if even with a little hesitation. Leonard finished with 16 points, second to McCollum's 23. 

2. Blazers didn’t take advantage at the free throw line

With the crowd behind them, the Trail Blazers started out as the aggressors, attacking the basket and in turn getting the Warriors into foul trouble. Portland’s biggest lead in the first quarter was 10 points and that’s exactly the number of free throws they hit in the first quarter.

Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum got the Warriors guards caught in the air on defense. The Blazers' guards took advantage by shooting right into the Warriors. More often than not, Golden State would get whistled for the foul.

For the Warriors, it was rare to see them at the line until late in the second quarter. Meyers Leonard picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter. That was a big blow for Portland since Leonard was getting into a grove at the point in the game.

The problem for the Blazers --

They were not hitting their free throws.

McCollum missed 2-of-3 free throws midway through the final period that would’ve cut the Warriors lead to three. That seemed like the turning point for the Blazers.

3. Draymond had his way with the Blazers in transition

If wasn’t for Draymond Green getting out and running the floor for the Warriors, Golden State might not have been able to stick around. Green was not only scoring in transition, he also pushed the ball up the floor and found his open teammates. Green and the Warriors got out and ran the floor on Blazer misses and makes.

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Warriors will tip-off Game 4 on Monday night at 6:00pm. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest. Our pregame coverage starts at 5:30pm.

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