With adversity and experience, Evan Turner was ready for it all

With adversity and experience, Evan Turner was ready for it all

DENVER – “This is surreal.”

That was the statement heard around the Trail Blazers locker room as Meyers Leonard said it loud and proud knowing the Blazers are heading to the Western Conference Finals.

Down 17 points in the first half, Rodney Hood, the most consistent second unit player, goes out with an injury midway through the third quarter, starting the game 0-for-10 from three, and Damian Lillard scored zero points in the first quarter for just the second time in his playoff career, after hearing all of that wouldn’t you say that was “arguably the biggest win for the Blazers franchise in a long time?”

That’s exactly what Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said after his team fought back to take their series against the Denver Nuggets in Game 7, 100-96.

Coach Stotts’ big second half adjustment was starting Rodney Hood along with Zach Collins at the forward positions in the third quarter instead of Maurice Harkless and Al-Farqou Aminu.

But not even six minutes into the quarter, Hood went down with a left knee hyperextension and he did not return to the game. 

Just as it has been all season long, a Trail Blazer player stepped up when called upon.

With Hood out, Evan Turner became Mr. Clutch on Sunday.

“You can’t really put into words how much [Evan] meant to us out there tonight, especially with Rodney going down, obviously we know how good Rodney has been this whole series and to see him go down was tough, but it speaks to the resiliency of this team,” Collins said.

Turner was the only bench player to score in double figures with 14 points on 3-of-7 shooting and unwavering 8-of-9 from the free throw line.

In true Evan Turner fashion, he told Trail Blazers radio immediately after the game, “not bad for an end of the bench scrub.”

Yes, counting on ET for good laugh while listening to his postgame comments is always a no-brainer.

In Game 7, the Blazers counted on him down the stretch.

Two of Turner’s eight free throws were made with 8.0 seconds remaining on the clock. Those two free throws iced the game.

“We just kept leaning on each other and tonight we had to lean on Evan a little more and he was more than up for that task, Collins said. “[He] made so many big plays at the end of the game – rebounding, making free throws, getting fouled, getting stops on defense, I mean, he was huge."

It was CJ McCollum who carried the Blazers for the entire game. McCollum finished with 37 points and nine rebounds in the win.

But as the Blazers said, it was a total team effort in Game 7.

Coach Stotts’ faith in Turner has never wavered.

“Evan quietly had a really good series. I know everybody kind of looks at his scoring, but our second unit was really good throughout this series, all seven games…  His ability to guard Paul Millsap one-on-one in the post gave us the ability to space the court on offense and have him be a ball handler,” Stotts said. 

“Evan has been in big games. Evan is a big-game player.  He’s got a lot of confidence, he’s a team guy and kind of does whatever we need him to do,” Stotts added.

Turner attributes him staying cool under pressure to being in the league for nine years. 

“Me being a pro, and me being in the league for so long,” Turner said. “[I’ve been] fortunate to be in these types of situations already throughout my career. I kind of knew that in pressure time, I’d be fine. That’s just how I’ve always been.”

When Turner knows he has to contribute on offense that’s when ET shines the brightest. Some might even say like a diamond.  

“Pressure can bust pipes or make diamonds so we never thought we were going to lose,” Turner said.

The Trail Blazers are now heading to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 19 years.

There’s no doubt the Blazers have built a special culture and in his postgame press conference, Damian Lillard mentioned how “it takes everybody” to build what they have built over the last few years.

“Everybody is invested in what we’ve created… It takes everybody to be all-in and that’s what it was tonight,” Lillard said.

That all-in mentality will now be heading to the Bay Area.

Instant Analysis: Mavericks weren't horsing around from three vs. Blazers

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Instant Analysis: Mavericks weren't horsing around from three vs. Blazers

The Trail Blazers and Mavericks squared off for the second time in less than a week.

But, the lineups looked a bit different this time around.

Thursday night, Portland was without CJ McCollum, who had sprained his left ankle early in the second quarter in Dallas last Friday night. The Blazers also traded away Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento. With the trade now official, Trevor Ariza got the starting nod Thursday.

For Dallas, the Mavs were without Kristaps Porzingis last week when they hosted the Blazers, but Porzingis was back in the starting lineup Thursday.

Dallas started the game 10-for-15 from the field.

The Mavs were able to jump out to a 45-37 first quarter lead thanks to their efficient three-point shooting.  

At the break, the Blazers were shooting 55.8 percent from the field to the Mavericks’ 53.8 percent, but with Dallas’ hot shooting from deep, the Mavs held a 78-63 halftime lead. 

The Mavericks biggest lead on the night was 25. Down the stretch, Portland wasn't able to get enough stops even though they hung within 10 points for most of the fourth quarter. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: MAVERICKS 132, TRAIL BLAZERS 122

Here are three quick takeaways from Thursday's loss: 

1.  SO MANY MAVS 3s

From start to finish Dallas was taking its chance from behind the arc.

The Mavericks came out firing from long distance. Dallas went 10-of-16 from three in the first quarter. The Mavs did cool off a bit from deep in the second quarter. However, in the second half, they picked up where the left off early in the game. Dallas finished the game 22-of-47 from three-point range. Luke Doncic went 2-for11 from three. This season he is averaging three three-pointers a game. Thursday night, it was  Seth Curry Kristaps Porzingis, Tim Hardaway Jr. who led the Mavs from three.  

2.  Ariza, Biggie make their debut

It didn’t take long for Trevor Ariza to get a shot that he liked from deep. 

Ariza’s first attempt came at the 9:24 mark of the first quarter, but his 25-foot three-point jumper was long and clanked off the back iron.

After missing his first three, Ariza hit his next four. The 34-year-old notched 15 points through the first two quarters.  Ariza was the Blazers' second leading scorer on the night.  

Caleb Swanigan also made his debut. In his return back to Portland in a Trail Blazers uniform, fans cheered as he entered the game with 3:41 remaining in the first quarter.  Biggie still looked a little out of sorts on the offensive end, but he finished with two points, five rebounds, and two assists in 22 minutes of action.

3.  Lillard's takeover not enough this time

Damian Lillard was looking to keep pace with the Mavericks in the three-pointers made department. After knocking down his first three three-point attempts in his first three minutes of action, Lillard went on a tear from long range. He went 8-for-15 from three and shot 16-for-28 overall. Lillard’s 47 points on the night was not enough. Lillard is coming off a 61-point game in Monday's win over the Warriors.

Up Next: Portland will host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night in game three of their current four-game homestand. The Blazers and Pacers tip-off at 6:00p.m. on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams app.

Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more articles and videos from the players!

Damian Lillard accomplishes something no Trail Blazer has ever accomplished

Damian Lillard accomplishes something no Trail Blazer has ever accomplished

Damian Lillard is superhuman!

One game after scoring a career-high 61 points, while breaking his own record for three-pointers made with 11, Lillard remained hot!

With his 39th point, the Trail Blazers point guard hit the century mark, 100 points. 

That feat, scoring a combined 100 points in back to back games, is something no member of the Trail Blazers has ever done. 

Lillard finished the evening with 47 points on 16-28 shooting, making his two-game total 116 points. 

Unfortunately, the Trail Blazers lost 133-125 to the Dallas Mavericks, dropping to 19-27 on the season.

 

Jaylen Hoard has a career night with the Texas Legends

Jaylen Hoard has a career night with the Texas Legends

Jaylen Hoard has had an up and down season for the Blazers, literally.

The two-way player has been called up and had numerous stints with the Blazers, and has been sent back down numerous times to play with the G-League's Texas Legends. 

In fact, the Blazers sent Hoard back down to the G-League on Wednesday. 

On Thursday, his first game back with the Legends, Hoard exploded. 

Hoard had a career night, scoring 34 points and pulling down 12 rebounds in the Legends' 144-140 victory over the Oklahoma City Blue. 

Hoard played his college ball at Wake Forest, as did Oklahoma City Thunder star Chris Paul.

With the Thunder on an off night, the former Demon Deacon star was on hand to support a fellow Wake Forest alum. 

Hoard has averaged 2.7 points, 2.5 rebounds, and 0.3 assists in 12 games with the Trail Blazers this season. In the G-League, he has averaged 18.8 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.9 assists with the Legends prior to tonight's outburst. 

Trail Blazers in action vs. Dallas Mavericks, follow for live updates

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Trail Blazers in action vs. Dallas Mavericks, follow for live updates

Thursday’s game between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks is the third of four meetings this season. The regular season series is currently tied, 1-1.

The Trail Blazers are without CJ McCollum for the third straight game as he continues to deal with a left ankle sprain.

For full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team, follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

How to Listen to the Game:

Catch all the action on Rip City Radio 620 with Travis Demers and Michael Holton

Quote of The Week

“Nurk practiced full speed, contact, up and down, seeing him out there – like being himself and not looking like he was struggling – seeing Zach [Collins] out here right now, seeing how well Trev [Ariza] looked in practice – it just felt good. It was like… almost like a pick me up. I feel good about it." -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard on Jusuf Nurkc 

Quick Links 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: CJ McCollum to miss third straight game

The NBA All-Star voting results are in: Where did Dame and Melo end up?

Damian Lillard believes making an impact off-the-court is part of his legacy

VIDEO:   Ariza describes what type of player the Blazers are getting

VIDEO:   Swanigan and Gabriel looking forward to new opportunities

VIDEO:   Nurkic returned to "full speed, contact" practice

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

 

WATCH: Fans give Trevor Ariza a warm welcome to Rip City

WATCH: Fans give Trevor Ariza a warm welcome to Rip City

The Trail Blazers pulled off a trade with the Kings on Monday, sending Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan, and Wenyen Gabriel. 

On Thursday, the newest members of the Blazers made their debuts.

The biggest name of the three is Ariza, and he was instantly thrust into the starting lineup. 

During pregame intros, Rip City made sure to show him the love. 

For his career, Ariza holds averages of 10.5 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game. 

Portland is the ninth team he has played for, having previously played for the Knicks, Rockets, Wizards, Hornets, Kings, Suns, Magic, and Lakers.  

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: CJ McCollum to miss third straight game

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: CJ McCollum to miss third straight game

Portland and Dallas are set to tip-off on national television at 7:30pm tonight in their third of four meetings this season.

Before Thursday’s game got underway, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts confirmed that forward Trevor Ariza would be inserted into the starting lineup.

Portland announced this afternoon that CJ McCollum will miss his third game with a left ankle sprain.  

HEAR FROM TREVOR ARIZA HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Hassan Whiteside (groin contusion) is available; CJ McCollum (left ankle sprain) is out for tonight's game vs. Dallas.

MAVERICKS INJURY REPORT:

Ryan Broekhoff (left fibula fracture) and Dwight Powell (right Achilles tendon rupture) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Thursday’s contest will mark the third of four meetings between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

-- LAST MEETING: The Mavericks beat the Trail Blazers, 120-112, in Dallas on Jan. 17. Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 34 points (13-25 FG, 3-10 3-PT, 5-7 FT) to go with 10 assists and two steals while Luka Doncic paced the Mavericks with 35 points (11-23 FG, 8-12 3-PT, 5-8 FT), eight rebounds and seven assists.

-- RECENT PARITY: Portland and Dallas have gone 10-10 over the last 20 matchups between the two teams, dating back to the 2014-15 season. • Damian Lillard has scored at least 28 points in each of his last 10 meetings with the Mavericks, including scoring 30-plus points in five of the last six matchups. In two games against Dallas this season, Lillard has averaged 31.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 7.5 assists.

-- Carmelo Anthony scored 22 points (8-16 FG, 1-4 3-PT, 5-6 FT) and hauled in five rebounds against Dallas on Jan. 17. Anthony has scored at least 20 points in five of his last seven games against the Mavericks.

The NBA All-Star voting results are in: Where did Dame and Melo end up?

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The NBA All-Star voting results are in: Where did Dame and Melo end up?

The 2020 NBA All-Star game is slated for February 16.

This evening, the fans All-Star voting results were announced.

The dynamic duo of Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony came in the top six in voting for their respective category in the Western Conference.

Melo ranked sixth in frontcourt voting, while Lillard came in third for the guards out West.

This year’s All-Star game will have the same format as the last couple of seasons with captains drafting their teams early next month.

The top All-Star Game vote getters in each conference are automatically chosen as captains.

The two captains and the entire 10-starter pool of players was announced today:

Dallas Mavericks G Luka Doncic

Houston Rockets G James Harden

Los Angeles Lakers F Anthony Davis

Los Angeles Clippers F Kawhi Leonard

Atlanta Hawks G Trae Young

Boston Celtics G Kemba Walker

Philadelphia 76ers C Joel Embiid

Toronto Raptors F Pascal Siakam

Lakers LeBron James and Bucks Giannis Antetokounmpo will serve as the NBA's All-Star Game captains for the second-straight season.

A quick breakdown of how it all works:

-- Fan vote (50 percent)

-- Current players' selections (25 percent)

-- Media representatives (25 percent)

The league's 30 NBA head coaches will now pick the seven reserves from their respective conferences.

Here are the important dates to keep in mind:

-- The reserves will be announced on Thursday, January 30.

-- The draft will be held at 4:00 p.m. PT Thursday, February 6 on TNT.

-- The All-Star game will tip-off at 5:00 p.m. PT on Sunday, February 16 in Chicago's United Center.

Photos released from Nurkic's return to full contact practice

Photos released from Nurkic's return to full contact practice

On Wednesday, it was revealed that Jusuf Nurkic participated in his first full contact, full speed practice. 

But, as the old saying goes... pics or it didn't happen!

Well, Thursday, we got them!

Until Wednesday's practice, Nurkic had only been going through individual workouts. He looked spry and did not show any favoring of his injured leg.

Nurkic suffered compound fractures to his left tibia and fibula on March 26th, 2019, had surgery and has been rehabbing ever since. 

It's a welcomed sight for the injury-riddled Blazers.

Nurk practiced full speed, contact, up and down, seeing him out there – like being himself and not looking like he was struggling – seeing Zach [Collins] out here right now, seeing how well Trev [Ariza] looked in practice – it just felt good. It was like… almost like a pick me up. I feel good about it. -- Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard on Jusuf Nurkic  

[RELATED: The ultimate Jusuf Nurkic rehabilitation highlight reel]

There is still no official word on his return to an NBA game, but this development is encouraging.  

“He’s been progressing to this point, Terry Stotts added, though trying to downplay its significance. "I guess, it’s a milestone, but it’s just part of his progression... It was hopeful that this week would be an opportunity for him to ramp up his workouts, but as far as anything else beyond that -- it’s too early to say.” 

Now as Rip City awaits the Bosnian Beasts return, everyone is wondering will it be soon?

“I do” Lillard said of getting the sense that Nurkic is nearing his return.

Lillard added, “I’m not involved in the situation…. I’m not a doctor, I’m not inside his body, but he looked good to me.”

“I’ve seen him doing contact stuff, but he really looked good.”

 

From one legend to another: Carmelo Anthony congratulates Derek Jeter on Hall of Fame

From one legend to another: Carmelo Anthony congratulates Derek Jeter on Hall of Fame

Carmelo Anthony has been a longtime fan of Derek Jeter.

He was in the stands at Yankee Stadium when Jeter knocked in the game-winning run in his final game in pinstripes. Jeter later served as a mentor to Anthony, then a member of the New York Knicks, who was seeking advice on dealing with the ins-and-outs of being a high-profile athlete in the Big Apple.

So when the Yankees icon was elected to the prestigious Baseball Hall of Fame on Tuesday as part of the 2020 class, Anthony took a moment to congratulate Jeter on being enshrined as one of the game’s best.

“You know and I know, as well as the world knows, it was only a matter of time,” the Trail Blazers forward said. “Keep inspiring, keep motivating, keep paving the way, I appreciate you.”

Anthony wasn’t the only “legend” to pay tribute to Jeter. Actor Larry David, rapper Nas, eight-time MLB All-Star Mike Trout and others congratulated Jeter on his special moment.