Al-Farouq Aminu posts double-double in homecoming win over Hawks

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Al-Farouq Aminu posts double-double in homecoming win over Hawks

Offense came pretty easy for the Trail Blazers on Friday night in Atlanta.

Damian Lillard exploded for 18-first quarter points on 7-of-9 shooting, and he never looked back. Lillard totaled 36 points in the Blazers’ 118-98 win over the Atlanta Hawks.

The Trail Blazers have now won six straight.

Friday marked the second game without starting center Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) and the sixth game without CJ McCollum (left knee).

In McCollum’s absence there have been several role players to step up and try to make up for his 21.3 points per game. Friday night in Atlanta, it was Al-Farouq Aminu who helped in that department. The Blazers starting forward was Portland’s second leading scorer with 17 points.

Friday was also a homecoming Chief.

After the game, Aminu talked with reporters about how great it was being back home and seeing his family.  

“It’s always nice, especially when I get to see the family, my brother’s kids. I don’t get to see them, and a lot of other people here. So, it’s just nice for people getting to see what I do for a living,” Aminu said.

The 28-year-old grew up in the greater Atlanta area and attended high school just 21 miles from downtown.

Aminu spent his day with his family on Thursday, and for Chief, it was almost like a reset button on the season.

“It’s just nice to get quality time. It’s like an escape from the season… You get to talk about old memories and things like that,” Aminu said.

Aminu not only stepped up in big way on offense, he also grabbed 11 rebounds to go along with two assists and one block.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts decided to start Enes Kanter at the center spot in place of the injured Nurkic for the second straight game, but Stotts was also continuing to experiment with lineups.

With the different lineups, Aminu played limited minutes at the five and Moe Harkless was moved to the four, which meant Aminu was the only “big” on the floor at times.

“Chief is long. You know, he’s not a typical center, but I think it’s something that we have to look at… Having Chief and Moe, Rodney or Jake, Evan -- we’ve got good length on the wing. I don’t know how much we’ll do that, but we’ll have to look at it and see how it goes,” Stotts told reporters postgame.

Now that Portland is 9-2 in its last 11 road games and they continue to roll, Aminu is giving a lot credit to his teammates.  

“I think we’re still playing solid. I think we’re a smart team. I think we’ve adapted quickly, which is impressive,” Aminu said.  

In his postgame interview, Aminu also mentioned that between him and Evan Turner, they have been the two role plays who are able to use their veteran leadership to “make sure the team doesn’t get to high, doesn’t get too low.”

Aminu also said he isn’t feeling any added pressure with two of the Blazers leading scorers out with injury, but he is making sure to step up and knock down shots when the chance is there.

“Obviously, when the opportunities are there, I’m just trying to capitalize,” Aminu said. 

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.

Report: Damian Lillard has separated ribs and has been playing through it

Report: Damian Lillard has separated ribs and has been playing through it

Accordingly to Shams Charania, Damian Lillard has been playing injured:

Lillard has struggled throughout the series. He's only recorded 15 made field goals and 14 turnovers. 

Sam Amick of the Athletic confirmed that the play injury happenED in Game 2 after Warriors big man Kevon Looney landed on him in a scramble for a loose ball. 

Below is video of that play, where you can see Lillard come up in a considerable amount of pain.

ESPN also confirmed the injury but their sources say there is no story here:

More to come on Lillard's injury from Insider Dwight Jaynes and Reporter Jamie Hudson. 

"Overhyped and Overrated" Skip Bayless thinks Russell Westbrook is more respected than Damian Lillard

"Overhyped and Overrated" Skip Bayless thinks Russell Westbrook is more respected than Damian Lillard

Oh dear. Everyone's favorite Cliff Notes sportscaster is at it again. Following the Trail Blazers Game 3 loss to the Warriors, Skip Bayless had some thoughtful words about Damian Lillard

Aside from the ludicrous nature of the comments, news also came out postgame that Lillard has been dealing with separated ribs

For more real, actual postgame coverage check out everything you need from Dwight Jaynes, Jamie Hudson, and our NBC Sports Video team:

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

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

Social Media reacts to Game 3: It's Meyers, not Miles Leonard

Lillard up against a wall of defense, but must get rollin'

“This one stings for me personally..." -Meyers Leonard 

Have yourself a night, Meyers Leonard!

Highlights: Deja vu in the 3Q as POR falls 3-0 in the series 

Game 3 Top 10 Plays: Hammer Time in Rip City

"It happens..." Jordan Bell moves on from #Shaqtin dunk 

Social Media reacts to Game 3: It's Meyers, not Miles Leonard

Social Media reacts to Game 3: It's Meyers, not Miles Leonard

Another good lead spoiled by the three-time (in the last four years) NBA Champs once again in this series. Portland built a double-digit lead heading into halftime, but it was deja vu all over again as the third quarter was all Golden State. The Warriors jump out to a 3-0 series lead in the Western Conference Finals over the Portland Trail Blazers with a 110-99 win in Portland, Oregon.

Here’s how the sports world reacted on social media:

Meyers Leonard was the hero that all of Rip City needed. Leonard earned the start tonight in game three providing an extra three-point threat on the floor. And boy did he relish in these extra minutes:

If you didn’t watch Warriors second-year player Jordan Bell back in college, you missed out on his impeccable ability to block shots and slam the ball down with authority. However, tonight, Bell experienced both of those traits on the same play:

Let’s bring back the hashtag, #ThingsJordanBellCanBlock:

While eyes were on Leonard and the spark he provided to Rip City, a lot wondered what is happening to superstar Damian Lillard, who hasn’t looked his typical Lillard Time, Logo Lillard self all series:

Game four is Monday night at 6 p.m. (PT) at the Moda Center in Portland.

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

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.

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

Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Golden State Warriors in Game 3

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Everything you need to know from pregame as Trail Blazers prep for Golden State Warriors in Game 3

The best-of-seven series between the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors now shifts to Portland. As the Blazer and Warriors get set for Game 3, the Moda Center is full of energetic Portland fans and more media members than the arena as seen in years.

 

This is the first Western Conference Finals game in Portland in 19 years. To say fans are pumped would be an understatement.

 

Before Game 3 tipped off, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Warriors head coach Steve Kerr addressed the media.

 

Coach Stotts said his team “feels encouraged” by Game 2 and he doesn’t expect any kind of let down after losing a game in such a heartbreaking fashion.

 

Meyers Leonard is listed as the starter tonight for Portland. He will start at center, while Enes Kanter will come off the bench. 

 

Hear from coach Stotts right here:

 

Even though Coach Kerr wouldn’t discuss his starting lineup, the news broke on social media that the Warriors are changing their lineup up tonight.

 

Warriors starting lineup change:  Golden State is going to start center Damian Jones in place of Andrew Bogut, as reported by NBC Sports Bay Area.

 

Coach Kerr did say he doesn’t expect any big changes from the Blazers. He said the first two games were very competitive and he expects more of the same in Game 3.

 

Hear from Coach Kerr right here:

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

Terry Stotts misses out as Coach of the Year finalist

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Terry Stotts misses out as Coach of the Year finalist

The list is out. The 2019 NBA Awards finalists are here. Your MVP candidates are Giannis Antetokounmpo, Paul George, and James Harden, no shock there. Perhaps the biggest shock, and especially to those in Rip City, is the candidates, or rather lack of one specific person, for coach of the year. 

Portland head coach Terry Stotts is not on that list. 

Stotts and the Blazers are currently STILL in the postseason after defeating the Oklahoma City Thunder 4-1 and then the Denver Nuggets in seven games. 

One would think that the coach who still brought the city of Portland a 50+ win season after losing one of the “big 3” (Jusuf Nurkic) to a season-ending injury the night the team qualified for the postseason; losing another “big 3” member in CJ McCollum for a few weeks with a knee injury; as well as being a two-time Coach of the Month (February, March) this season, would warrant at least making the cut on the Coach of the Year list….

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

Game 3 of Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors: How and Where to Watch

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Game 3 of Portland Trail Blazers vs. Golden State Warriors: How and Where to Watch

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

 

The best-of-seven series between the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors now shifts to Portland. Both teams are expecting an extremely energetic crowd for Game 3, especially because the Trail Blazers fan base hasn’t seen a Western Conference Finals game in 19 years.

After the Warriors held on and defeated the Blazers in Game 2 on Thursday night, Golden State’s head coach Steve Kerr said, "We stole one tonight. They played better than we did."

Trail Blazer guard CJ McCollum didn’t think the Warriors just stole the game.

“I mean, they stole it, but they earned it down the stretch,” McCollum said postgame. “They made more plays than us in the last two minutes, last three minutes, but I like our chances going forward. I like the way we came out and competed.”

McCollum and Rodney Hood both expressed how eager they are to get back to Portland.

“We got to bring that same energy at home,” McCollum said. “Understand that this is the first time in 19 years we've been in the Conference Final. I know they will be excited and I'm really looking forward to the opportunity playing at home and building on what we've done. Being down 0-2, it's not what you would like to see but it's our reality, so now we got to go get some at home." 

“We were encouraged after Game 1 when we didn’t play as well and we are just as encouraged now,” Hood said. “We feel like we’ve proven we can play with those guys and we can win. It’s about sustaining it, which is the toughest part… There’s another game on Saturday. Take care of home and come back here Game 5. Every game is different. I know it feels bad, we had a chance to win this one but we’ll be ready come Saturday.”


GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: ESPN

Tip-Off Time: 6:00 p.m. 

Point spread: Portland -7

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (5:30 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio
 

INJURY UPDATES

For the Trail Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) is out for Saturday’s Game 3 vs. Golden State.

For the Warriors,  DeMarcus Cousins (left quad) and Kevin Durant (right calf) are out.


QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Did the Warriors "steal" that game or did the Blazers just hand it to them?

Jamie Hudson: Seth Curry “watches more basketball than anyone I've ever met”

VIDEO: Locker Room Report - Moe Harkless on Game 2: "It sucks"

VIDEO: Players, Coaches weigh in on Seth Curry's impressive night

VIDEO: Trail Blazers need to stay hot from three-point range



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Down 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals, Portland Trail Blazers up to the challenge in Game 3

Down 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals, Portland Trail Blazers up to the challenge in Game 3

After a stellar start from the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 2, the Golden State Warriors climbed back from a 17-point deficit to stun the Blazers with 52 seconds left on the clock. 

An Andre Iguodala steal from Damian Lillard sealed the deal and the Blazers fell 0-2 in the Western Conference Finals to the two-time defending NBA champions. 

Before the series heads back to Rip City, let’s take a look at what you missed from the Blazers 114-111 loss on Thursday night. 

The first words out of Warriors coach Steve Kerr’s mouth on Tuesday night was “we stole the game.” Agree or disagree with Kerr one thing is certain: the game was within the Trail Blazers grasp and they didn’t hold onto it.

Dwight Jaynes broke down the final play that gave the Warriors a 2-0 lead with the series shifting to Portland: Did the Warriors "steal" that game or did the Blazers just hand it to them?

The battle between Seth and Steph Curry finally lived up to the hype. Little brother not only stole the ball from his older brother, but he also stole the show. 

Jamie Hudson recapped Seth Curry's 16 point night: Seth Curry “watches more basketball than anyone I've ever met”

Jamie Hudson and Dwight Jaynes shared their initial thoughts after the Blazers let their big lead slip away: Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 2

 

The Blazers are 0-2 heading back to Portland. While Portland is hoping to keep its season alive, Lillard doesn’t think he’s played his last game in the storied Oracle Arena

 

Game 3 tips off on Saturday at 6:00 p.m. at the Moda Center in Portland, and Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are ready.