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. 

Celtics' hot 3-point shooting too much for short-handed Trail Blazers to overcome

Celtics' hot 3-point shooting too much for short-handed Trail Blazers to overcome

A lot of games in the NBA these days turn out just the way Portland’s 118-106 loss to Boston Tuesday night did.

“We look at the box score, we outscored them in the paint, outscored them in second-chance points, outscored them on the fast break, outscored them from the three-throw line and still lost by 12,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said.

The difference in the game? The same as so many other games in the league -- the three-point line.

The Celtics went 19-39 (48.7 percent) from three while the Trail Blazers were 13-31. You not only need to shoot a fairly good percentage from long range, you often need to do it in high volume.

And Boston made them from all over the floor, many of them backbreakers to stall Trail Blazer comebacks.

“They made the open ones, they made the contested ones, they made a lot of them tonight,” said CJ McCollum, who once again led his team with 28 points and 10 assists. “They are a good team. We have to be better than we played tonight against teams like the Celtics to win.

“I think that was the difference. They played better than us. They’re a deep team. They made shots, they got stops. They ran on our turnovers and they played like a playoff team.”

And with Damian Lillard out with a groin injury, the Trail Blazers do not have enough healthy NBA players right now to play like a playoff team. And until they get healthier, there is little chance of looking at all like a playoff team.

Portland shot a respectable 44.7 percent from the field and played one of its better games of late. But 17 turnovers turned into 19 Boston points and that three-point shooting was lethal.

“Boston’s a really good team,” Stotts said. “Even without Kimba (Walker) out there, their experience, they are talented offensively. “They’re well-coached, so hats off to them. Jayson Tatum got in a groove in the second half, he’s just in a heck of a rhythm with his shot.

“I liked the way our guys competed. We didn’t take advantage of some of our opportunities, but other than that, I thought we gave a good effort.”

Lillard’s availability is still in question and Stotts said he wasn’t sure if his star guard would be making the upcoming three-game road trip that starts Thursday night against the Pacers in Indianapolis.

“At this point, I’m not sure,” Stotts said. “I think we’re discussing that.”

That doesn’t make it sound as if his return is imminent.

Report: Damian Lillard to travel with team, could return during upcoming road trip

Report: Damian Lillard to travel with team, could return during upcoming road trip

The Portland Trail Blazers hit the road for a three-game trip starting on Thursday in Indiana, and they may be one step closer to full strength by the time they get home.

According to reports, Damian Lillard, who has missed the Blazers' last three games with a right groin strain, plans to travel with the team. 

As noted by Jason Quick of The Athletic, Lillard could miss "a couple more games."

At the team's first practice following the All-Star break, Lillard was asked how many games he expected to miss. "If I had to guess I would say at least 3-4 games. Maybe five games," said Lillard. 

That window for return could open on this road trip. 

Missing five games, as he expected, would put his return to the court on Monday against the Orlando Magic. 

That could be a good thing for the Blazers and a bad thing for the Magic. 

It was just last season that a heckler in Orlando fired Lillard up and led to the Blazers guard torching the Magic. 

Lillard dropped 34 points in the second half that night, quieting the crowd the only way he knows how. 

The point is, there may be a sliver of hope that Lillard gets to silence his favorite heckler once again. 

But health is first. Silencing the crowd is fun, having a healthy Lillard is better. 

If he doesn't make his return until the team comes back home, no one will blame him... plus returns from injury are always a little more fun in front of a raucous home court.

When Lillard is able, Moda Center will be ready! 

Carmelo Anthony and 'little brother' Jayson Tatum share mutual admiration

Carmelo Anthony and 'little brother' Jayson Tatum share mutual admiration

Postgame jersey swaps have become very popular in the NBA world over that past couple of seasons. 

The ritual actual dates back to 1931 in the soccer wold.  

But, fast forward to 2020 and more often than not there is an exchange of uniforms at midcourt at any given NBA game. 

Earlier this season, Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard made a comment about how he always checks with Portland’s Equipment Manager Eric Hallman to verify that there are extra uniforms on hand before he does a jersey swap with another player.

After Tuesday night's game vs. the Boston Celtics, the Trail Blazers will now need to make sure there are additional red Carmelo Anthony uniforms.

Despite a dominating performance vs. Portland, Boston’s rising star Jayson Tatum had one thing on his mind postgame.     

“He asked me for my jersey, so I gave it to him,” Melo said with a smile. “He’s like a little brother to me.”

The 21-year-old Tatum led the Celtics to a 118-106 victory over the Blazers, finishing with 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting, including an efficient 8-of-12 from behind the arc.

Tatum left Moda Center with a big smile on his face knowing he’s going home with a jersey from one of his all-time favorite players.

“Oh man, Melo is, besides Kobe, probably one of my top 3 favorite players. I studied him so much growing up and I’m one of his biggest fans. I got to spend some time with him this summer with Jordan Brand. I really looked up to him,” Tatum said postgame.

In just his third season, Tatum has made leaps and bounds. He’s averaging 22.9 points, 7.0 rebound, and 2.9 assists. Before Tuesday’s game, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned how we are all watching Tatum grow up before our eyes.

Melo has been able to see first-hand how his 'little brother' is growing up. The two spent a lot of time together this past summer. And from the sounds of it, Anthony is a big fan of Tatum as well. 

“I love him,” Melo said. “He’s a guy that’s establishing himself, as we’re all witnessing, all watching. I mean, I love his game, I love watching him play. I was able to have some one-on-one time with him, get a chance to know him better as a person first, but his game speaks for itself and it’ll continue to blossom.”

With Tatum talking about how much he has looked up to the 35-year-old, those comments go a long way for Melo.

“It makes me kind of appreciate what I do, what I’ve been able to do throughout my career. Just being able to go out there and play the game the way that I’ve played it, the right way, the way that I continue to play it. For guys to acknowledge that and see that and watch that and want to learn from that, for me, that’s what it’s all about - when you can pass that knowledge down to the younger generation,” Anthony said.

Despite Melo not giving up any of his specific advice that he has shared with Tatum, he did explain how he enjoys guiding young players in the league.

“I like to lead by example...Communicate with guys, just talking, kind of seeing what they think, because a lot of times I’ve never been in some of those guys’ positions before. I try to put myself in their shoes, but also give them advice on how they can maneuver, how they can do it. I never tell anybody what to do. I just give them my experiences and I can only explain the things that I’ve been through.”

As Melo continues to experience more and more with the Blazers this season, the next step will be grinding out the rest of the schedule to help guide Portland to the Playoffs for the seventh straight season.  

Anthony's mentoring skills will need to come into play now more than ever for the Trail Blazers. 

Instant Analysis: Jayson Tatum, Celtics too much for Trail Blazers

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Instant Analysis: Jayson Tatum, Celtics too much for Trail Blazers

Tuesday night Portland's shots were falling early and often; however, the Trail Blazers have started off hot in the first quarter and then cooled off in recent games. That trend continued Tuesday night when the Blazers welcomed in the Boston Celtics.

Even though the Blazers outscored the Celtics 10-3 to start the game, it was Portland’s defense that stood out early. The Blazers were getting out in the passing lanes and disrupting shots down low.  

Boston held a 56-48 lead at halftime.

The Trail Blazers started off the third quarter, hitting three threes that began with Portland’s starting center Hassan Whiteside hitting from long distance. The problem for Portland: Boston was also hot from three.

In the third quarter, the Celtics went up by as many as 17 points and then never really looked back.

FINAL BOX SCORE: CELTICS 118, TRAIL BLAZERS 106

Here are three quick takeaways from Tuesday’s loss:

1. Stotts changes up rotation

It’s no secret that the Trail Blazers haven’t been able to get much production from their second unit, especially with all the injuries that have forced Blazers head coach Terry Stotts to go deep into his bench. Tuesday night, Stotts subbed out his starters earlier than normal and made sure to keep two starters on the court at all times until the game started to get away from the Blazers late in the third quarter.

2. McCollum still running the show

Tuesday’s game was the third straight game that Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard has missed with a right groin strain. In the previous two games with no Lillard, CJ McCollum was averaging 34.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists. Against the Celtics, McCollum was still getting good looks from three. After three quarters, McCollum was 5-of-10 from deep with 22 points and seven assists. Unlike the previous two games though, McCollum didn’t rack up the assists in the first quarter, but as the game went along he dished out more dimes. Hassan Whiteside was the beneficiary of those passes. Yet, McCollum struggled from the floor and from the free throw line in the final period.  

3. Cs splash in the 3s

At the break, Boston was shooting over 50 percent from behind the arc. The Celtics were led by shooting guard Jaylen Brown with his five-first-half three-pointers as Boston went 11-of-22 from deep for the first half. The Cs' efficient three-point shooting continued in the second half when Jayson Tatum got going from three. Tatum finished with 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting, including 8-for-12 from distance. 

Up Next: The Trail Blazers visit the Indiana Pacers Thursday night as Portland embarks on a three-game road trip. The Blazers and Pacers tip-off at 5:00pm PT on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

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

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Is there concern of Blazer starters playing too many minutes?

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Is there concern of Blazer starters playing too many minutes?

Before the Portland Trail Blazers and Boston Celtics tip-off at 7:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was asked if he was concerned about the Blazers veterans playing too many minutes following Sunday’s game when CJ McCollum played the entire second half against the Pistons.

“I don’t like playing players over 40 minutes. I think that’s the bar that I try to stay under most of the season. I didn’t necessarily like playing CJ the whole second half against Detroit, but I felt like that was necessary. But, I think NBA players are capable of playing 35 to 37 minutes. I don’t think that’s unreasonable,” Coach Stotts said pregame.  

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

 

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Damian Lillard (right groin strain), Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Tuesday's game vs. Boston. 

CELTICS INJURY REPORT:

Robert Williams III (left hip bone edema), Kemba Walker (left knee soreness), Tremont Waters (Two-way) and Tacko Fall (Two-way) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Tuesday's meeting will be the first of two games between the Trail Blazers and Celtics during the 2019-20 season.

-- LAST SEASON: Portland swept the 2018-19 season series with Boston, 2-0.

-- Portland's starters have averaged 86.4 points per game this season (second in the NBA) while Boston's starters have averaged 85.3 points per game (third in the NBA).

-- The Trail Blazers rank eighth in the NBA in scoring (113.3) while the Celtics are ninth (113.3).

-- CJ McCollum averaged 14.0 points (35.3% FG, 14.3% 3-PT, 66.7% FT), 3.5 rebounds and 2.0 assists in two games against the Celtics last season. McCollum has scored at least 20 points in four of his last six games against Boston.

-- Hassan Whiteside averaged 9.0 points (60.7% FG, 22.2% FT), 10.8 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.00 block in four games against Boston with Miami last season. He has pulled down double-digit rebounds in seven of his last nine games opposite the Celtics.

-- Trevor Ariza averaged 8.5 points (29.4% FG, 25.0% 3-PT, 100% FT), 7.5 rebounds and 4.0 assists in two games against Boston with both Washington and Phoenix last season. Ariza has scored in double-figures in seven of his last eight games versus the Celtics.

-- Kemba Walker averaged 18.0 points (25.0% FG, 33.3% 3-PT, 90.9% FT), 1.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in two games against the Trail Blazers with the Hornets last season. Over Walker's 15 career games against Portland, he has failed to reach double-figures in scoring just twice.

-- Jayson Tatum averaged 20.5 points (51.7% FG, 45.5% 3-PT, 100% FT), 6.0 rebounds and 1.00 block in two games against Portland last season. Tatum has scored in double-figures in each of his four career games against the Trail Blazers, including a 27-point performance on Nov. 11 last season.

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Celtics tonight at 7:00pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Celtics tonight at 7:00pm

In the third and final game of the Trail Blazers’ current homestand, Portland (26-32) welcomes in the Boston Celtics (39-17) on Tuesday night.

Damian Lillard will miss his third straight game due to a right groin strain. The Blazers are 1-1 without Lillard in the lineup. 

CJ McCollum has been shouldering a lot of the load with Lillard out. In  the two games with no Lillard, McCollum is averaging 34.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists.

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Celtics on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Celtics

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

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

QUOTABLE

“I think so. I think so,. [Rudy] Gobert won it because he was leading the league in blocked shots. This is going to be my second time (leading the league). Let’s talk about it.” -- Hassan Whiteside on if he believes he should win Defensive Player of the Year 

Damon Stoudamire calls Arvydas Sabonis the best big man passer to ever play the game

Damon Stoudamire calls Arvydas Sabonis the best big man passer to ever play the game

"It's crazy that when I got to Portland I played with Arvydas Sabonis, but Arvydas Sabonis was drafted when I was a kid. That's the craziest thing for me."

That is what former Trail Blazers star point guard Damon Stoudamire had to say about playing with the legendary Arvydas Sabonis. 

Sabonis and Stoudamire both made their NBA debuts in 1995, but took drastically different paths to get there. 

Stoudamire was the No.7 overall pick in 1995, starting his career with the Toronto Raptors and winning Rookie of the Year.

Nine years earlier, a 12-year-old Stoudamire watched the 1986 NBA Draft where his hometown Portland Trail Blazers drafted Sabonis with the 24th overall pick.

Sabonis would remain overseas, not making his debut in the NBA until he was 30 years old. 

In 1998, Stoudamire was traded to Portland and the young man got to play with the old man he remembered the team drafting when he was a kid. 

But, Sabonis wasn't just an old big.

He was a rare talent. 

Big men in the NBA aren't usually thought of for their passing skills. Rather, they are thought of for their big bodies that do damage on the glass and hard work in the paint.

But every once in a while there are rare bigs that have the body of Shaq, but pass like John Stockton.

Bill Walton, Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Nikola Jokic are a few names that come to mind. 

But if you ask Stoudamire, the best to ever do it hailed from Lithuania. 

(Sabonis) made the game easy for everyone. The best big man passer, I believe, to play the game. He could shoot it, and this was all playing on one leg. I can't even imagine him healthy... a healthy Sabonis. - Stoudamire on Sabonis

Even on one leg, Sabonis averaged 12.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game in seven seasons with the Blazers. 

Those are solid numbers for any center, let alone one that was "old" by NBA standards when he made his debut. 

Sabonis will forever be one of the NBA's biggest "what if" questions.

What if Sabonis came over in '86? What if prime Sabonis was on those Blazers teams the made it to the NBA Finals in the early 90s? What would have happened to Michael Jordan and the Bulls or Isiah Thomas and the Pistons?

There may be many questions, but there is no question about how good Sabonis truly was. Just ask the guys that played with him and they'll tell you. 

Sabonis was one of the greatest big men to ever play the game. 

Nike's simple tribute to Kobe Bryant will bring you to tears

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Nike's simple tribute to Kobe Bryant will bring you to tears

As thousands of descended upon Staples Center Monday for a public memorial for Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gigi, the tributes continued around the world. 

A tragedy that still doesn't feel real even weeks later. 

Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven others were killed in a tragic helicopter accident on Sunday, January 26th.

Monday, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Sabrina Ionescu, Jimmy Kimmel and Vanessa Bryant  were among those who spoke in honor of Kobe and Gigi.

As memorials continue through murals and heartfelt messages, Beaverton-based Nike released a touch tribute to the late Kobe Bryant. 

No images, no videos. Just words. 

It was powerful. It was touching. It was emotional. 

Mamba Forever.

Mike Barrett reminisces about Trail Blazers' 50 years: "It’s my team, it runs deep with me"

Mike Barrett reminisces about Trail Blazers' 50 years: "It’s my team, it runs deep with me"

Remember those Mike and Mike t-shirts?

The 2000s in Trail Blazers history – there’s a lot to reminisce about in that fun-filled decade.

Brandon Roy.

Scottie Pippen.

Damon Stoudamire.

Travis Outlaw.

Joel Przybilla.

These are just a few of the names that come to mind when thinking about the decade that was the 2000s in Rip City.

But, it's hard to think about those ten years, though, without one more: Former Trail Blazers play by play announcer Mike Barrett.

On Sunday night, as the Trail Blazers hosted the Detroit Pistons, the Blazers celebrated the 2000s.

There stood Barrett, along with Stoudamire and Outlaw, being introduced at center court during the first timeout of the first quarter.

It’s hard to say who had a bigger ovation.

One thing is for sure: Trail Blazers fans were happy to welcome back their former players, but also very excited to see the former television play-by-play announcer.

Barrett and his partner, Mike Rice, were both let go from their positions after the 2015-2016 season. While the news came as a surprise, Barrett said previously he doesn't harness any anger. 

"There was never bitterness about it," Barrett said on The Bridge Podcast last summer. "I was honored to have done it.” 

Now the Managing Director for the Portland Diamond Project, Barrett was honored to represent the 2000s and the Trail Blazers Sunday night. 

"It’s been great," Barrett said of his return to Moda Center. "I think we take for granted in this business sometimes the connectivity and the emotion and the relationship you have with fans. To hear those stories — and then everybody wants to tell you about their favorite call, their favorite game, their favorite team. That part’s been really neat. I probably underestimated how cool that would be."

As fans came up to him on the concourse before the game, Barrett said he also couldn’t help but reminisce about the 2000s.

There was one season that really stood out to him during his 2003-2016 TV gig with the Blazers.

“Travis Outlaw is here and the team in ’07 that had the 13 game winning streak, if you weren’t there, people don’t understand how crazy that was. That team was so young and had drafted Greg Oden and thought they were gonna make the next step, and this team that almost didn’t know what it was doing -- wins thirteen in a row, and I mentioned Travis because he put the cap on win No. 13 in a row. I still remember that,” Barrett said.

From Dec. 3rd through Dec. 30th that 2007-2008 team didn’t lose a game.

That team finished with a .500 record. It was during LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy’s second season, along with Travis Outlaw, who averaged 13.3 points and 4.6 rebounds that season.

Barrett has always been known for his professionalism along with the wittiness of many great calls. But for MB, the Trail Blazers were, and still are, much more than a job.

The Trail Blazers are his team and they always will be.  

I came to my first game here in about 1973 with my dad. My dad knew Jack Ramsay and then went on to know Rick Adelman and so I was fortunate to get some time at training camp and around some of the coaches. It goes without saying -- it’s my team and it runs deep with me with these guys. That’s the biggest part of being back and celebrating the 50 years. -- Mike Barrett

When Barrett was about to walk off the court after being honored during the first timeout of Sunday’s game, Blazers Head Coach Terry Stotts stopped Barrett to give him a big hug. That hug was followed by a hug from Damian Lillard.

Both the current team and longtime fans alike showered Barrett with love, like they were seeing an old friend after a long absence.

And, like Trail Blazers President Chris McGowan tweeted out about the 2000s celebration –it’s always fun welcoming back players and members of the organization.

Blazer MB will always be part of Rip City.