Blazers, NBA unite in support for Nurkic

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USATI

Blazers, NBA unite in support for Nurkic

Jusuf Nurkic sustained a left leg injury and left on a stretcher in the Blazers double overtime win over the Nets. 

The NBA world has taken to Twitter to show their support: 

Just "go hoop" -- Trail Blazers not concerned with Oklahoma City's crowd

Just "go hoop" -- Trail Blazers not concerned with Oklahoma City's crowd

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder will be trying to even up their Western Conference First Round matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday. Portland won both games at home before the Thunder took Game 3 on their home floor.

There’s no doubt that home court can and has played a major factor in NBA playoff games.  

Game 3 Friday night, the Oklahoma City fans were on their feet and going crazy whether it was a made corner three from Terrance Ferguson or a Russell Westbrook block on Damian Lillard.

Portland was able to quiet the crowd by hitting timely threes of their own. CJ McCollum and Lillard both hushed fans with big threes or big time drives to the basket.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts compared hitting a big shot on the road vs. at home.

“Anytime you’re on the road when you can quiet the crowd, I mean, as a player that’s always a good moment, in some ways it’s as good of moment as getting your crowd at home fired up with a shot,” Stotts said.

“Quieting a crowd [when a team] is making a run, that’s a great part of our game,” Stotts added. 

Chesapeake Arena seats just over 18,000 fans and with their team being down 2-0 in the series on Friday night, the crowd was eager to support and help their team with their loud cheering and clapping of “Thunder sticks.”

After playing for the Thunder for two years, Trail Blazers starting center Enes Kanter knows how disruptive the OKC crowd can be, saying,  “that’s why they call it the Loud City.”

But, the Blazers are focused solely on themselves when they’re away from home.

“I just go hoop. I don’t really worry about the fans. I don’t worry about where we’re at… I just go play basketball,” McCollum said.

“It’s always been the same for me, home or away. I approach it the same way,” McColum continued.

For media people watching the game in media row, being surrounded by fans, it can sound a lot louder than what the players are hearing on the court.

“A lot of times, you know, you sit in the stands you can hear how loud it is,” McCollum said. “For us, it’s generally not noticeable until you try to talk, so just the communication has to be better because it’s louder.”

Oklahoma City is a 6-point favorite heading into Sunday’s Game 4 with home court advantage, but Lillard believes there is a way to limit the advantage of loud, rowdy fans.

“You just gotta focus on the game, Lillard said. “I think we did a pretty good job of just focusing on the game and we were down 10 at half [in Game 3], we came out, we just kept playing, we didn’t panic, you know, buy into the crowd, and what they were saying, how loud they were, we just kept playing and I think that gave us a chance.”

“If we do us, those types of things will happen – not allow the crowd to get into it so much, I guess you can limit what the home court advantage is,” Lillard said.

The Trail Blazers don't NEED to win a game in OKC to take this series, but it sure would be nice if they could quiet the crowd and steal Game 4. 

Game 4 of Portland Trail Blazers vs. OKC Thunder: How and Where to Watch

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USA Today Images

Game 4 of Portland Trail Blazers vs. OKC Thunder: How and Where to Watch

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The Blazers are locked in for Game 4, and they think it would be "big time" to win on Sunday. “It would be huge if we were able to take the game tomorrow night and go home with some momentum and try to close it out at home,” said Maurice Harkless Saturday. “I think that would be big time."


GAME DETAILS

Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest

Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App

Tip-Off Time: 6:30 p.m. 

Point spread: Oklahoma City -6

NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (4:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the postgame show). 

Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio

 

INJURY UPDATES

For the Trail Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) is out for Tuesday's Game 4 vs. OKC.

For the Thunder, Andre Roberson (left patellar) and Hamidou Diallo (right elbow) are out.
 


QUICK LINKS

Dwight Jaynes: Homecourt matters as Oklahoma City Thunder bounces back to beat Trail Blazers

Jamie Hudson: Thunder finally zero in on the pick-and-roll, but Trail Blazers like where they're at

Scoop Podcast: Inside the Trail Blazers locker room after the Game 3 loss in OKC

VIDEO: Thunder brought a new attack in Game 3

VIDEO: Game 4 looms large for the Trail Blazers



Download the brand new MyTeams app today - This is the app for everything Blazers: games, highlights, articles, podcasts and more from your NBC Sports Northwest Blazers team.

Headband Moe should have kept the headband on

Headband Moe should have kept the headband on

That headband Moe Harkless threw into the Oklahoma City crowd is now worth $15,000. Well, it's at least what it cost Harkless:

This Western Conference playoff series between the Portland Trail Blazers and Oklahoma City Thunder is getting more and more intense with each passing game. After winning the first two games at home in Portland, the Blazers fell 120-108 on the road in game three in Oklahoma. In what was an interesting game on the officiating end, Moe Harkless had enough from the refs and threw his headband into the crowd.

You can watch the video HERE.

A frustrating game for Portland? Yes. Another chance at the Thunder? Definitely. Game four on Sunday.

You can catch all the playoff coverage of game four in Oklahoma City tomorrow on NBC Sports Northwest.

OKC would be a lot less "talkative" if the Blazers take Game 4

OKC would be a lot less "talkative" if the Blazers take Game 4

OKLAHOMA CITY – Let’s start today’s little off-day story by making it clear that the Trail Blazers can win their first-round playoff series against Oklahoma City without ever having to win a game on the road. Everybody knows that.

Portland has homecourt advantage. Just keep winning in Moda Center and when Game 7 is over, the Trail Blazers will be headed for the second round of the playoffs.

But that’s a dangerous game to play. Usually, one team wins a game on the other team’s court and you don’t want to be the team that loses at home – particularly late in the series when it’s hard to wrestle back that homecourt edge.

That’s why I think it’s extremely important for the Trail Blazers win Game 4 Sunday night. And on many levels.

Yes, if they win Sunday they can wrap up the series Tuesday night at home. Quick series means more rest prior to the start of the next one.

But more than that, the Trail Blazers are getting sick of the Thunder. I don’t know any other way to put that, but playing a team four times in the regular season and then facing it for a possible seven more games in the playoffs is a lot – particularly when that team brings all the antics the Thunder throw at the opposition.

Russell Westbrook rocks the baby, never stops talking and overall, makes himself as obnoxious with opponents as he is with the media. Dennis Schroder was mocking Damian Lillard’s wrist tap for “Lillard Time” at the end of Friday’s game. Paul George did a reverse dunk on the Blazers just after the final horn went off and that’s considered an unprofessional act in the NBA.

“It would be huge if we were able to take the game tomorrow night and go home with some momentum and try to close it out at home,” said Maurice Harkless. “I think that would be big time.

“You know, it would put a lot of pressure on that team to win a game on the road. And I know, going back home, our fans would be super excited to be closing out a series at home.”

And is it extra motivation to win, just so you don’t have to deal with their garbage?

“Yeah, it is,” he said with a laugh. “You know, they come with a lot of extra stuff when they win. WHEN THEY WIN. They are a lot less talkative when they don’t. We just have to go in there tomorrow and handle our business and focus on that and see what happens.”

Enes Kanter is in a unique position of having played for the Thunder and is now playing against them in this series.

“I used to get nervous going against them,” Kanter said. “They are just going to do everything to get under people’s skin. So we need to just keep our calm and go out there and do our job.”

And how are his new teammates doing with that?

“I’m very impressed with Dame and CJ, especially, and they are doing a very good job… just keeping their coolness,” he said. “Russ is trying to do everything to get under their skin but especially Dame, doing an amazing job of just keep coming, focusing on what they need to focus on.”

Kanter understands the need to grab that third win Sunday night.

“This is very, very important,” he said. “I remember, I was with Oklahoma City Thunder three years ago and we were up 3-1 against Golden State and they came back and beat us 4-3.

“Every game matters. Every possession matters in the playoffs.”

Lillard said it would be “really important” to win Sunday night.

“Last game I thought we played a solid game,” he said. “We just came up a little bit short. Tomorrow we’ve got to come with that same energy and that same focus. We want to get that one tomorrow.

“You don’t want to just count on winning home games. You want to get at least one on the road and put more pressure on them.”

Coach Terry Stotts falls back on the “every game is important” stance, as he should. As a coach, you can’t really go all in on any one game. And as far as giving the Thunder momentum if they tie the series at 2?

“Momentum changes game by game in the playoffs,” he said. “If we win, they win, there’s a pendulum that goes over a little stronger one way or the other. Momentum is a fickle thing in the playoffs.”

Stotts did admit that he intended to get that technical foul he was called for in Game 3.

“I wanted to get one, yes,” he said. “There were three plays in a row – I thought Enes got fouled on a shot, I thought Enes got pushed underneath and that last one was an obvious hold. So I think it was the culmination of those three consecutive plays.”

Glad that was accomplished. It was cool to have a rare Angry Stotts sighting.

Sore but encouraged: Trail Blazers film review prepares them for Game 4

Sore but encouraged: Trail Blazers film review prepares them for Game 4

OKLAHOMA CITY -- It was a heated and physical battle on Friday night as the Thunder defeated the Trail Blazers 120-108 in Game 3.

The chippiness and the Thunder's antics were on full display in front of their home crowd.

Yet the Trail Blazers are not focused at all on the trash talking or anything OKC has been doing to try and get under their skin.

“That’s their team. They can do whatever they want. Our team was wearing red last night, so I was worried about the team in red,” CJ McCollum said Saturday afternoon.  

Portland is focused on themselves and being able to rest up and learn from the game film.

Damian Lillard came back to the hotel on Friday night after the game to watch the film and break down certain areas of the team’s performance. 

“I think last night it was what I thought it was – a lot of fouls, they were at the free throw line a lot, some of our coverages -- we weren’t as sharp in as we needed to be,” Lillard said.

“Sometime when we wanted to blitz Paul George and trap him it was softer than we needed it to be. So, even though we were getting the ball out of his hands it was easy for him to make a pass out and then they were playing to the weak side, so it was tough, like that’s where we could’ve been sharper, we could’ve made things a little bit harder on them and we didn’t,” Lillard added.

McCollum has watched a little bit of game film as well, but for him it’s not only figuring out what needs to change in Game 4, but it’s also about getting your body right.

“The feeling [this morning] was rest up, get some treatment and get ready for Game 4,” McCollum said.

The Trail Blazers starting center and former Thunder big man Enes Kanter was also focused on his body the day after a very physical game.

“I woke up pretty sore,” Kanter said with a smile.

“I went to bed really late last night… I couldn’t really get to sleep because I was just continuing to think about the game, but we just went back to watching some film and if we just do some clean up, we feel pretty good about Game 4,” Kanter said. 

On a night, where Maurice Harkless was ejected from the game after fouling out and the officials felt that he needed to be tossed after throwing his headband, Harkless had a little trouble falling asleep too.

“I was a little frustrated last night, going to sleep, but then waking up this morning I kind of felt better about it. I think we still played a good game, a lot a good to take from that game,” Harkless said.

Harkless knows he can’t let the officiating change his performance on the defensive end.

“We’ve played through the foul trouble,” Harkless said. “You’ve just gotta to adjust to the whistle. In a playoff series you can’t really lose your aggressiveness.”

So with a day to rest and watch film in between Game 3 and Game 4, the Blazers are eager to get another crack at OKC on their homecourt.

“We’re not running from nobody and we’re looking forward to it,” McCollum said.

“We’ll have a shot,” Lillard said confidently.

Local Flavor: The Triple-Double Cheeseburger at Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City

Local Flavor: The Triple-Double Cheeseburger at Chesapeake Arena in Oklahoma City

When Darren Rovell sent out this tweet ahead of the Trail Blazers Game 3 in Oklahoma City, I knew that my pregame routine was going to have to change for at least one night.

So I headed to GastroPub on the Club Level to get my Triple-Double Burger! 

Check it out in all its glory in the video above but rest assured this Triple-Double is a pile of deliciousness. Two patties, bacon, pulled pork and smothered in cheese (which if we are being honest, is the key ingredient to the masterpiece) come together in one epic arena food item. 

Thunder finally zero in on the pick-and-roll, but Trail Blazers like where they're at

Thunder finally zero in on the pick-and-roll, but Trail Blazers like where they're at

OKLAHOMA CITY -- After shooting under 18% in both of the first two games in their best of seven series against the Trail Blazers, OKC roared back in Game 3 by shooting 51.7% from deep as a team.

“They’re going to make shots from time to time. Did we expect them to shoot 50% from three? No. We’ve got to do a better job of running them off the line. We’ve got to continue to lock in on Paul George. We can live with some of those guys shooting threes. We’ll live with it,” CJ McCollum said.   

There’s no doubt the three-point shooting helped OKC beat the Blazers 120-108 on Friday night. But there were a few more factors that the Blazers pointed out in their postgame interviews.  

The free throw discrepancy was quite a lot. Oklahoma City attempted 15 more free throws for the game.

“They lived at the free throw line and we didn’t,” Damian Lillard said postgame.

But, as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned, one of the biggest differences in OKC’s approach was how they defended Lillard and how they defended the Blazers’ pick-and-roll. 

“Dame got hot in the third quarter. We were able to set some good screens on him and get him open, but it was clear from the beginning of the game that they were taking Dame and CJ out of our pick-an-rolls… They changed some match-ups. They took [Russell] Westbrook off of Dame and put him in the corner and had other guys guarding him, so we’ll look at film and see what we can do,” Stotts said.

Lillard scored 25 points in the third quarter to help keep Portland within striking distance. He finished the game with 32 points on 10-of-21 points. He still felt like he was able to get to the hoop even with the Thunder’s adjustment.

“They got a little more aggressive on the ball. Instead of the big just trying to stay in front of me they were coming up a little higher. I noticed [Jerami] Grant in [the pick-and-roll defense], somebody that’s more agile, athletic, so maybe they could try to trap or be more aggressive. I thought I was still able to turn the corner. I think they just wanted me to get rid of the ball,” Lillard said.

“They were more aggressive, playing at home, a little bit more energy, a little desperate, and they did a better job of guarding us in the pick and roll early,” McCollum added.

The change on defense was just one of Maurice Harkless many surprises on the night.  

Harkless was in foul trouble for most of the game. He ended up getting ejected, but he didn’t realize it. Harkless said he thought he just fouled out, which he did, but then he was surprised to learn he had to head back to the locker room with 19.2 second remaining in the game because the referees thought he had thrown his mouthpiece.

The Trail Blazers starting small forward also couldn’t believe it took the Thunder so long to make the defensive adjustment on Lillard and McCollum.

“I think they tried to towards the end of the game… put Grant on Enes [Kanter] to try to get them a guy who is a little more active in the pick-and-roll. They were a lot more aggressive tonight, all night, in the pick-and-roll on Dame and CJ. We kind of expected that. I’m kind of surprised it took them until Game 3 to do it,” Harkless said.

While it stunned Harkless it took OKC this long, Thunder big man Steven Adams praised his team’s defense on the perimeter.

“The guards did a really job tonight, just getting in [and] influencing them one way. It makes the bigs’ job a lot easier, way, way easier, so they did a really good job tonight for the whole game. So, that’s what it was really. That was the difference I think from Game 1 [and] Game 2 to now,” Adams said. 

Here’s the thing though -- Lillard and the Blazers are still up 2-1 in the series and they are still feeling really good heading into Game 4 on Sunday.

“I think we’re still in a good place, still confident,” Harkless said.

“We defended well. We’ve just got to limit our turnovers, limit their second chance opportunities… I like where we’re at,” McCollum added. 

As for the Trail Blazer captain, Lillard is expecting and hoping for a similar style game on Sunday.

“I think we go into Game 4 liking where we are. It was a competitive game. We got to the fourth quarter and we had a shot. So, we want to make it that same type of game in Game 4,” Lillard said. 

Homecourt matters as Oklahoma City Thunder bounces back to beat Trail Blazers

Homecourt matters as Oklahoma City Thunder bounces back to beat Trail Blazers

OKLAHOMA CITY – You change the venue and often, you get a different result.

The Oklahoma City Thunder shot a miserable 16.4 percent from three-point range during the first two games in Moda Center, as the Trail Blazers took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round playoff series.

But Friday night in OKC, the tide turned in a big way as the home team posted a 120-108 win. The Thunder knocked down 15 of its 29 shots from long range (51.7 percent).

And oh, by the way, in the two games at Portland, Oklahoma City managed to get to the foul line just three more times than the Trail Blazers. But in Friday’s game, OKC trooped to the free-throw line 15 more times than Portland.

And if you’ve been in the NBA very long, you certainly have grown to expect such things. Home teams get more of those 50-50 calls. Stuff happens.

“I’m not commenting on that,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said when asked a question about how his players handled the officiating – which isn’t exactly like asking him what he thought of the officiating.

But, you know. Fines and stuff. And it did seem the Blazers got very frustrated with the officiating during the fourth quarter.

“We knew it was going to be a physical game because so far this entire series has been really physical,” Damian Lillard said. “But you don’t get the benefit of the doubt on the road. I think on both sides, both teams played really physical and they lived at the free-throw line and we didn’t.”

There were plenty of other factors you could point to as reasons the Trail Blazers lost:

  • They led by a point after the first quarter but suffered through a horrible second quarter. In the second period, Portland made only 6 of 16 shots and had a whopping 10 turnovers.
  • They fell behind by 16 in the third quarter and had to burn a lot of energy to crawl back into the game, which they did when they tied it with 10:41 left in the game.
  • They had 18 turnovers for the night, which the Thunder turned into 18 points.
  • After blocking 15 shots in the first two games, they had only one Friday night.
  • While Lillard played Superman with 25 points in the third quarter and 32 in the game, he couldn’t find much help. Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu – Portland’s starting forwards – each made only three of their nine shots from the field and totaled three of their nine from three-point distance – on a night when they were left open once in a while by a defense that was all over Lillard and CJ McCollum.
  • Portland had the misfortune of catching Russell Westbrook on a night when he made four of his six three-pointers. He made just 29 percent of his three-point shots during the regular season.

It was once again a chippy game, with words being exchanged between players many times. Lillard and Westbrook continued to go at it and that got heated in the fourth quarter when both were barking at each other while Westbrook was handling the ball.

And Paul George, who should know better, dunked a ball as time expired (after the final horn, as it turned out) and some Portland players took exception to that. It's considered bad form when a team has a safe lead.

And this was once again a game that turned on three-point shooting. The team that has shot the best from three – and made the most three-pointers – has won each game.

“You can play really, really poorly but if you really make a lot of threes, regardless of this series or any series, I think you can always keep yourself in a game,” OKC Coach Billy Donovan said.

And for Portland, eight of its 12 threes came from two players, Lillard and McCollum. Aminu added three more and the Blazers got just one, by Rodney Hood, from their bench.

The series continues at the same site Sunday night.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 3

OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Thunder got their revenge in Game 3 after the Trail Blazers took a 2-0 advantage. 

OKC was looking to make it more of series in front of its home crowd and the fans were ready for it. The Thunder crowd was bringing the energy even before the game started. The fanbase welcomed back Enes Kanter with a loud applause during the pregame introductions, but that was the first and last time they gave any love to the big fella.

Early in the third quarter it looked as the Thunder were going to run away with this one. OKC’s biggest lead was 16 points.

Then, Damian Lillard happened...

Lillard scored 25 points in the third quarter to help keep Portland within striking distance.

The Thunder’s lead dwindled down to just four points heading into the final period.  It was a hard fought battle in the fourth quarter, but the Thunder had the last word, defeating the Blazers.

Final Box Score: Thunder 120, Trail Blazers 108

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

1. A low scoring affair early

If it wasn’t for the Thunder’s three-point shooting in the first quarter, the start of the game would’ve been real rough for OKC. Yes, you heard that right.

Shooting on your home court can make all the difference and it sure did for Oklahoma City.

The tide turned for the Thunder from the perimeter. After shooting just over 15% from three in Game 1 and over 17% in Game 2, OKC started the game going 5-for-8 from deep. Yet, the Blazers still had a 22-21 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Playing at home really helped out shooting guard Terrance Ferguson. He went a perfect 3-for-3 before missing his first three-point attempt midway through the 3rd quarter.

2. It wasn’t pretty one

Neither team had a very clean offensive game, particular in the first half. Both teams were committing turnovers and there were plenty of offensive fouls to go around. 

But when you are the road team making it an ugly game can be an advantage just like the Godfather Dwight Jaynes pointed out.

To have 13-first half turnovers and only be shooting the ball 37.5% as a team on the road, Portland could’ve been a lot worse shape at halftime. The Thunder led by 10 at the break.

3. Fouls changed the game

Paul George had 10 points at halftime, but once the Blazers got into foul trouble he was able to get cleaner looks and was able to convert. Midway through the third quarter, Portland’s top defenders on George, Maurice Harkless and AL-Farouq Aminu both had been hit with four fouls each.

The foul trouble for Portland disrupted their defense, and in the end, the Blazers weren’t able to snag this one on the road.  

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

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