Blazers Pregame Notebook: Why aren't people talking about how consistent CJ McCollum has been?

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Blazers Pregame Notebook: Why aren't people talking about how consistent CJ McCollum has been?

Before the Trail Blazers and Kings tip-off at 7:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'My Teams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed tonight’s matchup, how CJ McCollum is playing in a rhythm, and what he’d like to see change on the defensive end during his pregame media availability.

Stotts gave his current scouting report of Sacramento:  

“They space the floor. They shoot the ball well, They’ve turned things around primarily with their defense,” Stotts said of the Kings getting back to playing better basketball as of late.

For Portland, a lot has been made about their stagnant offense, but it was on the other side of the ball that Coach Stotts went into detail about before Wednesday night’s game.  

What would Stotts like to see differently from his team on the defensive end?  

It depends on who we are playing. I think different teams pose different problems. Some nights it’s going to be pick and rolls. Some nights it’s going to be transition; rebounding is always going to be an emphasis. Sometimes it’s one-on-one defense. Right now our defensive numbers are terrible. There’s a lot of areas we can get better at. -- Terry Stotts pregame

Since Carmelo Anthony has joined the team, which has been the last seven games, it’s CJ McCollum who has been the most consistent offensive player averaging 23.1 points on 48.1 percent shooting from the field and 41.5 percent from deep.

Even with McColum’s consistent play it hasn’t been talked about much over the last couple of weeks. To that, Stotts chuckled, “It’s funny when he was in a slump, everybody was talking about it.”

Stotts added, “look, he’s playing the way we all know he can play… I don’t ever want to take it for granted. He’s in a good rhythm."   

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

For full coverage of tonight’s game be sure to follow Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team. Follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Mavericks tonight at 6:30pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Mavericks tonight at 6:30pm

DALLAS – The Trail Blazers (18-24) are coming off an impressive 117-107 victory over the Houston Rockets Wednesday night thanks to their defensive effort.  

Portland now gets set to face the Dallas Mavericks (26-15), who are currently riding a three-game winning streak.

Friday night’s game will be the second of four meetings between Portland and Dallas this season. The Blazers took the first meeting, 121-119, in Portland's third game of the season.  

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Mavericks 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? Tonight's Warriors game is the first game of the "Blazers Pass Season!"

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:

3:00pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

5:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

6:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Mavs

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

Plus, 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

“Melo been around a long time, so I’m sure that there was some feelings like – this is the last team I’ve played for, it didn’t end on a high note -- So, I’m sure he wanted to beat them, but before the game, during the game he wasn’t overly emotional -- like ‘I want to kill them’, he was like – 'let’s win the game.' He had a great game. He did what he needed to do to help us win the game and that was that.” –Damian Lillard on Carmelo Anthony playing against his former team after Wednesday’s win over the Rockets 

Greg Oden wishes he would've listened to his body, gives advice to Zion Williamson

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Greg Oden wishes he would've listened to his body, gives advice to Zion Williamson

The pressures that come with being a No. 1 overall NBA pick.

Having bad knees.

People believing that this pick is transcendent, that it's going to turn the franchise around.

Those are just a few things that former Trail Blazers center Greg Oden and current New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson have in common.

Oden opened up about his difficult time in Portland on Thursday’s episode of the ‘Scal and Pals’ podcast with Brian Scalabrine and Steve Ceruti.  

Scalabrine wanted to know the truth about Oden’s knees: Were there any signs of knee troubles before the Trail Blazer selected him as the No. 1 pick in 2007?

"No." According to Oden, the knee problems started after the team was trying its best to fix a length difference in his legs.

I never had any knee issues before – after Summer League and then out of nowhere it spiraled after that, and it was just thing after thing. Nothing that I could do to control it… When I look back at it that summer, I had like a leg length differential, so when I first got into the league, I got some new orthotics that fixed that all the way when my whole entire growing up and playing career I was so used that leg length, my little length on my right side… That was comfortable for me.  – Former Trail Blazers big man Greg Oden

Oden added, “I got those orthotics and then two days later, my knee was so swollen I couldn’t even put jeans on.”

The now 31-year-old believes that by fixing the length differential in his legs he had to overcompensate and thus the effects of the orthotics are were all the knee problems began.

By trying to do what the best for Oden, did those decisions actually expedite his early retirement in 2016?   

Another big man, who has been dealing with his own knee issues, is No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Williamson underwent surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on October 21st. He first returned to full practices the first week of January.

Oden offered up this piece of advice to the young fella:

“Get as much information about your own body as possible, figure out what works for you, work with the doctors and the trainers to figure out what’s going to be the best thing for you instead of just going with the first option,” Oden said.

Oden also discussed what kind of pressure comes along with being the top pick.

I remember being drafted and I was the first one to do all the interviews and then I was the last one to leave the arena from all the interviews [on draft night]. And then, I had an hour to get my stuff together and I was on a plane to Portland and I was surprised with a parade and I was like – ‘oh shoot, like this is real.’ It looked like the whole city showed out for it.  So, I mean, instantly it’s a lot of pressure. You feel like you’re going to let a lot of people down or you see a lot of people looking up to you like you’re going to change that city for the better – I think that’s the definition of pressure, actually. -- Greg Oden on Scal and Pals

The former Blazer says he wishes all the best for Zion after meeting him last summer.

The original timetable for Williamson’s injury was six to eight weeks. His now targeted return date of January 22nd would be a little more than 13 weeks from the surgery.

LISTEN TO ENTIRE PODCAST HERE:

Three things we learned from Brandon Roy's latest interview

Three things we learned from Brandon Roy's latest interview

Eight years following his retirement from the Portland Trail Blazers, Brandon Roy is speaking about the whole experience.

In an interview with Jason Quick of The Athletic, Roy opened up about the injuries that plagued his career and the emotional turmoil he's undergone since hanging up the jersey.

"The Natural" spoke quite honestly about his experience in Portland

Here are some things we learned:

1. Neil Olshey has offered Roy a role with the organization

Since retiring from the Trail Blazers, Roy has only attended two Blazers games which led some to question if the relationship between the franchise was poor. That isn't the case. Roy revealed to Quick that current Trail Blazers general manager Neil Olshey "has contacted him several times throughout the years and extended an open invitation to return, be it tickets, a role within the organization, whatever he needed."

What sticks out the most is the role with the Blazers themselves. What could that role be? There's no question to this day Roy remains one of the most beloved players in franchise history. Some former NBA players transition to the front office or coaching roles when their playing days are done. Roy even coached high school in Washington, winning the state championship both seasons so he has experience coaching on some level. Perhaps even an advisory role, or a role similar to what Dirk Nowitski has with the Dallas Mavericks. 

2. Nate McMillan and Brandon Roy didn't always see eye to eye

For every season B-Roy was in a Trail Blazers uniform, Nate McMillan was his head coach. Surprisingly, their relationship wasn't always great, especially after Kevin Pritchard was let go from his duties as general manager following the 2010 NBA Draft.

KP was a guy who helped me and Nate’s relationship. I’m naturally a guy who if I go away (from a practice or game), I go away. And Nate is a guy who just kind of goes away and minds his business, too. But KP was always … ‘We need to bring you two together. Let’s sit down. Let’s talk.' -- Brandon Roy to Quick

We always knew that Pritchard was an expert drafter and dealer as a general manager, but we probably undervalued how integral he was to ensuring people got along. When Rich Cho was hired as general manager, Roy mentioned he didn't force the head coach and Roy to talk things out, widening the divide between the player and coach. It's surprising to hear that Roy's relationship with McMillan was rocky since nowadays one of the main priorities for a head coach in the NBA is to ensure the happiness of the franchise star. 

3. Roy returned eight days after surgery against Pheonix because he knew he didn't have a lot of time left 

When Roy returned to the 2010 playoff series in Game 4 against the Phoenix Suns and just eight days following knee surgery, it was surreal. Now, in hindsight, many have claimed that Roy rushed back from surgery to play in the postseason to the detriment of his career. Roy seems to have a different perspective. He makes it sound like his career was always going to be cut short, regardless if he came back against the Suns or not.

Quick recaps Roy's feelings on the matter:

"He said it was as if there was a clock in his head, always counting down, always reminding him that his time was coming. He couldn’t keep it all up — the pills, the aspiration of knee fluids, the shots — not at this pace. That’s why he returned..."

Knowing that Roy could fear his career coming to a head makes the return against Pheonix much more defendable. It was a chance to play in the postseason, something Roy had only done once up until that point, and he didn't know how much longer his knees would hold up. What if his time ran out that next season and he forfeited a chance to make a postseason run to preserve a future career that never materialized? Roy is too competitive to have sat on the sidelines, especially when he knew that the clock was ticking on his career.

You can read the full article here.

Anthony, Lillard crack Top 10 in third return of 2020 All-Star voting

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Anthony, Lillard crack Top 10 in third return of 2020 All-Star voting

The NBA released its third round of All-Star voting returns on Thursday and a couple of Trail Blazers still remain in the Top 10. 

Among Western Conference guards, Damian Lillard remains in third place with 984,140 votes trailing only Luka Doncic and James Harden. While teammate Carmelo Anthony jumped two spots to sixth place among Western Conference frontcourt players with 784,038 votes. 

LeBron James is the leading vote-getter in the west with 4,747,887 votes. Overall among Western Conference players, Lillard and Anthony's vote counts rank seventh and 12th respectively. 

This season Lillard is averaging 26.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a career-high 7.6 assists. He is a four-time All-Star, having played in the game in 2014, 2015, and each of the past two seasons. 

Anthony is a 10-time All-Star, having last played in the game in 2017. 2018 was the first time Anthony wasn't an All-Star since the 2009 season, breaking a run of eight-straight All-Star Game appearances. This season he is averaging 16.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.4 assists. 

To keep your favorite Blazers in the Top-10 and help them secure a trip to Chicago for All-Star Weekend, all you need to do is vote. 

You can cast your votes at NBA.com

Morning After: Everything you missed from the Blazers win over the Rockets

Morning After: Everything you missed from the Blazers win over the Rockets

The Blazers headed to Houston to start yet another road trip, the first of three straight games on the road. 

The Rockets were heavily favored in this one, but games aren't played and decided by Vegas betting odds. 

The Blazers jumped on the Rockets early. Portland led after the first quarter and had a double-digit lead by halftime. 

In his first game in Houston since being let go by the team last season, Carmelo Anthony balled out. The Blazes power forward scored 18 points on 7 of 10 shooting, adding 12 rebounds as well. 

Damian Lillard had a near triple-double with 25 points, 7 rebounds, and 7 assists, and CJ McCollum dropped 24 points of his own. 

The real story here was the team's defense on Rockets star James Harden. Portland held Harden to just 3 of 12 shooting and a season-low 13 points. 

The Rockets tried to mount a comeback more than once, but every time they did the Blazers had an answer.

Final Score in Houston: Blazers 117 - Rockets 107

QUOTABLES:

Carmelo Anthony on return to Houston:

I kind of got past all of that -- the time that I was off, the time that I did have to kind of think about that situation. And, I had dealt with every emotion that you could think about -- trying to figure out why, questioning myself at the beginning -- working so hard to get past that and kind of be at peace with that.

Damian Lillard on game plan vs James Harden:

We gave him a lot of attention...We pretty much decided we were going to live with somebody else beating us and it turned out to be a pretty good game plan. Our coaches came up with a great defensive game plan.

Damian Lillard on the win:

We just had good fight, we had good energy, and a good presence about us, I think.  Even in our meeting today, we kind of talked through stuff. Before the game, it was pretty quiet. You can tell, coming off the win against Charlotte – we came into this trip wanting to start off on the right foot and I thought our effort on the floor showed that.

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Stotts, Trail Blazers prove that even in basketball, diamonds are forever

Stotts, Trail Blazers prove that even in basketball, diamonds are forever

When the Trail Blazers broke out that diamond-and-one defense Wednesday night in Houston, it jogged my memory.

And it took a while to remember where I'd last seen that defense,

I had a nagging thought that it had to do with Houston. And it did. But it was way back to the "Game of the Century" in 1968 when the Elvin Hayes-led University of Houston Cougars knocked off UCLA 71-69 n the Astrodome, ending a 47-game Bruin win streak. The dome was sold out (52,693) for the game, the first nationally televised, non-NCAA tournament college game. It didn't help UCLA, by the way, that center Lew Alcindor had suffered an eye injury in a previous game and it was troubling him in this one.

The teams met again in the NCAA tournament semifinals and the Bruins routed the Cougars 101-69. And the key to that win was UCLA's innovative diamond-and-one defense that held Hayes, who was averaging 37.7 points per game, to just 10 points.

Harden came into the game Wednesday night averaging 37.8 points per game and was held to 13 by the Portland diamond.

"We used the diamond-and-one on dead-ball situations (after turnovers, after timeouts, backcourt out of bounds)," Stotts said Thursday in an email. "Once Harden gave it up, we were in man to man (four on four) and face-guarded Harden.

"Other times, we would just go double-team him and get the ball out of his hands. We did not stay in the diamond once Harden gave it up. Brooklyn and Toronto used versions of it (they lost those games) and we tweaked it."

Stotts remembers the "Game of the Century" but didn't remember the diamond and one in the rematch.

"Black and white TV," he said. "The Game of the Century."

Wednesday's win at Houston wasn't in the realm of the game of the century -- but for the Trail Blazers, it was probably the game of the year, so far.

At peace, Carmelo Anthony moved past Rockets -- then beat them

At peace, Carmelo Anthony moved past Rockets -- then beat them

HOUSTON – To say that Carmelo Anthony has made a difference on this Trail Blazers squad would be an understatement.

November 19th, at least for this season, will go down as the unforgettable day the Trail Blazers took a chance on the 17-year veteran.

Now, through 27 games with the Blazers, Melo is averaging 16.3 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.

Wednesday night, Anthony got his first chance to play against the team that he last played for a year ago.

A team that took a chance on him, but didn’t seem to really give him a shot after parting ways with Melo after just 10 days.

But, did the 35-year-old get up a little more or have any extra emotions playing against the Rockets?

Nope.

You know why?

Because of the time he had off to deal with and process all those added emotions.  

I kind of got past all of that -- the time that I was off, the time that I did have to kind of think about that situation. And, I had dealt with every emotion that you could think about -- trying to figure out why, questioning myself at the beginning -- working so hard to get past that and kind of be at peace with that. – Carmelo Anthony said postgame  

Even though Anthony's time in Houston was short-lived, he was still greeted with cheers from Rockets fans during pregame introductions. However, the ovation was not nearly as loud as many other arenas Melo has visited this season.  

He did, though, give Blazers fans more to cheer about with his efficient play on the offensive end and his effort on the defensive side of the ball.

In the win, the future Hall of Famer finished with a double-double, 18 points and 12 rebounds.

Houston media had asked Blazers head coach Terry Stotts pregame if Melo had surprised him at all. Stotts replied saying, “the fact that he was out [of the league] for so long and came in and was able to play 30 plus minutes of production -- NBA minutes was probably the most surprising thing.”

But, by the looks of it and the sounds of it, the Rockets organization and the media seem really surprised to see what Melo has been able to do with the Blazers this season.

After Wednesday’s win, Coach Stotts made sure to make it known that his veteran forward was out there doing what the team needed, not anything else.

“Melo’s been great for us and I know there are different venues – I don’t know how he particularly feels about Houston, the Rockets and all of that, but he’s about the right things. He’s about winning, he wants to win. I think for him being a part of a win like this is probably more important regardless of who it’s against,” Stotts said.

Coach Stotts was spot on.

After the win, Melo downplayed the possibility of there being anything extra to the game. “Just getting the win,” he said.

Anthony added, “I thought everyone contributed to this win.”

That statement by Melo is not in the least bit surprising.

Since Anthony signed with the Trail Blazers he has done nothing but prove he wants to help this team succeed, he wants to share his knowledge, and he wants to prove he can still contribute.

Melo is a bona fide superstar.

And, as that new saying goes: Real recognizes real.

Lillard recognizes his fellow superstar returning to play against Houston and how that might change Anthony's view of Wednesday's matchup.

Melo been around a long time, so I’m sure that there was some feelings like – this is the last team I’ve played for, it didn’t end on a high note -- So, I’m sure he wanted to beat them, but before the game, during the game he wasn’t overly emotional -- like ‘I want to kill them’, he was like – 'let’s win the game.' He had a great game. He did what he needed to do to help us win the game and that was that. – Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said postgame 

As Lillard and Melo look for some carryover from Wednesday’s win, they will also look to lead this team together.

More often than not it is either one of them or both of them having a teaching moment with a young Anfernee Simons or Gary Trent Jr. on the bench or during a stoppage of play.

The Blazers are on the outside looking in at the playoffs at the moment.

But, don’t think for a second these two superstars aren’t game planning together on how to change the narrative of this 2019-20 season. 

Kendrick Perkins continues impressive streak of picking wrong team to win, to Trail Blazers benefit

Kendrick Perkins continues impressive streak of picking wrong team to win, to Trail Blazers benefit

So far, as an analyst, former NBA big man Kendrick Perkins has become notorious for picking the wrong fight with a future Hall of Famer and infamous for incorrectly picking the wrong team to win games. 

On the heels of his Twitter feud with Kevin Durant, in which Perkins, who currently works for ESPN, accused the NBA MVP of "the weakest move in NBA history" for joining the Warriors, Perkins was back at it Thursday ahead of the Portland-Houston game. 

For context, Perkins' his track record of picking the winners of games as an analyst has been... shaky.  

Sure, he's gotten his fair share of games correct, but even his employer ESPN was making fun of his terrible track record during last season's NBA playoffs. 

If Perkins picked your team to lose that night, you might be the happiest fan in the world. 

Heading into Thursday night, Channing Frye, co-host of the Talkin' Blazers podcast, picked Portland to upset the Rockets, which is a bet Perkins was enticed by. 

The two apparently agreed to terms of the deal and "shook" on it. 

The wager of this specific bet was not immediately known, but Perkins gave some clarity on how he usually bets. 

And then... the game happened! The Trail Blazers locked down James Harden with a "Twilight Zone" defense and the Trail Blazers executed well en route to a 117-107 victory over the Rockets

Perkins was... disappointed. 

And it didn't take long for people to begin ackowledge the defeat.  

Perkins took the defeat like a champ. You win some, you lose some. 

The Twitter world was less than shocked that a Perkins pick eventually lost.

The ESPN analyst undoubtedly knows basketball. He's an NBA Champion. Sometimes, you're just wrong. And the social media world is happy to jump on those losses and make you never forget them. 

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Great effort, even better decision-making in win over Rockets

Great effort, even better decision-making in win over Rockets

HOUSTON – The Trail Blazers are building off a win.

Even though Portland has compiled winning streaks this season, the Blazers haven’t discussed, in-depth, how they learned from the previous game and had their minds right.

They hadn’t done that... until now.

Heading into Wednesday night’s matchup against the Houston Rockets, some thought the Blazers were in for a long night. It already was because of the 8:30pm local time tip-off.

Instead of following the narrative of -- the Blazers are having a rough season; the Rockets should roll just like they did last time against Portland -- the Blazers had other ideas.

The Blazers held off the Rockets down the stretch, defeating Houston 117-107 Wednesday night

Trail Blazers team captain Damian Lillard, who led the Blazers in scoring with 25 points, was not only pleased with his team's effort, but also mentioned how, as a team, they had their minds right. 

With the Blazers playing three games in four days starting in Houston, the Blazers elected not to have a shootaround earlier in the day. Instead, they elected for a more relaxed team meeting. 
From the sounds of it, the team meeting was something this team really benefited from in Houston.  

We just had good fight, we had good energy, and a good presence about us, I think.  Even in our meeting today, we kind of talked through stuff. Before the game, it was pretty quiet. You can tell, coming off the win against Charlotte – we came into this trip wanting to start off on the right foot and I thought our effort on the floor showed that. -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said postgame 

This game could easily be looked at as the Blazers best defensive performance thus far.

But for Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, he couldn’t help but emphasize his team’s decision-making overall.

“[Houston] made their run, hit some threes, but we kept our composure, made good decisions at the offensive end, it was a good win,” Stotts said postgame.

It’s no secret that Portland has had its fair share of issues on defense, but the Blazers were able to come together on that end of the floor on Wednesday. They limited James Harden to just 13 points on 3-of-12 shooting.

The Blazers defensive effort was strong for the entire game.

Lillard felt Wednesday’s game was a very complete game, which has been hard to come by for the Blazers this season. 

“In the first half we played well," Lillard said. "It wasn’t like we went into the half down and then had a big second half. It was like we just kept putting quarters together, quarter after quarter after quarter, and I think if we can sustain that and approach every game that way, we’ll have a great chance in a lot of these games."

Coming off the win over the Hornets, where Portland allowed Charlotte to get back in the game in the second half after the Hornets hit four quick three-pointers, that could’ve easily happened again against the Rockets.

But, it didn’t .

As CJ McCollum put it, “when you get a lead, you have to hold onto it, try to extend it. We did that tonight.”

The Blazers biggest lead was 17.

And, as many point to what Portland was able to do on the defensive end, holding the Rockets to just 39.6 percent from the floor, Coach Stotts was also happy with what his team was getting on offense.

“I was pleased with our offense all night. I thought our passing; we did a good job of passing. We tried to attack certain matchups... I was pretty pleased with the shots that we were able to get,” Stotts said.

There are nights when every single player from one to eight is on the same page, and that’s what happened Wednesday night.

Having Anthony Tolliver and Gary Trent, Jr. step up and make timely three-pointers is what the Blazers have been looking for from the second unit.

For veteran Carmelo Anthony, who returned to play against the team that he last played for (even if it was just 10 days), believes that he and the Blazers wanted this game more.

“We had a great game plan," Melo said. "We stuck to it, guys was on the same accord. We were locked in defensively, we’re locked in offensively and we stuck to it tonight.  This was a game that we felt like we could come in here and get and we did that."

Anthony finished with 18 points on an efficient 7-for-10 shooting night to go along with 12 rebounds.

Even though he wouldn’t come out and say that this win over his short-lived former team felt better than other victories, the Blazers as a team showed in the locker room how much this win meant.  From Jusuf Nurkic in the locker room making jokes to the tone of the postgame interviews – everyone knows how big of a win it was in Houston.

As Lillard said, it’s now time to have some real carryover.

Next up the Trail Blazers face Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks Friday night on NBCSNW.