Can you be outscored by 33 from long range and still win? Trail Blazers couldn't

Can you be outscored by 33 from long range and still win? Trail Blazers couldn't

The Trail Blazers found themselves in a three-point shootout on opening night at Moda Center Wednesday.

And it was a serious mismatch.

The Denver Nuggets put an end to Portland’s 18-game home-opener win streak by outscoring the Blazers by 33 points from the three-point line, pulling away over the last five minutes for a 108-100 victory.

The Blazers had a one-point lead with 4:59 to go and trailed by only one with 3:51 left before Nikola Jokic popped open for two wide-open threes to hike the lead to seven, digging a hole for the home team it couldn’t climb out of.

Jokic had been held under control all night by Hassan Whiteside, who did an outstanding job of defending him on the inside but didn’t get out to him on those three-point shots. Jokic scored 16 of his 20 points in the final quarter. He played only 3:45 of the first half because of foul trouble but Portland didn’t capitalize much in his absence.

But the game was decided – like so many these days in the NBA – at the three-point line. Portland managed to hit just 7-28 from distance while the Nuggets were 18-32. It’s almost impossible to win a game with that sort of long-range disparity and halfway amazing the Blazers stayed as close as they did, considering they also had 20 turnovers.

The Blazers got little offensive help from their bench. The reserves were 6-22 from the field, including 0-7 from long range.

“Well, obviously, it’s disappointing to lose a home opener,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “The other obvious thing is the three-point shot is the great equalizer.”

It didn’t equalize anything Wednesday night, it decided it.

“They shot it really well,” Stotts said. “… the way the game is going, we’ve got to be able to defend the three better. That was a concern in the preseason and it was tonight.”

It would seem that the Blazers should be able to do a better job of perimeter defense with Hassan Whiteside patrolling the middle. In his first game as a Blazer, Whiteside had 19 rebounds, two blocks and 16 points in 26:03. But Denver got too many open looks.

But before Trail Blazer fans start fretting over the 82-game season, there were still several positives to take away from the game:

  • The play of Whiteside, who also made six of his seven shots.
  • Kent Bazemore’s five steals, including three on consecutive Denver possessions in the second quarter.
  • Skal Labissiere made three of his four shots and scored eight points to go with six rebounds.
  • The Blazers outscored the Nuggets 23-7 on second-chance points.
  • The law of averages. McCollum went 5-18. Bazemore was 1-7, Mario Hezonja was 0-3 and Anfernee Simons was 2-7. Those players will shoot better than that most of the time. And it wouldn’t have taken too much better to pull out a win.

 

Blazers, Mavericks show you what the evolution of the NBA game looks like

Blazers, Mavericks show you what the evolution of the NBA game looks like

If you are curious about the evolution of NBA basketball, Thursday night’s game in Moda Center was for you.

Dallas’ 133-125 win over the Trail Blazers was the template for what analytics have done to the game.

These days, the smart guys have figured out that the shots that carry the most value are three-pointers, free throws and layups or dunks.

Thursday’s game tied the league record for most threes (43) made in a game. But the analytics go even deeper than that.

Dallas had 50 points in the paint, 15 free throws and scored 66 points on threes. In other words, that’s 131 of the Mavericks’ 133 points. Portland had 46 points in the paint, 63 points off threes and 12 free throws -- 121 of its 125 points.

So much for mid-range jump shots, huh?

“Never thought I’d see this many threes in a game,” said Carmelo Anthony, a veteran in his 17th NBA season. “But that’s the way it is.”

The Mavericks jumped out to an early lead in this one, thanks to a 45-point first quarter, and never looked back. Every time the Trail Blazers mounted some sort of rally, Dallas was able to counter by shredding the Portland defense for a shot near the basket, an offensive rebound or a wide-open three.

Damian Lillard followed up his 61-point game with another big one, getting 47, thanks to 8-15 shooting from the three-point line.

But Lillard was miffed after the game. And during the game. And after the game, he talked about it -- succinctly.

Lillard was assessed a technical foul by Ray Acosta with 13 seconds to go, while Lillard was on his way to the bench after being removed from the game.

“It’s just frustrating, man,” Lillard said. “I mean, it’s a fast game -- a tough game to call. But there was a play at the end of the game, four minutes to go and I go up for a reverse layup and guy just smacked me in the head.

“The whole game, I’m telling them, ‘They’re putting their hands in my chest. They’re pushing me in the back, they’re riding me. All the things we get whistled for, they’re doing them to me.

“They’re trying to stop me -- they’re being physical, they’re trying hard. Just look for the contact because it’s there.”

Lillard was asked what he said to draw the technical.

“Like I said, we were down 13, I was doing a reverse layup and the guy smacks me in the head, the referee is right there. And I asked him, ‘How do you not make that call?’ and he tells me, ‘We all agreed that you leaned into him.’

“That’s an insult, man. I leaned into him? He smacked me in the head. Come on, man, that’s frustrating as hell when somebody smacks you in the head and you get that kind of explanation.

“I went right up to him and said, ‘If you say you didn’t see it, that’s one thing. They say that all the time. But you can’t tell me ‘All three of us agree that you leaned into him and i’m doing a reverse layup. I don’t have time to lean back while I’m looking at the basket. Don’t insult me like that -- just say 'I didn’t see it.'”

Lillard’s game spoke for itself, regardless of the officiating. But Dallas Coach Rick Carlisle spoke plenty about Portland's star guard.

“I have one statement to make: Before the game I tried to pass a note to the locker room to tell Damian Lillard he had my All-Star vote, so he didn’t play the game,” Carlisle said. “Obviously, he didn’t get the note, but he had my vote before he went for 47 against us. What an amazing player. He’s virtually impossible to stop. He’s got an iron will. Obviously a great leader and when he’s on the floor they’re hard to beat, no matter what.”

 

Luka Doncic thrown off that Damian Lillard wasn't an All-Star starter

Luka Doncic thrown off that Damian Lillard wasn't an All-Star starter

With the way Mavericks point forward Luke Doncic has been dominating the 2019-20 season, it’s no surprise he was named a Western Conference All-Star starter Thursday night ahead of Dallas' game vs. Portland. 

About four hours before the Trail Blazers and Mavericks tipped off, the All-Star starters were announced.  

The Western Conference All-Star starters includes:

  • LeBron James
  • Anthony Davis
  • Kawhi Leonard
  • James Harden

And then of course, Doncic rounds out the top-five.

If it weren’t for Doncic, it would’ve been Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard to slip into the starting spot.

Last year’s Rookie of the Year is putting up CRAZY numbers. This season, he’s averaging 29.1 points, 9.7 rebounds, and 9.0 assists.  

But, somehow he still can't believe Lillard isn't starting alongside him. 

After the Mavs beat the Blazers, 133-125, Doncic was asked if he had a conversation with Lillard.

He did.

But the newly named All-Star admitted he was confused by the results. 

Yes, he congratulated me. He’s an amazing player and that just means a lot to me. It’s weird not seeing him in the starters. – Mavs All-Star Luka Doncic on Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

At just 22 years old, Doncic holds the honor of being an All-Star starter in high regard.

He even said it felt different for him out on the court knowing he was heading to his first All-Star game.

“It does-- I used to wake up every year for that to watch the game. My mom used to say 'you have to do your homework' if I want to wake up early. It’s different, but it’s something that is really special.”

Doncic isn’t the only one bewildered by the All-Star starters results.

Lillard’s former teammate Meyers Leonard voiced his concern on the matter, calling it "asinine."

Just imagine how many people would be sharing this same sentiment of it being asinine if Lillard didn’t make it as an All-Star reserve.

Lillard has been doing everything in his power to keep the injury riddled Blazers afloat. He’s averaging 27.9 points, 7.6 assists, and 4.1 rebounds this season and 33 points per game since January 3rd.

The All-Star reserves will be announced on Thursday, January 30 where Lillard is poised to be named an All-Star for the fifth time.

The cloud that hangs over Damian Lillard's incredible scoring performances

The cloud that hangs over Damian Lillard's incredible scoring performances

Damian Lillard has been scoring at a masterful clip over the past month. 

He didn't necessarily come out hot in 2020, scoring just 11 points in a losing effort to the New York Knicks, but since then, he's averaging 33 points in the month of January.

On Monday, Lillard scored a career-high 61 points and broke his own franchise record and career-high with 11 three pointers made.

To follow-up that performance, the Trail Blazers franchise player, who is expected to be named an All-Star for the fifth time, dropped 47 points, eclipsing the century mark, becoming the first-ever to score more than 100 points in Trail Blazers history.

To add to his unbelievable run, he joined elite company in doing so...

Lillard's run has truly been impressive.

But, there's one thing that mars such a feat... the Blazers record during that process. 

Lillard has averaged 44 points per game in his past four performances, and the Blazers have lost three of them. 

Portland lost to the Dallas Mavericks 133-125 Thursday night to fall to 19-27 on the season. This is the second time this season the Trail Blazers have been eight games below .500. 

The Blazers are ranked 26th in defensive rating this season. They have the worst assist ratio in the league. 

Of course, more goes into it than that, but what's going on now is a far cry from where the team was at a year ago.

Lillard's performances come on the heels of the Trail Blazers losing yet another player to injury. Shooting guard CJ McCollum went down on January 17th vs. the Mavericks in Dallas, so Lillard has stepped up and poured in the points. 

Portland's only win since McCollum went down came in overtime where Lillard had to set career-highs and franchise records. 

The Trail Blazers are depleted. They've played injured. They've played sick to the point where Gary Trent, Jr. had to get IV treatment for flu-like symptoms. They played even more short-handed after taking two players (Bazemore and Tolliver) out of the equation because of Portland's trade with Sacramento. 

Lillard shouldered the load and he delivered. But, he seems to be growing more and more frustrated, which has boiled over into technical fouls and referee criticism. 

But, perhaps, Lillard is projecting about a much larger issue. A team with the second-highest payroll that went to the Western Conference Finals is now in serious danger of not being able to crawl out of this hole. 

"[Dame] didn't sign up to be on a team like this," Yahoo! Sports Senior NBA Insider Chris Haynes told NBC Sports National NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh in a podcast interview. 

Wednesday marked a possible turning point for the Trail Blazers on the injury front. Jusuf Nurkic, who has been rehabbing his ankle since last March, participated in a full contact practice. Zach Collins, who is recovering from shoulder surgery, was engaged in individual workouts. So was CJ McCollum, who sprained his ankle last week. 

Hopefully, the reinforcements will arrive and the Trail Blazers can turn this season around.

Damian Lillard can't keep doing this all on his own!    

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

usatsi_13948007.jpg
USA Today Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FINAL BOX SCORE: MAVERICKS 132, TRAIL BLAZERS 122

Here are three quick takeaways from Thursday's loss: 

1.  SO MANY MAVS 3s

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

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

2.  Ariza, Biggie make their debut

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

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

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

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

3.  Lillard's takeover not enough this time

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

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

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

Damian Lillard accomplishes something no Trail Blazer has ever accomplished

Damian Lillard accomplishes something no Trail Blazer has ever accomplished

Damian Lillard is superhuman!

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

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

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

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

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

 

Jaylen Hoard has a career night with the Texas Legends

Jaylen Hoard has a career night with the Texas Legends

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

usatsi_13923351.jpg
USA Today Images

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

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

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

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

How to Listen to the Game:

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

Quote of The Week

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

Quick Links 

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

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

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

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

VIDEO:   Swanigan and Gabriel looking forward to new opportunities

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

usatsi_13937650.jpg
USA Today Images

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

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

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

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

HEAR FROM TREVOR ARIZA HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

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

MAVERICKS INJURY REPORT:

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

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

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

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

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

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