Carmelo Anthony has evolved into 'Skinny Melo’-- and he’s taking over social media

Carmelo Anthony has evolved into 'Skinny Melo’-- and he’s taking over social media

While some NBA fans out there have been worried that their favorite players might return to the court out of shape and even gain too many lbs following a four-month layoff, Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony did the exact opposite.

In various photos and videos circulating the interwebs, NBA fans are taking notice of a slimmer Melo.

Clearly, Anthony took advantage of quarantine and worked on his body. Maybe it’s because he knew he would be earning a lot more small forward minutes instead of being the stretch four for the Blazers with Trevor Ariza not returning for the restart.

Melo is looking like a more finesse player with this physique; a perfect look for the three, even if he has been pitching the idea lately that the NBA is positionless.

Fans even think the 17-year veteran looks 10 years younger now and former players took notice as well.

Now think about a finesse and younger version of Melo.

Pair that version of the future Hall of Famer with Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, the Blazers’ two 7-footers who are both going to be healthy after very lengthy rehabs.

Okay, now do you see why Trail Blazers fans are stoked to see a skinny Melo?

Look out NBA restart, the Trail Blazers look ready to go!

Listen to the latest Talking’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon:

Damian Lillard believes his late cousin, Chef B, is looking after him

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@damianlillard

Damian Lillard believes his late cousin, Chef B, is looking after him

The tragic news came in early May of this year, during Portland’s Stay at Home Order, when Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard found out that his cousin had passed away.  

Lillard announced the passing of Brandon Johnson, better known as Chef B, on his Instagram on May 2, 2020.

As the Trail Blazers point guard has found ways to cope with his cousin's death, he also knows that his former personal chef, good friend and family member is still with him.

And on Aug. 11, 2020, Lillard believed his beloved cousin made an appearance to help knock in what looked like the best and craziest shooter’s touch of a long three-pointer.

When I let it go I shot it real straight. I was like ‘Well that’s on line’ and I thought it was gonna go in, so when it hit back rim and went straight up -- I kept watching because I was like ‘I think that that’s gonna go in,’ and it dropped in. I think that was my cousin, rest in peace Chef B -- I think that was him dropping that in for me. – Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

Johnson served as the personal chef to Lillard, CJ McCollum, Jusuf Nurkic and former Trail Blazers forward Evan Turner.  

Lillard and McCollum have shared many moments together after the passing of Chef B.

Lillard explained after Tuesday's win over Dallas that during that difficult time of finding out his cousin had passed away, McCollum and Lillard cried together. 

“He passed during the quarantine in Portland,” Lillard said postgame. “He was going to be coming to my house to make breakfast and passed out and we was all worried so I just went over to see what was going on and when I got there he had just passed. I was able to get there and say my goodbyes. He jut laid there and they kinda put him in a peaceful place… We prayed over his body and said our goodbyes. CJ came, he was tight with CJ as well. Me and CJ, we cried together you know what I’m saying? And that’s also part of our brotherhood. All it done, the quarantine, even at the end of the season when we were pushing to get into the playoffs, you know, he was the one person I was with everyday”.

And now we know Chef B is still with Lillard in Orlando.

That insane three-pointer with a little help from Chef B in the Blazers’ 134-131 win over the Dallas Mavericks, marked Lillard’s 61st point of the game, tying his career-high, which in turn helped his team take sole possession of the No. 8 seed out West.

As the Blazers make their final push for the playoffs, Lillard continues to keep his cousin’s words with him.

“He was encouraging me, ‘Cuz you gotta eat healthy foods, you gotta make sure you get this in, make sure you get breakfast before you leave, make sure you stay hydrated -- I brought some waters in here, take these waters to the room.’ He was just the person that was on top of a lot of things for me and wore a lot of hats for me. In the summertime when I go to Utah for three weeks too train at school, when I go to Phoenix to train for weeks he was [my] right hand man. Everything I needed -- he did for me basically. Losing him it hurt. He was my first cousin that was that close to me that passed away. So it was tough and I just try to continue what I feel he would want me to do, and I’ve just been dealing with it that way, just try to continue on the path that I know he was proud of.

After scoring 61 points for the second time this season, there’s no doubt Lillard has made Chef B and all of Rip City proud. 

 

Injured or not, Damian Lillard believes in CJ McCollum

Injured or not, Damian Lillard believes in CJ McCollum

It wasn’t talked about-- Because CJ McCollum doesn’t want to use playing through pain as an excuse in the NBA restart.

But, now we know that McCollum, who has averaged just 12 points in Portland’s last two seeding games and went 2-for-14 from the field Tuesday night, is playing through some serious pain.

Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to Tuesday's game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman's terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

 

Despite McCollum’s rough shooting night against the Dallas Mavericks Tuesday and his injured back, the Trail Blazers starting shooting guard hit two clutch free throws to put the Blazers up three with 3.9 seconds to go. 

Damian Lillard had all the confidence in the world that McCollum would have ice in his veins at the charity stripe late in Tuesday’s game. But that's because Lillard always has confidence in his backcourt mate, no matter what.

One thing that is a part of our relationship and something that makes us have so much belief in each other is -- he knows that I have unwavering confidence [in him] and I know the same thing about him. I know his heart. I know his toughness. I know who he is as a man. -- Trail Blazers Damian Lillard

Lillard’s confidence and appreciation for McCollum playing through pain when the Blazers need him as they make their final playoff push is yet another layer of the duo’s special relationship. 

He’s a little bit banged up. He’s making no excuses or looking for no way out. He’s thuggin' it out for the team and being out there for us, and fortunate for us, him doing that meant he was out there for those last free throws and came through for us. -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard on CJ McCollum

Following McCollum’s free throws to push the Blazers lead to 134-131, which would eventually be the final, the win helped propel the Blazers into taking sole possession of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference.

Lillard who took responsibility for last Saturday’s loss after missing two free throws with 18.6 seconds to play against the Clippers and his team down by a point and the game on the line, so there was no surprise here – Lillard wanted a chance to drain the final free throws of Tuesday’s game. 

But he knew if it wasn’t himself heading to the line, he wanted his next best choice: CJ McCollum.

“In that situation I was like, it’s my opportunity to make up for the free throws last time, so I’m going to try to break to the ball,” Lillard said. “But I saw how they set up their defense and they was gonna try to deny me, and I went up to [CJ] before the referee handed the ball over and I said, ‘if I can’t get the ball, you have to get the ball' and he did that and he made the free throws. I don’t expect anything different from him.”  

And clearly, McCollum expects a lot of himself to play through a fractured back. And not only play through it, but also still average 39 minutes per game with the injury.

To Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony, McCollum’s ability to continue to fight through the injury, has Melo dubbing McCollum as a true warrior.  

“CJ’s a warrior. We know he’s a little banged up. We know he’s out there also giving everything that he got and he’s in the fight with us. He’s there. We appreciate every little thing that he’s capable of giving us at this moment until he get his situation right. So, we’ve just got to rally with him, help him through it… He’s shown a different type of toughness right now.”

It’s a toughness that only the Blazers knew about for the past four days, but really, it’s a toughness or even more so, a determination and testament to not let his teammates down that McCollum has had his entire career, just ask Lillard.    

Move over, Wilt Chamberlain -- make room for Damian Lillard in 60-point club

Move over, Wilt Chamberlain -- make room for Damian Lillard in 60-point club

Carmelo Anthony stepped up, but what else would you expect from a guy headed for the Hall of Fame? CJ McCollum, in the throes of a brutal shooting night, while dealing with a broken bone in his back, made two clutch free throws at the end.

But it was all Damian Lillard again. And again, And again.

Sixty-one points, he scored. That was 10 more than he got Sunday in a narrow win over Philadelphia.

Over and over, Lillard kept his Trail Blazers in the game against the Dallas Mavericks, hitting shot after shot -- the tremendous pressure of yet another must-win game seemingly not affecting him in the slightest. The result was a 134-131 win over the Mavericks that put the Trail Blazes in the driver’s seat for the West's No. 8 seed and the prime spot in the play-in game(s).

We’ve seen this Damian Lillard before. In big games. But it doesn’t get older, it gets better.

“He’s showing a lot of resolve,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “Nobody wanted to come into this bubble and make the playoffs more than Dame. We’ve got one more game to go, but his leadership, obviously his game speaks for itself, but he’s bringing the team along with him."
Stotts was asked how this one ranked among Lillard's great performances.

“The magnitude of this game, even though it's in an empty gym, in a bubble, the season was on the line and that makes it up there with the Oklahoma City game.”

Lillard marched into the same rarified air as legendary center Wilt Chamberlain as the only two players to have three 60-point games in the same season.

“First of all, I’m happy to be in that type of company -- that’s an honor,” Lillard said. “I’m also happy that two of the three came in a winning effort. Tonight couldn’t have been better timing for that type of effort.

“It’s a pleasure and an honor to be in the company of Wilt.”

Lillard hit 17 of his 32 shots, 9 of 17 from three-point range and all 18 of his free throws.

Portland struggled through another brutal third quarter, but still managed to take a five-point lead into the fourth period. But the final quarter was a serious slog through missed shots and fouls.

Portland didn’t hit a shot from the field until 6:13 remained in the game and committed 13 fouls in the final quarter. For a while, the only way the Trail Blazers got defensive stops was by fouling -- and that didn’t help because the Mavericks were making their free throws.

Anthony tied the game with 2:23 to go with a three-point shot but Dallas pushed ahead on two free throws. Hassan Whiteside made two foul shots to pull Portland into a two-point lead, But Luka Doncic went one-for-two from the line with 40.2 seconds to go and the Blazers still clung to a one-point lead.

Lillard then missed a jumper, the Knicks gave it back on an offensive foul and McCollum went to the line with 3.9 seconds left and calmly drained two free throws for a three-point lead.

Tim Hardaway Jr. missed a tough fallaway from the left corner and Portland had a huge win.

McCollum has been playing with a serious back injury since last Thursday, but came up big when it counted.

That left Lillard, as emotional as you will see him, to take a tour of the media area courtside, his statement roughly translated as, "Put some respect on my name!"

And after that game, how could you not?

Breaking down NBA playoff scenarios for the 8th Seed in the Western Conference

Breaking down NBA playoff scenarios for the 8th Seed in the Western Conference

During the entirety of the NBA's restart in the bubble, we at NBC Sports NW have been running a series called Eye on the Eight: a series that keeps track and breaks down the race for the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Play-in games are a guarantee for the eighth seed in the West since the nine seed will definitely finish within four games of the eighth seed. The eighth and ninth seeds in the West will face off on Saturday at 11:30 a.m. PT. If the eighth seed wins then they will advance to the first round of the playoffs to face the Los Angeles Lakers. If the ninth seed wins on Saturday, then the two teams will have a rematch on Sunday at 1:30 p.m. PT where the winner will advance to the postseason. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]

Here are the standings updated after Portland's victory over Dallas, San Antonio's victory over Houston, Phoenix's victory over Philadelphia, and Memphis' loss to Boston on Tuesday, August 11.

8. Portland Trail Blazers Remaining schedule: Brooklyn (Win Percentage: 0.465)

9. Memphis Grizzlies Remaining Schedule: Milwaukee (Win Percentage: 0.458)

10. Phoenix Suns Remaining schedule: Dallas (Win Percentage: 0.458)

11. San Antonio Spurs Remaining schedule: Utah (Win Percentage: 0.457)

Due to the season's suspension, not all teams played the same number of games so the first tiebreaker is win percentage which favors Portland in each matchup.

Then, it will go to head-to-head record, followed by division record if in the same division, then conference record, then conference record against playoff teams, then record against playoff teams in the East, and then net rating.

Scenarios:

Portland Wins Eighth Seed:

-Portland goes 1-0

-Portland goes 0-1, Memphis goes 0-1, San Antonio goes 0-1, Phoenix goes 0-1

Portland Wins Ninth Seed:

-Portland goes 0-1, Two of Memphis, Phoenix, and San Antonio go 0-1

Portland Falls Below the Ninth Seed:

-Portland goes 0-1, two of Memphis, San Antonio and Phoenix goes 1-0

Portland Plays Memphis as the Eighth Seed:

-Portland goes 1-0, Memphis goes 1-0 

Portland Plays Memphis as the Ninth Seed:

-Portland goes 0-1, Memphis goes 1-0, Suns go 0-1,  Spurs go 0-1 

Portland Plays Phoenix as the Eighth Seed:

-Portland goes 1-0, Memphis goes 0-1, Phoenix goes 1-0

Portland Plays Phoenix as the Ninth Seed:

-Portland goes 0-1, Phoenix goes 1-0, Memphis goes 0-1, San Antonio goes 0-1

Portland Plays San Antonio as the Eighth Seed:

-Portland goes 1-0, San Antonio goes 1-0, Memphis go 0-1, Phoenix goes 0-1

Portland Plays San Antonio as the Ninth Seed:

-Portland goes 0-1, San Antonio goes 1-0, Memphis goes 0-1, Phoenix goes 0-1

Memphis plays Phoenix as the Eighth Seed:

-Memphis goes 1-0, Phoenix goes 1-0, Portland goes 0-1

Memphis plays San Antonio as the Eighth Seed:

-Memphis goes 1-0, San Antonio goes 1-0, Portland goes 0-1, and Phoenix goes 0-1

Phoenix plays San Antonio as the Eighth Seed:

-Phoenix goes 1-0, San Antonio goes 1-0, Portland goes 0-1, Memphis goes 0-1

Play-in games schedule:

Game 1: Saturday, August 15 at 11:30 a.m. PT

Game 2 (if necessary): Sunday, August 16 at 1:30 p.m. PT 

CJ McCollum, playing with fracture in lower back, hits 2 free throws to seal win

CJ McCollum, playing with fracture in lower back, hits 2 free throws to seal win

CJ McCollum had a rough night from the field for the Trail Blazers Tuesday, but he's playing with a serious injury.

Sources told NBC Sports Northwest prior to the game that McCollum has been playing with a L3 vertebral transverse process fracture (non-displaced) since last Thursday. In layman's terms, he has a fracture in his lower back. He has played three games since the injury.

McCollum went 2-14 from the field but hit two clutch free throws to push Portland into a three-point lead with 3.9 seconds to go.

RELATED: Breaking down NBA playoff scenarios for the 8th Seed in the Western Conference

RELATED: Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard ties career-high in points, Blazers move to No. 8 in West

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard ties career-high in points, Blazers move to No. 8 in West

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard ties career-high in points, Blazers move to No. 8 in West

The last eight match-ups between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks have been decided by single digits; and Tuesday was no different.

It was the Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic show early against the Blazers (Porzingis also had his way with Portland in the third quarter) after the duo sat out of the Mavericks win over the Jazz. 

The Mavs stars looked well-rested and started off hot from deep. Porzingis led all scorers with 16 points at the end of the first quarter. But thanks to the Trail Blazers defensive effort in the final couple of possessions of the first quarter, Portland took a 38-31 lead after the first 12 minutes.

The Trail Blazers finished the final 2:09 of the first quarter on a 13-0 run.

Tuesday's battle quickly became a game of runs. The Blazers were once again led by Damian Lillard. Lillard showed off his quick first step against the Mavericks bigs which definitely helped with his success at the rim. At the break, Lillard had 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

After the Blazers started out slow in both the first and second quarter, they came on strong to finish out both quarters to take a 66-58 lead at halftime.

Gary Trent Jr. continued to bring the energy, particularly on the defensive end.

Trent Jr. also slowed down Luka Doncic with his aggressive defense on the All-Star point guard. Trent Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup to start the third quarter in order to keep the second-year player on Doncic.

Lillard is now the first Trail Blazer player to record back-to-back 50+ point games as he once again led Portland in scoring and tied his career-high with 61 points in 41-plus minutes of work. Lillard also recorded eight assists, five rebounds, and one steal.  

Thanks to Lillard’s big-time performance and the Blazers ability to get stops when they needed them most, along with the Grizzlies loss to the Celtics earlier in the day, Portland now moves into sole possession of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference standings with one game to play.

Just a reminder, the first Western Conference play-in game will tip-off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.   

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 134, MAVERICKS 131

Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's seventh seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:

Dwight Jaynes, Insider:  

It was all Damian Lillard with little help. He has carried them two games in a row. They are in the driver’s seat now

 

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

Damian Lillard was dialed in, to say the least. The Blazers also needed him to play 40+ minutes once again. Lillard notched 34 points by the midway point of the third quarter and finished with a career-high 61. Between Lillard’s tough buckets at the rim and his long-distance shots falling at 53.4 percent on the night (including a crazy this crazy 3-pointer), along with Carmelo Anthony going to work on smaller defenders down low, as well as, Gary Trent Jr.’s bulldog mentality, the Trail Blazers were able to get it done against the unicorn and the Mavs.  

Mike Richman, Reporter

 It truly is a pleasure to watch Damian Lillard. If you're asking 'Where would the Blazers be without him?,' the answer is out of the playoff picture.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon:]

Up Next: The Trail Blazers take the court Thursday at 6:00p.m. in Portland’s final seeding game against the Brooklyn Nets. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.

Also, be sure to check back throughout the rest of the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

WATCH Damian Lillard ties career-high 61 points with INSANE three-pointer

WATCH Damian Lillard ties career-high 61 points with INSANE three-pointer

Damian Lillard is that man.

The Blazers franchise player put the team on his back against the Dallas Mavericks in what is essentially a do-or-die game for the Blazers.

Down three late, Dame rose from DEEP and what ensued was insane.


It gave Dame 61 points on the game, his third 60-point outing of the season.

Even the Mavs didn't know what to say.

Social media as a whole couldn't believe what they saw.

Stay tuned for postgame coverage after the Blazers thrilling 134-131 win over Dallas!

 

 

Damian Lillard, Paul George ‘clear the air’ after family makes feud personal

Damian Lillard, Paul George ‘clear the air’ after family makes feud personal

Damian Lillard and Paul George exchanged jabs after the Portland Trail Blazers and Los Angeles Clippers clashed on Saturday but have since put their differences aside. 

According to Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, George reached out to the Trail Blazers star after the beef between the two players took a turn for the worst, involving several family members. 

Sources informed me that George reached out to Lillard to clear the air, explaining that he had no beef and clarified that it was just competitive banter on his part. Sources say Lillard apologized for remarks made by one of his family members, but stated why he said what he said after that loss to the Clippers. Both stars relayed that there were no hard feelings. -- Chris Haynes

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest Richard Jefferson].

 

Things got personal when Lillard’s sister and George’s wife exchanged disses on social media following Dame and PG’s blow up earlier this week. 

The two players began feuding after George and teammate Patrick Beverley taunted Lillard by tapping their wrist and waving goodbye following Dame’s missed back-to-back free throws in crunch time. 

Lillard addressed the drama following the game, saying the reason George and Beverley acted that way was because it was a sign of respect.  

I’m not offended by it. If anything, it should just tell you how much it hurt them to go through what I put them through in those situations previously. -- Damian Lillard

George addressed the public spat in his postgame interview, as well.  

“It’s competition,” George said. “It’s part of the game – it’s as simple as that. It’s a competition and some people can play and talk and some people can’t.”

But not everything was left on the court when the two players departed. Lillard and George went at it again on a Bleacher Report post on Instagram.  

"And you getting sent home this year. Respect,” George said.

Lillard responded with, “Keep switching teams… running from the grind. You boys is chumps.”

It’s good to see that Lillard and George have put their very public beef behind them. We'd hate to see George get publicly humiliated like he did last year when Lillard Time struck in the playoffs. 

Plus, George and the Clippers should be rooting for the Blazers to lock in the No. 8 seed in the playoffs to play the Los Angeles Lakers, right?

Earl Watson slams Damian Lillard critics, thanks pundits for ‘pissing off the wrong one’  

Earl Watson slams Damian Lillard critics, thanks pundits for ‘pissing off the wrong one’  

Earl Watson doesn’t want hear your criticisms of Damian Lillard. 

The former NBA coach and 16-year veteran is silencing Lillard’s critics, namely Skip Bayless, who recently questioned Lillard’s superstar status and ability to be “that guy” in the NBA.  

Watson, who played alongside the Trail Blazers star from 2013-14, delivered a string of Twitter posts Tuesday taking shots at those who critique Lillard because he’s not always living up to people’s analytics. 

Watson’s comments come on the heels of Bayless questioning Lillard’s capabilities following two missed free throw shots and a three pointer in the Trail Blazers loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. 

Bayless divulged details of a private phone conversation between himself and Lillard, in which the five-time NBA All-Star asked the FS1 host why he was challenging what he’s done. 

“What have you done to be that kind of spokesman for the league?” Bayliss said. Lillard’s response was,” since I came into the league I have been one of the clutchest players of the league.”

Bayless began listing off Lillard’s stats over the past few years, and harped on the Trail Blazers star for his inability to show up in the Western Conference Finals against the Warriors. 

Opening up the stats he says,” In the fourth quarter plus overtime, Damian Lillard went 8 of 26 that is 31% from the field and he shot 5 a 17 from the three-point line. That’s 29%. He was a -30.”

“He was not clutch,” Bayless added. 

Skip said he was waiting for Lillard to prove him wrong. If there’s anything we know about an angry Dame, is it never turns out well for his pundits. Watson knows. 

“Thank you for pissing off the wrong one! @DameLillard feeds on the doubters, haters, attention seeking whatever. True Oakland and True Warrior! Portland has a Real One.”   

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon!]