Carmelo Anthony OUT vs Timberwolves

Carmelo Anthony OUT vs Timberwolves

More bad news on the injury front for the Trail Blazers. Starting power forward Carmelo Anthony will not play tonight against the Timberwolves due to a left knee contusion. 

Anthony suffered the injury in the first half of Friday's win over the Magic. He took a jump shot with 8:12 left in the second quarter and subbed out at the 7:59 mark. He did not return. 

In the locker room postgame, Anthony said the injury happened when he banged knees earlier in the game with a Magic player. 

Said Anthony, "I just felt it start to tighten up. I came back in the second quarter on that three I felt it, then trying to get back on D I felt it. Once I felt like I didn’t have the power, it was stiff, I came back to them and said sub me out, I can’t go."

A contusion, or knee bruise, is not usually a serious injury, with players often missing just a few days while they wait for swelling and soreness to dissipate. 

In fact, it is an injury Anthony has endured and recovered from before.

I’ve had it before, done it before, banged knees with somebody. I didn’t want to take the chance with just going out there, we had it rolling, the guys had it rolling, we set the tone early in the game. -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony postgame

The Blazers next game is on Monday against New Orleans. Anthony has a few days to heal up and can hopefully hit the court against the Pelicans. 

Damian Lillard foreshadowed his 'hot hand' vs. Denver days earlier

Damian Lillard foreshadowed his 'hot hand' vs. Denver days earlier

Damian Lillard has been a man on a mission since the NBA restart for the Trail Blazers.

The Portland Trail Blazers moved to 3-1 after beating the Denver Nuggets 125-115 Thursday night.

Lillard led the team with 45 points, shooting 11-18 from three-point range. He also dished 12 assists to help move the Blazers to 0.5 games behind Memphis for the 8th spot in the Western Conference.

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

Thurday night's performance was Lillard’s 8th 40-point game of the season.

A man on a mission, indeed, coming from someone who has had a “hot hand” for most of the season.

The Trail Blazers point guard spoke with Philadelphia 76ers guard JJ Redick for the debut episode of ‘The Old Man & The Three’ podcast about being in the zone. 

"Being in the zone” is something all can recognize, but not everyone can achieve. Damian Lillard is one of those people who can achieve it and explains what that feeling is like.

I had a stretch this season where like, I was in the zone. I felt like I was scoring 50 points and it wasn’t hard at all… I’ve had games where I might hit five threes and I’m like ‘im not in the zone’, but in those games, I might hit eight and I'm just like every-time I shot it I was like ‘ it’s in’, and then it carried on into the next game. I definitely believe in that. That's a real thing.

That stretch that Lillard is talking about happened in late January where, for six games, he averaged 49 ppg, had three games over 50, a career-high 61 and drained 49 three-pointers.

Over the last four games since the NBA restart, Lillard is averaging 31.2 PPG, 11.2 APG, and 5 RPG and it seems like he has continued his hot hand streak since the start of the bubble.

The Trail Blazers play the Los Angeles Clippers tomorrow morning at 10am, and one can hope Lillard will continue to light up the stat sheet.

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

Blazers shoot down shorthanded Nuggets: 'We did what we needed to do'

Blazers shoot down shorthanded Nuggets: 'We did what we needed to do'

Jusuf Nurkic was dunking everything he possibly could, Gary Trent Jr. continued his torrid Orlando restart campaign and Damian Lillard had a career shooting night even by his own lofty standards.

And yet 45 minutes into the game, the Trail Blazers still hadn’t put away the shorthanded Denver Nuggets. Before tip-off the Nuggets had ruled out Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, Will Barton and Paul Millsap, and in the fourth quarter Denver coach Mike Malone elected to keep All-Star Nikola Jokic on the bench and let the back half of the rotation get a chance at taking down the Blazers.

It nearly worked. Despite the 45 points and career-high tying 11 three-pointers from Damian Lillard, and Jusuf Nurkic throwing down six dunks, including a viral highlight over Bol Bol in the first half, the Blazers couldn’t ever quite pull away enough to get comfortable. 

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

Not until Gary Trent Jr., who finished with another absurd statline of 27 points on 10-of-15 shooting, including seven made three-pointers, drilled a shot from behind the arc with three minutes to go in the game.

We knew that they had a lot of their main guys out. But in the NBA, over my career I’ve learned that those are the most dangerous nights when you come out there thinking it’s going to be an easy game. — Damian Lillard

This didn’t look like an instance of the Blazers not taking an opponent seriously. The Nuggets still had talent on the floor in Jokic, who played three quarters and rookie Michael Porter Jr., who played deep into the fourth. More accurately, this is a reminder of how challenging the Blazers playoff push remains. Even on a night where they faced a team riddled with injuries that benched its best player down the stretch, the Blazers still needed a Herculean night from their star and a whole lot of offensive help from the supporting cast.

Portland looks better in Orlando than at any other point in the season. Probably better than a typical eighth seed, even if that’s the highest spot they can earn through four more seeding games. However, their flaws are obvious. They still aren’t a particularly good defensive group, even if they look sharper at times on that end. 

More importantly for them, they’re 3-1 and things outside of their control have broken their way for most part. Memphis is winless in four games in Orlando and lost starting power forward Jaren Jackson Jr. to a knee injury. Sacramento and New Orleans have sputtered in their restarts as well, leaving the Blazers alone in ninth place just a half game back of Memphis for the eighth seed and a 1.5 games clear of the surging Phoenix Suns.

The highlights were pretty, even if the scoreboard never really matched it. But the Blazers don’t need to earn style points for margin victory, that’s not what they’re after anyway.

“We did what we needed to do. Some people might say, ‘Aww they didn’t play anybody’,” Lillard said, anticipating the criticism from the above paragraphs before they hit the keyboard. “But for us we’re not going to apologize for a win. We’re here to just get it done. Teams have lost those games and I’m just happy we were able to pull ours out.”

Listen to the full Talkin' Blazers Podcast here.

Damian Lillard & the Blazers are proving why they deserved a shot at the playoffs

Damian Lillard & the Blazers are proving why they deserved a shot at the playoffs

It was another close game for the Trail Blazers Thursday night, but this time, Portland faced a short-handed Denver Nuggets team who was without three of their starters in Jamal Murray (left hamstring; tightness), Gary Harris (right hip; muscle strain) and oPaul Millsap (rest).

Troy Daniels (right hip; tightness), Will Barton (right knee; soreness), and Vlatko Cancar (left foot; fracture) didn’t suit up for the Nuggets, either, as Denver continues to deal with the injury bug.

After Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard caught fire in the first quarter, scoring 14 points in his first 12 minutes, it seemed like the Blazers were going to steamroll the young Nuggets.

That wasn’t the case.  

However, Lillard wasn’t ready to say sorry for ‘only’ beating Denver by 10.

Some people might say, ‘oh, they didn’t play anybody,’ but for us, we’re not going to apologize for a win. We’re here to just get it done and teams have lost those games and I’m just happy we was able to pull ours out. -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

There was plenty to like about the Trail Blazers' offense in Thursday's 125-115 win.

Lillard was red-hot from three and from all over the court really, hitting a career-high 11 threes on the night. He finished with 45 points, 12 assists, four rebounds and three steals. 

The Trail Blazers, as a team, knocked down 23 three pointers, a franchise-high, as Gary Trent, Jr. continued his hot shooting, connecting on 7-of-10 from beyond the arc. 

“We’re just trending and going in the direction that we want to be,” Lillard said.

Portland now sits just a half game back of the No. 8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

There’s a real chance that Portland could leapfrog the Grizzlies heading into the play-in games as the eight seed.

The Memphis Grizzlies have four games remaining: Oklahoma City, Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee.

The Trail Blazers still must face the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Brooklyn.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

  

But, as cliché as it may admittedly sound, Portland is taking it one game at a time.

And hey, that’s worked thus far.  

We can’t afford to watch the standings or watch the scoreboards because it’s that close and they’re so many teams that are right in the thick of things that… nobody is even close to a magic number so right now it’s just most important that we concern ourselves with winning games and doing what we have to do.-- Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

“I think we’re playing good basketball,” Coach Stotts added. “I think we’re playing with a determination in a playoff stretch that you have to have during this. So whatever people say about us or ninth seed, eighth seed, we have to win games and we’ve dug ourselves this hole, and we’re playing with the urgency that we need to play with, and I think one of the reasons we’ve won three of these games is because, and we played well against Boston, is that we’ve really approached each game with a playoff mentality, a must-win mentality, and when you play like that there’s a good chance you’re gonna play a lot better.” 

Coach Stotts reiterated that with four more games to go, there’s still so much up in the air with how close teams are in the standings in the bottom half of the West.  

“We’re all playing the same way,” Stotts said of the teams vying for a playoff spot. “There’s only one spot for us and we have to play that way… We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and it’s just about playing the next game.”

“Sorry, pretty cliché,” Stotts added for good measure.  

A statement that was never looked at as cliché was the conversation Lillard had with Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes at the end of May when Lillard said he wouldn't play when the NBA returns unless Portland has a chance to compete for a playoff berth.

Four games in and now everyone sees why.

With the addition of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins and the emergence of Gary Trent Jr., the Blazers are right where Lillard thought they would be if they were given the opportunity.   

Months ago when I said, ‘if we don’t have a chance to compete for a playoff spot, I don’t want to play,’ because I knew that if we did have a chance to play for a playoff spot it would look something like it looks right now because we’re a more healthy team, more rested, and I knew what our team was doing – guys was getting conditioning in and we stayed in contact. As soon as we opened our facility, guys were there every day. I knew that once we got here, we would be one of the teams that could take advantage of it. So far we have.  -- Damian Lillard

The Western Conference race for the eighth seed is heating up. While the Blazers are 3-1 in the restart, Memphis has struggled. So has New Orleans. The Blazers are 0.5 games behind the eight seed.

And Rip City knows, Lillard still has a lot more to say and do. 

Buckle up, Rip City! The chase continues.  

Damian Lillard carries Trail Blazers past Nuggets and closer to No. 8 seed

Damian Lillard carries Trail Blazers past Nuggets and closer to No. 8 seed

Damian Lillard wasn’t quite all the Trail Blazers needed Thursday night to beat the Denver Nuggets 125-115. But the Blazers most certainly needed all of what Damian Lillard gave them.

And that was a lot.

Lillard scored 45 points, had 12 assists, four rebounds and three steals -- and took on his team’s most difficult defensive assignment in the second half.

And the Trail Blazers, who came to the Orlando Bubble to try to claim the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference in order to earn a play-in series against the Memphis Grizzlies, moved within a half-game of the Grizzlies for the eighth position.

This was a big game for the Trail Blazers and Lillard knew that Denver -- even with four starters sitting out this game -- was going to be dangerous and he had to take the game seriously from the start.

Which he did, with 14 points in the first quarter. The Portland guard had made only 10 of his 30 three-point shots in the first three games in Orlando but knocked down 11 of 18 in this game, tying his own franchise record for most made threes in a game.

Lillard wasn’t going to let his teammates look past this game or take a win for granted because the Nuggets were short-handed. 

“We’re here to just get it done,” Lillard said. “Teams have lost those games. Tonight, I just wanted to come out and set the tone.

“They had guys out and you can’t come out and think you’re going to win. You have to come out and be present. I don’t care who is out there, we have to come out and play like everybody’s out there because it means more to us than it means to them. And that was my mentality.”

And after Michael Porter Jr. burned the Trail Blazers early, Lillard volunteered to take on the task of guarding the 6-10 power forward. Sometimes on defense, a big heart is as valuable as a big body.

“We’ve got eight games to try to get into the playoffs,” Lillard said. “It’s not like we’re looking at a full 82 game season. I told (Coach Terry Stotts), 'Let me guard him.' He made a few shots, was comfortable for a little bit and i just wanted to make him a little bit uncomfortable.

“I was physical. I made him work for it and I thought I did a pretty solid job of that.”

Lillard was Deep Dame for most of this game, launching long-range shots quick and accurately

“In the first two games, the ball was coming off my hands really well,” Lillard said. "I just wasn’t making it. It was just timing. We hadn’t played too many games.

“It felt good, I knew eventually it would click -- the ball would just go in and it would feel great.”

And when it clicks for Lillard, there’s a good chance it will click for others. When the Blazer star catches fire, he draws more attention and it opens shots for his teammates.

Down the stretch of the game, everybody was contributing to the offense as the defense focused on Lillard. Gary Trent and Jusuf Nurkic were the beneficiaries and Portland scored 15 of the game’s final 22 points.

But this doesn't get any easier.

After a day of rest Friday, Portland plays the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday and Philadelphia 76ers Sunday in its only back-to-back on the Orlando schedule.

And the Blazers are likely to again need all they can get from Damian Lillard.

Instant Analysis: Blazers set franchise record for 3-pointers made in win

Instant Analysis: Blazers set franchise record for 3-pointers made in win

Before tip-off, it seemed Thursday’s game was a lock for Portland since Denver was not only playing in a second night of a back-to-back, but the Nuggets were also short-handed.

Denver was without Troy Daniels (right hip; tightness), Jamal Murray (left hamstring; tightness), Will Barton (right knee; soreness), Vlatko Cancar (left foot; fracture), Gary Harris (right hip; muscle strain) and Paul Millsap (rest).

The Nuggets beat San Antonio Wednesday afternoon, 132-126 behind Michael Porter Jr.'s 30 points and 15 rebounds.

Porter Jr. picked up where he left off against the Blazers. But despite Portland's slow start, minus Damian Lillard, the Blazers took the 27-26 lead after one quarter.

Lillard took advantage of the Nuggets backcourt out with injuries.

In the Damian Lillard show early, the Blazers five-time All-Star dropped 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep, while Porter Jr. had a quick 10 points in the first 12 minutes of action.  

Portland had all the momentum going into the break. The Blazers had continued contributions from Lillard as Gary Trent Jr. and Jusuf Nurkic also got in on the action with pull-up jumpers, dunks, and more dunks. The Blazers took a 62-49 lead at halftime.

The Nuggets didn't back down though. Portland struggled to get a stop in the second half.

Denver outscored Portland, 38-30 in the third quarter to stick around for the final period.  

Whether Nuggets big man Mason Plumlee was rolling to the hoop and finishing at the rim or having success on the glass, Plumlee along with Porter Jr. were two big reasons why the Blazers weren’t able to rest their starters in the fourth quarter.

The Trail Blazers knocked down 23 three pointers, a franchise-high. Damian Lillard connected on 11 three pointers. Gary Trent, Jr. went 7-10 from beyond the arc.  

FINAL BOX SCORE: Trail Blazers 125, Nuggets 115

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

Dwight Jaynes, Insider: 

It was all Dame all the time. With a little help from Trent.

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

Remember when people were talking about how the Blazers’ were struggling to score in the scrimmages games. Yeah, that was silly if people were concerned about this Blazers squad scoring. They’ve got plenty of options and with Damian Lillard starting off the game with 14 points in the first 12 minutes that set the tone offensively for the entire game.

ALSO: Is there anything that Gary Trent Jr. can’t do?

Between Jusuf Nurkic’s tomahawk dunks (and so many dunks in general) along with Trent Jr.’s pesky defense and threes, and then throw in Lillard’s shooting clinic, you would've thought this would've been a blowout win for Portland; credit the young Nuggets for keeping it close. 

Mike Richman, Reporter 

The Nuggets were already shorthanded coming in, and decided to rest most of their starters down the stretch, yet the Trail Blazers couldn't fully pull away until the final three minutes. It would have been a major missed opportunity. Instead, we'll probably remember this as a night the Blazers made a kajillion three-pointers and Jusuf Nurkic dunked a lot.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

  

Up Next: The Trail Blazers take on the LA Clippers Saturday at 10:00a.m. in Portland’s first leg of a back-to-back this weekend. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.

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

WATCH Jusuf Nurkic posterizes Bol Bol and social media goes nuts!

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Getty Images

WATCH Jusuf Nurkic posterizes Bol Bol and social media goes nuts!

Jusuf Nurkic has said many times that playing against his former team the Denver Nuggets is just like any other game.

Buttttt, this Nurkic throw down says otherwise…

At the 3:02 mark of the second quarter Thursday night, the Bosnian Beast unleashed on former Oregon Duck and Nuggets rookie Bol Bol.

Welcome to the NBA, Bol Bol!!!

Nurk completed the poster and then completed the three-point play to put the Blazers up 11. 

And as one would imagine, he also had social media going crazy! 

















Nurkic has averaged 18.3 points and 10.1 rebounds in seven games against Denver since Portland acquired him from the Nuggets back on Feb. 13, 2017.

At the break, the Blazers are up 62-49. Catch the Blazers and Nuggets’ second half action on NBC Sports Northwest and on the MyTeams App. And find out if Nurk has a couple more jams in store for his former team.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

  

WATCH Damian 'Logo' Lillard catches fire early vs. the Denver Nuggets

WATCH Damian 'Logo' Lillard catches fire early vs. the Denver Nuggets

We hope that the ESPN World Wide of Sports complex has plenty of fire extinguishers handy because Damian Lillard is on fire. 

Okay, not literally, but Lillard caught the hot hand early hitting four of his first five three-pointers in the first quarter alone.

What was looking like potential danger early on in the game for the Portland Trail Blazers with the Denver Nuggets grabbing a 20-12 lead, the Nuggets made one critical mistake: not picking up Lillard as soon as he crosses half court.

WATCH

Here is how the social media world reacted to Logo Lillard's hot shooting: 

Portland (2-1) finished the first quarter with a 27-26 lead over Denver in yet another important game with their eye on the eight seed out West.

Catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest or stream it on the MyTeams App!

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets betting odds revealed

Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets betting odds revealed

As Portland prepares for its fourth game of the NBA restart Thursday evening, the betting odds have been revealed for its game against Denver. 

The Trail Blazers are four (4.0) point favorites against the Denver Nuggets in Caesars Casino & Sportsbook with 53% of bets taking the Blazers to cover, per The Action Network.

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

Additionally, the over/under point total against Denver is 232.5. Portland has averaged 124.6 points per game during the restart and Denver has averaged 119.3 points per game.

It marks the second time that the Blazers are favored in the seeding games and the first time since the opener of the restart against Memphis. Portland has covered in two of their games (Memphis and Houston) and pushed the four-point spread in its loss against Boston. 

Damian Lillard's over/under for points scored is 26.5. He has averaged 22.0 points against Denver this season. Meanwhile, CJ McCollum, who has averaged 15.7 points against the Nuggets this season, has an over/under of 22.5. 

The Nuggets, who are playing on the second of a back-to-back, will likely be without Jamal Murray, Gary Harris, and Will Barton. All three players did not play the day prior against San Antonio. 

ESPN's BPI index has raised its odds of Portland making the postseason from 9% to 25% after the first week of the restart. 

Meanwhile, Portland continues to be +400 in Westgate to be the eighth seed in the Western Conference.

Eye on the 8: For Trail Blazers, almost everything is going perfectly

Eye on the 8: For Trail Blazers, almost everything is going perfectly

Another day in the bubble means another day for Portland to strengthen its playoff position, or lose some ground.

The Trail Blazers will take on the Denver Nuggets at 5:00 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports NW in the team's fourth game of the restart. The Nuggets will be playing on a second of a back-to-back. 

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

Heading into Thursday, the standings are as follows:

Note: Portland holds the tiebreaker against all teams fighting for the eighth seed due to having played more games before the season got suspended, therefore having a higher win percentage.

UPDATE: The standings are updated as of Sacramento's 140-125 victory over New Orleans and Phoenix's 114-99 win over Indiana Thursday.

8. Memphis Grizzlies Remaining Schedule: OKC, Toronto, Boston, Milwaukee 

9. Portland Trail Blazers (1.0 game behind) Remaining schedule: Denver, Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia, Dallas, Brooklyn

10. Phoenix Suns (2.0 games behind)  Remaining schedule: Miami, OKC, Philadelphia, Dallas

11. San Antonio Spurs (2.0 games behind)  Remaining schedule: Utah, New Orleans, Houston, San Antonio

12. Sacramento (2.5 games behind)  Remaining schedule: Brooklyn, Houston, New Orleans, Los Angeles Lakers

13. New Orleans Pelicans (2.5 games behind)  Remaining schedule: Washington, San Antonio, Sacramento, Orlando

On Thursday, August 6, Portland will play the Denver Nuggets, who will be on the second of a back-to-back, at 5:00 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports Northwest.

A Blazers victory will give them a 1.5-game lead over San Antonio for the ninth seed and only a half-game behind Memphis for the eighth seed. 

Games to watch on August 6: 

New Orleans vs Sacramento (10:30 a.m. PT) 

UPDATE: Sacramento won 140-125. 

Who do we want to win? Sacramento. 

Line: NOP -4

While Sacramento is also competing for the eighth seed, they are a full two games behind Portland while New Orleans trails Portland by only a game. The Pelicans also have a much easier schedule than the Kings so any losses they can accumulate will benefit Portland. 

Phoenix vs Indiana (1:00 p.m. PT)

Who do we want to win? Indiana.

UPDATE: Pheonix won 114-99

Line: IND -3

This one is pretty self-explanatory. Phoenix has won its first three games of the restart to be just a game and a half behind Portland while the Pacers don't even play in the West. An Indiana win would help the Blazers gain some separation. 

Best Case Scenario: SAC, IND, POR all win. Portland would then be 0.5 game behind Memphis and 1.5 games ahead of San Antonio and 2.0 ahead of New Orleans.

Worst Case Scenario: NOP, PHX win, and POR losses, then POR and NOP would tied for ninth, 1.5 games behind Memphis for eighth. 

Catch Portland and Denver at 5:00 p.m. PT here on NBC Sports Northwest.

[RELATED]: How to Watch & Stream Blazers vs. Nuggets, coverage begins at 2pm