Carmelo Anthony to Portland? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum make their pitch

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Carmelo Anthony to Portland? Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum make their pitch

BEAVERTON – If Carmelo Anthony never joins the Trail Blazers, it won’t be because of a lack of effort from the Blazers’ two cornerstones – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

Through a series of cryptic and vague comments on Wednesday at Lillard’s youth basketball camp, both Lillard and McCollum said they have been in contact with Anthony in attempts to lure him to Portland via a trade.

“I spoke to him,’’ Lillard said. “Because obviously he makes us a better team. So obviously with that being out there and being a real possibility, I don’t see why I wouldn’t reach out to him and let him know the interest is mutual if he is interested in us.’’

What was Anthony’s response?

“I’m not going to share all that,’’ Lillard said. “We had the conversation about it because it’s something we need to talk about, so he knows it’s not something that just a team (is interested) ... it was myself and CJ would love to have him, so we reached out to him, texted him, that’s it.’’

McCollum, who was making an appearance at Lillard's camp, was more cryptic, saying he has spoke to Anthony “indirectly” through the trainer they both share. He added that he is flying to New York on Thursday to train and will “say hello (to Melo) if he’s there.’’

“If we get him … when we get him … I think we could be top three in the West, easy,’’ McCollum said. “I think he’s interested. Obviously I feel he wants to play with his team – the Banana Boat friends. I know he wants to play with CP (Chris Paul) and LeBron, and those are good options, but I feel we are a good option.’’

Anthony has a no-trade clause, and it is believed he wants to steer his destination toward Houston, where he can team with Paul and James Harden. But to get to Houston, a third-team will likely need to be involved in a trade, which is where Portland has entered the conversation.

The Blazers, however, do not want to help Houston gain another star, and instead are hopeful to convince Anthony that he can win, and perhaps win big now, in Portland alongside Lillard, McCollum and blossoming center Jusuf Nurkic. However, it is unclear whether Anthony would waive his no-trade clause to come to Portland.

That's why Lillard and McCollum reached out - to change his view of Portland by assuring him he would be wanted. 

“He’s Carmelo Anthony,’’ Lillard said. “You add another guy who can score 50. Over the last decade, he’s been one of best players in the league. Playing against him he’s a cerebral player. He’s smart. He played in the triangle. I can only imagine what it would be like to have him isolating on one side, and CJ in the corner, and me in opposite wing and Nurk on the opposite …  I could only imagine how tough it would be to guard us.’’

That Lillard and McCollum reached out privately to Anthony is consistent with their public pursuit of NBA stars this offseason since the Blazers were swept in the first round of the playoffs by Golden State.

On social media, both Lillard and McCollum pushed a pursuit of former Indiana star Paul George, a desire that Blazers president of basketball operations Neil Olshey pursued by making a trade offer centered around the team’s three draft picks on the Monday before the NBA Draft. Indiana turned down the offer and instead traded George to Oklahoma City for Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis.

Later, in July, McCollum shared a promo on social media that showed Anthony wearing a No. 7 Trail Blazers uniform.

“I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?’’ McCollum said when asked about pursuing players via social media. “If you want something you go get it, if it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out. But I think it’s important if you want a free agent, you let them know, you have to express that. Sometimes (a player) is just reading articles and doesn’t know what going on, but if you speak directly you can give them an idea of exactly what you are thinking.’’

For Lillard, this summer has been another step in his becoming more vocal and more active in trying to recruit players to Portland. Last summer, he visited with Dwight Howard and Chandler Parsons during free agency, and this season he has been behind pursuing George and Anthony.

“I want to win a championship. It’s that simple,’’ Lillard said. “After my rookie year I’ve been in the playoffs every year and the playoffs are fun … but at this point we need a breakthrough. I’m tired of watching … each year it bothers me more.’’

Both Lillard and McCollum said they feel Olshey is listening to them, and that he is trying to improve the roster.

“Like I said, I do my job and I’ll allow them to do their job, but there comes a point where we have to improve individually with what we have but also we have to improve as everybody else improves their roster,’’ Lillard said.

CJ McCollum is going to add this non-Browns player's jersey to his collection

CJ McCollum is going to add this non-Browns player's jersey to his collection

Being a sports fan is hard. 

Being a Cleveland Browns fan is even harder. 

This is Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum’s reality.

After years as bottom dwellers of the NFL, the Cleveland Browns were looking poised to have a breakout season. 

And that didn’t happen. 

No amount of Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Jr., Landry Jones and Nick Chubb was going to save the Browns from themselves. 

After finishing 6-10 and losing their final three games of the season, Cleveland fired head coach Freddie Kitchens.

“It’s sad,” McCollum said on his Pull Up Podcast. “There’s a lot of loyal fans out there like myself— we’ve been through a lot. We’ve been through a lot of coaches, we’ve been through a lot of quarterbacks. It’s just frustrating. I always say I’m going to give them another year, I’m going to give them another year. I mean it, but at some point, 

Now, the revolving door has swung to Kevin Stefanski, the Vikings offensive coordinator, to try and get Cleveland over the hump. 

McCollum isn’t going to give up his fandom of the Browns anytime soon. The Canton, Ohio native probably never will, no matter the continued heartache his favorite NFL team may put him through. 

There is, however, a jersey he’s going to add to his collection who is not on the Browns. 

While CJ is picking the Chiefs to win the Super Bowl, he’s not running out to buy a Patrick Mahomes jersey. 

And while his season was electric, McCollum won’t be sporting a Lamar Jackson jersey, either.

Talking with ESPN’s Adam Schefter on the Pull Up Pod, CJ said the jersey he would defect from the Cleveland Browns for is Seahawks QB Russell Wilson 

“I am going to get a Russell Wilson jersey because the Seahawks are so close, the ownership is shared. I’m going to have to do it. It’s just something I’m going to have to do.”

Wilson finished this season with 4,110 passing yards, 41 passing touchdowns and just five interceptions. He added 342 yards and three more scores as a runner. 

His jersey is a top-15 seller. 

Maybe the two players can do a jersey exchange.

You can listen to the full Pull Up Podcast here

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Pacers tonight at 6:00pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Pacers tonight at 6:00pm

The Trail Blazers (19-27) host the Indiana Pacers (30-16) Sunday night in game number three of Portland’s current four-game homestand.

Good news for Trail Blazers fans: CJ McCollum (left ankle sprain) was not listed on the Blazers injury report for Sunday’s game. McCollum has missed the last three games. 

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Pacers in action 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?

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:

3:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

5:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

5:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

6:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Pacers

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: 

“It’s like old times, it was fun. Still got good chemistry. Good to see him getting up and down the court, getting hit, getting fouled, blocking shots, making the right reads, he sets some good screens… It’s good to see him out there, because I feel like I can feel the excitement from him being able to get back out there playing after so long.” -- CJ McCollum on Jusuf Nurkic returning to the practice court  

 

Trail Blazer fans are going to have to wait, but teammates have 'Nurk Fever'

Trail Blazer fans are going to have to wait, but teammates have 'Nurk Fever'

He isn’t even playing in games yet, but Jusuf Nurkic is making his mark on his teammates. He’s practicing.

And even practice is better when Nurk is around.

“It’s like old times, it was fun,” CJ McCollum said after Saturday's workout. “Still got good chemistry. Good to see him getting up and down the court, getting hit, getting fouled, blocking shots, making the right reads, he sets some good screens.

“It’s good to see him out there, because I feel like I can feel the excitement from him being able to get back out there playing after so long.

“I know the process is tedious. I haven’t been through what he's been through but It’s a lonely road. No one knows what it’s like to go through rehabbing by yourself, being by yourself and not traveling. For him to be around, it’s great.”

Obviously, Nurkic will not be playing in games anytime soon. Caution is the byword with his rehab.

“He looks great,” McCollum said. “But it’s moreso 'feel' than anything. I always tell him, take your time. No one knows when you’re ready, but you. It’s your body. No one has to rehab when you get hurt. No one has to live with what you have to live with, So make sure you’re ready mentally and when you are, you will know.

“I think he looks great, but it’s moreso about him feeling like he’s ready.”

More than the personality, the Trail Blazers play a different game when he’s on the court.

“Well, he looked good,” Damian Lillard said. “He’s looked really good, so it’s definitely encouraging. 

“I’m really excited. The playmaking ability, the amount of things we can do with his skillset, to be less predictable and harder to deal with, is definitely exciting to know he’s getting closer.”

“There’s a difference with him because he’s a unique player,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “His passing is the first thing that stands out. We did a lot of three-on-three, emphasizing some passing and dribble hand-offs and things like that, but his style of play, we miss that, because he is a unique player.”

Is he as fun to play with as he is to watch?

“Absolutely,” McCollum said. “He really and truly enjoys the game. He plays with energy. He’s Infectious with his demeanor and with the way he carries himself. He doesn’t have a false bravado about him, but he celebrates. When he blocks a shot he lets you know -- similar to Whiteside. Whiteside plays with that, too.

“It's something that the fans miss. Something they thrive off of and I’m sure they will be excited when that time comes."

But his teammates enjoy him even when he’s not playing.

“His swag is unbelievable,” McCollum said. “Hollywood. I’ve been calling him Hollywood for a long time. He’s got that European swag. The flow is there. The comb-over he had with the Pat Riley look a while ago with the slicked-back hair.

“You have to be confident in yourself in this league. If you don’t believe in yourself, this league will swallow you whole.”

“There’s no question his personality is a part of the team,” Stotts said. “But you can tell his personality on the bench, with his attire. Everybody enjoys him, whether he is playing or not. Everybody enjoys his personality.”

Nurk Fever is back. But it’s still in quarantine.

CJ McCollum eyeing Sunday return, had a moment of reflection this week

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CJ McCollum eyeing Sunday return, had a moment of reflection this week

Update (4:23pm): CJ McCollum is NOT listed on the Trail Blazers injury report heading into Sunday's game vs. Pacers

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As the Trail Blazers worked on their offensive sets and went over what the Pacers run offensively during Saturday’s practice, shooting guard CJ McCollum made his return to the practice court.

McCollum has missed the last three games with a left ankle sprain. He was happy to get back on the court with his teammates Saturday.

“I felt pretty good. It was good to get back out there, get hit by some screens, and move around a little bit. I’m glad we were able to get a practice in and get some stuff done,” McCollum said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts emphasized that they won’t make a decision on McCollum’s availability against the Pacers until game day.

“He looked good. So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. We’re hopeful that he’ll play, but that won’t be decided until tomorrow,” Stotts said. 

McCollum added, “We’ll see how I feel tomorrow -- get in my workout in the morning like I normally do and see how I feel. If I feel how I feel now -- [I'll] probably." 

Friday marked one week since McCollum rolled his left ankle on a lay-up attempt against the Dallas Mavericks early in the second quarter.

The Blazers are currently 19-27 on the season, which puts them in 11th place in the Western Conference standings. Portland is 18-24 with McCollum in the lineup.

At this point in the season, the seven-year shooting guard realizes that his ankle most likely won't be back to 100 percent.

“[It’s] as good as it’s going to be,” McCollum said. “I feel good. I’m moving well. I can cut now. Last game I did some testing and it just wasn’t ready. I wasn’t able to do some of the things I wanted to do, chasing, cutting on it. So, I’ll do some more testing on it tomorrow, but if I feel how I feel now, and I’m pain free on most of my movements like I am now, I like my chances.”

This season, McCollum is averaging 21.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 3.8 assists while shooting 45.3 percent from the field and 37.8 percent from three.

McCollum says he has been going through treatment of “a lot of compression, no ice,” while his rehab has consisted of balance and resistance work, especially early on. McCollum added he has also been doing a lot of stretches and going through mobility work.

Now, as he nears closer to his return, McCollum is testing “tolerance stuff,” which includes lunges, squats, and getting back in the weight room.

“It’s been a little process. I always say rehab is harder than playing in a game because it’s just so time consuming and tedious work, working on stuff that you don’t normally work on, some of those little muscles and stuff around the body. I’m glad the process is almost over.”

But, McCollum hasn’t just been rehabbing over the past week he always has been reflecting.

Something he says he doesn’t do often.  

The 28 year-old posted to his Instagram Friday to share how he is keeping life in perspective.  

McCollum wrote, “I don’t reflect much but perspective is everything. Seven years ago, I was wearing this book bag in a boot. Getting Starbucks for LA, Mo-Gotti and wings for D Wright. I still remember the DNPs, I still remember the stress and doubt from rehab among other things, I still remember the struggle. Thank the lord that struggle is over. Happy Friday. Keep your perspective as you strive to become a better version of you.”

After Saturday's practice, McCollum admitted that it was his older brother Errick who sparked the deep thoughts.

I just kind of live in the moment and set goals and continue to try and achieve them, but sometimes it’s good to reflect.  My brother and I had a good talk. He’s 32 now. He’s birthday was on the 22nd and he’s married. He found out they're having a boy. So, we just had some time to reflect, talk about somethings. When you get hurt, you have time to sit back and really evaluate your situation and your previous circumstances and time. It was just a moment where I was just sitting there, looking out the window, like ‘I live a good life’ and I need to keep that perspective. – Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said after Saturday’s practice

With McCollum reflecting on his life in the NBA, there’s no doubt that Rip City has been reflecting on the severity of McCollum’s ankle and how it could’ve been much worse.

This has been a season of serious injuries for the Blazers. 

And, that in itself can force anyone to sit back and reflect.

With the Blazers hosting the Pacers Sunday night, hopefully it's a night to reflect on McCollum’s return.

The transformation of Damian Lillard to Dame D.O.L.L.A.

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The transformation of Damian Lillard to Dame D.O.L.L.A.

Damian Lillard is having a record setting week as the Trail Blazers floor general. He’s averaging 44 points in his last four games.

But, let’s pause for a moment on his basketball game and appreciate his rap game.

Lillard has released Chapter Six of the Adidas Hoops documentary series on YouTube, which focuses on himself as a rap artist.

The Trail Blazers All-Star starting releasing the seven-part series of The Damian Lillard Story back on December 12th with Chapter One titled, ‘Dame Time’ which is centered around Lillard’s clutch mindset.   

Fast Forward to Chapter Six and fans get an inside look of how a young Lillard was spitting bars back in his high school days of AAU basketball. 

Rapping was a way for Lillard’s AAU team to come together. It was a way to bring teammates closer.

Lillard discussed the difference between his game on the court and his rap game.  

The way I play is more like a silent assassin. Like I come to play, I come to take people out, but I don’t say a whole lot. I don’t talk trash and I’m just trying to like, take the life out of whoever I’m playing against - like at every opportunity I get. -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard  

But, when Lillard becomes Dame D.O.L.L.A. and steps in the recording studio, things change.

“As an artist I’m like, ‘yeah, I am quiet on the court, and I don’t talk trash, and I don’t try to pretend like I’m just the toughest person in the world,’ but then when I’m rapping I’m like – yeah, I’m really from the neighborhood. I really grew up around people that’s really out here living a hard life.”  

Lillard says he allows his music to show that there is more to him than just basketball.    

WATCH the entire episode of Chapter Six here:

Influx of new officials has helped make NBA officiating even more inconsistent

Influx of new officials has helped make NBA officiating even more inconsistent

When Damian Lillard went public with his comments about officiating, and specifically, the remarks from third-year referee Ray Acosta toward him, after Thursday night’s loss to Dallas in Moda Center, it was a bit uncharacteristic.

Lillard usually does most of his complaining about calls on the court to the officials themselves, rather than to the media. Neither course is likely to be effective, however.

But I would say this in his defense, officiating in the NBA this season is at a low point and there are reasons why.

No. 1 is that due to injuries and retirements, the league is lacking experienced referees. There has been a big influx of new officials over the last few seasons. I cannot recall a time when I’ve seen so many names on the list of game officials that I’d never heard before.

I’ve talked to a few former NBA officials and they all tell the same story -- young officials are being put in positions that they aren’t able to handle, because they just don’t have enough experience. Even the crew chiefs are often unprepared for the games they are assigned.

An attempt to reach the NBA Referees Association for comment Friday morning got no immediate response.

This is one of the toughest jobs in sports and learning the craft takes time. It isn’t just knowing what to call, it’s knowing what not to call.

And then there is the whole problem of handling emotional situations on the court with players and coaches.

It’s tougher these days than it used to be, too, because it’s obvious referees’ powers to control the combatants have been taken away. I’m seeing coaches and players get away with behavior on the court that surely would have brought ejection and/or suspension a few years ago. Technical fouls are becoming rare these days.

Coaches routinely wander 5-10 feet onto the court during live-ball situations to complain about calls or non-calls and players seem to whine about every call.

With no penalty in most cases.

I think that comes from the league office, which has gone soft on the players and coaches. But my goodness, the officials of yesteryear could not have functioned in an environment like the one today.

Compound the difficulty of officiating in the NBA with the pressure of calling the game differently from player to player, and you have an impossible job.

Frankly, LeBron James and James Harden and other perceived superstars play under a different set of rules than the average player. Rookies -- unless they are anionted as future saviors of the league, such as Zion Williamson -- get NO calls. But watch, Williamson will soon get away with traveling on offense and assault and battery on defense before the whistle blows, just because of who he is.

He is being perceived as the next Lebron so you aren’t going to see him get tagged with the kind of phantom calls that you might see whistled on the likes of Nassir Little.

The game is called differently in the final quarter than it is earlier (try to get a defensive three-second call in the final minutes of a tight game!) and called differently in the playoffs than in the regular season. Then there is the old cliche of referees not wanting to decide a game in the waning moments by making a call -- when, in fact, they decide games by NOT making calls.

How in the world are inexperienced officials supposed to know how to do their job amid all the inconsistency?

Frankly, they don’t.

Back in starting role, Trevor Ariza is hungry to win

Back in starting role, Trevor Ariza is hungry to win

It’s a new beginning for forward Trevor Ariza and it showed Thursday night.

Ariza got the starting nod in his Trail Blazers debut with Portland hosting the Dallas Mavericks.

In his debut, Ariza got right to work, scoring a season-high 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting.

Following the game, he gave credit to being back in the starting role after coming off the bench in Sacramento.

“That’s what I’ve been used to,” Ariza said. “So, when I’m back in my natural habitat I just try to play the right way and hopefully things work out.”

But, even with his season-high to go along with seven rebounds, two assists, and two steals on the night, Aria was not pleased because his new team didn’t get the win as Dallas rolled to a 133-125 victory.  

“I’m more of a ‘I like to win guy’ rather than how I play. So, it means nothing, because we didn’t win,” Ariza said.

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

Yet, after missing his first three, Ariza hit his next four. The 34-year-old notched 15 points through the first two quarters. 
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. 

Ariza was the Blazers second leading scorer on the night.  

And even if he himself wasn’t going to say he was happy with his debut performance, his teammates and coaches were.

“I thought he was terrific. Obviously in the offense, he can make shots, I thought he gave great effort, he had a tough assignment, but I thought he is a welcomed addition. I think it’s pretty obvious he knows how to play and he’s going to help us,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame.

While Damian Lillard, who once again put the team on his back finishing with 47 points, spoke highly of Ariza fitting in nicely.  

I thought he played really well. He was flying around, he was active, he made shots, he was aggressive on the offensive end as well. For his first game, I thought he had a pretty good performance. – Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard on Trevor Ariza’s debut 

Ariza admitted he had a tough time with the offensive sets, but getting used to the vocabulary of the Blazers plays will take time.

“I felt pretty normal once I got on the court. I was a little confused about what we were doing, but once Coach Stotts talked to me, he told me -- go out and play, my teammates told me -- go out and play, so that’s what I was trying to do,” Ariza said.

“I’m trying to get use to hearing new calls for the same plays everybody else runs. I probably know about five plays right now,” Ariza added.

He may only know a handful of plays at the moment, but Ariza believes in this group despite Portland falling to 19-27 on the season.

“I think this is a talented group that is injured. That’s probably why they brought me in. They have a lot of injuries, but they’re pretty resilient. They’ve been fighting every game, playing hard every night, so hopefully playing hard -- and winning, we’ll figure it out,” Ariza said.

One thing is certain: Ariza and Lillard have mutual respect for one another.

The newest Trail Blazers had nothing but praise for his point guard.

When you’re playing against him it’s like ‘this little dude is hitting everything.’ Playing with him, since it’s my first time getting a chance to be teammates with him on the court it’s like, ‘damn, he’s really hitting everything.’ That’s what he does. When you need a bucket, you’ve got a bunch of them around here.” – Trevor Ariza on Damian Lillard  

Carmelo Anthony, who finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in the losing effort, gave props to his fellow veteran.

“Anytime you get traded to a new team, a new situation, you rely on your skill, your talent, but also, in his case -- his experience, just playing basketball. Playing against Portland for so long, just trying to find his way, his experience got him through. And the way that he played, he played hard and that’s his game, that’s who he is,” Melo said.

Now, hopefully Ariza can turn "liking to win" into actually winning with the Trail Blazers, which is exactly what this team needs.

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.