Damian Lillard expected to miss a minimum of three to four games with groin injury

Damian Lillard expected to miss a minimum of three to four games with groin injury

The All-Star break is coming to a end and the Portland Trail Blazers are back at practice ahead of their game Friday vs. New Orleans. 

The biggest question at practice Thursday would be the health status of point guard Damian Lillard, who suffered a groin strain in the final minutes of the Trail Blazers loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on February 12th. 

The All-Star told reporters that his condition is improving, but that he will miss at least three to four games, but it could extend even longer.

"You start feeling better right away, but I think it's that last 15% that takes so long [to heal]. Right now, it's just continuing rehab."

Head coach Terry Stotts joined Dan & Nigel in the Mornings on Rip City Radio 620, which is simulcast on NBC Sports Northwest where he discussed Lillard's injury.

With groins, you just don't know. It could be a week, it could be a month. Who knows? 

Lillard was able to get an early jump on the rehab process during the All-Star Break. "We were fortunate one of our H & P people were in Chicago to be able to give him treatment."

"You can't just say you're going to play through it because it could be bad," Lillard added. "I've been doing all the training and rehab I can do, and I'm sore as hell. But, I've got to take time off."

The Trail Blazers will face the New Orleans Pelicans (23-32) Friday at Moda Center, followed by games vs. the Pistons (19-38), Celtics (38-16), at Pacers (32-23) and will finish February on the 29th at the Hawks (15-41). 

Anfernee Simons, who is recently coming off a concussion injury, is the likely replacement while Lillard remains out. CJ McCollum said Thursday he anticipated playing more point guard in Lillard's absence. Head coach Terry Stotts said the rotation will be a game-time decision. 

When Carmelo Anthony was awakened to Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality

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When Carmelo Anthony was awakened to Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality

No player in the NBA has incarnated the idea of working harder than everyone else more than NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was famous for his elite work ethic and whispers of workouts early in the morning would travel around the league.

On an Instagram Live on Dwyane Wade's account, the Miami Heat superstar and Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony reminisced on playing in the Summer Olympic Games with Kobe Bryant and witnessing his work ethic first hand. 

We heard stories about [Kobe]. We heard that he got up and we worked out at two in the morning or he did this or that. We didn't believe him until the Olympics and I started seeing this dude doing work... - Wade

Carmelo also had mad respect for the mamba mentality at work. 

He was just different, man. That mentality was totally different... like for us to have a chance to go to the Olympics with him and be there with him, and just like build something different . We will always cherish that. We will always carry on his legacy. - Melo

Earlier in the live, Dywane Wade mentioned that Kobe barely rolled with anyone, and Melo finished up the clip segment referring to that answer. 

He didn't mess with a lot of people at all... That just was his nature. Everything was always a competition and it wasn't disrespect. Well, sometimes it wasn't a competition he just had in his mind set out goals and wasn't nothing or nobody gonna come in between him reaching that goal. - Melo

Kobe Bryant may tragically no longer be with us, but his legacy and his mamba mentality will be carried on forever, including in the current by Melo himself. 

Damian Lillard shares favorite songs, previews new music coming soon on mixtape

Damian Lillard shares favorite songs, previews new music coming soon on mixtape

The anticipation is growing as Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard a.k.a. Dame D.O.L.L.A. has been teasing some new music. 

The wait is almost over.

Dame D.O.L.L.A and Shaquille O'Neal have already finished collaborating on a song that will be featured on Lillard’s upcoming mixtape.  

“I’ve got some new music. I’m gonna put out a mixtape soon. I got some guys featured on it,” Lillard said during a videoconference Tuesday. “I actually did a song with Shaq… To finish it… I’m setting up my studio equipment in my house. Once I do that, I’ll finish recording it and send everything back for the engineer to mix it and do everything that he need to do and I’m put it out. So, it should be coming soon because I’ve got a lot of stuff recorded and everything else that I’m going to put together is already written."

It was just about seven months ago when Lillard and Shaq found themselves in one of the best rap battles of all-time... in sports.

So how did the Shaq song come about?

Well, apparently Lillard knew he wanted to collaborate with Shaq for a while now.

Which, Lillard laughed about saying, “obviously during training camp me and Shaq had a little back-and-forth. And even before that we were supposed to do a song together, but it just kind of was stalling and before you know it, we were sending dis-records back-and-forth at each other.”

“It was like, well, now we are shooting at each other so we can’t do it right now,” Lillard joked. “But, it was never personal or there was never no real beef. So, eventually it was like we was on the phone and I was like- ‘let’s do a song or whatever.’ And he sent it to me. I sent it to him, he sent it back to me the next day, that was that. It’s easy.”

Earlier this week, the Trail Blazers point guard went live on his Instagram feed to share some of his favorite songs as well as songs from his mixtape. .

Lillard has been much more active on social media during the NBA hiatus. He feels that as people are going through uncertain times amid COVID-19, he wants to be there for others.

“I’m just trying to connect with people,” Lillard said. “I think with all of us being forced to quarantine… Just trying to be a part of that unity and togetherness that’s necessary right now because this is one of those times where we are all experiencing this same thing.”

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum deliver encouraging words to Class of 2020

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum deliver encouraging words to Class of 2020

Anyone who has walked across the stage and received their diploma or degree while their family sat in the audience grinning ear-to-ear, knows what a special moment graduation can be. 

But due to the coronavirus situation, many schools have postponed, canceled or given their students a belated chance to celebrate their spring graduations. 

Portland Trail Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum want the Class of 2020 to stay encouraged despite this year's graduation looking very different.

In a video released by their former teammate, Memphis Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver, the dynamic duo sent well-wishes to impending graduates.  

“I just wanted to say congratulations on everything you guys and girls have accomplished,” McCollum said. “Stay encouraged, obviously control what you can control and use this time to reconnect, spend time with family, friends and loved ones.”

“Continue to aspire to be better and grow,” Lillard said. “I just want to encourage you guys and send some love your way.” 

Along with Lillard and McCollum, NBA TV and TNT broadcaster Kristen Ledlow, Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Brooklyn Nets guard Garrett Temple and rapper Dee-1 sent positive messages to the Class of 2020. 

Both Lillard and McCollum recently announced they would be giving back to those impacted by the coronavirus. Lillard donated $100,000 to the Trail Blazers COVID-19 relief fund while McCollum donated $170,000 to the Portland, Oregon and Canton, Ohio communities. 

How to Watch: Trail Blazers OT win over Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals

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How to Watch: Trail Blazers OT win over Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals

No need to dust off that old VHS for this one, we’ve got you covered!

While some still do have the video recordings of the 1992 NBA Finals between the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls, tonight is your chance to watch Game 2 of Rip City's last Finals appearance once again with fellow Blazers fans on NBC Sports Northwest at 6:00pm.

The series was a showdown between NBA legends Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan.

Yes, the Bulls took the series in six, but in Game 2 it seemed unlikely for the Trail Blazers to win in Chicago considering Game 1’s loss for Portland was pretty demoralizing. It became even more improbable after Drexler fouled out in the fourth quarter of Game 2.  It seemed the game would be over.

Yet, the Blazers role players stepped up.

Hello, Kevin Duckworth and Danny Ainge!

This classic game had Drexler and Terry Porter combining for 50, while Ainge went off for 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting off the bench.

In the series, MJ averaged 35.8 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. In a losing effort in Game 2, he finished with 39 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds.

Even Jordan's impressive night wasn’t enough for the Bulls to get past the Blazers on June 5th, 1992. Portland defeated Chicago 115-101 to even the series up at 1-1.

Now relive that memorable basketball battle:  Game 2 is tonight at 6pm on NBC Sports Northwest. 

Starters for Blazers vs. Bulls Game 2:

CHICAGO

Michael Jordan

Scottie Pippen

Horace Grant

John Paxson

Bill Cartwright  

PORTLAND

Terry Porter

Buck Williams

Clyde Drexler

Kevin Duckworth

Jerome Kersey  

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Bulls

WHEN: Thursday, April 2 at 6:00pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here.  

OR stream the game on your phone with the 'MyTeams' App -- available in the App Store for iPhones and on Google play.  

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum donates $170,000 to coronavirus relief

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum donates $170,000 to coronavirus relief

CJ McCollum is giving back to those have been impacted by COVID-19.

Per Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Portland Trail Blazers guard has donated $170,000 to the Portland, Oregon and Canton, Ohio communities for coronavirus relief. 

The generous contribution will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Portland metro area, who will receive a $70,000 donation. The funds will help the club with staff retention, virtual counseling, and other programs for children and families, including meal distribution. 

The Akron-Canton Food Bank will also receive a $100,000 contribution from the Trail Blazers star. This donation will help provide 400,000 meals to families in McCollum’s hometown of Canton, as well as the nearby communities in Stark and Tuscarawas. 

McCollum becomes the second Trail Blazer to publicly give back during this pandemic. Just two days earlier, his teammate Damian Lillard announced via a video press conference that he donated $100,000 to the Blazers COVID-19 relief fund. 

The Trail Blazers established the fund in collaboration with their players to help support local nonprofits serving the community. Portland is already doing its part of the NBA Family’s goal of raising over $50 million. 

CJ McCollum making other players look like fools is all you need

CJ McCollum making other players look like fools is all you need

It's April Fools' Day! 

Maybe you've gotten duped. Maybe you pulled off a prank of your own. Maybe you abstained from participating because of the current global pandemic. 

At NBCSNW, rather than try and fool you, we thought we'd show you a compilation of other guys made to look like fools. 

And no one is better at doing that than CJ McCollum crossing up defenders and putting them on skates. 

We got our first real taste of it when CJ made Dirk Nowitski look like a fool. 

But, to pick a favorite is like picking a favorite child. They're all equally wonderful. 

Enjoy the video above. 

Who you got? Here are the Players Only NBA 2K Tournament odds

Who you got? Here are the Players Only NBA 2K Tournament odds

Get ready to watch some of your favorite NBA stars in action!

With the NBA hiatus going on three weeks now, fans will get a chance to watch virtual basketball with NBA players competing against each other while playing the video game, NBA 2K.

The tournament will feature 16 of the NBA's best 2K players with Kevin Durant, Donovan Mitchell, DeMarcus Cousins, and Andre Drummond some of the featured names.

Trail Blazers starting center Hassan Whiteside will represent Portland in the first-ever 2K Players Only Tournament. 

And you can bet there are already odds out there with the tournament tipping off Friday.

Tuesday evening, SportsBetting.ag set odds for the 16-team tournament.

Devin Booker is the favorite, while Kevin Durant is right behind him, according to SportsBetting.ag. Brooklyn Nets general manager Sean Marks announced Wednesday, that Durant has been cleared of coronavirus after testing positive a couple of weeks ago. 

As for Whiteside, he comes in sixth on the odds-on favorite list, but he is the No. 3 seed in the tournament with a 2K rating of 87.

NBA 2K Players Tournament SportsBetting.Ag Odds

Devin Booker        +350  

Kevin Durant        +400    
Deandre Ayton     +600    
Trae Young            +800    
Donovan Mitchell  +900    

Hassan Whiteside  +1000    
Rui Hachimura        +1200    
Andre Drummond   +1600    
Pat Beverley             +1600    

Demarcus Cousins    +1800    
Zach Lavine                +1800    
Harrison Barnes         +2000    
Michael Porter Jr.        +2000    
Montrezl Harrell         +2000    
Derrick Jones Jr.         +2200    
Domantas Sabonis    +2250    

Not only can bets be placed on players, there will also be a handful of prop bets, including which conference will have more players advance to Round 2 and whether or not any games will go to overtime.
You can check out the updated odds right here.

The tournament will air on ESPN this weekend. 

Damian Lillard worries the season may not restart

Damian Lillard worries the season may not restart

Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is making sure to keep up-to-date with all the reports and rumors on what could potentially happen if and when the league returns. 

He's not going out of his way; however, to stay informed on every little possibility. He has, though, spoken with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver about possible scenarios.  

“I’m not like seeking out information, like calling people and all that stuff, but, I mean, I spoke to Adam. I spoke to at least four or five people from the league that have reached out to me like – ‘what do you think about this?’ Kind of, just having conversations,” Lilllard said.

It was back on Mar. 18 when Adam Silver laid out three possible scenarios in which the NBA returns.

I’d say I’m looking at three different things here:

One is -- Of course, when can we restart and operate as we’ve known -- 19,000 fans in buildings, that’s one set of criteria.

Then option two is – Should we consider starting without fans and what would that mean? Because presumably if you had a group of players and staff around them and you could test them and you could follow some protocol, doctors, health officials may say it’s safe to play…
And then, the third option that we are looking at now, and I would say all suggestions are welcome, is that… Are there conditions in which a group of players could compete and maybe it’s for a giant fundraiser or just for the good of the people?” – NBA Commissioner Adam Silver told ESPN’s Rachel Nichols earlier this month

The Trail Blazers veteran made it clear that he has shared his stance on not wanting the resuming of this season to push back and effect next season’s start date.  

He also feels a lot of players on the same page as him and wouldn’t want next season to start later than usual.

“I just don’t see it. I mean, the season starts when it starts now, then February all-star weekend, getting toward the end of the season in April and then getting into the playoffs. You get that early June Finals and then you get to go off into your summer.”

Lillard smiled as he said, “I don’t hold back saying what I think or how I feel. I’m just like, ‘man, what’s going on? Just tell me… You can just tell me the truth.’ But obviously, they’ve got to follow what they’ve got to follow.”

Even though Lillard is optimistic that the 2019-20 season will resume, he knows it’s out of the league’s hands at a certain point.

“Yeah, I am,” Lillard said when asked if he was worried about the season not resuming. “I think, I’m definitely a little bit worried that, that’s a possibility, but I’m encouraged because I know that the league is doing everything in their power to make sure that it does.”

Wednesday, April 1st will be the three-week mark since the NBA has been suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many out there that believe NBA games will be played once again in June as Silver has even said that mid-June is likely the earliest that play would restart.

Lillard reminds us all though, the league won’t put the players and staff’s health in danger.

I know that if we don’t come back that it’ll be for the right reasons. It will be for the sake of all of our health and that’s what’s first, but I think that at some point we will be back and if not, I think there will be a great reason for that. -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

For now the NBA and Adam Silver will continue to navigate through these uncertain times just like the rest of us.

And we’ll look forward to the NBA holding a players only NBA 2k Tournament this weekend.  

Virtual basketball is better than no basketball, right? 

Jusuf Nurkic knows the Trail Blazers can be a problem... when healthy

Jusuf Nurkic knows the Trail Blazers can be a problem... when healthy

Injuries -- they are part of the game.

In Portland, Trail Blazers fans know that all too well.

The expectations were high for the 2019-20 season in Rip City.

The Trail Blazers were set to lean on their star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum while also bringing in a major shot blocker in Hassan Whiteside to anchor the team down low until Jusuf Nurkic was ready to return.

While, it was also assumed that Anfernee Simons would lead the charge offensively off the bench.

And, both Zach Collins and Rodney Hood were bumped up from role players to starters.

Then with what seemed like in the snap-of-a-finger, both Collins and Hood were out with injuries.

Now we are wondering if the 2019-20 season will be canceled.  

There’s still a chance play could resume this season once the COVID-19 pandemic gets under control around the country.

But, what about next season?

What could the 2020-21 NBA season look like for the Portland Trail Blazers?   

Nurkic knows the answer…  

I do believe one thing: If [we’re] healthy, we can be a problem. – Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic told NBCSNW's Dwight Jaynes

And it’s not just about the talent on the court, because Nurkic is playing alongside Lillard for goodness sake, but it’s also about this team believing it can achieve more than people expect.

“I think last year when was believing we can win [it] all and that’s why the team went so long… [to] the Western Conference Finals,” Nurkic said.

With Portland playing in the WCF for the first time in 19 years during the 2018-19 season, and then going through so much adversity this past season while still have a fighting chance to land the eighth and final spot in the West, this team really can’t be counted out until they are mathematical out. 

Does this team expect to make the playoffs this year if given the opportunity? 

“I think a 100 percent, I don’t see anybody that would disagree with that,” Nurkic on if the Trail Blazers are a playoff team if the season resumes. “We’ve never been healthy… Start of the season, we’ve never been complete and it’s hard to judge, but I think most of the teams if they’re missing like three or four players from the starting lineup they would have a really hard time, but we were still finding away.”

There’s still a question mark on whether or not Whiteside will be back next season, but if he is, he believes he and Nurk could be a real force.  

Of course, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts would have to figure out the balancing act of minutes played between the two.  

But, could the Blazers go with the Twin Towers and play both centers together?

Whiteside thinks so.

I think it’ll be good. Melo posts up 80% of the time, so it’s not going to be a spacing issue or anything. I think we’ll be a force out there. Even when we’re in a game, I think we can play minutes together and then we can rotate in and out.  -- Trail Blazers big man Hassan Whiteside on playing alongside Jusuf Nurkic

This season with the Blazers, Whiteside was averaging 16.3 points, 14.2 rebounds, and 3.1 blocks in 61 games played. He is also shooting an efficient 61.8 percent from the field.

Prior to the injury, Nurk averaged 15.6 points and 10.4 rebounds last season, both of which were career-highs.

Now throw in Collins, who didn’t get a chance to show his progress from year two to year three since he didn’t even play in three complete games before suffering the left shoulder injury, and teams better look out.  

This season the Blazers were hurting on the defensive end to say the least. Having Collins back in the fold with his toughness, sneaky athleticism for a 7-footer and the mentality of never backing down, is just what the doctor ordered for Portland.

Collins has said he will be healthy enough to play if the NBA resumes this summer.

So, before we start looking ahead to next season (but, how can you not?), let’s keep in mind this year isn’t over until NBA Commissioner Adam Silver says it is, or there is a Champion crowned.

For now, we should all have similar mindsets to the Bosnian Beast:

“I just don’t want to think about next season yet,” Nurk said with a smile.

Yes, this season could still very well play out and it would be played out with a healthy Nurk and Collins.

That’s another positive to keep in mind.