At halfway point of the season, what have we learned about the Trail Blazers?

At halfway point of the season, what have we learned about the Trail Blazers?

In Game No. 41 Monday night, the halfway point of the regular season, the Portland Trail Blazers showed what the first half of their season was like and what the second half could become.

Their 115-112 win over the lowly Charlotte Hornets did not come easy -- which has been what the first half has been about. Nothing has been easy for the oft-injured Trail Blazers. They shot the ball well Monday, 50 percent overall from the field and 43.2 percent from behind the three-point line, and are now 8-1 when they shoot 50 percent or better from the floor.

So obviously, shooting a higher percentage on a more consistent basis would improve the second-half record.

They also allowed Charlotte to shoot 47.4 percent from three. A constant theme during the first half, with 17 wins in 41 games, has been allowing opponents wide-open threes -- and that continued.

But Portland got a huge contribution from Anthony Tolliver off its bench. Tolliver had 16 points (all in the fourth quarter) and 11 rebounds and did as much to contribute to the win as anyone in uniform. And that's a big difference from the first half of the season, when the Blazers have struggled to find help off the bench during a season when so many starters have been injured or ill.

One other thing from this game so typified the first half was inconsistency -- not just from game to game but almost quarter to quarter.

The Trail Blazers outscored the Hornets 37-20 in the second quarter behind CJ McCollum to take a 16-point halftime lead, only to have Charlotte come out after intermission and bury four straight three-pointers to close the lead to four. It was nip and tuck the rest of the game against a team that had lost 10 of its previous 12 games.

Damian Lillard made a 47-foot three-pointer -- just a step across the halfcourt line -- to end the third quarter and push Portland into a two-point lead going into the fourth. But it was tied before Tolliver knocked down a three with 2:11 to go in the game to give his team a 112-109 lead. But neither team scored until 17.3 seconds remained when Lillard hit a driving layup.

That came after Carmelo Anthony picked off a pass and made a near-miraculous save before the ball went out of bounds.

"It was just a play I knew I had to make,:" he said. "I saw them looking for that pass in the corner, made a great play and got my hand on the ball, but couldn't really control it. My thing was to just try and keep it in bounds -- keep it in. My teammates did a great job of getting control of the ball. It made my hustle play look even better."

Anthony was asked about Tolliver's game.

"He's a pro," Anthony said. "That's what you call a pro. Somebody who never knows when his number is going to be called and always prepares himself for that moment and that game. Takes it one day at a time. When his number is called, he's ready to deliver. To me, that's a pro. This is a league where guys can lose their confidence. His preparation for the game, day in and day out, he's always prepared."

Tolliver brought his entire bag of tricks to this one -- quality defensive plays, tip-backs of offensive rebounds, reverse layups and a couple of three-pointers,

And if the Blazers continue to be short-handed for long into the second half of the season, bench play is going to be critical -- whomever it comes from.

Gary Trent Jr.'s Flu Game leads to a career-high and a trip down memory lane

Gary Trent Jr.'s Flu Game leads to a career-high and a trip down memory lane

OKLAHOMA CITY – The flushed face, glazed over eyes, and low energy feeling being exerted from Gary Trent Jr.’s face was what his teammates witnessed at their team meeting Saturday morning in OKC. 

And then… 

Trent Jr. not only played, he dropped a 30-piece.

“There’s no way I thought he was playing today,” Carmelo Anthony chuckled when thinking about how Trent Jr. was barely moving at the team meeting. 

With injuries and a trade that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento, the Blazers had the required league-minimum of eight players on the active roster.

One of those eight was Trent Jr. who was still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  

Fortunately for the Blazers, he was feeling a lot better by tip-off.

“When you’re sick, the morning is always the worst,” Trent Jr. said postgame. “You’re groggy, you’re tired, you’re sore and obviously playing that night before, but like I said though, the medical staff made sure I was well prepared for the game. So, I’m fortunate they were there for me."

Portland fell to the Thunder 119-106 despite Trent Jr.’s career-high and Damian Lillard’s 34-point performance.  

The short-handed Blazers clearly ran out of gas Saturday night.  

But, even though it didn’t look like Trent Jr. had any gas left in his tank after dealing with the worst of the illness Friday night in Dallas, he wasn't about to take a sick day.

There was no time when I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to be good to go. You know, your job is to play basketball. Some people go to work still sick, you still have to work, you still have to do your job in a sense. I was always going to be available no matter what my state was.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame

And hey, “just be great,” right?

That mantra is found all over Trent Jr.'s social media accounts whether he’s posting a photo to Instagram or tweeting out a highlight video with the ‘love-you gesture’ emoji hands, he says he not only plays by that motto, but also lives by it.

The now 21-year-old says he was trying to come up with a saying since LeBron James coined the ‘strive for greatness’ phrase and once he came up with ‘just be great,’ he “has been running with it ever since.”

“I’ve been saying that for a while now, since like high school,” Trent Jr. said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts reminded the media before the game that it was Trent Jr.’s 21st birthday. After the game, he gave praise to the birthday boy.

“I was very happy Gary Trent had a good game. Obviously, it was one of the best games of his career. Particularly coming off an illness, I thought that was a great game by him."

Anytime a professional athlete has a career night and doesn’t get the win, they’re obviously not satisfied.

“We came here to win,” Trent Jr. said. “I’m not here to get numbers, but it was a great thing for my birthday. But we lost, so we have to go back to the drawing board, and a good thing about the NBA is that we have another game Monday to redeem ourselves.”

A person's 21st birthday is usually one they remember forever. The best year in a long string of birthdays. That may not be the case for Trent. Not only was he sick, but his 21st birthday has some stiff competition.

“My 21st birthday I was sick, so nothing can beat five-year-old, six-year-old at Chucky Cheese,” Trent Jr. said with a smile. “It’s second to that,” he laughed.

Even with slightly glazed over eyes still late Saturday night, the second-year player grinned from ear to ear when talking about his birthday's of the past.

“There was a place that I used to love growing up in Columbus, Ohio called Magic Mountain. It was super fun. It’s an arcade mixed with a thirty-foot jungle gym. You should really check it out.”

While Magic Mountain is going to have to wait until the offseason, right now the Blazers are forced to battle through injuries and then work to integrate their new players on the roster.  

Portland’s All-Star point guard Damian Lillard is going to continue to be proud of what Trent Jr. did on Saturday night, but also what he’s been able to do to improve this season.

“He’s battling the flu. He’s tough for lasting through two nights playing through the sickness, and he had a great game. He was aggressive. He shot the ball well. He played a great game,” Lillard said. “We knew he could fill it up coming in. In training camp, he was scoring and was able to get baskets, I think his understanding of the game has improved from last year to this year as far as recognizing plays calls, remembering coverages, knowing personnel, knowing where to be, knowing how to make plays and be in positions.”

Trent Jr. knew he could not call in sick with his team so undermanned. He has always said he is here to do whatever he needs to do to help his team win and with no CJ McCollum because of a left ankle sprain, Trent Jr. was doing his best to pick up the slack.

January 18th, 2019 will always be known as the Gary Trent Jr. Birthday Flu Game.  

After being traded, Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver are flying back with Blazers to Portland

After being traded, Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver are flying back with Blazers to Portland

Since being traded earlier Saturday, now former Trail Blazers guard Kent Bazemore broke his silence on social media. 


I have A LOT of love for Portland... a place I always saw myself playing. A place I PRAYED about getting too, and it happened... unfortunately the sh***y part about this game is this side of it. Years and years of cultivating a relationship with your peers to all see it wiped away with in a couple hours. Even though my stay here was short lived, I felt like I gained some lifelong friends. My guys held me down regardless of how I played, we were all in this together... I dont even know what else to say but #GetOffThePropertyBruv 🤣🤣 #InsideJokes @trailblazers thank you for the opportunity 

The heartfelt post revealed one thing, however. Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver, who were traded to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, Caleb Swanigan, are headed back with the Trail Blazers to Portland before they move on to their new team. 

The first photo shared in Bazemore's Instagram message shows the Trail Blazers players posing for a group photo. It became clear Bazemore and Tolliver were traveling back to Portland with the team when we noticed the clothing in the photo were the fits each player wore for Saturday's game in OKC. 

It shouldn't be shocking Baze and AT are headed back with the team, but since the deal hasn't yet been finalized, players and Coach Stotts are unable to provide much detail. 

Players have to pass physicals and paperwork has to be completed. It may take until Tuesday before the deal is completed with the league office.

So rest assured, Bazemore and Tolliver weren't left high and dry in Oklahoma City or forced to hitchhike to Sacramento.

 

Social Media reacts to Gary Trent’s flu game

Social Media reacts to Gary Trent’s flu game

Less than 24 hours before Saturday’s game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, Trail Blazers second-year forward Gary Trent, Jr. was getting an IV and being treated for flu-like symptoms in Dallas. 

On Saturday morning, coach Terry Stotts and members of the Portland Trail Blazers said Trent continued to not look good. “He was pale,” Carmelo Anthony said of Trent, Jr. at the team’s morning meeting. “Head on the table.”

“He did not look good.”

Then, the Trail Blazers made a trade, sending Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver out of town. The already depleted Blazers needed Trent, Jr. to suit up just to meet league requirements to field a team vs. the Thunder. 

"[I'll do] whatever I can do to help this team,” Trent, Jr. said pregame. “Whether that’s cheering on the team or playing. I’m all for it."

Instead of just riding the end of the bench, Trent, Jr. balled out. 

He made his first seven shots before a three pointer finally rimmed off. But, he remained hot, connecting on 12 of 18 of his attempts and scoring a career-high 30 points in the effort. 

It was his flu game. And while the Blazers may have lost, many on social media marveled in his effort.

What a way to ring in your 21st birthday, GT!

Just be great!

Instant Analysis: Gary Trent Jr. drops career-high despite flu

Instant Analysis: Gary Trent Jr. drops career-high despite flu

OKLAHOMA CITY – Just four hours before the Trail Blazers and Thunder tipped off from Chesapeake Energy Arena, reports surfaced that Portland had traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento.

With the two forwards no longer with the team, along with the recent injury coming Friday night in Dallas keeping CJ McCollum out of Saturday's game due to a left ankle sprain, the Trail Blazers suited up the league minimum eight players versus the Thunder.

And one of those eight players was Gary Trent Jr. who is still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  
Fortunately for the Blazers, Trent Jr. said before the game he was feeling better and had more energy. 

It showed.

After being down by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, it looked as though the Blazers were going to be able to rally back after outscoring OKC in the second quarter. But, it was apparent the short-handed Blazers ran out of gas by the fourth. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: THUNDER 119, TRAIL BLAZERS 106

Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday's loss:

1.  If you suit up, you had to play for Blazers

Besides Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr. was the only other Blazer in double figures midway through the second quarter. Lillard already notched 24 points at the break. But with McCollum out, Lillard was also trying to get his teammates more involved on the offense. He had four of the Blazers’ six assists in the first half. 

It was a night for the young Blazers to show what they got. 

Fighting through a flu bug, Trent Jr. hit his first seven shots. He didn’t miss a shot until the 2:54 mark of the third quarter. The second-year player showed his composure while getting extended minutes. Trent Jr. was Portland’s second-leading scoring on the night with a career-high 30 points.

2. CP3 leads the charge for OKC

Chris Paul was the Thunder's leading scoring at halftime with 21 points, while also being the hype man for OKC fans in attendance. With the trade deadline approaching, Thunder fans are making sure to show their love for the starting point guard. CP3 finished with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. 

3.  The battle on the boards

Through three quarters, Oklahoma City was outrebounding Portland, 39-32. Hassan Whiteside had nine of those 32 boards; however, Blazer fans have become accustomed to Whiteside reaching double-digit rebounds by the fourth quarter.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Blazers and Warriors tip-off at 7:00pm.

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

Trail Blazers run out of gas in second half -- but really, what did you expect?

Trail Blazers run out of gas in second half -- but really, what did you expect?

The worn-out and banged-up Trail Blazers ran out of gas after about two and a half quarters Saturday night in a 119-106 loss at Oklahoma City.

And what did you expect?

With only eight players in uniform after trading away Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver earlier in the day and CJ McCollum's ankle sprain Friday night, there just wasn't enough firepower in Portland uniforms to stay with the Thunder. Especially on the second of back-to-back road games.

Damian Lillard, after playing 40 minutes Friday night in Dallas, scored 34 points in 35 minutes, in spite of an 0-for-8 third quarter, to keep his team close for nearly three quarters but this one was never in the cards.

Portland's recent struggles from behind the three-point line weren't as bad against OKC as the rest of the month but they needed more threes to stay in the game. After shooting a remarkably consistent 36.5, 36.8 and 36.3 percent from three over the first three months of the season, the Trail Blazers came into this contest shooting just 32.9 in nine January games. They were better Saturday, thanks in large part to Gary Trent's 5-9 from long distance. Portland's opponents in January were shooting 38.7 percent coming into this game, making an average of four more per game than the Trail Blazers.

Chris Paul was vintage Chris Paul. He scored 30 points in 27 minutes, had seven assists and just one turnover while making 11 of his 15 shots.

"I thought Chris Paul was a really good player tonight," Terry Stotts said. "He's been a really good player for his career but he had a really good game tonight, He really managed the game, scored and when he was on the court they were a much better team. Hats off to him. I was really happy Gary Trent had a good game. Best game of his career, I think."

Trent made his first seven shots of the game and scored 30 points on just 18 shots.

Did Stotts think his team ran out of gas?

"That's possible. we were hanging in there close," Stotts said. "They made some runs, I don't know if we ran out of gas or not. Mostly, Chris Paul's impact on the game more than anything else."

Well, coaches don't like to make excuses, but they ran out of gas. And they have just one day to rest before playing host to the Golden State Warriors Monday night in Moda Center.

Gary Trent, Jr. on the uptick after receiving IV treatment

Gary Trent, Jr. on the uptick after receiving IV treatment

Trail Blazers forward Gary Trent, Jr. is celebrating with a different type of cocktail on his birthday... a medicinal one. 

A day removed from leaving the game vs. the Mavericks early to receive IV treatment, Trent, Jr. is feeling a lot better. 

"Way better," Trent, Jr. said Saturday ahead of the Trail Blazers game vs. OKC. "I got some rest. I wasn’t able to sleep the past couple of days, just from congestion, being tired, sore and achy."

Trent, Jr. said he was diagnosed with flu-like symptoms pregame in Dallas, though he wasn't listed on the Blazers original injury report. 

When Trent, Jr. left the game early in the fourth quarter, it caught many by surprise. To see Dallas Fire & Rescue in the locker room postgame was even more of one. 

"After the IV got into my system, I felt stronger, more energetic," the Blazers second-year forward said. 

Trent, Jr. said he's taking an antiviral medicine for treatment of flu, Tylenol and IBProfen.

He was also given a water bottle, along with the rest of the team, filled with electrolytes to drink pregame. 

"There’s still some congestion there," he said. "Still some weakness."

"But, hey, it’s part of your job. It’s what you signed up for. You’ve got to go ahead and do what you do."

But what will Trent, Jr.'s level of participation be? He is on the active roster and checked in midway through the first quarter. Already down a handful of players, the Blazers reportedly made a trade that sent two more players out of town: Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver. 

It left Terry Stotts, Gary Trent, Jr., and the Trail Blazers in a unique position and GT is playing through it.

"[I'll do] whatever I can do to help this team, whether that’s cheering on the team or playing. I’m all for it."

The Trail Blazers are currently in-action vs. the Thunder on NBCSNW.

Trail Blazers acquire Trevor Ariza from Kings -- remember him, Portland?

Trail Blazers acquire Trevor Ariza from Kings -- remember him, Portland?

The Trail Blazers made a move Saturday and it was all about two things -- a) obtaining a taller small forward in Trevor Ariza, who can shoot threes and b) cutting $12.3 million off their payroll.

Portland got Caleb Swanigan, the former Blazer who has been spending time in the G-League, and Wenyen Gabriel, a rookie power forward. The Blazers sent Anthony Tolliver and Kent Bazemore to Sacramento in the trade.

Ariza, a 34-year-old, 15-year veteran, has not seen a lot of action this season for the Kings, who are in the midst of a youth movement. He has played 32 games, averaging six points and shooting 35.2 percent from three-point range, just a tenth of a point above his career average. For Portland, he's a better fit than Bazemore at small forward at 6-8 and the Blazers are going to cut their tax bill approximately in half with the trade.

Ariza has not been a popular player in Portland since his hit on Rudy Fernandez, which got him ejected from a game in Moda Center in 2009.

Not a major deal for sure, but if Ariza can make some three-point field goals and improve the team's defense, it will be an upgrade. And Portland fans have always had short memories, right?

BREAKING: Blazers trade Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento

BREAKING: Blazers trade Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento

Breaking news in Rip City.

According to multiple reports, the Trail Blazers have agreed to trade Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, and Caleb Swanigan. 

According to the reports, the trade saves Portland $12.3 million, cutting the luxury tax bill in half. 

Tolliver signed with the Blazers this past offseason, while Bazemore came over in an offseason trade with the Atlanta Hawks. 

Tolliver played in 33 games for the Blazers, starting nine of them. He averaged 3.9 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 0.9 rebounds per game. 

As for Bazemore, he was meant to be a key bench contributor for the Blazers, but was thrust into the starting role when Rodney Hood went down with an Achilles injury.

Bazemore played in 43 games for the Blazers, starting 21 of them.

He averaged 7.9 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 1.4 assists per game. 

The key return here for the Blazers is Trevor Ariza. The 34-year-old has made his career on the defensive side of the ball, which is where the Blazers need the most help. Ariza has played in 32 games this season, averaging 6.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.1 steals per game. He is set to make $12.2 million this year and is under contract through 2021. 

With all the injuries up front, the Blazers need bigs, and they got two of them in Gabriel and Swanigan. Gabriel is a 6'9", 220lb forward in his first season in the NBA. He has played in just 11 games for the Kings, averaging 1.7. points, 0.9 rebounds, and 0.3 assists.

As for Swanigan, he is someone Blazers fans know well. He was drafted by Portland in 2017 26th overall and played parts of two seasons with the Blazers before being traded to the Kings for Skal Labissiere. In seven games with the Kings this season he averaged 0.7 points, 1.0 rebound, and 0.3 assists. 

The Blazers are already depleted by injuries, and may not get the reinforcements before tipoff tonight in OKC. If Gary Trent (illness) is unable to play tonight, Portland would have just seven players available against the Thunder. 

Be sure to stay tuned to NBC Sports Northwest as we get more information on this breaking news. 

After trade with Kings: Will Blazers have enough players required to suit up vs. Thunder?

After trade with Kings: Will Blazers have enough players required to suit up vs. Thunder?

OKLAHOMA CITY – Just before 1:00pm CT, the Portland Trail Blazers announced their injury report, which included the status of CJ McCollum, who is out dealing with his left ankle sprain.

But, the injury report did not include Gary Trent Jr., even though the back-up shooting guard left Friday night’s game in Dallas in the final period due to an illness. He even received an IV after the game.

It seemed crazy to think that someone that ill could turn 180 degrees and be feeling so much better that he'd able to suit up and play the following day in Oklahoma City.

But, then the reports of a trade involving the Trail Blazers surfaced just before 4:00pm CT.

And then, it made so much more sense why Trent Jr. was not listed on the injury report.

The Blazers are reportedly trading Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan, leaving Portland with just eight players who are still with the team and "healthy" enough to suit up.

Since the trade hasn’t even been made official yet and the players will still have to pass physicals, the newest Trail Blazers will most likely not be with the team until the Blazers get back to Portland, Sunday at the earliest.

Eight players suiting up is the league minimum.

And that's where the Blazers are at, exactly. 

The eight players currently available on the Blazers active roster who are on this trip:

  • Damian Lillard
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Hassan Whiteside
  • Anfernee Simons
  • Nassir Little
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • Mario Hezonja  
  • Jaylen Hoard (two-way player who is currently with the team)

The Trail Blazers have not called up their second two-way player Moses Brown, who is still with the Texas Legends.

Portland has already been short-handed this season, but Saturday night in OKC will be the absolute minimum.  

Wouldn't it be crazy if they were forced to put Jusuf Nurkic in uniform? It almost certainly won't happen. But, that's where things are at.