How cohesive do the Trail Blazers feel right now?

How cohesive do the Trail Blazers feel right now?

Let’s do a quick walk through of what has changed from last season to this season for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Portland has added seven new players if you include Jaylen Hoard, who is on a two-way contract.

Of those seven new faces, two players are currently or have been dealing with an injury.

Are these excuses to why the Blazers haven’t looked like a real cohesive team in the preseason?

No.

The Blazers are not making it an excuse.

The players are simply thankful they still have 11 days remaining in the preseason to work out the kinks and become more of unit working as one.

Kent Bazemore has been living in Portland for less than two months, but he already believes that the team understands what needs to get done to be successful this season.

It’ll take some time. But I think as far as everything being in line like our aspirations for the season, you know big picture, I think we’re all on the same page and it just takes time. It’s a new situation for a lot of guys. We’re plugging in some pretty big pieces, a totally different look from last year, so it’s just going to take some time and guys getting used to each other, the timing with everything, and learning the offense.

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers aren't ready for primetime yet, but it's only preseason

Being cohesive is a “work in progress” according to CJ McCollum:

A lot of it we’ve got to tighten up, guys have been banged up. Obviously, Rodney [Hood] didn’t play tonight. [Hassan] Whiteside being out of practice, so we’ve got to get together and get some good practices in these next 11 days, and get ready for the opener.

It’s not as if the new guys are not getting acclimated.

They feel cohesive in practice.

“In training camp practices you’re going to do everything right,” Damian Lillard said after Saturday’s loss. “You’re going to have guys that are going to be in the perfect potions because it’s being taught in practice over and over again – ‘get to the nail, get to the elbow,’ and then when you get to the game in the NBA it’s hard to have that carryover because now there’s a crowd, you’re playing against somebody, else. You know, you want to see what you can get away with and I think we just fell victim to that.”

Carryover, as well as getting everyone healthy and in rhythm, will indubitably be a key in becoming more of a cohesive team.

[RELATED]: What's going on with the Blazers' defense? Is it just preseason basketball?

Lillard believes Saturday’s loss will be a big lesson for this team.

“It’s good that it happened and it doesn’t count against us, so we can see what happens when we don’t come out and do what we’ve been doing the entire time… It’s good to see how it went down tonight and then look at it, and watch film, and take what we need to take from it, and move forward -- just make sure that we don’t let this continue,“ Lillard said.

The Blazers will have a chance to not let this continue next week when they play Utah and Denver back to back. 

Damian Lillard OUT vs Pelicans

Damian Lillard OUT vs Pelicans

The Blazers had an unlikely name pop up on today's injury report: Damian Lillard.

Per Trail Blazers PR, Damian Lillard is dealing with back spasms and is out for tonight's matchup against the Pelicans. 

Lillard played 35 minutes in last night's loss to the Rockets, scoring just 13 points. For the season Lillard is averaging 28.6 points, 7.1 assists, and 4.,9 rebounds -  all career highs. 

With Lillard out, the Blazers will likely lean on second-year guard Anfernee Simons to shoulder the load at point guard. Simons has been a key bench contributor this season, averaging 11.3 points and 1.3 assists per game. 

Tonight's game also marks the potential debut of newly signed forward Carmelo Anthony. Without Lillard on the court, this could be a perfect opportunity for Anthony to debut in a big way. The Blazers will certainly need his scoring touch. 

The Blazers tipoff against the Pelicans at 5:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the NBC Sports My Teams App.

Carmelo Anthony will wear #00... he explains why

Carmelo Anthony will wear #00... he explains why

After days of reporting, after players and coaches directly and indirectly talking about him, after he posted a video on Youtube about his decision, after joining the team in New Orleans Monday night, the Trail Blazers officially, officially, officially announced Carmelo Anthony to the roster Tuesday morning ahead of their game vs. the New Orleans Pelicans. 

The release stated Anthony would wear jersey #00. The #00 was last worn by Enes Kanter last season.

Anthony sported the #15 through his college days at Syracuse and in his early years with the Denver Nuggets. He was forced to switch numbers once he joined the Knicks because the number 15 was retired by the Knicks in honor of Earl Monroe and Dick McGuire. Melo chose to wear the #7 in New York, which he continued to wear with the Rockets and Thunder. 

There was some intrigue as to whether Anthony would try and wear #7 with the Blazers, which hasn't been sported since Brandon Roy last wore it in 2011. 

Tuesday's release cleared that up. 

Anthony took to Instagram to explain the reasoning behind the jersey selection. 


One should be concentrating on clues that the universe is dropping for them to take up a quick reaction.
Divine power is seeking my undivided attention.
I had to achieve the tranquility of spiritual maturity through the guidance of the Universe.
I WILL ALWAYS BE 7️⃣
#007
#GRA7EFUL
#STAYME7O

Melo cites the ∞ symbol as the reasoning behind the decision, a symbol that is "without end," and "can never be given an exact value."

These all sound well and good as reasons, but one has to wonder how much internal influence there was behind his decision when Melo is hashtagging words (#007 #GRA7EFUL #STAYME7O) with his old number in it. 

Carmelo Anthony with team in NOLA, plan is to play him against Pelicans

Carmelo Anthony with team in NOLA, plan is to play him against Pelicans

The Carmelo Anthony experience in Portland is finally here. It was reported last week that the Trail Blazers had agreed to a deal with Anthony, and on Tuesday the team made it official.

According to Shams Charania of The Athletic, Anthony’s deal is a one-year, non-guaranteed, and worth $2.15 million. The deal becomes fully guaranteed if he remains with the team beyond January 7th. 

Anthony, a 10-time NBA All-Star, met the Trail Blazers in New Orleans prior to their game against the Pelicans. Portland has four games remaining on its current six-game road trip, and Anthony can help right away.

On Tuesday, Coach Stotts joined Rip City Mornings with Dan and Nigel to discuss his newest addition.

Stotts said that the team has a meeting at noon and that the plan is to get Anthony on the court against the Pelicans.

Stotts didn’t indicate whether or not Anthony would start, but he did talk about what Anthony brings to the Blazers:

I think everybody’s pretty optimistic. The guy is one of the best scorers in the history of the league. He’s a matchup problem. There will be an adjustment period going forward integrating with our team, but guys don’t forget how to shoot and he still creates problems for the defense.

You can hear Coach Stotts’ interview with Dan and Nigel in the video above.

 

It's official: Trail Blazers sign Carmelo Anthony

It's official: Trail Blazers sign Carmelo Anthony

News broke on Thursday evening that the Trail Blazers were planning to sign Carmel Anthony to a one-year non-guaranteed deal. 

The team has been hurting at the power forward spot, a position Melo can play naturally. With a sub-par start to the season and injuries across the frontcourt, the timing was right. 

The Trail Blazers released the following as part of a statement announcing the deal:

PORTLAND, Ore. (November 19, 2019) – The Portland Trail Blazers have signed veteran forward Carmelo Anthony, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

“Carmelo is an established star in this league that will provide a respected presence in our locker room and a skill set at a position of need on the floor,” said Olshey

Anthony, 35, holds career NBA averages of 24.0 points (44.9% FG, 34.7% 3-PT, 81.1% FT), 6.5 rebounds, 3.0 assists and 1.02 steals in 1,064 games (1,056 starts) over 16 seasons with Denver, New York, Oklahoma City and Houston.

A 10-time NBA All-Star, Anthony (6-8, 240), has been named to an All-NBA team six times and was the 2012-13 NBA scoring champion. As a member of the USA Basketball Men’s National Team, Anthony has won three Olympic gold medals (2008, 2012, 2016) and one bronze medal (2004). Originally selected by the Denver Nuggets with the third overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, Anthony attended Syracuse where he won the 2003 NCAA Championship as a freshman.

Among all-time NBA leaders, Anthony ranks 19th in points (25,551), 21st in field goals (9,137) and 41st in three-pointers (1,362). He is one of 11 players in NBA history with at least 25,000 points, 6,900 rebounds and 3,100 assists.

He will wear No. 00 for the Trail Blazers.

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Pelicans tonight at 5:00pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Pelicans tonight at 5:00pm

NEW ORLEANS – In their second leg of a back-to-back, the Portland Trail Blazers (4-9) visit the New Orleans Pelicans (4-9) on Tuesday night.

Portland will be looking to bounce back after Monday night’s 132-108 loss to the Rockets.

For the Blazers, they know that anything can still happen this season and there’s still plenty of basketball to be played.

You can watch the Blazers-Pelicans game 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:

2:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

4:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

4:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

5:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Pelicans

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 a long season. A lot can happen and you’ve got to move onto the next one. In some ways you’ve got to have a short memory. Winning two nights ago in San Antonio was a big win for us and we knew this would be a tough one coming in, but the thing is, you never know when you’re gonna get on a roll, and all it takes is one or two games to get on that roll.” -- Blazers head coach Terry Stotts after Monday’s loss

There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, Blazers know a lot can happen and happen quickly

There’s still a lot of basketball to be played, Blazers know a lot can happen and happen quickly

HOUSTON – The proof was in the pudding-- there was one team that seemed to be clicking on all cylinders, and there was one team that was is still trying to find its way.

The Rockets took it to the Blazers 132-108 at the Toyota Center on Monday night.

“I think at every point in the season you come across teams, and some teams are playing well, some teams are not playing so well,” Damian Lillard said postgame. “That’s how every season is. I think right now they’re just in a stretch where they’re playing really well, and we’re still finding our way. They played their game, and did a lot of things they wanted to do, and we didn’t take a whole lot away from them. That was the story of the game.”

But what about the story of the Trail Blazers 5-9 start to the season?

It may very well have to do with continuity.

Think about this for a moment – the Blazers have a total of nine new players on their roster, including their two, two-way players. Now, Carmelo Anthony is about to enter the fray.

Portland took pride in its continuity over the last handful of seasons and said many times that team’s familiarity had helped lead them to success. They talked about their maturity as a unit.

It’s ironic the Blazers were playing in Houston on Monday night.

Last season, the Rockets started out the season 1-5.

Houston kept with it, though, because like everyone says: It’s a long season.

The Rockets finished with the fifth best record in the league, 53-29.  They eventually lost to Warriors in the Western Conference semifinals.

Fifty-three wins, after going 4-7 through their first 11 games.

The Blazers currently stand at 5-9 on the season, which is tied for 12th in the Western Conference standings with the San Antonio Spurs.

Nearly every Trail Blazer has referenced how much being on the road will continue to help them become more familiar with each other.

That takes time, and luckily for the Blazers, they still have that time.

Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts offered up this message postgame:

“It’s a long season. A lot can happen, and you’ve got to move onto the next one. In some ways, you’ve got to have a short memory. Winning two nights ago in San Antonio was a big win for us and we knew this would be a tough one coming in. But, the thing is, you never know when you’re gonna get on a roll, and all it takes is one or two games to get on that roll.”

We'll see if the Blazers will begin that roll Tuesday night when Portland is back in action against the 4-9 New Orleans Pelicans. 

Switching it up: The Rockets defense led to the Blazers stagnation

Switching it up: The Rockets defense led to the Blazers stagnation

HOUSTON – The Trail Blazers finished with a season-high 28 assists on Monday night, but yet watching the game you might not believe that.

After the 132-108 loss to the Rockets, the Blazers explained how their offense went "stagnant."

Just as the Rockets do, they switched on nearly all screens against the Trail Blazers. And as many opposing teams often do, Houston tried to take  Damian Lillard out of the game.

Early in Monday night's loss, the switches opened up the lane for Nassir Little and Hassan Whiteside. Yet, the Blazers weren’t able to continue to take advantage of those mis-matches.

“They played their game. They played a good game. I think we could’ve done a better job, but give them credit. They did what they do. They got up a lot of threes and really hurt us on the offensive rebounds… They made us stagnant a little bit offensively because they switch a lot. We’ll be better prepared for it next time.” -- Rodney Hood

On the season, the Trail Blazers are averaging 18.6 assists per game, which ranks dead last in the league. 

Damian Lillard was dropping dimes against the Rockets, however. He finished with 13 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds.

Lillard leads the Blazers in assists with 7.1 per game, which is actually 10th best in the league.

Lillard acknowledged he was able to get those assists by the Rockets switching.

 “Usually when a team is switching, you end up getting bigs matched up on guards, and naturally you’re gonna try to take advantage of the match-up,” Lillard said. “Early, we were throwing it into Whiteside when smaller guys were on him, and then other times when a big was on me, or CJ, or Hoodie, we were attacking the bigs. But, when you’re up against that, there’s ways to take advantage of it with still having movement and moving the ball… Instead of just playing one-on-one. It did get stagnant.”

Lillard had a tough night shooting, going 4-of-15 from the field and just 1-of-6 from deep, so he got involved in other ways.

CJ McCollum, however, remained hot from the field, a carryover from Saturday’s game in San Antonio.

McCollum shot 10-of-19 from the field, while also hitting five of his 12 three-point attempts vs. the Rockets. He led the way with 25 points. 

Despite shooting well, McCollum agreed there wasn’t much movement at times.

“They switched everything and it makes it hard to play offensively and then you get into playing one-on-one.”

The Trail Blazers will now look to bounce back on Tuesday night when they visit the New Orleans Pelicans, who are currently 4-9 on the season.

Trail Blazers lose: James Harden always plays as if he has a cheat code

Trail Blazers lose: James Harden always plays as if he has a cheat code

James Harden went out and did what he does Monday night in Houston. He didn’t even do it as well or as often as he usually does.

The guy averages 39.5 points, 14.6 three-point attempts and 14.8 free-throw attempts per game. And he fell short of all those things.

“If you would have told me that he would shoot 10 threes and 10 free throws, I would probably take that all night,” Trail Blazer Coach Terry Stotts said. “For him, he had a sub-par night.”

But par for Harden is different than other players. He’s a scoring and foul-drawing machine. Along the way he has his tricks – for opponents and referees – and pulled some of them off against the Trail Blazers as his Rockets dumped Portland 132-108.

Everyone knows about his step-back three-point shots. And the way he throws a leg out on that shot as he’s falling backwards, very often drawing fouls on unsuspecting defenders, even though officials know he does that every night. He travels more than most players, too, and gets away with it most of the time.

All in all, he’s probably the hardest-to-watch great player I’ve ever seen. Because it's as if he has a cheat code.

For the record, he finished with 27 points, five rebounds and five assists, hitting five of his 10 threes. For Harden, that’s practically a night off, rather than an off-night.

But his skilled ball handling and clever moves combined with his ability to fool referees make him an almost impossible player to defend.

“He gets calls every night,” CJ McCollum said. “A lot of them are fouls. He knows how to play the game. He’s aggressive, he’s smart. Got to give him credit. Averaging 20 points a game in this league is tough, Averaging 30 is great. Averaging 35 or 40 is next-level great.”

Lillard talked about the hazards of trying to defend Harden when he’s getting the calls he often gets.

“It’s hard to defend,” Lillard said, “When he’s driving to the basket, you don’t want to touch him. When he’s rising up for a three, you don’t want to get too close to him because he’s kicking his legs out and throwing his arms up on his follow-through, through your arms. If you get that type of whistle, it’s tough to defend.”

What made Harden doubly tough on Monday was his passing skills. He drew players to him and often dished off to teammates for easy baskets.

“He did what he normally does,” Rodney Hood said. “And he got his teammates involved. He wasn’t as aggressive as he’s been in the past couple games, but he got everyone else involved and I think that’s what got them going.”

And so it goes. Playing the Rockets, especially in the regular season, is going to be a tough task. In the playoffs, when the officiating is usually better and the pressure is heavier, things have always changed for Houston and Harden.

But this year, time will tell.

Carmelo Anthony calls Portland the "perfect opportunity" to get back on track

Carmelo Anthony calls Portland the "perfect opportunity" to get back on track

HOUSTON – As the Trail Blazers and Rockets game was coming to a close on Monday night, the newest Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony was sharing his side of the story.

Melo posted on his Youtube page a video describing his feelings on how the reported deal went down with Portland, and how he is preparing for this new chapter in his life both physically and mentally.

The last year and a half as just been like an emotional rollercoaster.

The 10-time All-Star described how he got the call from the Trail Blazers last Wednesday and says, “that Thursday was a commitment.”

“Let’s really get serious about this, let’s make something happen that led to the next day which was Friday and they wanted me to come and get right into it.”

But Carmelo explained how he needed a few days to get back into a mental and emotional state:

“I had almost detached myself from the game a little bit,” Anthony said.    

The 35-year-old feels like the stars have aligned now with Portland, saying, “now it seems like a perfect opportunity."

Melo will now meet the Blazers in New Orleans. The Blazers and Pelicans tip-off at 5:00pm PT Tuesday. 

WATCH THE FULL VIDEO HERE: