Instant Analysis: Sacramento Kings take advantage of small Trail Blazer lineups

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Instant Analysis: Sacramento Kings take advantage of small Trail Blazer lineups

SACRAMENTO – A tale of two different games. It's the second time the Trail Blazers have met the Kings in this young 2019-20 season, and both teams entered the game with so many injuries.

With those injuries, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has been shuffling around his rotation to see what might work. He went with an 11-man rotation against the Kings Tuesday night.  

Sacramento turned it up on the offensive end in the second half to now even the season series at 1-1.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Kings 107, Trail Blazers 99 

Here are three quick takeaways from the Trail Blazers’ loss:

1. Early fouls change up big man rotation for Blazers

Trail Blazer fans got their first glimpse at two-way player Moses Brown. Brown saw action in the second quarter due to Hassan Whiteside’s quick three fouls. The rookie looked a bit lost on defense, but worked to hold his ground down low in his limited minutes. Whiteside’s foul trouble also meant extended minutes for Skal Labissiere. The change in rotation for Portland really showed itself in the second and third quarters with sloppy play and lack of scoring.

The Blazers went small in the second half with Anthony Tolliver playing minutes at the five after Whiteside picked up foul number four. The Kings took advantage of the Blazers lack of size. Sacramento outscored Portland 35-21 in the third. Heading into the fourth quarter, the Kings had 34 points in the paint to the Blazers’ 18.

2. Kings turn it around from deep in the second half

The Blazers lucked out early with the Kings not hitting open three-pointers. More often than not, the Blazers were not closing out quick enough or rotating in time to get a hand in their face.  That all changed in the second half. Bogdan Bogdanovic and Buddy Hield helped out the Kings’ three-point shooting percentage in the second half.

3.  Sacramento gained confidence and it showed late

The Trail Blazers have said before that they never feel out of a game no matter how big of hole they’re in late in games. The Blazers were down 10 points with just under four minutes remaining in the game. However, it was apparent that the Kings already felt like they had won the game. Whether it was attacking the rim hard or letting it fly from deep, the Kings felt good about their overall game and that seemed to help them close it out.

Up Next: The Blazers will play in their second night of a back-to-back when Portland hosts the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday. The Blazers and Raptors will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

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

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Nuggets

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Nuggets

A career night from starting center Hassan Whiteside wasn't enough to lift the Blazers to victory in Denver. 

Whiteside scored a career-high 33 points and pulled down 11 rebounds, becoming the first Blazers player since Buck Williams to grab 10 or more rebounds in 10 straight games. 

In his return to where it all started, former Nugget Carmelo Anthony dropped 20 points in the arena he used to call home.

Despite great efforts from the starting unit, the Blazers bench couldn't offer much help. They were outscored 46-9, with all nine points coming from Anfernee Simons. 

To top it all off, the Nuggets torched the Blazers from deep, hitting 18 three-pointers on the night. They really were the difference. 

Final Score in Denver: Nuggets 114 - Blazers 99

QUOTABLES:

Nassir Little on his back spasms:

It’s been tight. Just warming up, I just jumped and it was just off.

Damian Lillard on Nuggets hitting so many 3s:

We just didn’t have enough pressure on the ball. We let them get too comfortable out there. They’re a passing team. If we had had more energy and effort, like I said after the last game, we could have limited what they do. But we were back on our heels

Hassan Whiteside on Blazers rough night:

There’s stretches when we look amazing and then there’s stretches where they go on big runs… They was hitting threes, they was making us pay, and we would over help, and that’s pretty much what happened. 

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Nassir Little suffers back spasms during warm-ups in Denver

Hassan Whiteside's big night leaves Trail Blazers pondering

Hassan Whiteside's big night leaves Trail Blazers pondering

DENVER – Staring off into the distance sat a Trail Blazers big man who looked deep in thought after Thursday’s game.

It was Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, sitting there with his knees wrapped in ice and both feet ankle deep in a bucket of ice – that’s the norm for the Trail Blazers 7-footer.

But something was different. 

After the Nuggets defeated the Blazers by 15 points, Whiteside sat alone looking as if he was searching for answers. Pondering. 

In the first and third quarters in Denver, it was really all about Whiteside’s dominance at both ends of the floor.

Despite the big fella going off for a career-high 33 points, he was trying to figure out why his team didn’t come away with a win.  

There’s stretches when we look amazing and then there’s stretches where they go on big runs… They was hitting threes, they was making us pay, and we would over help, and that’s pretty much what happened. -- Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside postgame

Whiteside’s 13-point first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds helped the Blazers keep pace with the Nuggets early on.  

He also hit his first and only three-attempt this season, punctuated with a dab (or three).

Trail Blazers fans may have been surprised to see him hoist up three, but Whiteside was ready for the moment.  

“I shoot them all the time [in practice]. So, when it is a situation like that I feel comfortable…. I hate when people always saying, "why you working on that? You don’t do it in a game." Well, maybe that’s why you work on it.”

It's obvious that Whiteside has put in the work this season, and he and Damian Lillard have put in the work together on the offensive end.  

Whiteside's performance didn't go unnoticed Thursday. 

Lillard, who shot just 2-for-9 from three, gave his big man props.

He had a great game. They put a lot of attention on the ball and he was coming open all night and he scored early, and all throughout the game he made those short floaters, he made some jumpers, made free throws, I thought he played a good game. -- Trail Blazer point guard Damian Lillard on Whiteside

“He looked good." CJ McCollum added. "He finished around the basket. He rebounded. I thought he took advantage of how they were guarding him in the pick and roll and he capitalized."

Whiteside is putting up career numbers across the board this season from points to rebounds to blocks. He became the first Blazer with 10+ rebounds in 10 straight games since Buck Williams Thursday night.

He believes the success has been there in the first part of the season because of Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and his teammates believing in him.  

“I got a coach playing me,” Whiteside said. “Coach has been playing me and letting me play out there. My teammates trust me and I worked on it all summer."  

Trust can go a long way.

But, now Whiteside and the rest of the Trail Blazers are pondering why they haven’t been able to put together a consistent game on both sides of the floor even if they are trusting each other. 

What beat Blazers?: Defense? Rebounds? Bench? 3-point shooting? Or just effort?

What beat Blazers?: Defense? Rebounds? Bench? 3-point shooting? Or just effort?

If you knew ahead of time that Hassan Whiteside was going to outscore All-NBA center Nikola Jokic 35-20 and Carmelo Anthony would outscore Blazer killer Paul Millsap 20-6, wouldn’t you figure that the Trail Blazers would have a shot at defeating the Denver Nuggets, who were on a three-game losing streak?

Well, no. But I think you would have thought they wouldn’t lose by 15.

But that’s what happened in Denver Thursday night, when Portland was drubbed 114-99.

And like so many NBA games, it all turned on three-point shooting. The Trail Blazers shot a solid 47.7 percent from the field but just 30 percent from three (9-30) while Denver connected on 50 percent of its threes (18-36). In other words, the Blazers were outscored by 27 points from distance

That’s especially lethal when you’re getting pounded 15-7 on the offensive boards.

It was a game the Trail Blazers were in on all the way to the end of the third quarter, when they went into zombie mode. With 2:47 left in the period they trailed just 79-78. But the Nuggets rattled off the final 10 points of the quarter and never looked back.

Part of that can be blamed on the Portland bench, which played a total of 62 minutes and scored just nine points – all of them by one man, Anfernee Simons.

But the starters could be blamed, too. The Trail Blazers got a solid 62 points from their starting frontcourt of Anthony, Whiteside and Kent Bazemore but a combined 28 from their starting guards, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who were averaging 48.8 per game coming into this one.

“I know Whiteside hurt us,” Denver Coach Mike Malone said. “But when you can hold that backcourt, Portland’s starting backcourt, to 28 points (and) only three free-throw attempts… I thought our defense on Dame and CJ was terrific.”

And while holding down Portland’s guards, the Nuggets were piling up the threes at the other end.

“A lot like Game 1 (of the season) they made 18 threes and they made 18 threes tonight,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “To me, that was the difference in the game. Some of it was on us as far as leaving shooters and not contesting as much and some of it was on them for moving the ball and finding the open man.”

Lillard said, “We just didn’t have enough pressure on the ball. We let them get too comfortable out there. They’re a passing team. If we had had more energy and effort, like I said after the last game, we could have limited what they do. But we were back on our heels.”

This Trail Blazer season is going south fast. Energy and effort have been an issue recently and you have to worry about it becoming a chronic problem.

The Halloween candy was still in the wrapper the last time Portland beat a team with a record above .500. The Trail Blazers are now 1-9 vs. teams with a plus-.500 record – and that win was on Oct. 27.

 


Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here:

 

     

 

Nassir Little suffers back spasms during warm-ups in Denver

Nassir Little suffers back spasms during warm-ups in Denver

DENVER – It wasn’t until the third quarter when Trail Blazers PR announced that rookie forward Nassir Little would not play in Thursday’s game versus the Nuggets due to back spasms.

Through the first three quarters, it looked as though Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was electing to give Mario Hezonja the minutes Little had been taking up.

But, after the Blazers’ 114-99 loss to the Nuggets, Little explained how the injury came about and how ultimately he ended up not playing:

It’s been tight. Just warming up, I just jumped and it was just off. -- Trail Blazers forward Nassir Little 

Little has been dealing with a tight back for the past week, but Thursday during warm-ups was the last straw.

“I told the trainers during the game—no way,” Little said of being able to play against Denver.

Little was grimacing as he leaned down to put on his socks and shoes in the locker room postgame.

In 18 games played this season, he is averaging 4.6 points and 3.4 rebounds in 15 minutes per game.

The Trail Blazers forward said his pain level was “at a nine” when his back flared up initially as he went up for a lay-in. “It was immediate.”

Little sounded optimistic though saying he hopes not to miss too much time. The 19-year-old will begin treatment Friday morning and NBCSNW will follow-up with the Trail Blazers rookie throughout the weekend to see what his status will ultimately be for Monday night's game vs. the Phoenix Suns. 

 

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers couldn't overcome Nuggets hot shooting from three

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers couldn't overcome Nuggets hot shooting from three

DENVER  – Nuggets fans showed up in force Thursday night, but it's not certain if it was for their team, or Carmelo Anthony.

Either way, it was as close to sold out as the Pepsi Center gets for a Nuggets game. It even looked like there were more fans in the stands on Thursday than there were during last year’s postseason.

In Anthony’s return to Denver, he looked like vintage Melo, but also showed off his defense coming up with a couple of steals. 

It was a hard fought battle between two teams that are continuing to deepen their division rivalry. 

But, down the stretch, Portland wasn’t able to get stops. The Nuggets took a 2-0 series lead in their 111-99 win over the Trail Blazers. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: Nuggets 111, Trail Blazers 99

Here are three quick takeaways from Thursday’s loss: 

1.  Vintage Melo, Whiteside with multiple dabs

After Thursday’s shootaround, Melo talked about how special it was to be back where it all started for him. He then showed Denver that he could still be special. The 10-time All-Star finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting and 2-of-5 from three. 

But, the first and third quarters were really all about Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside. 

Whiteside’s 13 points in the first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds helped the Blazers keep pace with the Nuggets early on.   

The Blazers 7-footer was also 1-for-1 from three in the first quarter. With the three-pointer also came a celebration from Whiteside with not one, not two, but multiple dabs.  Whiteside’s energy was contagious at both ends especially in the first and third quarters. 

2.  Nuggets go off from three

If it wasn’t for Denver’s hot shooting from three, the Nuggets would’ve had a tough time staying in the game early on. After three quarters, Denver was shooting 14-of-30 from deep and held an 11-point lead heading into the final period. The Nuggets shared the wealth too. Five players scored in double figures. 

3.  Blazers moving more without the ball, but couldn’t get stops in crunch time

Kent Bazemore made it hard on the Nuggets defense, especially in the first half. Whether he was cutting hard to the basket or running the baseline, he was on the move and his teammates were able to find him.  Bazemore made sure to convert too. And he wasn’t the only one making Denver work. The Blazers as a team were moving and cutting all night. Portland’s offense was clicking, but ultimately they weren’t able to get stops at the other end of the court when they needed them. 

Up Next: The Trail Blazers will visit the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

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

Jusuf Nurkic savagely trolls Nuggets announcer with t-shirt

Jusuf Nurkic savagely trolls Nuggets announcer with t-shirt

Trail Blazers fans have gotten to see all that big man Jusuf Nurkic's fashion has to offer this season. 

Since suffering a grueling injury last season, Nurkic has been returned to the Trail Blazers sidelines to support the team. 

With that, he's had the opportunity to express himself through his clothing. 

Thursday night, in the first game that he's traveled since his injury, Nurkic made one thing very clear: He has a long memory. 

Nurk's shirt displayed a leg, pointing to a shin with text saying "Kick him in the shin."

During Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals between the Portland Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets last season, Denver radio analyst Scott Hastings grumbled that someone should "kick him in the shin" when referring to Jusuf Nurkic, who was, as Hastings describes, "playing tough guy" over on the Blazer bench. The comment was met with laughter by his radio partner Jason Kosmicki. 

With Nurkic on the road for the first time since that injury, and the game being in Denver, the timing couldn't be more perfect.

It appears the Bosnian Beast got the last laugh.  

Did Nuggets fans cheer or boo Carmelo Anthony in his return to Denver?

Did Nuggets fans cheer or boo Carmelo Anthony in his return to Denver?

It's the first time since the 10-time All-Star returned to the NBA since his one year hiatus to the city where his NBA career started. 

The question on everyone's mind, though, was how he was going to be received...

We got the answer.

Carmelo Anthony played for Denver for 7 1/2 years before being traded to New York. After going 17-65 the year prior, Melo led the Nuggets to a playoff berth in his rookie season in 2003-04. It was the Nuggets' first appearance in the playoffs since the 1994-95 season. Melo scored a total of 13,970 points while in Denver and represented the Nuggets three times in the All-Star Game.

Melo's time in Denver eventually soured when in the 2010–11 season speculation began that Anthony had requested a trade. It led to some tumultuous times before the trade to the Knicks eventually occurred in February of 2011. 

Nuggets fans were a scorned fanbase for a while. It was understandable.

However, since Melo's return to the NBA, he's received nothing but love. 

Thursday night was no different. 

Prior to the Blazers taking on the Nuggets, Melo told reporters that if there was a window in returning to Denver, he "Probably would’ve done it."

A lot of things came into play when it comes to that, kind of out of my control at that time, the timing was off. Similar to Portland, the timing has always just been off. All of the sudden that window of opportunity was there. -- Carmelo Anthony

Despite the fact that he's still with another team, it appears Nuggets fans have settled their differences with Melo. 

 

Trail Blazers in action vs. Denver Nuggets for live updates

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Trail Blazers in action vs. Denver Nuggets for live updates

The Trail Blazers know the importance of Thursday’s contest in the Mile High City.  

As Carmelo Anthony put it, “it’s definitely an important game, being in the same conference, knowing what we’re trying to accomplish. You know those guys are coming in with a loss tonight, so I’m sure they’ll be ready in front of their home crowd. This will be a good one for us to go get on the road.”

The Trail Blazers (10-15) face the Nuggets (14-8) Thursday as they embark on a two-game road trip. We’ll have you covered! Our Trail Blazers Reporter Jamie Hudson is in Denver. You'll want to make sure you follow along on social.

How to Listen to the Game:

Catch all the action on Rip City Radio 620 with Travis Demers and Michael Holton

Quote of The Week

Damian Lillard says there is no worry about this team splintering or losing its way this season: 

“Not us,” Lillard said emphatically. “Because I think that starts at the top. We don’t have a coaching staff that wavers, where they come in here like, ‘We got to stop doing this!’ They are never negative. Some people have a hard time when you’ve struggling or losing and coming in the next day and still having the same positive attitude, while still addressing what the issues are. And our coaching staff, they do a great job of that.

Quick Links 

What a win vs. Denver can mean for the Trail Blazers' psyche 

Rodney Hood undergoes successful surgery to repair torn Achilles

Jaylen Hoard transferred to Texas Legends

VIDEO: After blowout win: "This is the team we desire to be." 

VIDEO: How Damian Lillard got his groove back 

VIDEO: HIGHLIGHT -- Blowout win over Knicks just what doctor ordered 

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

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: All five guys can't fall asleep against Nikola Jokic

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: All five guys can't fall asleep against Nikola Jokic

DENVER – The Trail Blazers said they are looking to keep the momentum going after Monday’s win over the Knicks.

Now as the Blazers get set to face the Nuggets on national television tonight, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Blazers All-Star point guard discussed how they need to defend Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic.

I think you try to make him a scorer. It’s kind of like – not comparing him to LeBron [James]- but with LeBron you want him to be a scorer you don’t want him to be picking you apart, then scoring, and doing everything that he wants to do. Jokic, he’s a point-center, like he’s facilitating everything and making them go, making all the plays.  -- Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said at Thursday's shootaround

This season, Jokic is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

Coach Stotts added, “You try and pressure [Jokic] as much as you can. Part of it is the other four people have to not fall asleep… Don’t give up backcuts, if you fall asleep he’ll find them. So, it’s kind of a team thing.”

In the first meeting between these two, in which Denver won, Jokic got into early foul trouble. Lillard mentioned at Thursday morning’s shootaround that because the Nuggets 7-footer sat for most of the first half, he was ready to go in the final period. Lillard even smiled saying, “I almost think on opening night when they beat us, it would’ve been better for us to not have him in foul trouble because he basically rested the whole game. He came in the fourth quarter fresh.”

Coach Stotts on the other hand said he “wouldn’t subscribe” to not getting Jokic in foul trouble early.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE: