Instant Analysis: Young Guns get run in 2nd preseason game

Instant Analysis: Young Guns get run in 2nd preseason game

The Trail Blazers preseason continued tonight in a game vs. Maccabi Haifa. With Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Hassan Whiteside all sitting out due to 'load management' the young Trail Blazers got some extra minutes tonight. Nassir Little left the game in the first half with a leg injury and did not return. 

Here are three quick takeaways from the win from our NBC Sports team at the game:

Mike Richman, Reporter

This wasn't exactly a ringing endorsement for the Blazers championship caliber depth as the back half of the rotation struggled to completely pull away from Haifa all night. That said, Anfernee Simons showed some flashes of a special shooting touch and Zach Collins was the best big man on the floor. Not great, but not really meaningful. On to Saturday against Phoenix when the whole roster should be available.

Chris Burkhardt, Producer

Portland did exactly what they should have. Simons had a great game and showed he can be a spark plug off the bench. He can go from cold to red hot in seconds. He had a few 6-0 runs all by himself. That's the good side. On the bad side, we need to see more from Anthony Tolliver. Against a team like Maccabi Haifa, I expected him to get hot and find his groove. That wasn't the case. Instead, he was held scoreless through three quarters. The Blazers need him to find his shot... But, it's just preseason. Keep shaking that rust off and call me back when the games count.

Dwight Jaynes, Insider

Maccabi Haifa needs to quit scheduling NBA teams. It is now 0-20 against them with an average margin of defeat of about 30 points per game. Plus this nugget of fun:

You can listen to the latest Bridge podcast with Trail Blazer announcer, Kevin Calabro right here:

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Phoenix Suns for a 5pm tip-off on Saturday. The preseason game will air on NBC Sports Northwest and stream on the MyTeams app!

Check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

The Blazers and Lakers look to put on a show

The Blazers and Lakers look to put on a show

The Portland Trail Blazers will square off for the first time since Anthony Davis joined the Los Angeles Lakers.

Friday night's game will have a playoff-type atmosphere as the Lakers come into Portland as a 4.5 point FAVORITE over the home team. The over/under is 224, which, based on past games, is poised to surpass that mark. 

In recent memory, we've seen buzzer beaters from Damian Lillard and Maurice Harkless, blow for blow monster dunks from Dame and LeBron and tons and tons of offense!

Los Angeles is one of the hottest teams in the NBA. Can the Blazers cool them down?

Tune in to NBCSNW tonight, tip-off is at 7:30pm.

Neil Olshey: Amending Melo's contract early was a 'no brainer'

Neil Olshey: Amending Melo's contract early was a 'no brainer'

A full month early, the Trail Blazers stepped up Thursday and guaranteed Carmelo Anthony’s contract for the rest of this season. Under the terms of the deal he had signed with Portland, the team had until Jan. 7 to make that decision.

But making the call early was the right move. Melo has been all the Trail Blazers could have asked for – and more.

“Between Melo’s production on the court and his presence in the locker room, amending the contract in advance of the Jan. 7th guarantee date was a no-brainer,” said Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations. “This is the kind of gesture we want players to become accustomed to when they buy into and contribute to our culture.”

In eight games for Portland, he has averaged 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists while shooting 44.8 percent from the field and 38.7 percent from three-point range.

In his last five, though, it’s been even better than that as he’s become more acclimated to his new teammates and their system.

In that span, Anthony has shot .514 overall from the field and .467 from three-point range. And he’s scored at a 19.2 points-per-game rate with an average 11.4 plus-minus. He’s also shot .938 from the foul line and grabbed 6.8 rebounds per contest.

Guaranteeing the contract early shows good faith in his continued solid play and takes pressure off both sides. And, as Olshey pointed out, it continues Portland's commitment to making this known as a player-friendly franchise.

It also takes away any doubt about the team’s makeup and commitment to the rest of the season.

There is some chance that power forward Zach Collins could return to action prior to the end of the season from his shoulder surgery but keeping Anthony also takes away any pressure to rush Collins back. In fact, if Collins does return, it would now be more possible to ease him back on a minutes restriction while he plays off the bench behind Anthony.

It has been reported that Anthony's contract is for the veteran’s minimum of $2.16 million.

Don't underestimate how badly Damian Lillard wants to win a championship in Portland

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Don't underestimate how badly Damian Lillard wants to win a championship in Portland

Portland Trail Blazers All-Star guard Damian Lillard has been featured in the latest ESPN Cover Story.

“As Real As It Gets” by ESPN’s Marc Spears helps NBA fans get an in-depth on Lillard as an NBA star, but also let’s fans get a peek into Lillard’s current home life, how he operates, and how he grew up.

Lillard discussed in the feature story that being a Portland Trail Blazer has meant that he can be “the best version” of himself.

Spears writes:

Making it back to the conference finals is a long shot, and a championship might be little more than a pipe dream for this season. But don't expect Lillard to shrink from it, or to look for the door.

"They allow me to be like the best version of myself as a player," he says of the Blazers. "They support me in the stuff that I do off the court. So why am I looking for a different situation?" Lillard is already second on Portland's career scoring list, behind only Clyde Drexler. If he stays healthy, he will move into the top five in franchise games played. Drexler and Bill Walton are considered the greatest Blazers of all time, in large part because they led Portland to the NBA Finals. Lillard is in their company. He could retire from basketball today and warrant having his "0" jersey hang in the rafters at Moda Center. But there is work left to do, right where he is.

--- 

For years, Lillard has said he has daydreamed about a parade down Broadway Street

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts is also featured in the in-depth article. Coach Stotts spits the truth: Just because Lillard doesn’t join “Super Teams” doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to hoist up the Larry O'Brien Trophy someday.

Lillard just wants to do that in Rip City.

More from “As Real As It Gets” --

And while Lillard is committed to the Blazers, head coach Terry Stotts says that hasn’t made him complacent in his desire to win a championship:

"Don't underestimate how badly he wants to win a championship," Blazers coach Terry Stotts says. "He doesn't change teams to supposedly do that. He thinks we can do it in Portland."

Lillard and Damian Jr. have settled in West Linn, an affluent neighborhood in Portland these days. They roller-skate and rent out nearby movie theaters for family and friends. Lillard distributes sneakers to the needy and has established a RESPECT Program aimed at helping area high school kids graduate. He sees home here, even as he's still rooted to Brookfield. You can hear it when he talks about Damian Jr. "My son is from West Linn," he says. "His pride is going to be in his name and what he represents. So he's going to have that type of pride in that way."

---

Trail Blazers fans appreciate how much Lillard has invested in the Blazers and the Portland community. And it’s obvious to see Lillard appreciates the community here and is proud to say his son is from West Linn, OR. 

It's hard to believe now that it was just last year that LeBron James was reportedly recruiting Lillard to join him on a Super Team. 

And now Lillard will square off against LeBron and Co. Friday night at 7:30pm on NBCSNW.

 

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Lakers tonight at 7:30pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Lakers tonight at 7:30pm

The Trail Blazers (9-13) host LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers (19-3) on Friday night on NBC Sports Northwest.  

Friday marks the first of three meetings this season between Portland and LA.

On Thursday afternoon, a report came out that the Blazers have made the decision to fully guarantee Carmelo Anthony's contract for the remainder of the season. 

Melo has played in eight games for the Blazers, averaging 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game.  

Portland has listed Gary Trent Jr. (right hamstring strain) as questionable for Friday’s contest.

As for the Lakers, Kyle Kuzma (left ankle; mild sprain) and Anthony Davis (right shoulder; soreness) are probable.

You can watch the Blazers-Lakers 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? Tonight's Warriors game is the first game of the "Blazers Pass Season!" 

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

6:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

7:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Lakers

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

“I’m never really in any pain unless I’m doing rehab. Even then, if it’s painful we’re not pushing it too hard yet. I’m not really in any pain anymore.” – Zach Collins on his left shoulder rehab 

Report: Blazers fully guarantee Carmelo Anthony's contract

Report: Blazers fully guarantee Carmelo Anthony's contract

The best story in basketball isn't ending anytime soon. According to Adrian Wojnarowski, the Blazers have made the decision to fully guarantee Carmelo Anthony's contract for the remainder of the season. 

The Blazers originally signed Anthony to a non-guaranteed deal back on November 19th. The non-guaranteed status of the deal meant the team could cut him before January 7th without having to pay him for the remainder of the season. But the Blazers decided to skip the suspense and amend the contract, locking Anthony in. 

Anthony has played eight games for the Blazers, averaging 16.9 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 1.8 assists per game. 

The Blazers were struggling prior to Anthony's arrival, but have gone 4-4 in the eight games he has played, including 4-1 in their last five games. 

The Blazers currently sit at 9-13, just one game back of eighth place in the Western Conference. 

Fans on social media were thrilled with the news:

Zach Collins happy to not be wearing a sling anymore, his 'timeline is progressing'

Zach Collins happy to not be wearing a sling anymore, his 'timeline is progressing'

Thursday marks exactly one month since Trail Blazers center Zach Collins underwent successful surgery to repair his left labrum.

On Wednesday night, as Collins made his way through the bowels of Moda Center before the Blazers and Kings tipped off, there was something different about him.

For the first time in public, Collins was not wearing a sling around his left shoulder.

After the game, the 7-footer gave an update on how his shoulder is feeling and how his rehabilitation is coming along.

It’s a lot more convenient, and way more comfortable not walking around with a sling all the time. I’m very happy.

--Trail Blazers big man Zach Collins

“The timeline is moving along and it’s progressing,” Collins added.

The shoulder injury occurred when Collins dislocated his left shoulder late in the third quarter during Portland's game at Dallas back on October 27th.

Through the first three games of the season, Collins averaged 9.0 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists as the Blazers starting power forward.

Collins says he has been able to get a lot better sleep now that the pain has subsided.  

“Two or three days out of surgery, sleeping was hard, that’s just because it was so painful. Honestly, the sling didn’t bother me that much sleeping with it after that when the pain stopped."

Collins described how the front of his shoulder had been in the most pain immediately following surgery. But now, it's rare for him to feel any physical discomfort.

I’m never really in any pain unless I’m doing rehab. Even then, if it’s painful we’re not pushing it too hard yet. I’m not really in any pain anymore.

Collins also explained what he's been doing during his physical therapy:

“Range of motion, a little bit of resistance work… Like if they’re pushing on my arm this way, I’ve got to push the other way. Little things like that, and then just working on my legs and my right arm.”

The current timetable is that Collins will be re-evaluated in March. 

But with one month down, and three to go, Collins is going to continue to focus on rehab.  He's also going to continue to improve his wardrobe.  The big man admitted he had to purchase more suits in order to follow the NBA's formal dress code when sitting on the Blazers' bench during home games. 

Terry Stotts to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame this March

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Terry Stotts to be inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame this March

This week, the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame announced its 2020 men’s induction class, which includes Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. 

The class will be honored on March 25th. 

Stotts was an All-Star and all-State selection as a senior at Bloomington North High School in Bloomington, Indiana in 1976.  He averaged 24.4 points and 13.6 rebounds per game leading the Cougars to their first Regional Championship in school history. 

Stotts was also the first Bloomington North player to be named an Indiana All-Star. 

“It’s quite an honor,” Stotts said before the Blazers and Kings game on Wednesday night. 

This is the 59th men’s induction class.

Check out the entire list of inductees here

Crunch time defense could save the Blazers

Crunch time defense could save the Blazers

The whiteboard at the far end of the home locker room bares the truth at the end of each Trail Blazers game. In the home locker room at the Moda Center, scrawled across the dry erase board is  the team’s defensive rating and the number of stops they came away with in each quarter and each half.

Usually a member of the PR staff will slide the cover over the board, hiding the gory details as the press wades into the locker room. The Blazers aren’t a good defensive team, and the numbers on the white board often spell that out in neatly separated, excruciating detail.

But on Wednesday night, the black dry erase marker offered some good news before it was obscured from view. It just took a little while to find the friendly numbers because for most of the night against the Sacramento Kings, the Blazers defense was a sieve, ceding points at every turn. 

When the Blazers got into the locker room at halftime the number on the board was 128. The home team had given up 66 points in the first half and allowed the Kings to shoot 50 percent. The board showed the truth: 128 points per 100 possessions, marked down on the whiteboard. If the numbers up on the board didn’t get the point across, the words from the coaching staff helped drive it home.

“Coaches came in here at halftime and kinda lit us up about our defense in the first half,” said Blazers wing Kent Bazemore.

The halftime message didn’t exactly stick immediately, and the postgame white board would bare the ugly truth of the third quarter, a 124 defensive rating and 31 more points from the Kings. The Blazers were scoring with ease, but the Kings were hanging around because Portland couldn’t string together stops. 

In a game like tonight where we didn’t defend great for the first three quarters or so, it was a constant topic in our huddles. Like, ‘We’ve got to get stops. The offense is doing well, but we’re not getting enough stops.” When the game was on the line, I thought we stepped up and did what we had to do. -- Damian Lillard

The Blazers pulled away in the fourth quarter on the strength of a couple big baskets from Lillard and a defense that finally started to get stops consistently. Of course the white board had the goods, the final numbers offering some good news: an 84 defensive rating in the fourth quarter and 15 stops.

We just had to find a way to win, and with the way everything has been going it’s good to kinda buck up and get a good win tonight. -- Kent Bazemore

This was not a defensive masterpiece by any means, but it’s the direction the Blazers (9-13) have to start moving if they’re going to climb in the standings. Portland is 21st in the league in defensive rating on the season, allowing 111 points per 100 possessions. But the Blazers have been even worse in the final frame, ranking 28th in the league with a 116.2 defensive rating in the fourth quarter. 

It’s unrealistic to think this team is going to grow into a defensive juggernaut. It’s probably not even fair to think they can jump into the top ten in the league. But creeping towards a league average defense is within the realm of possibility, and that journey starts with being serviceable at crunch time. The Blazers have the parts to be a very good offensive group, their defense particularly at crunch time will likely dictate their ultimate ceiling. The win over the Kings was something of a blueprint, showing that there are games when this team can buckle down and get stops when they truly need them.

The path to respectability will continue Friday against the league leading Los Angeles Lakers visiting the Moda Center. And regardless of the outcome the whiteboard in the back of the locker room will display the truth.

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win against the Kings

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win against the Kings

CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside set a few career records against the Kings, but not in the categories you would expect. 

McCollum was the defensive force in the paint, tallying a career-best four blocks, while Whitside had a career-high seven assists to help keep the offense running. 

Four of the Blazers starters scored 20 or more points, led by 33 points from CJ McCollum. For McCollum, it was the 10th straight game scoring 20 or more points, another career-best.

Damian Lillard had a 24 point, 10 assist double-double, while Whiteside joined him in double-double land with 22 points and 16 rebounds. As for Carmelo Anthony, he dropped an easy 20 on the Kings. 

A night after a tough loss, the Blazers bounced back in a big way. 

Final score in this one: Blazers 127 - Kings 116

QUOTABLES:

Damian Lillard on Hassan Whiteside's passing : 

I thought it was pretty good. He had a few backdoors. He was catching it in the pocket under control, finding the weak side and that led to some quality shots. He could have had ten if he didn’t get too anxious on some of them and some of them got tipped, but he passed the ball really well tonight

Coach Stotts on Bazemore having his best game:

Arguably one of his better games of the season, defensively he was locked in, it was good to see him making shots, he’s been a good three-point shooter, and I thought he kind of played within himself and took the shots that were there

Damian Lillard on CJ McCollum's blocks:

Early in the game, I just kept seeing him getting his hands on guys’ shots. I think part of it was them just not expecting him to contest them so strong. But he was active. He came out with a lot of energy on the defensive end and on the offensive end

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