Kendrick Perkins continues impressive streak of picking wrong team to win, to Trail Blazers benefit

Kendrick Perkins continues impressive streak of picking wrong team to win, to Trail Blazers benefit

So far, as an analyst, former NBA big man Kendrick Perkins has become notorious for picking the wrong fight with a future Hall of Famer and infamous for incorrectly picking the wrong team to win games. 

On the heels of his Twitter feud with Kevin Durant, in which Perkins, who currently works for ESPN, accused the NBA MVP of "the weakest move in NBA history" for joining the Warriors, Perkins was back at it Thursday ahead of the Portland-Houston game. 

For context, Perkins' his track record of picking the winners of games as an analyst has been... shaky.  

Sure, he's gotten his fair share of games correct, but even his employer ESPN was making fun of his terrible track record during last season's NBA playoffs. 

If Perkins picked your team to lose that night, you might be the happiest fan in the world. 

Heading into Thursday night, Channing Frye, co-host of the Talkin' Blazers podcast, picked Portland to upset the Rockets, which is a bet Perkins was enticed by. 

The two apparently agreed to terms of the deal and "shook" on it. 

The wager of this specific bet was not immediately known, but Perkins gave some clarity on how he usually bets. 

And then... the game happened! The Trail Blazers locked down James Harden with a "Twilight Zone" defense and the Trail Blazers executed well en route to a 117-107 victory over the Rockets

Perkins was... disappointed. 

And it didn't take long for people to begin ackowledge the defeat.  

Perkins took the defeat like a champ. You win some, you lose some. 

The Twitter world was less than shocked that a Perkins pick eventually lost.

The ESPN analyst undoubtedly knows basketball. He's an NBA Champion. Sometimes, you're just wrong. And the social media world is happy to jump on those losses and make you never forget them. 

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Jusuf Nurkic awarded H&P medallion, return near?

Jusuf Nurkic awarded H&P medallion, return near?

We are all eagerly waiting to see The Bosnian Beast Jusuf Nurkic back on the court in uniform.

Nurkic suffered a season-ending left ankle injury last season, which required surgery and has been rehabbing since. 

Last month, Nurkic returned to full-contact practice, but suffered a mild right calf strain. He has been held out of practice since then, but Nurkic continues to inch closer to his return.  

When will that time be? That is the question, we hope, will be answered soon.

On Saturday, Nurk gave us a little tease:

The Blazers Health and Performance staff hands out an “H&P award” to the player who excels most in the training room, and Nurkic earned the honor — that large gold necklace.

The two people who are tagged in the video are Ben Kenyon and Todd Forcier, both sports performance specialists with the Portland Trail Blazers.

Not only is Nurk sporting that huge gold medallion around his neck, but the video looks frozen or rather "loading."

Could that mean his return is near?

Hopefully.

The Trail Blazers (25-32) currently stand in ninth in the Western Conference and 3.5 games out of that eight seed. Up next, the Blazers host the Detroit Pistons (19-39) on Sunday, Feb. 23, at 6 p.m. (PT). Converage starts at 4 p.m. (PT) on NBC Sports Northwest.

Shorthanded Trail Blazers find their playoff hopes precariously balanced

Shorthanded Trail Blazers find their playoff hopes precariously balanced

The beers and sodas balancing on Katy Stevens’ tray rocked back and forth, feigning for a moment that they might stay upright before toppling onto the court.

 

Stevens, a longtime server at the Moda Center, had nearly avoided trouble when referee Mitchell Ervin stepped toward her as she served drinks to courtside fans during the second quarter of Friday’s game. But the second step backward from Ervin ended in a mess as he bumped into the massive tray of drinks Stevens was holding and the beverages came crashing down.

 

The Trail Blazers playoffs hopes are stuck in a similar precarious balancing act, and Friday’s loss to the New Orleans Pelicans pushed them closer towards a familiar calamitous ending. 

 

Playing in their first game without Damian Lillard, who is likely to miss at least a couple more nights as he recovers from a strained groin, the Blazers trailed the New Orleans Pelicans from the opening tip. They fell behind by as many as 22 points, alternating between giving up buckets inside to rookie phenom Zion Williamson or allowing his Pelicans teammates to cash in on open shots on the perimeter.

 

“Our defense still needs to get better,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said, understating his team’s most glaringly obvious shortcoming.


Portland has the worst defense in the Western Conference, and any hopes of a playoff berth starts with a stronger defensive effort. The Blazers are good enough to score on most nights, but simply haven’t shown an ability to stop teams with any consitency. 

 

Some of the excuses are obvious. Lillard on Friday joined the ranks of Blazers not in uniform, donning a sport coat on the bench next to Zach Collins, Mario Hezonja, Jusuf Nurkic and Rodney Hood on the Blazer well-dressed but unavailable squad.

 

However, with 25 games left in the season, the excuses matter less than the results. The Blazers fancied themselves a title contender in the preseason six months ago. They have recalibrated that to playoff hopeful as they enter the stretch run of the season. But surrendering 128 points and allowing a team to shoot 54 percent from the floor in your own building is not part of any postseason formula.

 

“I don’t know, it’s not just one thing,” Blazers center Hassan Whiteside said when asked about the team’s defense. “I think it’s a team effort. It’s not just one specific thing that I could just tell you that would make us a better defensive team.”

 

The Blazers are short on answers. They’re short on healthy bodies. And they’re short on games left on schedule. The loss to New Orleans dropped the Blazers into a tie with the San Antonio Spurs for ninth place in the West, still three games behind eighth place Memphis for the final playoff spot. The Pelicans are lurking just a half game back in 11th.

 

The Blazers’ playoff hopes are hanging in the balance. There’s still time for them to steady the rocking, find their footing and avoid a spill. But more missteps and it all comes crashing down in a hurry, and they’ll be left with an offseason to try to sop up the mess.

 

CJ McCollum worried about stops, not buckets

CJ McCollum worried about stops, not buckets

It was a vision of what could have been: A glaring sight during Friday’s home contest against the New Orleans Pelicans.  

Smack dab in the middle of Portland’s bench sat Zach Collins, Mario Hezonja, Jusuf Nurkic, and Damian Lillard – all in suits, not suited up. 

Just out of view, sat Rodney Hood, who was watching from the second row of the bench wearing a boot on his left foot. 

Thinking about what this season could’ve been with a healthy Nurkic, Collins and Hood is something many have thought about over the past few weeks, but now, adding Lillard to the injured list, and his status is still relatively unknown, the Blazers looked to CJ McCollum Friday night. 

McCollum had no problem taking over the starting point guard duties. He can get his teammates involved when asked to do so, and he has every bit of confidence in running the team. 

It was just that the Pelicans were knocking down threes from all over the perimeter and in transition. 

New Orleans defeated Portland 128-115, but that wasn’t without a fight from McCollum and the Blazers.  

Stepping into his new role for the foreseeable future, McCollum was particularly active in finding the open man, especially early on. He had seven assists in the first quarter.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was pleased with how the 28-year-old shooting guard managed the game. 

“I thought CJ had a very good game. In the offense he picked his moments to try and score, obviously double-digit assists, I thought he played the game the way it’s supposed to be played,” Coach Stotts said postgame. 

With confidence in his voice, McCollum echoed a similar message in the locker room, but he would like to take better care of the ball from here on out. 

McCollum led all scores with 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting, to go along with tying his career high in assists with 10. 

Portland as a team shot 45.7 percent for the game. 

That’s not the problem and McCollum knows it. 

“I did a decent job. I had like five turnovers –too many turnovers, but outside of that, I thought offensively wasn’t the problem. Defensively was the bigger problem. We figure out ways to score, we always have, we’ve just got to tighten up at the other end.”

I think we competed, but I think just some lapses defensively. We fouled a lot in the first half. I think they shot like 28, 29 free throws in the first half which is too many easy points, so we’ve got to tighten that up but overall, I thought we competed. Just didn’t play well enough defensively to win. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum 

New Orleans shot an efficient 53.6 percent from the field, including an impressive 52.9 percent from behind the arc

With Lillard expecting to miss three to five games with a right groin strain, it’s not just putting a strain on McCollum, even though his teammates are recognizing that it is McCollum who will have to overcome the most.

As the season has progressed, so has Lillard and Hassan Whiteside’s pick and roll action. 

McCollum had a good connection with the Blazers starting center early on Friday night, but those two will need to continue to develop a good two-man game with Lillard out. 

Whiteside finished with 19 points and 12 rebounds, good for his 42nd double-double of the season. 

The Blazers 7-footer mentioned after the loss that a lot of the play calling now falls on McCollum, even though coach Stotts said pregame that he would help in facilitating some of the plays more with Lillard out. 

“I know it’s going to be tougher for everybody,” Whiteside said when talking about not having Lillard for the next handful of games. “It’s going to be tougher for me, it’s going to be tougher for CJ because we’ve been playing a lot through [Lillard] and he makes a lot of decisions out there, but like I said, we’ve got to come out here and keep competing. We’ve got the first one under our belt, let’s move on to Detroit and get a win there. That’s a must win.”

Keep competing along with running opponents off the three-point line and getting back in transition to limit easy fast break buckets -- those are just a few of the Blazers’ action items while their five-time All-Star is sidelined. 

And with that, the 19-39 Detroit Pistons might be just what the doctor ordered for Portland. 

New Orleans outside shooting upstages Zion as Blazers fall at home

New Orleans outside shooting upstages Zion as Blazers fall at home

A whole lot of people came to see rookie sensation Zion Williamson Friday night in Moda Center as his New Orleans Pelicans hit town to meet the Trail Blazers.

Williamson gave them a 25-point show, hitting 10 of his 17 shots on the way to 25 points. It wasn’t spectacular, though, as he claimed only four rebounds, hit just half of his 10 free throws and finished with a zero in his plus-minus column, while his team posted a 128-115 win over the Trail Blazers.

The more spectacular show was the New Orleans outside shooting. The Pels were 18-34 from three-point range and every time Portland mounted any sort of rally, somebody stepped up to knock down a three to kill the momentum.

“That’s always tough,” Carmelo Anthony said. “You play a whole possession of defense and they get an offensive rebound or a kick out for a three. We make a run and they silence that with a three. Those are always momentum killers, right there.”

The starting New Orleans guards, Jrue Holiday and Lonzo Ball, were a combined 7-11 from three-point range, Brandon Ingram was 3-4 and Josh Hart 3-3. The Trail Blazers never led in the game and were tied just once.

And while the Pelicans were firing away at a 52.9 percent pace from the outside, Portland just couldn’t keep up, hitting 10 of 27 -- meaning the Blazers were beaten by 24 points from the three-point line.

The Trail Blazers didn’t defend well enough to win and it would be difficult to blame their offense for this loss.

The Pels got pretty much what they wanted, when they wanted it. The game was as close as it was only because New Orleans managed to make just 20 of its 33 free throws.

It was Portland’s first full game after Damian Lillard’s groin injury and the Trail Blazers were very short-handed even before that happened. But with Lillard out, nothing is going to come easy.

“I know it’s going to be tougher for everybody,” said Hassan Whiteside, who had 19 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks for the Trail Blazers. “It’s going to be tougher for me, tougher for CJ -- because we’ve been playing a lot through (Lillard). And he makes a lot of decisions out there,

“But like I said, we’ve got to come out here and keep competing. We’ve got the first one under our belt, let’s move on to Detroit (Sunday night in Moda) and get a win. That’s a must-win.”

At this point, you could call all of them must-wins.

There are only 25 games left in the season and nobody knows how many of those will be played without Lillard. Portland still trails Memphis by four games in the loss column for the final playoff spot and must hold off the Pelicans and San Antonio Spurs in their rearview mirror.

It’s not going to be easy.

Instant Analysis: Short-handed Blazers can't slow down Zion, Pelicans

Instant Analysis: Short-handed Blazers can't slow down Zion, Pelicans

With no Damian Lillard (groin strain) Friday night, Gary Trent Jr. got the starting nod as CJ McCollum shifted to point guard with Portland hosting the New Orleans Pelicans.  

And the Pelicans were red hot against the Blazers both inside and out.

New Orleans started the game hitting 12 of its first 16 shot attempts (5-of-6 from three).

Behind Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram’s 10 points each, the Pelicans scored 40 first quarter points.

New Orleans didn’t cool down until early in the third quarter. Portland cut the lead to seven midway through the third after the Pelicans had led by as many as 19 points.

Just when it looked like the Blazers could be within striking distance, the Pelicans went on a 12-0 run to close the third quarter. The Pelicans took that momentum into the final period to run away with the win. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: PELICANS 128, TRAIL BLAZERS 115

Here are three quick takeaways from Friday’s loss:

1. McCollum steps into new role

Following Thursday’s practice, CJ McCollum discussed how he would have to get his teammates involved and be able to manage the game with Lillard sidelined. McCollum was very active in finding his open teammate Friday night. He had seven assists in the first quarter. He also had as many points in the first 12 minutes. McCollum and the rest of the Blazer wings made a conscience effort to get the ball down low to Carmelo Anthony. Melo took advantage of smaller defenders, bodying them up on the block. He found success down low and at the free throw line.  

2. Pelicans don’t cash in on free throws

After not blowing the whistle that much to start the game, the Blazers started racking up fouls midway through the first quarter. By halftime, Portland had committed 18 personal fouls. Yet, the Pelicans weren’t able to convert from the free throw line. Their 10-point lead at the break could’ve been much larger.

New Orleans went 16-of-28 from the charity stripe in the first half.  Zion Williamson had 19 points at the half, but he went just 5-of-10 from the line.

3. Portland struggled to get stops

The Trail Blazers were able to put up plenty of points on the board. It was on the other end of the ball where the Blazers struggled.

When Portland would make a run, the Pelicans would knock down a corner three or rack up second chance points, or find a way to get a timely bucket.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their three-game homestand Sunday night when Portland hosts the Detroit Pistons. The Blazers and Pistons will tip-off at 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!

Carmelo Anthony welcomes Zion Williamson to the NBA with mean jab step

Carmelo Anthony welcomes Zion Williamson to the NBA with mean jab step

It was a match-up everyone was anticipating all night: Carmelo Anthony vs. Zion Williamson. 

The veteran vs. the rookie, the Hall of Famer vs. the young buck, the Pelican vs. the Blazer. 

Friday night was filled with high-flying dunks, punctuated by this one from New Orleans' rookie. 

But, Carmelo's move on Williamson was NASTY!

The move had the internet buzzing!

The Pelicans are on their way to beating the Trail Blazers at the Moda Center, but Carmelo will have this one on Zion. 

Maybe, one day, we'll see Zion hit a future rookie star with this move. 

Social media comes out in full support of courtside server whose tray of drinks spilled

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NBCSNW

Social media comes out in full support of courtside server whose tray of drinks spilled

Remember that one time LeBron James accidentally knocked over a server courtside of the Blazers-Lakers game earlier this season? 

Well, she's back in the news... 

Her name is Katy Stevens and has been a courtside server for over 10 years. 

She's got a tough job. Avoid the ball, avoid the players and avoid the referees.

Unfortunately, despite her best efforts the referee didn't avoid her!

WATCH

After it happened, the internet was quick to jump in to her defense

That referee deserves a flagrant foul for all of the drinks lost. Kudos to the ball boys for jumping into action.

Stay strong, Katy! We've got your back!

 

No, Zion Williamson is NOT 30 years old...

No, Zion Williamson is NOT 30 years old...

Something stood out pregame ahead of the Trail Blazers-Pelicans game and it centered around Zion Williamson. 

Selected as the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA Draft, Williamson has been taking the NBA by storm since returning from injury.  

And while discussing his allcoades in just 10 games in the NBA, ESPN's Mike Breen had a slip of the tongue in remembering how old the rookie is... 

WATCH

Williamson is actually just 19 years old. He doesn't turn 20 until July. 

The internet was quick to point out Breen's error. 

Mike Breen is one of the best in the business, he likely misread his stat sheet. Honest (but funny) mistake.

The Trail Blazers vs. Pelicans is also airing on NBC Sports Northwest where Kevin Calabro and Lamar Hurd likely didn't make the same mistake.  

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Gary Trent Jr. will get the start vs. Pelicans

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USA Today Images

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Gary Trent Jr. will get the start vs. Pelicans

Before the Trail Blazers and Pelicans tip-off at 7:30p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how his team needs to be much better in transition and make sure they don’t turn the ball over too much to give New Orleans more transition opportunities.  

Coach Stotts also described Zion Williamson as ‘dynamic,’ but mentioned that the Pelicans ‘have a lot of good shooters.’

Stotts added that Gary Trent Jr. will get the start with Damian Lillard (right groin strain) out.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Damian Lillard (right groin strain), Mario Hezonja (left ankle sprain), Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Friday's game vs. New Orleans.

PELICANS INJURY REPORT:

Darius Miller (right Achilles surgery), Kenrich Williams (lower back soreness), Josh Gray (Two-way) and Zylan Cheatham (Two-way) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

Friday's game will be the fourth and final matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Pelicans during the 2019-20 season. New Orleans leads the season series, 3-0.

-- LAST MEETING: New Orleans beat Portland, 138-117, in New Orleans on Feb. 11. CJ McCollum led Portland with 20 points (7-17 FG, 4-8 3-PT, 2-2 FT), one rebound and three assists, while Zion Williamson paced the Pelicans with a career-high 31 points (10-17 FG, 11-14 FT), nine rebounds, and a career-high five assists.

-- Portland and New Orleans have split their last 10 meetings, 5-5. The Trail Blazers swept the 2018-19 season series, 3-0.

-- CJ McCollum has scored at least 20 points in each of his last five outings against the Pelicans, going 14-of-35 (40.0%) from 3-PT range over that five-game span.

-- Hassan Whiteside recorded 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, three assists and one block against the Pelicans on Feb. 11. Whiteside has recorded a double-double in each of his last four games against New Orleans.

-- JJ Redick had 20 points (5-10 FG, 4-7 3-PT, 6-6 FT), two rebounds and two assists against Portland on Feb. 11. Redick is averaging 18.0 points (50.0% FG, 50.0% 3-PT, 91.7% FT) in three games against Portland this season.

-- Brandon Ingram missed the Pelican's last game against the Trail Blazers with a right ankle sprain, but on Dec. 23 put up 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals against Portland. He is averaging 20.0 points (36.8% FG, 30.0% 3-PT, 100% FT), 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.00 steals in two games against the Trail Blazers this season.