Kent Bazemore gets revenge against the Atlanta Hawks, propels Trail Blazers at both ends of the floor

Kent Bazemore gets revenge against the Atlanta Hawks, propels Trail Blazers at both ends of the floor

Never bet against the player – in any sport – playing his first game against a team that traded him away. It’s seemingly inevitable that the discarded player will come up big against his former mates.

Ask Kent Bazemore, who stood out for the Trail Blazers Sunday night as Portland captured its first home win of the season with a 124-113 overtime decision over Atlanta.

“A lot of emotion tonight,” Bazemore said after his best performance of the young season at both ends of the court. “Obviously, every guy, once they leave a team is always looking to get back at them. Good to be out there competing against them.”

Bazemore took on a difficult defensive challenge, guarding Hawks’ talented point guard Trae Young and when you look at the points (35) that Young scored, it would appear the Atlanta player got the best of him. But Young went 9-30 from the floor, including 3-13 from three-point range, and had seven turnovers. Bazemore gave him a rough night.

And then on offense, Bazemore, thrust into the starting lineup because of Rodney Hood’s back spasms, scored 13 points – including two three-pointers early in the overtime period that vaulted the Blazers into a big lead – had eight rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.

“It was huge,” Damian Lillard said of Bazemore’s effort. “Tonight, he had the assignment with Trae Young and (Young) had the ball in his hands pretty much the whole game – chasing him off screens, finding him in transition – just that type of effort is tough. He was there all night. And down the stretch, he was rewarded for his effort and for him to lock in like that – two big threes. But like I said, I think his effort on the defensive end and him taking that challenge was really big. I think it got his mind into the game and it was perfect. It came against his former team, and in a game that we needed.”

He wasn’t the only Portland player to step up.

The Blazers got 20 points on 8-12 shooting from Anfernee Simons, 23 points from CJ McCollum, who also had eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, and 21 points and 12 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside. Lillard finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists while playing 44 minutes.

Whiteside, never known as a great free-throw shooter, has made big strides in that department this season. And he went to the line to finish off a three point-play with a charity toss that pulled his team within a point with 2:20 to go. Then he hit two more to put the Blazer in front with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.

“I work on them,” he said simply.

McCollum threw his hands in the air after hitting a three with 1:43 to play in overtime that seemed to ice the game for Portland. It appeared to be a gesture of relief and, after five three-point misses Sunday, the hope that his early shooting struggles are coming to an end.

“I just wanted to see one go in from long range,” he said. “I’m a good shooter, I get a lot of reps, I break down my shot weekly and I get a lot of help from people I work with. I have a lot of faith in myself, so it’s always good to make a shot when it counts.”

Both teams had 10 shots in overtime – Portland made five and Atlanta only two. It wasn’t a pretty win but the Trail Blazers weren’t in any position to worry about appearances.

“Needless to say, we needed that win,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “I thought our guys fought through and found a way to win, however it came. And it didn’t come easy.”

Carmelo Anthony shows us all why he “deserves his damn flowers”

Carmelo Anthony shows us all why he “deserves his damn flowers”

Carmelo Anthony has been, for a lack of a better word, 'ballin' since the NBA restart for the Portland Trail Blazers.

Since the NBA restarted, Anthony has been averaging 18 points per game on 55 percent shooting, including 15-for-25 three-point shooting.

Last night against the Houston Rockets, he proved more to everyone why he still has juice left in the tank by hitting a triple with 54.6 seconds left that gave the Blazers a two-possession lead en route to a 110-102 victory with significant playoff implications.

Anthony finished with 15 points on 14 shots and 11 rebounds.

After last night's performance, people who, prior to being with the Blazers, had Anthony finished and never finding a team again after his playoff performance with the Thunder and not fitting well with the Rockets.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

But after last night’s game, Damian Lillard had to remind everyone in the post-game interview that Anthony, if you forgot, is a for sure Hall of Famer.

On First Things Things First, host Nick Wright also had to set the record straight and said Anthony absolutely “deserves his damn flowers” for what he has brought to the game since coming into the NBA.

A lot of people may be too lazy to do their own research to see why Anthony is a Hall of Famer, so I will help you out by throwing some of his many accomplishments:

Carmelo Anthony 

  • 10x All-Star
  • 6x All-NBA
  • NBA Scoring Champion (2013)
  • NCAA Championship (2003
  • Top Olympic scorer in U.S. history
  • USA Basketball’s first four-time men’s Olympian, the first four-time men’s medalist and the first men’s player to win three Olympic gold medals.

It is great to see Anthony finally getting some praise for what he has done now that he is showing how good he is with the Blazers right now.

Anthony will no doubt be in the Hall of Fame, and it's great to see everyone finally giving him his “flowers” he deserves.

 

Hey Max Kellerman, your ‘apology’ to Carmelo Anthony kind of sucks

Hey Max Kellerman, your ‘apology’ to Carmelo Anthony kind of sucks

Dear Max Kellerman,

Your ‘apology’ or rather lack of one to Carmelo Anthony sort of sucks.

Sincerely,

Rip City.

The moment 36-year-old, 17-year and 10x NBA All-Star veteran Carmelo Anthony put on the black and red pinwheel jersey, he has been an important factor in Portland pursuit of a playoff run this season.

And after last night’s performance against the Houston Rockets, hitting a dagger three-pointer that sealed the win against his former team, many took to social media to call out all the Melo haters and doubters and demanding an apology.

One of those people called out was ESPN’s First Take Max Kellerman who had this to say of Melo back on May 1, 2018:

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon with special guest former Blazers legend Bill Walton].

On Wednesday, Kellerman was called out for his comments two years ago and if he had a change of heart on Melo. Not exactly…

Absolutely not. I do not owe Carmelo Anthony an apology and people need to stop with this foolishness. I tell the truth as I see it. Carmelo Anthony though he still was a super star when he was no longer, his ego took hits… If you needed a bucket in iso, could he get you a bucket? Yes he could. So I mentioned, he’s like a 15-minute player of someone’s bench…

What I will say is that Carmelo proved my prediction about him wrong. I certainly don’t owe him an apology. — Max Kellerman

What Kellerman doesn’t understand is that the apology needs to come from calling Melo ‘washed’ because that signifies that Melo will never be ‘Melo’ again. His time in the league had run its course and that he should have retired back in 2018. 

However, that could not be farther from the truth. 

Melo has rejuvenated with his opportunity in Portland and Rip City is loving it. 

Former Cleveland Cavaliers forward and NBA Champion Richard Jefferson called out Kellerman on the term ‘washed’ to which Kellerman said:

If I ever said he’s ‘washed’, for that I apologize because he’s not washed. — Max Kellerman

But, you did Max so thanks for the sort-of apology. It was the kind of apology that was along the lines of ‘I’m sorry your feelings are hurt but I’m not sorry I said it.”

Regardless of Kellerman’s comments, ‘Skinny Melo’ and the Blazers (2-1) picked up a huge win in their race for the eight seed in the Western Conference. With just five games to go and 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for that final spot, the Blazers will need more unapologetic Melo.

Zach Collins low-key trolls James Harden in social media post

Zach Collins low-key trolls James Harden in social media post

Zach Collins is a man not to be trifled with. 

While affable off the court, he is towering and imposing on the court. 

And he doesn’t take s*** from anybody. 

Big Z has made his triumphant return to the court after missing much of the season with a shoulder injury in October. 

Now, he’s back in the starting lineup and making a big impact for the Trail Blazers. 

Collins, along with the other Trail Blazers big men, Jusuf Nurkic and Hassan Whiteside, used their size to overpower the Houston Rockets 110-102 Tuesday night in Orlando. 

The Rockets, not starting a player over 6’8”, were no match for the Trail Blazers, who now sit solely in 9th place just 1.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies. 

After the win, Collins took to social media to commemorate the victory, featuring a photo of James Harden in a heap with a stern-faced Collins leaning against the stanchion. 

View this post on Instagram

Keep moving forward. On to the next🚶🏻‍♂️

A post shared by Zach Collins (@zachcollins_33) on

“Keep moving forward. On to the next,” the caption reads. Of all the photos to choose from... this is the one he chose.

The photo is a low-key troll at James Harden, who often oversells contact and complains constantly. It seems intentional. 

Harden was limited to 23 points Tuesday because of Portland’s defense, frustrating him into foul trouble. 

“U a savage 😂😂,” one commenter wrote.

“Beast😤,” wrote another.

“I fell in love with you last night,” one confessed. 

“I want this photo framed.” 

Yes, frame it! And until then, the Internet wins again. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

Winning formula: How the Trail Blazers controlled James Harden and pace of the game

Winning formula: How the Trail Blazers controlled James Harden and pace of the game

A quick look back at an impressive Portland win in the Orlando Bubble:

The Trail Blazers have struggled on defense for a good part of this season, but in their last three games against the Houston Rockets -- all wins -- there isn’t much evidence of that.

Portland has been able to keep the Rockets, and their superstar scorer James Harden, under control and Tuesday night’s 110-103 win was another example of a defensive game plan working to near perfection.

For the Trail Blazers, stopping Harden has been Job One. Portland has double-teamed him, trapped him and used multiple defenders on him. The result has been that Harden has not had a lot of opportunities to get into his cat-and-mouse, one-on-one show, putting defenders on ice skates with his step backs, rip-throughs and side steps.

Harden is averaging 22.5 shot attempts per game for the season, but in the last three contests vs. Portland he’s managed to get only 12, 18 and 17 shots. He is 15 for 47. He averages 12.5 three-point attempts per game and in these last three vs. the Blazers he’s taken only 6, 8 and 8.

And Portland isn’t fouling him, either. Harden is a magician at getting to the line, but he’s managed just 8, 6 and 7 attempts in those three games, while averaging 11.9 for the season.

Averaging 34.3 points per game this year, Harden has scored 13, 18 and 23 in those last three Portland games.

“It is difficult for him to get a rhythm,” Houston Coach Mike D’Antoni said following Tuesday night’s loss.

But D’Antoni pointed to another thing the Trail Blazers are doing that is affecting the Rockets. Portland is slowing Houston down.

“We didn’t play at our pace,” said the Rockets’ coach. “And if we don’t play at our pace, we just kind of play into them. Then they’re going to beat us up a little bit. And they did that, especially in the first half.

“I think our biggest problem with the whole game, first of all, we didn’t come out with a lot of energy. It was pretty soft at the start. We never pushed, we never really got the big push to move the ball, so we gave them a chance to double him every time.

“OK, you all double us, pass, we’ll get a shot. We got a lot of open shots, but we have to play faster, and we have to go before the double team gets to James… That’s where we made a mistake.”

Harden was also burdened with foul trouble, including a controversial fifth foul that Harden didn’t like. D’Antoni was asked why he didn’t ask for video review of the play and his answer was refreshingly honest.

“It was a foul,” he said. “I looked at it and thought it was a foul. I didn’t want to challenge it at that point.”

Portland went big throughout the game, but the Rockets, who have had great success playing small ball, did not exploit a perceived edge in quickness.

“We just kind of got into their kind of game,” D’Antoni said. “We weren’t running. They were big, a little bit slower than us, and we played just the way they played.

“It was a lack of energy, third game, heavy legs -- i don’t know. We just couldn’t get over the hump.

“Their bigs are good. Nurkic is a load.”

Harden didn’t talk much about the Portland defense.

“You know, I think we had a lot of opportunities we missed,” he said. “Defensively, we played hard. They made shots down the stretch and we didn’t.

“I couldn’t get as aggressive as I wanted. Mainly foul trouble. Like I said, we had a lot of open shots that, if we make those, it’s a different ballgame. Even myself, I had some good shot opportunities late in the fourth quarter that just didn’t go in.”

Gary Trent Jr. isn't shy, and that's just what the Trail Blazers need

Gary Trent Jr. isn't shy, and that's just what the Trail Blazers need

There is an undeniable fearlessness to Gary Trent Jr. 

The Trail Blazers second year guard is confident enough to stroll into an empty arena in Orlando with a flame-adorned, black denim button-up fastened so it purposely exposes his bare navel as well as his high-end fanny pack. And since no outfit is complete without accessories, the script on his Supreme beanie matches the flames along the trim of his shirt. 

This is not an outfit for the meek. It’s more Guy Fieiri meets Paris Fashion Week. The Mayor of Flavortown on the Champs-Élysées.

“Ever since I can remember I've been stylish,” Trent Jr. says, explaining that his grandmother helped instill in him an appreciation for dressing nice at an early age.

His brazen sartorial choices off the court perfectly encapsulates his approach on the court.

Seconds after checking into the game in the first quarter on Tuesday night, Trent Jr. tracked down James Harden at the rim and blocked a would-be layup by the former MVP.

His game is not for the meek, either. Nothing about any of this is timid.

He plays with the confidence that has made him an invaluable part of the Trail Blazers rotation and earned him crunch time minutes during what amounts to an extended postseason run. He’s shown his full game in Orlando. There has been rugged defense and eagerness to try to lock up stars like Ja Morant, Jayson Tatum and James Harden. While constantly pestering and disrupting opponents, helping him rank eighth in the NBA in deflections per game since the restart.

That determined defense has been a perfect complement to a hotter than Central Florida in August shooting stroke. Through three games in Orlando, Trent Jr. is 15-for-25 from beyond the three-point line, tied for the most makes from deep of anyone in the NBA.

On Tuesday against the Rockets, the Blazers grinded out a crucial win to move within 1.5 games of the Memphis Grizzlies in the race for the eighth seed in the West. Trent Jr. finished with 16 points and made 4 of 9 three-pointers in 35 minutes, coming up big with the game on the line. After Houston tied the score with under four minutes to go, Trent Jr. calmly drilled a spot-up three from the left wing to give Portland the lead for good. 

It was the third straight game where Trent Jr. has been on the floor at crunch time as he has grown into an essential contributor after beginning the year as a developmental piece at the end of the rotation. In Portland’s first game it was Trent Jr. who was tasked with slowing down Morant in overtime as the Blazers clawed out an all important win over the Grizzlies. Then against Boston, Trent Jr. shot an absurd 7-for-11 from beyond the arc to help the Blazers stay afloat before their late rally fell short.

The NBA restart has condensed the league down to only its most competitive teams, and the Blazers are in a mad scramble to make the playoffs. This eight game dash isn’t for the meek. Luckily, nothing about Trent Jr. fits that description.

Trail Blazers hilarious post-win recovery begins with A LOT of ice

Trail Blazers hilarious post-win recovery begins with A LOT of ice

How many pounds of ice does it take to cool off the Trail Blazers?

Well, a lot, actually. 

After the Trail Blazers 110-102 win over the Houston Rockets, Trail Blazers Performance Coach Todd Forcier documented the team’s recovery methods. 

The team loaded up an entire golf cart with ice and went back to their hotel. A whopping 520 pounds worth of ice, to be exact. Poolside, the team hopped in the mini pools filled with frigid water. 

WATCH

1am cold tubs do the body good!

Social media was loving it, too!

Bubble life!

The Trail Blazers begin their recovery for Thursday night’s game vs. the Denver Nuggets at 5pm. 

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

   

Carmelo Anthony's 'HOF value' taken advantage of by Blazers (unlike Rockets)

Carmelo Anthony's 'HOF value' taken advantage of by Blazers (unlike Rockets)

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum was eager to show off his pipes Tuesday night, while singing a popular 90s song titled  “Don't take it personal” by Monica

For all the 90s kids out there, they were ready to listen to McCollum and see him dance during his postgame interview.

The song was a reply to a question about whether or not Carmelo Anthony enjoyed hitting a dagger three-pointer against the Rockets Tuesday night just simply because it was the Rockets.

Because it was the one team that signed him and cut him after just 10 games during the 2018-19 season.

It was the one team that didn’t see what the Trail Blazers saw in him and have continued to see in him: His value -- both on and off the court.

Anthony rose up from three with 54.6 seconds remaining before draining the dagger to put the Blazers up five. Portland would eventually hold on and beat the Rockets, 110-102 Tuesday night.

Oooohhh, don’t take it personal. --That’s one of my favorite songs. -- CJ McCollum sang postgame 

But once, McCollum wrapped up singing his response, he added, “I thought [Melo] did great. Dame [Lillard] did a good job of penetrating, making the defense collapse, kicking it out to me, it was deflected, I caught it, I heard [Gary Trent Jr.] saying one more to my right, and then I heard the Legend saying one more to my left, so I passed it to the Legend and he knocked it down... I’m glad he made it... And, insult to injury, it being against the Rockets the team that got rid of him, I think it was that much sweeter... that much more enjoyable for him."  

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

   

Anthony finished with a double-double against the Rockets, his former team, Tuesday night, recording 15 points and 11 rebounds.  

Melo explained what he enjoyed most about the game down the stretch saying, “the three-pointer that I made was a big shot, but the plays on the defensive end – one steal, diving on the floor, the corner block on [PJ] Tucker, and then how we was just able to kind of lock in on the defensive end down the stretch when we needed to make plays and needed to get stops we did that.”

So, did Melo take it personal, though?

“No, the meaning it carried a little bit from the simple fact that we knew how important this game was to us and we approached this game as a must win just as we did in the previous two games… But tonight we all stepped up to the challenge.”

The Trail Blazers now continue their quest for the play-in games out West.

The goal of the NBA restart as stated by team captain Damian Lillard over and over again: is to make the playoffs.

Portland sits in the ninth seed in the Western Conference standings with their 2-1 record through three seeding games. San Antonio and New Orleans are knocking at the door, though.

But having Carmelo Anthony cannot be overstated.

He is Hall of Fame valuable… He’s easily first ballot, a guy who does a lot of everything. He still has a lot left in the tank and tonight he rebounded, he was closing out guys on the perimeter. Obviously he hit a big shot down the stretch, but his presence, his ability to manipulate a game and his communication from a friendship standpoint – he’s been really great for our entire team.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum

The value of a Hall of Famer is and will continue to be key for the Trail Blazers, and just as Lillard put it, Melo is "all about the team."

When we got [Melo] everybody had something to say about him – what he gonna do defensively, he’s getting older, he’s done, where’s he gonna fit in? – everybody just had something to say – why it didn’t work out with these other teams. And then he came to us and he was just laid back, a good teammate, good for our younger players. When we on the floor he’s talking whether he’s having a good or bad game – just all about the team.  -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

After a second straight slow start for Lillard, he and the Blazers came on strong to end the game versus Houston. The five-time All-Star finished with 21 points to lead the Blazers.

But, Lillard knows that it’s Melo’s leadership that has been key, especially in crunch time.  

“He understands what we need from him in certain situations,” Lillard said. “Or depending on how the game is going, he just knows where to put himself in a place to help the team.”

Lillard added, “I find it real funny, and disrespectful on how people speak on him, he’s a Hall of Famer.”

Rockets guard Russell Westbrook, who finished with 15 points on 5-of-14 shooting in Tuesday’s loss, also had plenty to say about his former teammate.

“Melo is a Hall of Famer, man,” Westbrook said. “He’s an unbelievable teammate. It’s always good to see him do well, play well. He belongs in this league. He’s shown that time in and time out.”

Yes, Melo has shown he still belongs in this league, there's no doubt about that.

And soon we'll find out if he and the Blazers still belong in the bubble once the postseason tips off.

Carmelo Anthony continues to prove doubters wrong, deserves an apology

Carmelo Anthony continues to prove doubters wrong, deserves an apology

We are now accepting “Carmelo Anthony Apology” forms on behalf of the 12x All-Star from everyone who believed that Melo was ‘washed’ and that his time in the league had run its course.  

The 36-year-old veteran has proven the haters wrong.

ESPN First Take’s Max Kellerman had some choice words about the future Hall of Fame back on May 1, 2018:

‘Washed’ let’s face it… But Carmelo Anthony as has been pointed out by Paul Pierce on our air. Can’t really get his own shot anymore. If he is reduced to a catch-and-shoot guy, he’s not an incredible shooter. He can hit an outside shot of course, but he doesn’t do it at an incredible clip. He doesn’t play defense. So what else does he do? — Max Kellerman

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Blazers legend Bill Walton].

Well Max, let’s roll the clips and start with what he did on Tuesday night against his former team, the Houston Rockets.

This was the same reason that Houston let Melo go after just 10 games with the Rockets in 2018:

The 18-year, future Hall of Famer has been nothing short of clutch for Portland during this NBA restart, hitting huge shots with not a lot of time left on the game clock. He rises to these big moments. 

After the game, his point guard Damian Lillard spoke out:

He’s a Hall of Famer. I think it’s more disappointing that people are surprised by it. He’s a Hall of Famer like I said, he’s a great teammate, and that’s what we expect from him. We put him in those positions because we expect him to make those shots. We believe he’s going to make those shots, and we brought him here because we knew he would make a difference for our team and he’s been doing that. — Damian Lillard on Melo

Here’s what ‘Skinny Melo’ has been doing in the restart:

- Game 1 vs. Memphis: 21 points, 7 rebounds, two steals.

- Game 2 vs. Boston: 13 points, 3 rebounds, two assists, one block.

- Game 3 vs. Houston: 15 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, one assist.

Second-year player Gary Trent Jr. has quite literally turned up the heat for Portland this season. He has proven to be a solid backup at the three spot behind Melo and the two have formed a nice relationship on and off the court.

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony has taken a confident Gary Trent Jr. under his wing

GTJ also thinks Melo deserves an apology.

Everybody that's said something negative about him-- they need to apologize. That's Carmelo Anthony... for him to come back and bounce back like its nothing-- that's why he's Carmelo Anthony. It's a blessing to have him on our team. -- Gary Trent, Jr. 

Thank you to all the other teams who also thought Melo was ‘washed’ because Rip City sure loves Melo in a pinwheel jersey.

The Blazers will face the Denver Nuggets at 3 PM (PT) on Thursday Night and you can catch the game at NBC Sports Northwest or stream it on the MyTeams app!

Damian Lillard said,'We wanted them to adjust to us' and the Rockets never did

Damian Lillard said,'We wanted them to adjust to us' and the Rockets never did

The Trail Blazers Tuesday night played most of their game against Houston the old-school way. You know, get the ball down low to the big man, if he has a matchup advantage, lock down on the other team’s best players and rebound the basketball.

So many teams have surrendered to the Rockets’ small-ball lineup, deciding they better go small and try to beat them at their own game, And they have usually failed. Portland didn’t give in. The Blazers stayed big all night and made the Rockets pay in an impressive 110-102 win that brought Portland’s bubble record to 2-1.

“We wanted them to adjust to us instead of us coming out and switching up everything we do,” said Portland’s Damian Lillard, who led his team with 21 points. “Since we’ve been here, we’ve been challenging our bigs to be ready to step up and switch and chase guys on the perimeter and also protect the paint.

“And our bigs have done a great job. Nurk, Hassan, Zach -- they’ve all done a great job. And tonight was no different on the defensive end. They were having to close out to guys and (the Rockets) made some threes but we said we’re going to make them pay on the glass and beat guys inside to try to take advantage of that and we’re going to see who gets the better of who at playing their game.

“And I believe it showed we were able to win that battle.”

And they are one of the few teams in the league who have pulled that off. But it was Portland’s third win in four tries against the Rockets. And a lot of that is due to a mixed bag of Trail Blazer defensive tactics, which features all sorts of different looks on Houston high-scorer James Harden. Portland held him under 20 points in its two previous wins over the Rockets and he got only 23 Tuesday night. Russell Westbrook had just 15. The duo combined to hit just 12 of its 31 shots.

Portland focuses much of its defense on Harden, using double-teams, different players one-on-one and traps against him and it has been effective.

The Blazers got a heaping helping of clutch play from Carmelo Anthony down the stretch, when the game turned into a three-point contest -- which you aren’t supposed to be able to win against the Rockets.

But with the score tied at 100 and under three minutes to play, the veteran Hall of Famer-to-be showed why he has been such a big addition to the roster. He’s battle tested and comfortable in tight spots.

Melo blocked a three-point shot by P.J. Tucker that led to a Gary Trent three-point goal that boosted Portland into the lead.

Then, after Harden missed a three and with the Trail Blazers nursing a two-point lead, Anthony calmly knocked down a 27-foot triple to boost his team into a five-point edge with 54.6 seconds to play. The Rockets missed three more shots from behind the arc after that and Portland marched out of the arena with a very big win.

Melo has made a career of hitting game-winners and big shots in the clutch. And at the beginning of a career or near the end of one, he doesn’t believe you lose that rare ability to step up and make a shot with a game on the line.

“Honestly, I don’t think you lose that, right?” he said. “You have it. It’s something that you have to want to do. You have to be willing to put yourself in those situations -- enjoy those moments and take those shots and believe you can make those shots.

“Making those shots, not in an arrogant way, I’ve always enjoyed those moments.  And I still do enjoy that moment.  My teammates believe in me, to be able to get me the ball in those moments and all I have to do is deliver.

“And I’ve been doing that.”

Portland led most of the game, thanks to its size advantage inside. And even though the Trail Blazers went just 22-for-49 in the paint, their massive 64-39 rebound advantage and solid defensive job on Harden and Westbrook carried them to victory.

And at least for one NBA game, size mattered.