No surprise here: Damian Lillard continues to show loyalty to Portland

No surprise here: Damian Lillard continues to show loyalty to Portland

When will people stop questioning Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard?

There are NBA fans out there that have constantly criticized Lillard for spending too much time on his music and not enough time in the gym during the offseason. Another critique: They don’t believe that Lillard wants to stay in Portland and will eventually leave to join a super team.

It’s human nature to discuss these topics and sometimes not to have faith. But, Lillard’s loyalty to the game and to the city of Portland has continued to hold true.

This summer, Lillard is reiterating one thing:

He does not want to and will not be joining an NBA super team.

In a recent interview with Adam Caparell of Complex, Lillard discussed how he has no desir

Lillard made it clear, he is not criticizing stars that have made that decision to join a Super Team; he just wants to take a different path.

“I think people are taking control because there’s no greater time to do it than now,” Lillard told Caparell. “And I don’t have a problem with that, but the way I see stuff is, like, I don’t prefer to go that route. Just like they’re choosing to do this stuff for their career, I’m choosing to do what I want for mine, too.”

“To leave, what did I invest all this time for just to leave, you know?” Lillard continued. “If I go play with three other stars, I don’t think that many people would doubt that I could win it. We would win it, but what is the challenge or the fun in that?”

Lillard has shown his loyalty to the Trail Blazers by signing a super-max extension that has him locked in through 2025.

It’s natural for Trail Blazers fans to worry about their star leaving a small-market organization. Of course, that has happened before.

Yet, Lillard is not only saying he wants to stay in Portland, but he is saying he wants to be the guy who embodies the city and is here to bring a championship back to Portland. 

“I wanna be the one, the star that wants to be here,” Lillard said. “I wanna be the one that embodies all of those things and then be a part of the rise from ‘we haven’t won since ’77, and now we won, and Dame’s everything to our city.’”

As Rip City Radio 620 host Jay Allen begs the question again: Why don’t people just start believing Lillard?

The Blazers floor general has been saying this for years, he wants to stay in Rip City.

Often times, fans are eager to blurt out ‘actions are stronger than words.’

Which is why so many people have become vocal about not seeing Lillard splatter his social media accounts with offseason workouts.

Lest we forget that last September, in a response to someone on Twitter in which a fan called out Lillard for not being seen in any offseason workouts or pickup games, Lillard made a special video of an intense workout. The workout was comedic gold.

But here is the thing with Lillard:

Regular season actions are stronger than offseason workout videos.

It’s evident in his play.
Clearly, he’s getting the job done in the offseason.

Plus, as the 29-year-old pointed out this summer, a well-rounded player needs to have a good work-life balance.

Yes indeed, good morning NBA fans, wake up and smell the roses. Lillard has not given you a reason to question him.  

Trail Blazers share the wealth in win over Kings, looking to continue balanced scoring

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USA Today Images

Trail Blazers share the wealth in win over Kings, looking to continue balanced scoring

The Trail Blazers earned their third consecutive win at Moda Center on Wednesday night, and their 12th straight home victory over the Kings as the Blazers made sure to not let one slip away.

Portland wasn’t able to put Sacramento away until the final minutes of the fourth quarter on Wednesday. The Blazers attributed that to their poor defense, but felt they had one of their better offensive nights.

After finishing with his fourth double-double of the season with 24 points and 10 assists, Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard emphasized how important it was to bounce back after Tuesday’s loss to the Clippers.

“It was a big deal,” Lillard said. “When you go on the road, a road-home back-to-back, it’s tough. You’ve got to play against a really good team like the Clippers, get on a plane, get up to play the next day against a really good team, a young team that’s really competing right now. So I was proud of the way we responded. You don’t want to let one loss or the game the night before affect the next night and I thought we handled it well.”

A lot of the Blazers success on the offensive end was thanks to their ball movement.

I thought we moved the ball well, we got quality shots. I thought offensively, it was a complete game. It was a really good game for us.

In Wednesday’s win, the Blazers finished with 28 assists. In Tuesday’s loss they finished 20 assists. But it didn’t even feel like a 20-assist game vs. the Clippers after watching the Trail Blazers’ stagnant offense.  

The man who led the Blazers on offense in the win over the Kings, CJ McCollum, believes the ball movement is coming along while the team continues to incorporate Caremelo Anthony and familiarize Melo into the playbook a little more.

I think we are continuing to figure out spacing, that’s the biggest thing – spacing, ball movement, what sets we can run… We’re just trying to build that’s the biggest thing and play good basketball. – CJ McCollum postgame

McCollum, who tied his career-high with 10 straight 20+ scoring nights, led all scorers on Wednesday with 33 points on 14-of-22 shooting. Five Blazer players scored in double-figures.

Lillard discussed what a night like that with balanced scoring means to this Blazers team:

“It’s really important. When we can get that type of performance of one, two, three, four guys, you’re going to have a chance.”

“It’s something we want to continue," Lillard added. "When it’s a lot of attention on the ball like it was tonight, especially they just kept sending two guys to the ball – we get it out and once we do that, they’re up against it. We’ve got numbers basically outside of the trap so when we can make the right plays and take advantage of it, get quality shots, I think it can be a night like tonight.”

Now with the Trail Blazers playing nine of their next 12 games at home this month, Blazers Coach Terry Stotts knows the favorable home schedule can't be overlooked.

“We can’t take it for granted, there aren’t any easy ones. It is nice to be home, we did have a lot of road games, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. It is certainly better than the alternative.”

Bizarro world?: Hassan Whiteside with 7 assists, CJ McCollum with 4 blocks

Bizarro world?: Hassan Whiteside with 7 assists, CJ McCollum with 4 blocks

It was a trip into bizarro world Wednesday night for the Portland Trail Blazers. You know – everything is backwards.

CJ McCollum had a career-high four blocked shots, Hassan Whiteside had a career-high seven assists and the normally slow-paced Trail Blazers had a season-high 28 fast-break points.

What’s next, Terry Stotts doing an hour of standup at Helium Comedy Club?

The Blazers pulled away from the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter in Moda Center and ran to a 127-116 win. Portland shot 56 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point range and got 20-plus points from four starters. Whiteside finished three assists shy of a triple double after getting 22 points and 16 rebounds.

And he had a couple of nifty backdoor passes that led to baskets off double-teams on the Portland guards.

“I love that backdoor pass, I should have gone to Princeton,” he said with a smile. “I don’t mind passing. I’m going to get better. I’m going to get better at making decisions. I’m new to this system and new to these guys and I’m going to keep working.

“I was impressed with (CJ’s) shotblocking. I was going to ask him for some tips.”

McCollum was hitting bulls-eyes all night. He was 14-22 from the floor, including 5-10 from long range, for 33 points. Damian Lillard chipped in with 24 points and 10 assists and knocked down a couple of big threes late in the game.

“What was more bizarre, his seven assists or my blocked shots?” McCollum asked. “I told him if would have wanted to get 10 assists he could have gotten 10 assists. Credit to him, he’s making the right plays and he’s learning.

“I’ll be at the rim every now and then, being a rim protector and helping people’s fantasy teams.”

The Trail Blazers, with Carmelo Anthony installed at power forward, are showing signs of becoming a very good offensive team.

“We’re just trying to build,” McCollum said. “We’re a top five or top 10 offensive team historically, but with him, we’re top five. We just have to figure out how to use all of our pieces. I think that’s the biggest thing. And then get that cohesiveness."

The defensive side of things is still a work in progress. And it’s going to take some progress.

The Kings, playing shorthanded, shot 46.3 percent overall.

“Obviously, to start the game, the first three quarters, (the Kings) played comfortable,” Lillard said. “We just didn’t do a good job in that stretch of the game and I think it showed because it was obvious toward the end of the game when we stepped it up and tightened it up at the end, we got separation because of it. The fourth quarter, we stepped it up and that was when we won the game.”

The Blazers will play host to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night in Moda Center.

 

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