Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from Blazer win over LA

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from Blazer win over LA

The regular season started on Thursday with the Trail Blazers welcoming the new look Los Angeles Lakers to Moda Center. The two battled all game long, with Portland eventually pulling out the 128-119 victory. The victory marked the 16th straight win over the Lakers, and the 18th year in a row the Blazers have won their home opener. 

Here, are quick thoughts from our reporters on the scene...

Final Box Score: Blazers 128 - Lakers 119 

Dwight Jaynes, Trail Blazers Insider: 

Blazers bench has been fantastic, keeping them in the game. Starters vs. starters the Lakers had an edge

Jamie Hudson, Trail Blazers Reporter:

Nik Stauskas quickly became a fan favorite after his first-half performance of 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting including 4-of-6 from three. He led all Blazers in scoring at the half and was the spark Portland needed from its second unit.

Mike Richman, Trail Blazers Reporter: 

Nik Stauskas earned every part of his minimum contract in his 27 minutes tonight

***Be sure to check back here throughout tonight for locker room videos with Coach Stotts and the players, plus locker room reports from Jamie Hudson and Dwight Jaynes***

NEXT UP: The Blazers remain at home when they host the Spurs on Saturday, Oct. 20. Tip-off is set for 7PM

The Moda Center crowd was on its feet, Trail Blazers second year player Zach Collins had just blocked Lonzo Ball at the rim, Nik Stauskas then pulled up for three-pointer – swish, it was 107-100 Blazers. And that’s when the Los Angeles Lakers called a timeout at the 7:22 mark in the 4th quarter.

Standing at 6’10” wearing a Trail Blazers shirt, a proud father stood among that Moda Center crowd. Sitting in the Blazers’ family section above Portland’s bench was Mike Collins showing off his muscles, flexing after his son’s fifth block of the night, while Zach’s mother Heather Collins cheered loudly.

Just as Zach as done all his life, he made sure to look up at his parents in the crowd.

“I did a couple times, that’s kind of what I've always done… It’s always good to have him there and my mom too. Whenever they’re here I always want to play well and now I get to hang out with them after the game, so it means a lot to me,” Collins said.

It was a special night in Portland with LeBron James and the Lakers in town, but it was also a night for Collins to show what he can do on the defensive end and having a career night vs. the Lakers made it a little extra special.

“Yes, especially on opening night to go out there, make an impact and help the team win against a good team and obviously they have the best player in the world so they’re obviously always going to be really good,” Collins said.

Collins finished with a career high six blocks to go along with six rebounds and six points in 26 minutes of action. He also had the best plus-minus of the team with a +24.

These questions come to mind when you watch Collins downlow-- Can he be the enforcer on this Blazers team? Can he be an elite defender?  Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum believe so.

“I really loved what he did defensively. I think losing Ed in that second group we need somebody that’s going to be an enforcer and let teams know that you’re not just going to be able to come in our paint,” Lillard said.

“Zach was great. He protected the basket. He was fearless. He’s that guy at the rim every time contesting shots, altering shots, blocking shots and then allowing us to get out and run in transition off the rebound. I think he does a great job of contesting and we’ve talked about him being one of the better defenders in the NBA and he’s showing why he’s an elite defender,” McCollum said.

This Lakers team was no easy task for the young Collins either, just ask Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

“Zach was really good defensively. He had a tough assignment guarding a three-point shooter and still protecting the rim. He’s a gamer. He enjoys the competition. He doesn’t shy away from contact or a challenge. He earned his minutes out there tonight” Stotts said.

Collins feels that playing to his strengths of protecting the rim is where he can help the Blazers the most and Lillard is pleased to see such growth from Collins.

“He had some big blocks. He challenged everything. It’s great to see that he’s taking that up a level. We thought he was really good last season, this season starting off tonight he had a great start defensively,” LIilard said.  

Yes, it’s one game, but it was six blocks in one game.

And don’t forget about Pappa Collins flexing his muscles in the crowd in this one game. That’s a lot for the Collins family in just one game.

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Moses Brown, Jaylen Hoard re-join Trail Blazers

Moses Brown, Jaylen Hoard re-join Trail Blazers

Trail Blazers two-way players Moses Brown and Jaylen Hoard are not only logging a ton of miles on the court in the G-League, but they're logging a ton of frequent flyer miles, too!

The Portland Trail Blazers announced Thursday that center Moses Brown and forward Jaylen Hoard were being transferred from the Texas Legends of the NBA G League to Portland. 

In three games with the Legends this season, Brown, 20, has averaged 5.7 points (66.7% FG) and 4.7 rebounds. Brown (7-1, 245) has played in two games for the Trail Blazers this season, recording three rebounds in five total minutes.

Portland converted Brown’s Exhibit 10 contract to a two-way deal at the end of training camp.

During the preseason, Damian Lillard had high praise for Brown.

“I’ve never seen anybody get better from the first day that I came back to now," Lillard said. "It’s like a completely different player and I definitely think he’ll make it. He’ll be an NBA player. He’ll have an NBA career. I don’t have any doubt about that."

Hoard, 20, has appeared in three games with the Legends, posting averages of 18.7 points (56.4% FG, 75.0% FT), 7.7 rebounds and 1.0 assist. In one game with the Trail Blazers this season, Hoard (6-8, 215) recorded one rebound.

The Blazers signed Hoard to a two-way contract in early July.

[RELATED]: 2-way contract player Jaylen Hoard finding his way on Trail Blazers summer squad

Hoard went undrafted out of Wake Forest.

Players on two-way contracts may spend up to 45 days on an NBA roster and the remaining time will be spent on an NBA G League roster. Brown and Hoard have spent a week with the team earlier in November. 

On Wednesday, the Trail Blazers announced it was waiving Pau Gasol as he continues to rehab his foot, which left an opening in the Blazers roster. He did not play a game with Portland. 

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Bucks tonight at 5:00pm

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USA Today Images

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Bucks tonight at 5:00pm

MILWAUKEE – Portland Trail Blazers (5-10) will be without Damian Lillard (back spasms) on Thursday night against the 10-3 Milwaukee Bucks.  

Even with all the injuries and the brutal schedule of November, the Trail Blazers sit just three games out of the playoffs.

Pau Gasol, who has not been on this trip with Portland, announced on Wednesday, that he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer. Gasol said he is now ready to focus solely on his rehab. 

As the Trail Blazers get set for the Bucks, they will continue to see what they have in Caremelo Anthony. Melo made his return to the court on Tuesday night in New Orleans.

You can watch the Blazers-Bucks 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?

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:

2:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

4:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

4:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

5:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Bucks

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 come into this game with a totally different mindset, a totally different motivation. The way that I see just the game, the way that I see not just the game of basketball, just overall the way that I see it, the way that I approach it, it’s totally different.” – Carmelo Anthony after Tuesday night’s debut

Talkin' Blazers with Channing Frye: Melo's first game + Channing channels the Grinch

Talkin' Blazers with Channing Frye: Melo's first game + Channing channels the Grinch

Carmelo Anthony officially made his debut for the Trail Blazers. And while he didn't shoot the best from the field, Melo was able to score 10 points while knowing minimal plays. Dan and Channing break down what they saw. 

Plus, is there cause for concern with Damian Lillard's back spasms? 

And while this podcast was recorded before the Pau Gasol news, we still wanted to give you Channing's take on Pau focusing on his health:

I actually think this is really good. I think right now they have to take a step back as an organization and reassess what they have and what they need to get, and what they can get rid of. For me it’s really what’s best for Pau Gasol as a player and making sure that his body gets right.

As far as the organization, they need bodies. Guys are getting banged up, they’re beat up. And looking at it from that point of view, they need to get bigger guys that can play. They don’t have time to wait on somebody that may or may not come back. And especially at his age, he’s basically doing the same thing. He’s there. He’s on the bench, he’s talking to the guys, he’s coaching. So, having him around is going to be really beneficial to the young guys.

Listen to the podcast here:

Pow! The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it even started

Pow! The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it even started

One thing I will always remember about Pau Gasol is that his first name rhymes with Pow!

As in, a punch in the gut. The Pau Gasol Era in Portland ended before it started. And this was news this team just didn’t really need to hear at this time.

But the Trail Blazers were astute enough to have a prior-injury clause in his contract that allowed them to waive him without regard to future salary obligations if he missed 15 games, which came Tuesday night. With Portland’s salary cap situation, that could prove to be a big savings.

But it’s a disappointment. I don’t think there are many big men as fun to watch as he was. He could shoot threes, score at the low block, pass, even defend. A smart, complete player, headed to the Hall of Fame.

Pow!

And boy, did this team need him. Not only his talent -- no matter how much it was going to be affected by injury or age – his experience and his wisdom. Even for just a few minutes a game.

Now, there’s not quite as much to look forward to this season. Jusuf Nurkic will be back at some point, we think. We hope. Perhaps some of those expiring contracts will be moved. The current roster should get healthier.

But there will be no Pau Gasol. He just couldn’t make it back.

Pow!

Social media reacts to Pau Gasol: Best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau!

Social media reacts to Pau Gasol: Best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau!

To one of the most beloved NBA players of all time, best wishes in your rehabilitation, Pau Gasol.

After undergoing foot surgery last May, Gasol was signed by the Portland Trail Blazers with both parties not knowing exactly what his timetable for return might be.

Unfortunately, Gasol did not suit up for a single game with the Blazers this season. Now, he will focus all his time and energy on his rehabilitation.

There is a strong possibility that Gasol remains with the Portland Trail Blazers organization in a more coaching role, but said role has not be defined. 

“I am very grateful and flattered by their desire to find ways to continue to work together and I look forward to a good year with this great organization,” said Gasol on his latest Instagram post.

Here’s how the sports world reacted to the news:

 

 

Pau Gasol announces he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer

Pau Gasol announces he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer

Pau Gasol announced on his Instagram that he will no longer be a Portland Trail Blazer. The Blazers are waiving Gasol so the 39-year-old can now focus solely on his rehabilitation.

He has been rehabbing his left foot since having surgery to repair a stress fracture last May.

But according to a report from ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski there’s a chance Gasol will not be leaving the Blazers organization.

Portland and the 2-time NBA champion are working on possible details for a coaching position with the Blazers.

Gasol was headed into his 19th season as an NBA player. He’s been in six All-Star games and won two championships. There is no question, he’ll be enshrined in the Basketball Hall of Fame.

Derrick Rose on Carmelo Anthony returning to the court: “He knows where he has to fit in”

Derrick Rose on Carmelo Anthony returning to the court: “He knows where he has to fit in”

To say Derrick Rose has been through a lot in his 12-year career would be an understatement.

With the injuries and experience, D-Rose, who is averaging 18.4 points and 5.8 assists with the Pistons this season, obviously knows what it takes to have a long career in the league.  

On the latest edition of NBC Sports Chicago’s Bulls Talk podcast, the former NBA MVP joins Will Perdue to discuss a variety of topics including his thoughts on Carmelo Anthony returning to the court as a Portland Trail Blazer.

In the very candid conversation, the 31-year-old speaks openly about how he has no doubt Melo will understand his role in Portland, and he knows how grateful Anthony must feel to have a shot to play basketball once more.

[RELATED]: A night that almost wasn’t for newest Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony

But does D-Rose have any advice for the newest Trail Blazer?

No, because Rose doesn’t believe that’s necessary.

"I think I don't need to give Melo no advice, he's an OG. He understands the league, he understands the game, he's an intelligent guy. He knows where he has to fit in. I don't think he's trying to steal no shine on that team. I know he probably feels very grateful to be back and I think anybody in that position is very grateful and you feel fortunate…. It's something we've been doing our whole lives is fighting and clawing to get where we're at and he's from Baltimore so he'll be able to figure it out easy."

Rose and Melo were teammates in New York during the 2016-2017 season, but of course, their friendship goes deeper than that.
In Anthony’s debut for Portland, he finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds and one block in the Blazers losing effort to the Pelicans on Tuesday night.

[RELATED]: What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

As the Blazers and Anthony continue to figure each other out, be sure to check in at NBC Sports Northwest on follow us on social for the latest news and updates.

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Bulls podcast with Derrick Rose right here:

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

What's wrong with the Trail Blazers? Here are a couple of answers

The question being asked today – and it’s a legitimate one – is “What the heck is going on with the Portland Trail Blazers?” And then… “Are they as bad as they look?”

I will attempt to answer the first question while answering with an affirmative “No” to the second question.

First, let’s remind you of the obvious: three of Portland’s top four best bigs are injured. The injury to Zach Collins was a critical blow because Pau Gasol and Jusuf Nurkic were – and still are – on the injured list. The Blazers do not have the inside game, at either end of the court, that they expected to have at some point this season.

Let's be real, Skal Labissiere and Nassir Litttle, critical rotation players right now, were not expected to have those roles at the start of the season.

Plus, Damian Lillard, Anfernee Simons, Hassan Whiteside and Rodney Hood have all been playing in spite of nagging injuries. After many games the Portland locker room features enough ice to fill one of those ice-bag coolers at your neighborhood convenience store.

But the other mitigating factor has been the schedule, which has been brutal. After 15 games, the Trail Blazers have played twice as many road games as home games and no other team in the league has had 10 road games already. Only two other teams have played five more road games than home games. And Portland has already played two back-to-backs.

And it isn’t over yet. Most people already know that 13 of the team’s first 18 games are on the road.

But I’m here to tell you that it isn’t as bad as it looks.

Even with all the injuries and the worst schedule in the league, the Trail Blazers sit just three games out of the playoffs. And ahead of them, in the seventh and eighth spots in the Western Conference, are Phoenix and Minnesota – which I would categorize as “catchable.”

Are there things that need to be fixed? Of course. For one thing, people who have shot the ball well through their careers need to do that again. I believe there must be a little more discipline and ball movement on offense and better attention to halfcourt and transition defense. But those things have a way of working out with time – especially when the team gets some home games and more chances to practice.

It’s going to get better. And I think it’s reasonable to expect that.

A night that almost wasn’t for newest Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony

A night that almost wasn’t for newest Trail Blazer Carmelo Anthony

Waiting for a turn, and then finally leaning in, anticipating the jump ahead.

That is how 10-time Al-Star, the 2013 NBA scoring champ, and the newest Portland Trail Blazers Carmelo Anthony is feeling about his latest opportunity.

But that’s also a description of a young elementary student waiting in line for his or her turn at double-dutch.

Which is another experience Melo has endured.

Over the last 375 days, Anthony has been waiting for a phone call that he thought may never happen.

He has been waiting in line to get back on the court.

Tuesday night he did just that. Melo finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting to go along with four rebounds and one block in the Blazers losing effort to the Pelicans.

But when the game was over and he stood in front of a large media scrum once more, there was pure joy and emotion on his face.

Double-dutch was something Melo experienced over the past year, but he wasn’t enjoying it.  

“It’s just been a rollercoaster ride, Anthony said after Tuesday’s game. “Like double-dutch almost – ‘we’ve got this team, and now we don’t got this team, and this team’s interested now’… There was one point I told my agent, just let me know when it’s first and goal when it’s time to go, don’t call me when it’s first and twenty, I don’t want to hear that,” Melo said.

The Trail Blazers offering Anthony a spot on their roster was the ‘first and goal’ that he had been waiting for and had nearly given up on.

“I think I came to a point where I was willing to accept it either way. If this was going to be it, I was going to accept, and I had to get myself mentally prepared for that, and I did to be honest with you,” Anthony said.

Melo continued, “I stayed with it… there was times that… I wanted to say just ‘forget it,’ move on in my life, spend more time with my family. I started getting more comfortable with that.”

Melo’s lowest point over the last year was a time where he thought he “was going to let go of the love of his life.”

One simple sentence made all the difference for Melo: “I just stayed with it.” 

Anthony last played in the league for the Rockets before being cut by Houston. It was on November 8th of last year when he played in his final game.

But yet, it wasn’t his final goodbye.   

When Melo got the call from the Blazers, he said Portland was very transparent with him, and they were up-front about his starting role and what they were looking from him from the get-go.

“Who knows. I don’t think anybody knows what’s going to happen this year.  Anthony said.

After not playing for an entire year and searching for a team to give him another shot, Anthony now has a new perspective on his life, especially his basketball life.

“I come into this game with a totally different mindset, a totally different motivation,” Anthony said. “The way that I see just the game, the way that I see not just the game of basketball, just overall the way that I see it, the way that I approach it, it’s totally different.”

“Mentally, emotionally, spiritually… I’m able to see things clearly…so I can just go out there, and just play basketball now.”

What’s clear is this:  Portland expects Melo to bring them more offense and, in turn, help alleviate some of the pressure on Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. 

He’s waited a long time for his turn in line. Now the whole basketball world is waiting to see how he jumps in.