Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Golden State Warriors in Game 4

PORTLAND -- Facing elimination on Monday night, the Portland Trail Blazers did not roll over in front of their homecourt. Portland came out with energy on both ends, and got a nice scoring punch from its starting center.  

The Blazers biggest lead on the night was 17 points in Game 4.

After sustaining a 12-0 Warriors run late in the third and early into the fourth quarter, Golden State tied the game at the 4:34 mark of the final period.

With under a minute to go, the game was all tied up at 111, and that’s where it stayed at the end of the regulation.

In overtime, it was back-and-forth until Draymond Green hit a dagger three-pointer with 39.6 seconds remaining in OT. The Warriors complete the sweep and beat the Trail Blazer 119-117.

Final Box Score: Warriors 119, Trail Blazers 117

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 4 loss:

1.  Blazers went away from the pick-and-roll early

The pick-and-roll had been the Blazers’ bread and butter all season long when center Jusuf Nurkic was healthy.

The Trail Blazers continued to play through the pick-and-roll with Enes Kanter, but it hasn’t been nearly as effective.

Portland started Meyers Leonard at center for the second straight game on Monday night. But even though Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned that his team would not make many more adjustments while addressing the media pregame, Damian Lillard played more off the ball and it was rare to see Lillard and a Blazers big run the pick-and-roll to start the game.

The Warriors have defended Lillard extremely well all series. With less pick-and-rolls, Lillard was able to get free more often on offense. In turn, he had a good shooting night, but it wasn’t enough against the back-to-back champs.

2. Warriors missed Iguodala on both ends

Andre Iguodala did not play for the Warriors after suffering a left calf strain in Game 3. Iguodala was initially listed as questionable for Game 4. 

Alfonzo McKinnie started in place of the injured Iguodala. The young McKinnie hesitated to shoot after not shooting so well to start the game. It was obvious that Warriors missed Iguodala’s presence on both ends.    

Quinn Cook and Jonas Jerebko also got more minutes.

With no Kevin Durant, and no DeMarcus Cousins, the Warriors lack of depth showed on Monday night. However, Golden State showed its experience in overtime and was able to complete the sweep.  

3. The Leonard effect

Chants of “Meyers Leonard” erupted in the second quarter after Leonard had already scored 20 points on the night. It wasn’t just his scoring though that was getting the Blazers crowd amped up, Leonard took an offensive charge and got a steal within a couple of minutes of each other in the third quarter. He also posted a double-double. 

Leonard was bringing the energy into the team and the crowd. The Warriors were just able to outlast the Blazers. 

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Trail Blazers transfer Moses Brown and Jaylen Hoard back to G League

Trail Blazers transfer Moses Brown and Jaylen Hoard back to G League

Friday morning, the Portland Trail Blazers announced that they have completed the two-way transfers of center Moses Brown and forward Jaylen Hoard back to the G League’s Texas Legends.

It was on November 9th that the two rookies were recalled from the G League to join the Blazers.

Players on two-way contracts can spend up to 45 days on NBA rosters while spending the rest of their time in the G-League. The Blazers had initially assigned both Brown and Hoard to the G-League's Texas Legends back on October 27th.

[RELATED]: Moses Brown makes his NBA debut

In two appearances with Portland this season, Brown played a total of five minutes, recording three rebounds. Hoard appeared in one game and finished with one rebound in one minute of action.

The Texas Legends (1-2) will visit the Iowa Wolves on Saturday.

Dribble, dribble, dribble: What Shaq & Barkley think about Melo to Portland

Dribble, dribble, dribble: What Shaq & Barkley think about Melo to Portland

Carmelo to Portland. By now you've heard. 

Dwight Jaynes will tell you why it's a good move, Tom Haberstroh will proceed with caution and Jamie Hudson and Mike Richman will break it all down for you.

But really, you're all wondering: What do Shaq and Charles Barkley think of the move?

Well, you're in luck:

Barkley's point about the ball being dominated by Trail Blazer guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum is a fair point. It will be an interesting transition to see how Melo finds a way to mesh with the duo who has played their whole career together and how those pieces come together inside Terry Stotts system. 

Haberstroh: 3rd time the charm? Thoughts on Carmelo Anthony to Portland

Haberstroh: 3rd time the charm? Thoughts on Carmelo Anthony to Portland

For Carmelo Anthony’s last two stops in the Western Conference, the idea of Melo was more appealing than actual Melo. Now, Portland takes a chance.

Maybe third time’s the charm?

Interestingly enough, Portland provides a similar opportunity as his stints in OKC and Houston: come in and embrace the third-wheel role. OKC had Russell Westbrook and Paul George. Houston had James Harden and Chris Paul. Portland has Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

The difference is that Melo hasn’t played in a year and doesn’t have the defensive safety nets of Steven Adams and Clint Capela. The Blazers traded Moe Harkless and Meyers Leonard this off-season because they thought Hassan Whiteside could be that guy, but they rank 19th in defense, compared to 14th in offense. They need stoppers. Anthony is not that guy. Especially not after a year on the sidelines.

Best case scenario, Anthony comes off the bench and provides instant offense like Seth Curry did last season.

Worst case scenario, it doesn’t work, they move on. Houston did just that and got to the Western Conference semifinals.

Portland wants an offensive spark, but they need defenders. As long as Melo isn’t portrayed as the savior, he can help. But we said the same thing about OKC and Houston.

Read More on the Melo signing:

Trail Blazers to sign 'Melo' -- and let me tell you why it's a good idea

Social media reacts to the report of Blazers signing Carmelo Anthony

Throwback: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum supported Carmelo to Portland in the Summer of 2017

Trail Blazers to sign 'Melo' -- and let me tell you why it's a good idea

Trail Blazers to sign 'Melo' -- and let me tell you why it's a good idea

Look at it this way, Trail Blazer fans – what does your team have to lose by signing Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed contract?

More games? Well, if Portland doesn’t solve its power-forward problems, that’s going to happen, anyway.

And spare me the hand-wringing about Anthony’s defense. There wasn’t going to be some sort of miracle move that was going to transform this team into a rabid pack of guard dogs at the defensive end of the floor.

The Trail Blazers plan to sign Anthony – it hasn’t happened yet because there are logistics, including a physical, that need to be taken care of before he can actually sign – to that non-guaranteed contract. That means if something good doesn’t happen, he can be sent down the road with no great financial loss.

Think of him as a "rent-to-own."

But let’s keep it real about the Trail Blazers right now: the loss of Zach Collins has left a gaping hole at the power forward spot. And at the same time, Portland is struggling to score. Frankly, there is little chance before the return of Jusuf Nurkic that this team is going to somehow figure out a way to consistently hold a team to fewer points than it is scoring. So why not try Carmelo Anthony? Why not try to put enough points on the board that the defense doesn't have to be so tight?

Half the league is playing that way in this era.

And really, I have no idea how well he can do as an offensive player after getting into just 10 games last season. But I know this – opponents are loading up against Damian Lillard more frequently and he needs help. Lillard has always been a big proponent of signing Anthony and famously tried to recruit him to Portland when he was a free agent. And the 10-time all-star will be able to play with composure in clutch situations and attack mismatches when they present themselves late in games.

Anthony has always been popular with his teammates and will bring a presence to the locker room that might need a little shaking up.

It might not have made any sense to bring him in earlier, when it was believed the team was deep on its frontline. You wouldn’t want to bring him in just to have him sit on the bench. But now? If he has anything left, he’s probably going to get as many minutes as his 35-year-old body can handle. This is a player who has averaged 24 points per game during his career.

And when Dame is getting blitzed on pick-and-rolls or being hounded by a box-and-one defense, I have a feeling Carmelo Anthony will at least be a credible option that teams need to worry about late in games.

If not… at least the franchise made an effort. And wasn’t afraid to take the gamble.

Throwback: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum supported Carmelo to Portland in the Summer of 2017

Throwback: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum supported Carmelo to Portland in the Summer of 2017

The NBA world has been waiting on pins and needles for months waiting to see if future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony would land on an NBA roster this season. On Thursday, we got our answer, and it landed right in our backyard.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Portland Trail Blazers have agreed to a non-guaranteed deal with Anthony. 

Carmelo Anthony has long been linked to the Blazers. Portland's star duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have both been very vocal about their support and recruitment of Melo in the past. In fact, Lillard talked about the prospect of adding Melo two summers ago at his annual basketball camp. 

McCollum happened to be making a guest appearance at Lillard's camp that same day, and he too gave the media his thoughts on the prospects of adding Anthony. 

We all know what happened that summer - he was traded by the Knicks, not to the Blazers, but to the Oklahoma City Thunder. He then hit the open market in the summer of 2018, where he once again rejected the Blazers and signed with the Rockets. As recently as two months ago, Lillard said that he felt after multiple failed recruitments that Anthony was never coming to Portland. Wonder if he saw this one coming. 

Stayed tuned to NBC Sports Northwest for all the latest Anthony news as it develops. 

Social media reacts to the report of Blazers signing Carmelo Anthony

Social media reacts to the report of Blazers signing Carmelo Anthony

The Blazers have been experimenting at power forward since losing Zach Collins to shoulder surgery.

Thursday evening, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reported that the Trail Blazers are set to sign Carmelo Anthony. The contract is non-guaranteed.

According to Yahoo Sports reporter Chris Haynes, Damian Lillard was informed of the potential signing on Wednesday night after the Blazers lost to the Raptors.

Trail Blazers forward Mario Hezonja has already expressed his excitement.

Other NBA players, past and present, are weighing in, too:

Here is what Rip City is saying:

Anthony last played for the Houston Rockets and averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.5 apg in 10 games in '18-'19.

The video above is from media day 2017 following a summer of rumors around Melo to Portland. 

NBA Rumor: Trail Blazers set to sign Carmelo Anthony

NBA Rumor: Trail Blazers set to sign Carmelo Anthony

Breaking news for the Portland Trail Blazers. According to Woj, the team is set to sign free agent Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed deal. 

The Blazers have been riddled with injuries to start the season and are especially thin at the four position, which Anthony could provided offensive support at. 

Anthony has long been a rumored target for the the team and garnered support publicly from both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum in past off-seasons. 

Anthony last played for the Houston Rockets and averaged 13.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.5 apg in 10 games in '18-'19.

During his last lengthy stint in the league, Anthony averaged 16.2 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 1.3 apg during 78 games with the Thunder in '17-'18

Anthony will join the Blazers during their upcoming six-game road trip.

More on this story as it develops from Insider Dwight Jaynes and reporter Jamie Hudson.

The video above is from media day 2017 following a summer of rumors around Melo to Portland. 

Trail Blazers facing plenty of questions heading into long road trip

Trail Blazers facing plenty of questions heading into long road trip

The feeling inside the Trail Blazers locker room was some combination of frustration and resigned optimism.

After falling to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, and losing for the sixth time in seven games to drop to 4-8 on the year, the Blazers were believably frustrated. The optimism was mostly by default.

It’s still November, the marathon NBA season is just beginning and for all of Portland’s clear and obvious issues, players pointed to the 70 games remaining on the schedule as the biggest reason to be hopeful the team can find its footing.

“It’s a long season,” Hood said, uttering a refrain that his teammates would echo. “Nobody’s in the playoffs right now. I don’t care if they’re number one in the league or number one in the west, everybody is fighting and figuring out everything. Nobody has tailed off and took off from everybody else. By next month we could be up there at the top so we just got to continue to stay positive and get better.”

If the Blazers are going to make as dramatic a turn as Hood suggested and end up in the top of standings by December, most of that progress will come on the road. Wednesday’s game against the Raptors was a brief pit stop in Portland before the Blazers head out for an 11-day, six game trip, finally returning to Moda Center the day before Thanksgiving.

Even early in the season, this trip looks daunting because this team has obvious flaws.

The Blazers are still searching for answers at power forward after losing Zach Collins to shoulder surgery until at least mid-March. With a combination of injuries and poor play, Terry Stotts has mixed and matched groups to open games, trotting out his sixth different starting lineup of the season in Game No. 12 on Wednesday.

Stotts turned to Nassir Little against Toronto. The rookie played hard and mostly held his own. It was an encouraging performance even with Little going 3-for-10 from the floor in 23 minutes. Frankly, going with the high-energy rookie at that spot might be the Blazers best option as Anthony Tolliver has been ineffective at best and Mario Hezonja isn’t suited for a big minute role. 

Beyond who starts, the Blazers desperately need to figure out how to finish games. Other than a face plant at Golden State, the Blazers haven’t been rolled over in most of their losses. Instead their consistently dropping games in crunch time, out executed or outworked at winning time. The Blazers have a league-worst 122.8 defensive rating in the fourth quarter, and they are the second worst defensive rebounding team in the final frame.

“Sometimes it’s not just because we can’t get a stop. It’s we can’t get a rebound,” Damian Lillard said. “If you give up two and three opportunities to an NBA team you’re going to get scored on.”

The reasons for frustration inside the locker room are obvious. The injuries, the shifting rotation and repeated late game letdowns are already threatening to derail this season in its early stages. And yet most of the Blazers said they were optimistic or even encouraged.

“You gotta just keep going. You gotta keep fighting," Lillard said. "I think that we should be encouraged by the fact that we’ve lost a lot of games the same way. We’ve been in the mix. We’ve been right there down the stretch and we lose games down the stretch. I think that’s one thing we can’t forget. But like I said before, we can’t fold. We gotta just keep coming, continue to try to correct the mistakes and the things we already know how (to do) to win games."

The Morning After: Everything you missed from the Trail Blazers loss to the Raptors

The Morning After: Everything you missed from the Trail Blazers loss to the Raptors

The Trail Blazers rough start to the season hit another bump in the road when they welcomed the defending champion Toronto Raptors to town.

Things looked promising early, with the Blazers jumping out to the early double-digit lead. The starting lineup looked rejuvenated and the Moda Center crowd was electric, all thanks to Nassir Little. The promising rookie got his first career start and did not disappoint. His chase-down block in the first half looked to be a game-changer, but in the end, the Raptors were too much.

With both teams tied at 94 early in the fourth quarter, Toronto went on a 14-0 run that the Blazers never rebounded from.

Portland drops one to the Raptors, 114-106, and falls to 4-8 on the season

QUOTABLES:

Kent Bazemore on team’s struggles:

We just need to continue to play hard until we figure it out. As long as we keep providing the effort, things will turn… this is a winning team, and will be there when the time is right.

Rodney Hood on how it felt to get back on the court:

I’m pretty sore right now, but I felt good once I got going up and down a couple times throughout the game. It’s feeling better.

Coach Stotts on the first start for rookie Nassir Little:

I thought he had a really good game, I thought he held his own with (Pascal) Siakam defensively, brought a lot of energy, and played hard. So I was very pleased with the way he played.

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