Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 2

The Trail Blazers and Thunder have shown time and time again that these two teams do not like each other. The playoffs have heightened that dislike.

Whether it was Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook getting into a friendly shoving match after Westerbrook fell to the floor late in the second quarter or big men Zach Collins and Markieff Morris being hit with offsetting technicals, there’s no doubt the physical play is here to stay.

Game 2 was as much of a battle as Game 1 and it was an exciting one at that. OKC led for a majority of the first half, but after Lillard scored 12 points in the second quarter and McCollum hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to end the first half, the Blazers and Thunder were all tied at 54.

Portland’s third quarter defense was the turning point in the game. The Blazers held the Thunder to just 21 points in the quarter and they never looked back. Portland takes Game 2, 114-94.

The Trail Blazers now go up a 2-0 as the best of seven-series shifts to Oklahoma City.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 114, Thunder 94

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers Game 2 victory:

1. A healthy dose of Adams to start

The Thunder started the game by getting Steven Adams involved. Adams got a lot of touches and went right at Enes Kanter. The Blazers starting center picked up two quick fouls midway through the first quarter.

In his first nine minutes of play, Adams went 3-of-4 from the field to score six points. Kanter's early foul trouble seemed to affect his offensive game. Kanter was not much of a factor in the Blazers scoring in Game 2.  

2. Schroder stuck on Lillard

Backup point guard Dennis Schroder’s assignment for Game 2 was simple:

Make it as tough as humanly possible for Lillard to even sniff the ball.

Schroder was stuck on Lillard like glue. He had a hand or arm on Lillard at all times. The Blazers starting point guard had a hard time getting shots up early on with the pesky Schorder guarding him. Lillard went 2-of-5 and 0-of-2 from three in his first 12 minutes of action.

However, when Lillard returned to the game in the second quarter, it was apparent he was determined to get off shots no matter how difficult they were. Lillard brought the house down with two very contested threes in the second quarter.

With so much focus on Lillard that made way for CJ McCollum.

McCollum was up for the challenge. He carried the scoring load for much of the game. At the end of the third, he had 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting.  

3. Fouls a plenty

Just like the media and fans, the referees also know the bad blood between these two teams.

In a span of about 15 seconds in the first quarter three fouls were called. Whether it was a charge call, a moving screen, or a blocking call, the whistles were being blown.

At the 2:54 mark of the second quarter, Al-Farouq Aminu picked up his third foul.  At halftime, the Blazers had committed 15 personal fouls. The Thunder had 14 fouls at the break.  Aminu and Kanter both had three fouls by halftime.

Despite foul trouble, the Blazers turned it up on the defensive end in the third quarter. Portland clamped down on defense to start the second half and that was what turned the game around for the Blazers.

Kanter picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter, which gave an opportunity to Meyers Leonard. Leonard rose to the occasion, guarding Adams and even slowing doing guards when needed. Leonard finished the game with the best plus/minus of any bench player for the Blazers.  

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers and Thunder will tip-off Game 3 on Friday night at 6:30pm pacific time. You can catch the game on NBC Sports Northwest and on the MyTeams App. Our pregame coverage starts at 5:30pm.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your Blazers and stream the games easily on your device.

Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little already "paying it forward"in the Portland community

Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little already "paying it forward"in the Portland community

Through a sea of trading cards and autographed jerseys and posters hung on the wall, sat a young Portland Trail Blazer who was eager to tip-off his first official meet and greet.

An hour before The SportsRoom on SW Hall in Beaverton, Oregon opened its doors at 1:00pm on Sunday, roughly one hundred Blazer fans stood in line eager to mingle with Trail Blazer rookie Nassir Little.

The line wrapped around the building with fans both young and old.

As the doors opened, Little told his agent, with a big smile on his face, he was ready.

There was excitement exuding from Little. He looked just as happy to meet the fans, as they were to meet him.

The Rip City faithful standing in line, made comments about how cool it was to be able to have a photo and autograph opportunity from a Trail Blazer. One young fan, added he thought this was the first Trail Blazers meet and greet in Beaverton. 

“It was pretty awesome, being face-to-face with an NBA player, it was sweet,” Trail Blazers fan Xavier Judge said.

“Thank you, I appreciate it,” is what Little told Trail Blazer fan William Onwall.

There Little was sitting at his very own meet and greet, and he was thanking the fans for coming out to see him.

“This was my first [meet and greet],” Little said after meeting the hundreds of Blazers fans that made their way to The SportsRoom. “I’m excited how it turned out. It was cool to meet some fans and get some support out here.”

Fans were eager to share some nice words with the Blazer rookie. One fan even said, “hey, how about you win rookie of the year?!”

Other fans told Little, “nice to meet you, [I’m a] big fan, honored to meet you."

"You know, that’s really humbling for me,” Little said. “All the hard work I’ve put in to have people appreciate that it means a lot.”

This particular event was also near and dear to the 19-year-old’s heart because of where it was held.

Little grew up collecting trading cards, and in fact, he still has “albums of cards back home.”

For the North Carolina Tar Heel star to hold his first big-time event as a professional athlete at a sports collector shop was very special to Little. 

“I had signed jerseys from some of my favorite players, and just kind of being able to pay that forward, that’s really important,” Little said.

Putting it simply, Little describes the Trail Blazer fans base as “nice.”

“People in Portland are just nice, it’s kind of crazy how nice they are, but I love it,” Little said with a big smile.  

He also already understands the Portland community is an extremely tight knit group who has been welcoming him with open arms.

“From ladies to kids two years old, and then you’ve got older people. So, it shows how wide the fan base is, and how much people are interested in basketball out here,” Little said.

Chris Tinder, who is the current owner of The SportsRoom, was pleased to have such a big event in his shop.   

The SportsRoom has been open since 1984, which makes it one of the oldest sports card shops in the Portland metropolitan area. Over the years, it has changed hands a few times. Tinder and his wife have been the proud owners of The SportsRoom for the past year and a half. Tinder says he is the fifth or sixth owner of the sports shop. 

“Loyal” is how Tinder describes Trail Blazers fans.

“Very loyal… We’ve been underdogs the last few years and we keep just going further and further in the playoffs… I think the sky is the limit with this team and where we could go,” Tinder said.

“I’m excited to see what this kid can bring to the team,” Tinder said of Little.

As for Blazer fan Jeannie Pastega, she has been a Trail Blazer fan since the team brought home the hardware in 1977.

She believes the organization is due for another Championship.

Jeannie grew up in Portland. She has always been a big fan of Trail Blazer players for what they do on the court, as well as what they do in the community.

Little is off to a good start in Jeannie’s book.

“He’s a fabulous young man, a very nice young man. I hope he has a lot of success with the Trail Blazers,” she said after Little autographed her copy of Beckett Basketball Magazine.

I think it is fair to say that all of Rip City agrees with Jeannie. Let's all hope there is a lot of success in Little's future. 

"Concerned Browns Fan" CJ McCollum in the house for Sunday Night Football

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CJ McCollum Twitter

"Concerned Browns Fan" CJ McCollum in the house for Sunday Night Football

The Cleveland Browns came up just short on Sunday Night Football when trailing by seven, a fourth down redzone play got picked off in the endzone, giving the Rams the 20-13 win. 

Trail Blazers guard and Canton boy CJ McCollum was in the house for the big game. 

He even hopped on the Browns' official twitter account before the game for some pregame hype. 

As QB Baker Mayfield attempted to drive the Browns down the field in the two-minute drill, their star WR Odell Beckham Jr. didn't get any looks. CJ was having none of it. 

There were indeed a few curious play calls down the stretch with no real urgency to get Beckham the ball in crunch time. But let's be real, as a Browns fan, CJ's got to be used to this by now, right?

NBARookieWeek: Rookies dancing at Trail Blazers Fan Fest is the best

NBARookieWeek: Rookies dancing at Trail Blazers Fan Fest is the best

The Trail Blazers Fan Fest has become a fun tradition for Rip City to watch the Blazers intra-squad scrimmage and get their first look at the roster.

A fan favorite just might be the Blazers rookies taking center court and dancing in front of their teammates, the coaching staff, and all the Blazers faithful.

The Trail Blazers tweeted out a great throwback video on Friday in honor of the NBA’s Rookie Week.

It’s hard to decide who has the best moves and who has the worst moves, but one thing is certain:

It’s always fun watching a young Damian Lillard, or a young Zach Collins, or a little bit younger Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr strut their stuff.

This year’s Fan Fest is set for Sunday, October 6th.

To help tip-off the Trail Blazers 50th Anniversary Season, this year’s Fan Fest will be held at Veterans Memorial Coliseum.

You can catch all the action of Fan Fest including the rookie dances on the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest.
Doors will open at 4 p.m. Fans can download their free digital tickets online at trailblazers.com/fanfest.

Damian Lillard commits to Team USA for 2020 Summer Olympics

Damian Lillard commits to Team USA for 2020 Summer Olympics

Damian Lillard took a quick two-day trip to Sydney, Australia earlier this week as Adidas’ Global Ambassador.

In his limited time in Sydney, Lillard sat down to do an interview with news.com.au to talk Olympics, his music, filming Space Jam 2 and more.

After NBA stars, including Lillard, pulled out of the recent FIBA World Cup this summer, people are now focused on the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

In his recent interview, Lillard confirmed he does want to play for Team USA for the 2020 Olympics.

“I plan of being a part of that. I plan on playing,” Lillard said.

Team USA is one of eight teams that have already qualified for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

The remaining four teams will earn berths during qualifying tournaments in July.

Lillard now joins Golden State Warriors stars Stephen Curry and Draymond Green who have pledged to represent Team USA already, along with Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell.

One thing is for sure – it’s a good thing the Olympics weren’t this summer.

Lillard has had busy offseason.

The 29-year-old had been filming alongside LeBron James for Space Jam 2 earlier this summer.

Lillard couldn’t give away any spoilers for Space Jam 2, but he is happy with the end result.

“I think people are really going to enjoy it… I’m proud of it, I can say that,” Lillard said.  

The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard also released his third rap album.  

Dame D.O.L.L.A. has continued to make a name for himself in the music industry.

Lillard has always been interested in pursing a rap career.

“When I made it to the NBA I just continued to do it and the platform I have as a player just shined a light on the music and it’s taken off now,” Lillard said.

“It’s real music,” Lillard added while mentioning how he is blessed to have worked with artists such as Lil Wayne.

“It’s pretty cool, I work with Wayne on all my albums. Just having him as a mainstay on all my albums is pretty cool, it’s been a pleasure and an honor because he’s one of the best to ever do it,” Lillard said.

“A lot of mainstream artists can’t get him on, so the fact he does it for me is a blessing.”

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Anthony Tolliver… Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Anthony Tolliver… Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Anthony Lamar Tolliver

BIRTHDAY: June 1st, 1985

AGE: 34

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Tolliver played 4 years of college basketball at Creighton. He was one of four players from his Kickapoo High School team to play Division I basketball.

Fun Facts

Tolliver grew up with six sisters. Yep, Anthony is the only boy of the family. 

Tolliver’s mother was a teacher for 31 years.

While with the Pistons, Tolliver discussed how he spent his NBA money as a rookie:

"I put my first pro paycheck in the bank and let it sit there. During my rookie season the only thing I bought was a Chrysler 300."

Not All About Basketball Nets

For the past few years, Tolliver has pledged to support and help send nets to save lives.

‘Nothing But Nets’ is a global grassroots campaign to raise awareness, funds, and voices to fight malaria.

Both Tolliver and Steve Blake joined the ‘Nothing But Nets’ campaign earlier this year and hope to raise awareness and funds, as well as encourage fans, to help protect refugees and their families from malaria.

Tolliver pledged to donate and help out the ‘Nothing But Nets’ organization back in 2016. He wrote:

“To me, it is inexcusable to accept that depending on the zip code you were born in, or the country you live in, your destiny is already pre-determined by the level of access you have to health care. I serve as a Nothing But Nets ambassador because it shouldn’t matter where you are born — no child should die from a mosquito bite. I know that even with just a little help, I can help kids across the globe with an opportunity to live another day and have another birthday just by sending a bed net and protecting them from malaria.

Imagine that — something as simple as sending a bed net can protect a child from a deadly, but preventable disease.”

All The Love For Portland

Tolliver is happy to be in Rip City:

“Free agency was a bit of a whirlwind. I was really looking for an opportunity to go to a team where I was valued and wanted. They made that very clear. I haven’t had free agency go this quickly in my entire career. But I couldn’t really pass up the opportunity to play for a contender and play with guys like Dame and CJ and there are a lot of great players on this team.

“And also, kind of watching the playoffs last year, how they got double-teamed a lot and that’s literally how guys like myself can excel.”

^^^ Tolliver told the media at his introductory press conference.

Wedding Date

In 2011, Tolliver married Jessica Svoboda. They met at Creighton University, during their freshman orientation. The couple has two kids together.

The Proposal

Jonah Ballow, a reporter of the Minnesota Timberwolves in 2011, sat down with Tolliver for the ‘Wolves Hot Seat.’  Tolliver answered 10 rapid-fire questions, including the biggest change in his life since his proposal to his longtime girlfriend:

“I spent a lot of money,” Tolliver said with a big smile.

Watch the throwback video to hear more from a younger Tolliver:

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

Bleacher Report ranks Damian Lillard-CJ McCollum top backcourt in the NBA

It’s hard to believe the NBA season is just around the corner.

NBA training camp tips off in less than two weeks.

We have seen the various predictions of where teams are expected to land in the Western and Eastern Conference, but what about individual play?

What about the NBA’s top duos?

Bleacher Report ranked the top 10 backcourts, and they put the Trail Blazers duo of point guard Damian Lillard and shooting guard CJ McCollum at the top.

Greg Swartz, author of the article, had this to say of the star tandem:

"With no Curry and Thompson to look up to (for now), the Trail Blazers backcourt can finally stake its claim as the NBA's best.

Coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals, Lillard and McCollum combined for 46.8 points, 8.6 rebounds and 9.9 assists during the regular season while turning the ball over just 4.2 total times per game.

In six years together, Portland has never had a losing record, reaching the postseason every time.

Following a 53-win season and the third seed in the West, Lillard almost single-handedly dismantled the Oklahoma City Thunder franchise with a now-iconic shot and pose to end the first round, leading to Paul George requesting a move and a subsequent trade of Westbrook to the Houston Rockets.

In their 16 postseason games, both Lillard and McCollum proved why they deserve to be called the NBA's best. Lillard averaged 26.9 points, 4.8 rebounds, 6.6 assists, 1.7 steals and shot 37.3 percent from deep on nearly 10 attempts per game. McCollum was right behind with 24.7 points, 5.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists, and he drilled 39.3 percent of his three-pointers."

Coming in second on the Bleacher Report list is Golden State Warrior’s Stephen Curry and D'Angelo Russell. (That’ll take some getting used to).

Houston's new backcourt of James Harden and Russell Westbrook came in at No. 3.

Mike Conley and Donovan Mitchell in Utah ranked No. 4.

Denver's Jamal Murray and Gary Harris round out the Top 5.

Read more here.

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

Everything you need to know about new Trail Blazer Hassan Whiteside... Off the court

BIRTH NAME: Hassan Niam Whiteside

BIRTHDAY: June 13th, 1989

AGE: 30

ASTROLOGICAL SIGN: Gemini

Before Fame

Whiteside played college ball at Marshall University, where he was a Conference USA Freshman of the year and Second-team All-Conference USA.

Fun Facts

If Whiteside wasn’t a basketball player, he told the Miami Heat, he would be a NASCAR driver.

Math was his favorite subject in school.

His first big purchase as an NBA player was a 2010 Escalade.

Football Father

Whiteside’s parents are Hasson Arbubakrr and Debbie Whiteside. His father played in the NFL from 1983 to 1984 for the Vikings and the Buccaneers.

Pushing Through Adversity

To say Whiteside has bounced around, and in and out of the league, would be an understatement.

After the Sacramento Kings selected him as the 33rd overall pick in the 2010 draft and later waived him, Whiteside floated through the D-League and overseas.

He made a stop in Lebanon in 2013, but just two games in, his teammates started a fight with the opposing team and the season was canceled. So Whiteside went to the Chinese NBL.

Here’s a quick look at the various teams Whiteside has played for at one time or another:

2012–13    Sioux Falls Skyforce

2013           Rio Grande Valley Vipers

2013           Amchit Club

2013           Sichuan Blue Whales

2013–14   Al Mouttahed Tripoli

2014           Jiangsu Tongxi

2014           Iowa Energy

2014–19   Miami Heat

2014          Sioux Falls Skyforce

Quickly Becoming A Portlander

Just days after the reports came out that Whiteside was signing with the Portland Trail Blazers; Whiteside started giving back to his new community.

In a series of videos shared on Instagram, Whiteside was seen handing out Voodoo doughnuts to people on the streets, while shouting, “Go Portland, Go Blazers! We got shooters!”

"You get some Voodoo Doughnuts. I got like three dozen," Whiteside said. "Giving them out to the city! We giving them out to the city, man. We sharing love, man. More love, man. We don't do the hate, my man. Less hate, man.”

Love For Koi Fish

In an interview with The Ringer back in October of 2018, Whiteside shared more about his personal life.  

A big part of his everyday life is his fishpond. It’s easy to see Whiteside’s love of fish, particularly Koi fish from reading the article.

Here is an excerpt from The Ringer article by Haley O’Shaughnessy:

We’re crouched down in his front yard in Miami Beach, sweating into a pond of 40 koi fish. “Come here, OGs,” Whiteside says, touching the water. Like him, they’re strikingly oversized, a group of orange and black and white koi all longer than my forearm. His Snapchat followers (who he also talks to, several times a day) know them well. “They’re more famous than me, man,” he says, wiping water off on his worn-in brown tank top. Whiteside’s been in Miami since the Heat signed him in November 2014, but his drawl—the kind that acts as a thickening agent for vowels and turns “man” from one syllable to two—comes from Gastonia, North Carolina, his hometown.

All 40 fish have a name. Whiteside names everything: The planter in the backyard (Man of Ultimate Wisdom), the bust made of Canadian pennies in the living room. Every name has an explanation, and every explanation has deeper meaning. Which he shares with me, one by one. (The bust is Penny. Name. Sure, a penny itself is worthless, but thousands of pennies together aren’t, especially the Canadian penny, because it’s discontinued. Explanation. Isn’t that beautiful? And, Whiteside smiles, what’s more beautiful than the human body? Meaning. Deep.)

So yes, to answer my question, the fish are individuals. Together he calls them the OGs. He knows what I’m thinking, but it’s short for Old Guys. “They can live to be 140. Don’t matter how much shit they swim through,” Whiteside explains as we walk the stairs of his all-white waterfront home, “they keep swimming.”

Throwback To A Day In The Life Of Hassan Whiteside

Seven years ago, the Sacramento Kings posted a video to their Youtube page as they followed Whiteside around for a day.

From breakfast to working out at the Kings practice facility to figuring out what goes in his protein shake to taking a tour through his condo to getting a haircut to checking out a fish store for his growing aquarium – it was an all-access look.

Check out Whiteside's routine in Sacramento with this throwback video:

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

Dame D.O.L.L.A. ends the summer with a new freestyle track

The Trail Blazers start their training camp in just a few weeks. That means the NBA season is right around the corner and so is the end of summer. Speaking of "End of Summer," that's the names of the latest freestyle track dropped by Dame D.O.L.L.A, aka Damian Lillard for you basketball fans. 

Earlier this summer D.O.L.L.A released "Big D.O.L.L.A," his third album and the follow-up to 2017's "Confirmed." The track "End of Summer" just adds to a near endless list of impressive lyrical endeavors for the Trail Blazers star point guard. If you haven't heard it, you can listen to it below. 

If social media is to believed (and it is), fans loved D.O.L.L.A.'s latest track:

Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little heard the track and only had one question for his new teammate: