Trail Blazers facing reality on upcoming three-game road trip

Trail Blazers facing reality on upcoming three-game road trip

The Portland Trail Blazers have 23 games remaining on their regular-season slate.

Twenty-three games to try and move up and seize the eighth and final playoff spot out West. Entering Wednesday’s games, the Trail Blazers currently sit in the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings, 3.5 games back of the Memphis Grizzlies.

And, it's now confirmed that the Blazers will have at least a couple more games without their All-Star Damian Lillard.

Lillard did not travel with the team Wednesday morning as the Blazers set out on their current three-game road trip.  

Following the All-Star break, Lillard was asked how many games he expected to miss as he continued to rehab a right groin strain. "If I had to guess I would say at least 3-4 games. Maybe five games," Lillard said. 

The Trail Blazers point guard has already missed three games with the injury. There’s still a chance Lillard could meet the team at a later date on the trip.

But, as Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed following Tuesday’s loss to the Celtics, the team’s medical staff must clear Lillard first and foremost. 

“It’s usually a mutual decision,” Stotts said of Lillard and the medical staff. “We have to clear him medically, and this is not just Damian, it’s any player. He has to be cleared medically and then the player has to feel if he’s up to play or not. That’s not specific to Damian, that’s just the right thing to do. Ultimately, the player knows whether he feels 100% and if he’s ready to go.”

Portland has been relying heavily on CJ McCollum and Carmelo Anthony with Lillard sidelined. The two veterans have mentioned that they have to step up, but they also realize the number one priority is for Lillard to only come back when he is completely healthy.

“It’s an adjustment. It’s an adjustment for everybody, starting with the guys on the bench, as a team, and as a whole, you lose a component like that to injury, but… Dame's got to get healthy, that’s the most important part -- is for him to be healthy,” Melo said.

With Lillard sidelined, the Blazers have gone 1-2. It’s been apparent that Portland has missed the two-man game between Lillard and Hassan Whiteside. 

Late in Tuesday’s game vs. Boston, McCollum and Whiteside showed that they too could have a pretty solid connection. Whiteside finished with 18 points and 19 rebounds in the losing effort.

But the big fella understands that they have to continue to come together with their team captain out.  

“There’s nothing we can do about injuries. Injuries pretty much have been haunting us all season,” Whiteside said.

Now as the Blazers embark on their current three-game trip starting off with Thursday’s contest in Indiana, followed by Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks, before wrapping up the trip in Orlando Monday, it’s all about the playoff push.

It’s about catching Memphis, while still dealing with so many injuries.

It’s our reality so we’ve got to figure it out -- how to get as many wins as possible starting in Indiana and progressing forward. I don’t know how many –we’ve got 20 games left, 21 games left? 23 – so we’ve got to win the majority of them to give ourselves a chance to make the playoffs. – Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said following Tuesday's game

The reality a month ago was Lillard went off for 50 points against Indiana with the Blazers beating the Pacers 139-129 at home.

Melo’s mentality heading into the road trip is all about how the trip starts off against the Pacers. 

“To win in Indiana. For me, that’s the only thing that we should be thinking about. Because the first game on the road trip is always the one that if we have a chance to get, we want to go in there and get it. I’m sure they’ll be thinking about them coming in here losing to us on our home court and they want to get that win back.”

While, Whiteside put it simply:

“We just gotta get some wins on the road. Let’s get a couple of wins on the road, and pretty much that’s all there is to say.”

That’s the truth. There really isn’t much more to say or do, the short-handed Blazers just need to go out and win on the road. 

Social Media Reacts: Rip City reminisces about Trail Blazers 1991-92 squad

Social Media Reacts: Rip City reminisces about Trail Blazers 1991-92 squad

Happy Throwback Thursday, Rip City!

The Trail Blazers' 115-104 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls in Game 2 of the 1992 NBA Finals had the city of Portland on edge back in the summer of ’92, and now in the spring of 2020.

In the classic re-air of Game 2, fans of today were reminiscing about how air horns were allowed in Chicago Stadium back then. 

But hey, time can change everything. Who would thought in 1992 that a Sonics fan could turn out to be a big Trail Blazers fan nearly 20 years later?  

Now we know it could happen. 

The Blazers and Bulls series had it all with the battle of legends Michael Jordan and Clyde Drexler.

Portland’s road to the 1992 NBA Finals:

First Round

Defeated L.A. Lakers, 3-1

West Semifinals

Defeated Phoenix, 4-1

West Finals

Defeated Utah, 4-2 

The current era of basketball peeps showed some love for the ’92 Blazers getting out and running.

The fastbreak was a thing of beauty!   

It was an ugly third quarter for Portland, though.  

Chicago went on a 13-0 run to end the third as the Bulls took a 77-70 lead. The Blazers shot 7-for-20 in the third.

But, things got worse before they got better for Portland.

Drexler picked up his fourth foul at the 8:12 mark in the third quarter, but Drexler stayed in the game.  The Blazers superstar fouled out with 4:36 remaining on the clock with Portland down eight.

When Drexler fouled out people shared their emotions on Twitter of what it was like watching the game live and seeing Drexler taken out of the game.  

It seemed unlikely the Blazers could win in Chicago in Game 2 considering Game 1’s loss was pretty demoralizing and then it became even more improbable after Drexler fouled out. It seemed the game would be over.

Yet, we all know, the Blazers role players stepped up.

Danny Ainge, Kevin Duckworth, and Jerome Kersey were determined to claw back and that they did.   

This classic game had Drexler and Terry Porter combining for 50, while Ainge went off for 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting off the bench.

Fans all over twitter gave props to Portland’s role players:

The Blazers outscored the Bulls, 28-10 in the last ten minutes of the game and into overtime -- all without Drexler.

Ainge had nine points in OT and proved once again how much of a competitor he was on the floor.

That was a fun Throwback Thursday, for sure!  

How the series turned out:

Game 1:

CHICAGO 122, Portland 89

Game 2:

Portland 115, CHICAGO 115 (OT)

Game 3:

Chicago 94, PORTLAND 84

Game 4:

PORTLAND 93, Chicago 88

Game 5:

Chicago 119, PORTLAND 106

Game 6:

CHICAGO 97, Portland 93

Jimmy Butler has $140,000 worth of his favorite wine stored up while social distancing

Jimmy Butler has $140,000 worth of his favorite wine stored up while social distancing

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum has dropped his knowledge of his favorite Pinot Noir wines over the years, saying many times that living in Oregon we are lucky to have such great wines.  

Now we are about to get more wine recommendations and learn more about fine wines with the show ‘What’s In Your Glass’ hosted by Camelo Anthony. ‘What’s In Your Glass’ is a weekly live stream between Melo, a special guest, and wine lovers all over the world streaming on Melo’s Instagram Live and then later posted to his youtube page.

This week, Miami Heat guard Jimmy Butler joined the Trail Blazers veteran to talk wine and hoops.

Butler’s go-to wine on any given night is Sassicaia, which is red blends from Bolgheri, Tuscany, Italy.

“I’ve got more Sassicaia 2010 than I have of any other type of wine in my collection and I’m not over exaggerating when I say, I probably have anywhere between 500 and 600 bottles of just Sassicaia 2010,” Butler said.

A bottle of Sassicaia 2010 is the first wine that Butler drank once he turned 21 years old. He added that he knows he is biased because that was the first bottle of wine he was introduced to.

“I was introduced to one of the best wines in the world and I can’t turn back from that,” Butler said with a smile.

Butler’s wine of choice is even more special to him because he had Sassicaia 2010 with Mark Wahlberg in Chicago back in 2013. 

“It’s like, damn, I got to have wine with Mark Wahlberg… It’s his fault that I’m into this,” Butler joked.

The Miami Heat guard also went to visit the Sassicaia winery two summers ago where he learned all about how it’s made and he says he has been reading up on his favorite wine.

Butler poked fun at Melo though, saying if he was going out with him to dinner, he would have to go with Château Pétrus wine because Melo is “boujee.”

Butler’s Sassicaia 2010 runs for around $230 on most wine websites, while Château Pétrus can go anywhere from nearly $4,000 to over $8,000.

Now I’m no wine expert, but man, I’d be totally fine with tasting that Château Pétrus.  

Check out the full show of ‘What’s In Your Glass’ with Melo and Buttler right here:

How Kelly AuCoin of Billions fame became a die-hard Trail Blazers fan

How Kelly AuCoin of Billions fame became a die-hard Trail Blazers fan

The NBA is not short on celebrity fans. Kevin Hart, Jack Nicholson, Drake, Spike Lee, and many others can often be seen in the front row at a basketball game. 

Every team has that one big-time celebrity fan, and for the Blazers that fan is Kelly AuCoin. 

AuCoin, an Oregon native, has been a Blazers fan for as long as he can remember. 

AuCoin joined host Justin Myers on The Bridge Podcast this week to tell the story of how he became a fan.

It was right away, man. I remember watching a game... the Blazers were just wreaking havoc and there was this huge guy in the middle who was just dominating, throwing people out of the way. I said to my dad, "God, he's amazing." He was like, "yeah, that's literally the only good game he has ever played," and that was LaRue Martin... those were my guys! - Kelly AuCoin

A few years later, a then 10-year AuCoin saw his beloved Trail Blazers win the NBA championship. 

Now a famous cast member of the HBO series "Billions," AuCoin still wears his Blazers colors proudly though he may not make it to as many games as he would like. 

AuCoin lives in Brooklyn, New York, so getting to Moda Center is a bit of a challenge. However, when his Blazers are in town to take on the Brooklyn Nets, you are guaranteed to see AuCoin and his Blazers gear courtside. 

You can listen to the full Bridge Podcast here:


 

Memories from the Trail Blazers OT win vs. Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals

Memories from the Trail Blazers OT win vs. Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals

The Trail Blazers had already been buried under those six straight three-point field goals by Michael Jordan in Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals and when they fell behind the Chicago Bulls 90-82 in Game 2, it appeared the series would be heading back to Portland with the Trail Blazers in an 0-2 hole.

Clyde Drexler, who was leading the Blazers with 26 points, had just fouled out with 4:36 left in the fourth quarter and it looked bleak against the defending champs.

But, even without Drexler, Portland still had a backcourt that could have been solid starters for a whole lot of other teams in the NBA.

So Terry Porter and Danny Ainge took over and the end result was a 115-104 win over Chicago that left Bulls fans eerily silent as they filed out of Chicago Stadium. And that serves as Thursday night’s (7:30) Trail Blazer classic game on NBC Sports Northwest.

And if you never had a chance to watch Porter and Ainge in their prime, this is a must-see game. They took the game over down the stretch.

Portland went on an immediate 13-5 run after Drexler fouled out, with Porter scoring seven of those points. The Blazers tied the game at 95. Jordan hit a jumper to give Chicago the lead but Kevin Duckworth replied with a clutch shot with 13.2 seconds to go to tie it again. Then Jordan missed an 18-footer that would have won it for the Bulls.

That set the stage for Ainge to take over in the overtime. He tied John Havlicek’s record of nine points in a Finals overtime as Portland won the extra period 18-7.

Porter hit a big three in overtime -- his team’s first of the game after 11 misses -- that vaulted his team into an insurmountable lead with a little more than a minute left.

When Carmelo Anthony was awakened to Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality

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USA Today Images

When Carmelo Anthony was awakened to Kobe Bryant's Mamba Mentality

No player in the NBA has incarnated the idea of working harder than everyone else more than NBA legend Kobe Bryant.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar was famous for his elite work ethic and whispers of workouts early in the morning would travel around the league.

On an Instagram Live on Dwyane Wade's account, the Miami Heat superstar and Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony reminisced on playing in the Summer Olympic Games with Kobe Bryant and witnessing his work ethic first hand. 

We heard stories about [Kobe]. We heard that he got up and we worked out at two in the morning or he did this or that. We didn't believe him until the Olympics and I started seeing this dude doing work... - Wade

Carmelo also had mad respect for the mamba mentality at work. 

He was just different, man. That mentality was totally different... like for us to have a chance to go to the Olympics with him and be there with him, and just like build something different . We will always cherish that. We will always carry on his legacy. - Melo

Earlier in the live, Dywane Wade mentioned that Kobe barely rolled with anyone, and Melo finished up the clip segment referring to that answer. 

He didn't mess with a lot of people at all... That just was his nature. Everything was always a competition and it wasn't disrespect. Well, sometimes it wasn't a competition he just had in his mind set out goals and wasn't nothing or nobody gonna come in between him reaching that goal. - Melo

Kobe Bryant may tragically no longer be with us, but his legacy and his mamba mentality will be carried on forever, including in the current by Melo himself. 

Damian Lillard shares favorite songs, previews new music coming soon on mixtape

Damian Lillard shares favorite songs, previews new music coming soon on mixtape

The anticipation is growing as Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard a.k.a. Dame D.O.L.L.A. has been teasing some new music. 

The wait is almost over.

Dame D.O.L.L.A and Shaquille O'Neal have already finished collaborating on a song that will be featured on Lillard’s upcoming mixtape.  

“I’ve got some new music. I’m gonna put out a mixtape soon. I got some guys featured on it,” Lillard said during a videoconference Tuesday. “I actually did a song with Shaq… To finish it… I’m setting up my studio equipment in my house. Once I do that, I’ll finish recording it and send everything back for the engineer to mix it and do everything that he need to do and I’m put it out. So, it should be coming soon because I’ve got a lot of stuff recorded and everything else that I’m going to put together is already written."

It was just about seven months ago when Lillard and Shaq found themselves in one of the best rap battles of all-time... in sports.

So how did the Shaq song come about?

Well, apparently Lillard knew he wanted to collaborate with Shaq for a while now.

Which, Lillard laughed about saying, “obviously during training camp me and Shaq had a little back-and-forth. And even before that we were supposed to do a song together, but it just kind of was stalling and before you know it, we were sending dis-records back-and-forth at each other.”

“It was like, well, now we are shooting at each other so we can’t do it right now,” Lillard joked. “But, it was never personal or there was never no real beef. So, eventually it was like we was on the phone and I was like- ‘let’s do a song or whatever.’ And he sent it to me. I sent it to him, he sent it back to me the next day, that was that. It’s easy.”

Earlier this week, the Trail Blazers point guard went live on his Instagram feed to share some of his favorite songs as well as songs from his mixtape. .

Lillard has been much more active on social media during the NBA hiatus. He feels that as people are going through uncertain times amid COVID-19, he wants to be there for others.

“I’m just trying to connect with people,” Lillard said. “I think with all of us being forced to quarantine… Just trying to be a part of that unity and togetherness that’s necessary right now because this is one of those times where we are all experiencing this same thing.”

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum deliver encouraging words to Class of 2020

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum deliver encouraging words to Class of 2020

Anyone who has walked across the stage and received their diploma or degree while their family sat in the audience grinning ear-to-ear, knows what a special moment graduation can be. 

But due to the coronavirus situation, many schools have postponed, canceled or given their students a belated chance to celebrate their spring graduations. 

Portland Trail Blazers guards Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum want the Class of 2020 to stay encouraged despite this year's graduation looking very different.

In a video released by their former teammate, Memphis Grizzlies forward Anthony Tolliver, the dynamic duo sent well-wishes to impending graduates.  

“I just wanted to say congratulations on everything you guys and girls have accomplished,” McCollum said. “Stay encouraged, obviously control what you can control and use this time to reconnect, spend time with family, friends and loved ones.”

“Continue to aspire to be better and grow,” Lillard said. “I just want to encourage you guys and send some love your way.” 

Along with Lillard and McCollum, NBA TV and TNT broadcaster Kristen Ledlow, Sacramento Kings forward Harrison Barnes, Brooklyn Nets guard Garrett Temple and rapper Dee-1 sent positive messages to the Class of 2020. 

Both Lillard and McCollum recently announced they would be giving back to those impacted by the coronavirus. Lillard donated $100,000 to the Trail Blazers COVID-19 relief fund while McCollum donated $170,000 to the Portland, Oregon and Canton, Ohio communities. 

How to Watch: Trail Blazers OT win over Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals

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USA Today Images

How to Watch: Trail Blazers OT win over Bulls in 1992 NBA Finals

No need to dust off that old VHS for this one, we’ve got you covered!

While some still do have the video recordings of the 1992 NBA Finals between the Portland Trail Blazers and Chicago Bulls, tonight is your chance to watch Game 2 of Rip City's last Finals appearance once again with fellow Blazers fans on NBC Sports Northwest at 6:00pm.

The series was a showdown between NBA legends Clyde Drexler and Michael Jordan.

Yes, the Bulls took the series in six, but in Game 2 it seemed unlikely for the Trail Blazers to win in Chicago considering Game 1’s loss for Portland was pretty demoralizing. It became even more improbable after Drexler fouled out in the fourth quarter of Game 2.  It seemed the game would be over.

Yet, the Blazers role players stepped up.

Hello, Kevin Duckworth and Danny Ainge!

This classic game had Drexler and Terry Porter combining for 50, while Ainge went off for 17 points on an efficient 7-of-10 shooting off the bench.

In the series, MJ averaged 35.8 points, 6.5 assists, and 4.8 rebounds. In a losing effort in Game 2, he finished with 39 points, 10 assists, and five rebounds.

Even Jordan's impressive night wasn’t enough for the Bulls to get past the Blazers on June 5th, 1992. Portland defeated Chicago 115-101 to even the series up at 1-1.

Now relive that memorable basketball battle:  Game 2 is tonight at 6pm on NBC Sports Northwest. 

Starters for Blazers vs. Bulls Game 2:

CHICAGO

Michael Jordan

Scottie Pippen

Horace Grant

John Paxson

Bill Cartwright  

PORTLAND

Terry Porter

Buck Williams

Clyde Drexler

Kevin Duckworth

Jerome Kersey  

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Bulls

WHEN: Thursday, April 2 at 6:00pm 

Channel: NBC Sports Northwest, Channel 737 (Portland), 617 (Seattle)

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here.  

OR stream the game on your phone with the 'MyTeams' App -- available in the App Store for iPhones and on Google play.  

NBC Sports Northwest is airing 12 Trail Blazers Classic Games over the next few weeks.

The full schedule can be found here.

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum donates $170,000 to coronavirus relief

Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum donates $170,000 to coronavirus relief

CJ McCollum is giving back to those have been impacted by COVID-19.

Per Chris Haynes of Yahoo! Sports, the Portland Trail Blazers guard has donated $170,000 to the Portland, Oregon and Canton, Ohio communities for coronavirus relief. 

The generous contribution will benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs in the Portland metro area, who will receive a $70,000 donation. The funds will help the club with staff retention, virtual counseling, and other programs for children and families, including meal distribution. 

The Akron-Canton Food Bank will also receive a $100,000 contribution from the Trail Blazers star. This donation will help provide 400,000 meals to families in McCollum’s hometown of Canton, as well as the nearby communities in Stark and Tuscarawas. 

McCollum becomes the second Trail Blazer to publicly give back during this pandemic. Just two days earlier, his teammate Damian Lillard announced via a video press conference that he donated $100,000 to the Blazers COVID-19 relief fund. 

The Trail Blazers established the fund in collaboration with their players to help support local nonprofits serving the community. Portland is already doing its part of the NBA Family’s goal of raising over $50 million.