Trail Blazers' new mantra: 'Us against Everybody'

Damian Lillard

Trail Blazers' new mantra: 'Us against Everybody'

LOS ANGELES – After the final buzzer had sounded Thursday in an intense and heated preseason game, the Trail Blazers regular season had officially arrived.

And with it came their battle cry.

After CJ McCollum barked with DeAndre Jordan and after Terry Stotts shouted and gestured at Doc Rivers, and after the Blazers’ 35-point lead wilted into a 115-109 loss to the Clippers, team captain Damian Lillard came into the locker room with a message.

“I said to everybody: ‘It’s us against everybody,’’’ Lillard said.

The preseason is now over, and while there are questions about the left hamstring of Al-Farouq Aminu, the right ankle of Moe Harkless, the hip of Gerald Henderson and whether Phil Pressey or Tim Frazier will win the final point guard spot, Lillard made sure there was no question where the Blazers’ minds need to be come the Oct. 28 season opener.

“It’s our coach against their coach, our team against their team. Whoever is not on our side, then it’s us against them,’’ Lillard said. “And that’s the bottom line.’’

There was a little bit of bite Lillard's words. It was that kind of game. The way the Clippers went about their impressive comeback – physical and emotional – had whiffs of disrespect.Lillard wanted the Blazers to remember that smell. Remember that feeling. And he wanted them to feed off it.

“Coming into this season, we are going to be underdogs,’’ Lillard said. “People may disrespect us, and people may look at us that we can’t compete with them, and we have to take that to heart. We have to be offended like that and play like that. That’s the bottom line.’’

Stotts, who tried to brush off his confrontation with Rivers, said he thought Thursday’s emotional game was good for the Blazers.

“I told the team afterward: this is going to be every night for us,’’ Stotts said. “We are going to have our backs against the wall. We have shown we can play with anybody but we have to understand that nothing is going to be given. Actually, I’m glad the Clippers came back because it shows us what we have to do in a hostile environment on the road when things are kind of going against us. For 82 games it’s not going to be easy.’’

Lillard’s “Us against Everybody” mantra is rooted in the closeness of this team. Their well-documented off-season trip to San Diego is but a sliver of this team’s bond. Stotts has often remarked about the work ethic of this team, which is evident in how many players stay after practice to work on the their game, and how long they stay.

 “That’s who we are,’’ Lillard said. “We are not a team with Chris Paul, DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Josh Smith … We have to stay after and get better. We can’t have a long practice and say ‘let’s go’ … I’ve said this before, but who are we? Who are we not to put that time in? That’s who we are.’’

And when a team knows its bond is established with a base of hard work, it makes it easier to develop a bunker mentality.

And that’s why Lillard, who scored 39 points, shrugged off the intense nature of Thursday’s exhibition finale.

“It’s go time,’’ he said.

And go time in Rip City this season means “Us against Everybody.”

“If you are not in this locker room, then they are not with us; that has to be our mindset,’’ Lillard said. “Period.’’

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Gary Trent Jr. will get the start vs. Pelicans

usatsi_14010893.jpg
USA Today Images

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Gary Trent Jr. will get the start vs. Pelicans

Before the Trail Blazers and Pelicans tip-off at 7:30p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how his team needs to be much better in transition and make sure they don’t turn the ball over too much to give New Orleans more transition opportunities.  

Coach Stotts also described Zion Williamson as ‘dynamic,’ but mentioned that the Pelicans ‘have a lot of good shooters.’

Stotts added that Gary Trent Jr. will get the start with Damian Lillard (right groin strain) out.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Damian Lillard (right groin strain), Mario Hezonja (left ankle sprain), Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Friday's game vs. New Orleans.

PELICANS INJURY REPORT:

Darius Miller (right Achilles surgery), Kenrich Williams (lower back soreness), Josh Gray (Two-way) and Zylan Cheatham (Two-way) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

Friday's game will be the fourth and final matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Pelicans during the 2019-20 season. New Orleans leads the season series, 3-0.

-- LAST MEETING: New Orleans beat Portland, 138-117, in New Orleans on Feb. 11. CJ McCollum led Portland with 20 points (7-17 FG, 4-8 3-PT, 2-2 FT), one rebound and three assists, while Zion Williamson paced the Pelicans with a career-high 31 points (10-17 FG, 11-14 FT), nine rebounds, and a career-high five assists.

-- Portland and New Orleans have split their last 10 meetings, 5-5. The Trail Blazers swept the 2018-19 season series, 3-0.

-- CJ McCollum has scored at least 20 points in each of his last five outings against the Pelicans, going 14-of-35 (40.0%) from 3-PT range over that five-game span.

-- Hassan Whiteside recorded 17 points on 8-of-12 shooting to go with 14 rebounds, three assists and one block against the Pelicans on Feb. 11. Whiteside has recorded a double-double in each of his last four games against New Orleans.

-- JJ Redick had 20 points (5-10 FG, 4-7 3-PT, 6-6 FT), two rebounds and two assists against Portland on Feb. 11. Redick is averaging 18.0 points (50.0% FG, 50.0% 3-PT, 91.7% FT) in three games against Portland this season.

-- Brandon Ingram missed the Pelican's last game against the Trail Blazers with a right ankle sprain, but on Dec. 23 put up 19 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and two steals against Portland. He is averaging 20.0 points (36.8% FG, 30.0% 3-PT, 100% FT), 9.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 2.00 steals in two games against the Trail Blazers this season.

Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: Why it’s now or never for Blazers young guns with Damian Lillard out

Talkin’ Blazers Podcast: Why it’s now or never for Blazers young guns with Damian Lillard out

Channing Frye is back from All-Star weekend and ready for the Portland Trail Blazers to return to action. He joins co-host and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon each Friday on the Talkin’ Blazers Podcast.

This week, the Trail Blazers return from All-Star break and host Zion Williamson and the visiting New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night, and as the injuries are piling up in Portland, more minutes and more opportunities are coming for Anfernee Simons, Gary Trent Jr., Nassir Little, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyen Gabriel.

With 26 games left on the schedule, the Blazers currently sit 3.5 games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot. 

Damian Lillard has been ruled out of the contest with a groin injury.

How should the Blazers handle Dame’s injury?

Channing Frye weighs in: 

Whether they like it or not, this is going to be a big showing us what you’ve learned all season… I think Gary Trent Jr has taken the most advantage of his time. Do I expect him to be amazing? Heck no. When you’re thrown into those situations, you don’t need to win the game, just don’t lose it…

This is time for those guys to put up or shut up. — Channing Frye

You can listen to the full Talkin’ Blazers Podcast below:

How to watch, stream Blazers vs. Pelicans tonight at 7:30pm

usatsi_14027827.jpg
USA Today Images

How to watch, stream Blazers vs. Pelicans tonight at 7:30pm

That’s a wrap on the 2020 NBA All-Star break. The Trail Blazers (25-31) are back at it Friday night when Portland hosts the New Orleans Pelicans (23-32).

After Thursday’s practice, Damian Lillard, who suffered a groin strain in the final minutes of Portland’s loss to Memphis on Feb. 12th, said he would miss at least three to four games starting with Friday’s contest.

The good news for Friday’s game: Blazers forward Nassir Little is making his return. Little suffered a left ankle sprain while trying to block a shot from Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar with 37.9 seconds remaining in the Blazers 127-99 loss in Denver on Feb. 4.

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Pelicans 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? Tonight's Warriors game is the first game of the "Blazers Pass Season!"

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:

3:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:30pm Blazers Warm-Up

7:00pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:30pm Trail Blazers vs. Pelicans

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, we’ll have 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

"Just play hard. That's the biggest thing. Play hard, try to execute, keep the game close and win it down the stretch. Protect home court and just make sure I'm putting guys in the best position to succeed. Dame does a lot for us offensively - calling plays, facilitating and scoring -  I'll have to do a little bit more of that. At the same time, one person isn't gonna replace his production. We gotta all be better." - CJ McCollum on stepping up while Damian Lillard is sidelined  

Frank Caliendo's impersonation of Bill Walton to Bill Walton is PURE GOLD

screen_shot_2020-02-20_at_8.19.24_pm.png
ESPN

Frank Caliendo's impersonation of Bill Walton to Bill Walton is PURE GOLD

Comedian Frank Caliendo is at it again with yet another impersonation and it hits close to home for Rip City. 

In case you live under a rock and are not 100% familiar with Caliendo, he's one of if not the best impressionist around.

His impressions range from Stephen A. Smith, Robin Williams, Morgan Freeman, Al Pacino, Charles Barkley, Jon Gruden... and the ENTIRE Seinfeld cast!

On Thursday, Caliendo was in attendance for Arizona State vs. Oregon in Tempe. 

The former MADtv and now Fox NFL Sunday contributor was going back and forth with ESPN's Dave Pasch and former Trail Blazers big man Bill Walton. 

Participating in "Bill Walton's World," Caliendo showed off his Big Red impersonation with Walton sitting beside him.

WATCH

It's not the first time Caliendo has tried Bill Walton on for size, however. 

No matter, the internet was LOVING IT. 

Good job, Bill! And Bill?

It's Bill Walton's world!

CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony among investors of sports-centric media entertainment company

CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony among investors of sports-centric media entertainment company

Social media has brought us greater access to professional athletes.

Now, you can get one step closer. 

On Thursday, the Players Media Group, a new sports-centric media entertainment company revealed the upcoming launch of PlayersTV. It will be a network dedicated to sports lifestyle and culture entertainment. 

Among the athletes who are involved include Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum and power forward Carmelo Anthony. 

“Being part of the Players TV family is an exciting opportunity to work in collaboration with other athletes to create a space where we can tell the stories that matter to us," McCollum said in a press release. "To be able provide fans with a one-of-a-kind platform, through which they can readily gain access to content created by the athletes that they support every day, is an honor. I am looking forward to all the great content that will be showcased on Players TV and the opportunities that it will bring to all the future athlete storytellers looking for the best place to bring their own stories to life.”

“PlayersTV is going to be driven by the players.”

Former Trail Blazers forward Anthony Tolliver plays a big role with the founding of PlayersTV, as well. 

“We created PlayersTV to give athletes access to a dedicated platform where they could showcase their other skill sets,” Tolliver said. “I believe it’s just the beginning for the type of premium content that athletes want to produce. Through PlayersTV, we can give all athletes the freedom to create and share their passions.”

A promotional video was released Thursday, as well.

WATCH HERE 

“PlayersTV is becoming a new option to address the challenges of distribution that many producers are facing today,” Carmelo Anthony added. “The opportunity to leverage a platform that can be home for sports content by athletes, for athletes, and about athletes is powerful.”

A key to the business model will be marketing players’ names and likeness and finding new revenue streams. 

“Athletes On Demand” is the company’s slogan. 

Rather than competing with each other and for eyeballs, players will now be given the option to collaborate together in ways they weren’t able to do previously.

Other athletes involved include:

  • Vernon Davis: NFL Veteran, PlayersTV Investor and Founder of Reel 85 Productions
  • Katelyn Ohashi: Gymnast and founder of Behind the Madness
  • Chris Paul: NBA Player, PlayersTV Investor and founder of Oh Dipp!!! Productions
  • Garrett Temple: NBA Player, PlayersTV Investor and Founder of GBT Productions

PlayersTV will launch in March 2020 on Samsung TV Plus.

Damian Lillard will watch from the sideline as the Trail Blazers start the post-All-Star break run

Damian Lillard will watch from the sideline as the Trail Blazers start the post-All-Star break run

The Portland Trail Blazers already had a rough road to get to playoffs. 

With 26 games left on the schedule, the Blazers currently sit four games behind the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth and final playoff spot. 

The same Memphis Grizzlies that beat the Blazers last week in the team's final game before the All-Star break. 

The Blazers didn't only lose that game that night, they lost Damian Lillard. 

With 3:45 left in the game, Lillard went up for a layup but came down awkwardly and in a noticeable amount of pain. It was unclear what the injury was at first, but it was declared after the game that it was a right groin strain. 

The injury kept Lillard from playing in the All-Star Game this past weekend, and now it appears it will keep him on the sideline for a few more games. 

Lillard did not practice with the team on Thursday and told the media that he would not play tomorrow against the Pelicans and possibly beyond. 

When asked how long he anticipates being out, Lillard said "If I had to guess I would say at least 3-4 games. Maybe five games."

Already behind the 8-Ball, the Blazers now have to start the "second half" of the season without the face of their franchise. 

For Lillard, it's just about getting the groin back to 100%. Being able to cut, run, and explode without pain or without fear of re-aggravating the injury. 85% healthy isn't enough to hit the court. It's just not worth the risk.

I feel alright. I've been doing rehab since Thursday last week. It's gotten a lot better but I think it's just one of those things where you start feeling better right away, but I think that last 15-10% is what takes some time. That's what takes the longest. - Damian Lillard

Without Lillard leading the charge, the Blazers will likely lean on fellow star CJ McCollum to shoulder the loud. 

"Everybody has to do a little bit more," said Head Coach Terry Stotts. "Obviously, CJ (McCollum) will be counted on to be the primary playmaker and run the offense when he is out there." 

Stotts would not disclose whether or not McCollum or Anfernee Simons would end up getting the start at point guard, but it doesn't take a basketball expert to know that McCollum will be the head of the Portland monster for the next week, and McCollum knows it. 

Just play hard. That's the biggest thing. Play hard, try to execute, keep the game close and win it down the stretch. Protect home court and just make sure I'm putting guys in the best position to succeed. Dame does a lot for us offensively - calling plays, facilitating and scoring -  I'll have to do a little bit more of that. At the same time, one person isn't gonna replace his production. We gotta all be better. - CJ McCollum

According to PlayoffStatus.com, the Blazers have a 25% chance of ending the season in the eight spot, and just a 2% chance of climbing all the way to seven. Meanwhile, the team they are chasing, the Memphis Grizzlies, have a 44% chance of securing the eights seed.

On the bright side, the Blazers still have two games against the Grizzlies remaining on the schedule, both of them at home. Needless to say, they're both huge games. A chance to drastically close the gap, as long as they stay afloat without their captain in the meantime.

Right now, it's just one game at a time, and it starts on Friday against the Pelicans. 

Nassir Little to return, Mario Hezonja out for Portland against New Orleans

Nassir Little to return, Mario Hezonja out for Portland against New Orleans

The Portland Trail Blazers will not be at full-strength coming out of the All-Star break but will welcome one player back from an injury.

At post-practice media availability on Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said that rookie Nassir Little will return to the rotation Friday against the New Orleans Pelicans. Forward Mario Hezonja and guard Damian Lillard both will be out.

Little suffered a left ankle sprain while trying to block a shot from Nuggets forward Vlatko Cancar with 37.9 seconds left in the Trail Blazers 127-99 loss in Denver on February 4, 2020. The X-Rays came back negative after the incident. 

After the game, Little told media he tweaked it that morning but decided to play through it. 

The 25th overall selection in the 2019 NBA Draft has averaged 3.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game in 39 appearances for the Trail Blazers.

 

Damian Lillard expected to miss a minimum of three to four games with groin injury

Damian Lillard expected to miss a minimum of three to four games with groin injury

The All-Star break is coming to a end and the Portland Trail Blazers are back at practice ahead of their game Friday vs. New Orleans. 

The biggest question at practice Thursday would be the health status of point guard Damian Lillard, who suffered a groin strain in the final minutes of the Trail Blazers loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on February 12th. 

The All-Star told reporters that his condition is improving, but that he will miss at least three to four games, but it could extend even longer.

"You start feeling better right away, but I think it's that last 15% that takes so long [to heal]. Right now, it's just continuing rehab."

Head coach Terry Stotts joined Dan & Nigel in the Mornings on Rip City Radio 620, which is simulcast on NBC Sports Northwest where he discussed Lillard's injury.

With groins, you just don't know. It could be a week, it could be a month. Who knows? 

Lillard was able to get an early jump on the rehab process during the All-Star Break. "We were fortunate one of our H & P people were in Chicago to be able to give him treatment."

"You can't just say you're going to play through it because it could be bad," Lillard added. "I've been doing all the training and rehab I can do, and I'm sore as hell. But, I've got to take time off."

The Trail Blazers will face the New Orleans Pelicans (23-32) Friday at Moda Center, followed by games vs. the Pistons (19-38), Celtics (38-16), at Pacers (32-23) and will finish February on the 29th at the Hawks (15-41). 

Anfernee Simons, who is recently coming off a concussion injury, is the likely replacement while Lillard remains out. CJ McCollum said Thursday he anticipated playing more point guard in Lillard's absence. Head coach Terry Stotts said the rotation will be a game-time decision. 

Proclaiming February 19th as Rip City Day!

screen_shot_2020-02-19_at_9.00.02_am.png
IMAGN

Proclaiming February 19th as Rip City Day!

Rip City, Baby!

Those words have become synonymous with the Trail Blazers and now it'll be etched in history as Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler will proclaim Feb. 19, 2020 as "Rip City Day" during Wednesday’s city council meeting.

It will honor the Portland Trail Blazers 50th season, but also pay homage to the person who uttered those words 49 years ago. 

The phrase "Rip City" came almost unintentionally by way of iconic Blazers announcer Bill Schonely.

It was in a game vs. the LA Lakers on February 18th, 1971, when Jim Barnett sinked a shot from deep. In what would have been a three-pointer now, the crowd roared and Shonely shouted, "Rip City! All right!"

Schonely will be in attendance during Wednesday’s declaration. So will Trail Blazers President and CEO Chris McGowan. The proclamation is scheduled to be read by Wheeler at 10:30 a.m. at Portland City Hall.

Read the full proclamation here: 

City council declared June 12th as Portland Trail Blazers Day last year to commemorate the Trail Blazers Western Conference Finals appearance. Soon, even Damian Lillard will have his own day, according to a tweet from Mayor Wheeler!

It's a momentous occasion for the Trail Blazers, Schonley and Rip City!