Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Damian Lillard WILL PLAY tonight vs. Dallas

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Damian Lillard WILL PLAY tonight vs. Dallas

DALLAS -- Before the Trail Blazers and Mavericks tip-off at 6:30p.m. PT tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how everything for Dallas goes through Luka Doncic.

But, don’t expect the Trail Blazers to double Doncic, and put as much focus on him like the Blazers defended James Harden in Wednesday’s win over the Rockets.

“They’re different players. I don’t know if the same tactics against him would be as successful against him versus Harden,” Stotts said.

Coach Stotts also added that this is a Dallas team who really spaces the floor well, but also crashes the boards hard adding, “one thing that gets overlooked is their offensive rebounding.”  

As for Damian Lillard (upper respiratory illness), who was listed as questionable this afternoon, said he will play tonight in Dallas. 

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

 

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Damian Lillard (upper respiratory illness) and Mario Hezonja (lower back contusion) are available for tonight's game.

 

MAVERICKS INJURY REPORT:

Kristaps Porzingis (right knee soreness) and Ryan Broekhoff (left fibula fracture) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Friday’s game is the second of four meetings between the Trail Blazers and the Mavericks this season. Portland leads the season series, 1-0.

-- LAST MEETING: The Trail Blazers beat the Mavericks in Dallas on Oct. 27, 121-119. CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 35 points (13- 26 FG, 1-4 3-PT, 8-8 FT) to go with six rebounds, four assists and two steals while Kristaps Porzingis paced the Mavericks with 32 points (11-23 FG, 3-10 3-PT, 7-10 FT), nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks.

-- Portland has shot at least 45.0% from the field in nine of their last 10 games against the Mavericks. The Trail Blazers shot 51.7% from the field and 40.9% from the three-point line at Dallas on Oct. 27.

-- Damian Lillard had 28 points (10-20 FG, 1-7 3-PT, 7-9 FT), three rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block at Dallas on Oct. 27. Lillard has scored at least 28 points in each of his last nine games against Dallas.

Carmelo Anthony reminisces on 'special' Trail Blazers debut

Carmelo Anthony reminisces on 'special' Trail Blazers debut

When the Trail Blazers needed additional reinforcements in the frontcourt with the injury to Zach Collins, they knew who to call.

Insert 10x NBA All-Star Carmelo Anthony fresh from... the couch? 

In an Instagram Live with fellow NBA Legend and best friend Dwyane Wade, Anthony talked about his first game as a Trail Blazer and how he ended up in Rip City.

I'm sitting in the crib and just get the phone call like 'Is this what you wanna do?' and like I have been down this road before. Let's make sure it's right. Let's make sure all parties are onboard and we go from there.

After agreeing to join the team he needed to figure out a starting date. Melo hadn't appeared in a game in nearly a calendar year after being sent home and ultimately waived by the Houston Rockets in 2018-2019. Anthony has stayed in shape but the initial ask from Portland was optimistic, to say the least. 

This is like a Wednesday. They like 'Oh can you meet us Friday?' I'm like 'Oh Friday? I'm sitting on the couch I can't meet y'all on [Friday]. I can't go play...on the game on Friday I've been on the couch!'

The Trail Blazers would welcome Melo to the starting lineup to make his Portland debut on November 19, 2019, in the Smoothie King Center against the New Orleans Pelicans.

When the game tipped off Anthony had one goal in mind: make it through the first timeout.

I wanna get through the first timeout, like if I can get through the first timeout I'm good... Once I got through the first timeout... there's no more adrenaline... my work been paying off. My conditioning is paying off.

The Trail Blazers lost to the Pelicans 115-104 and Anthony looked good at times but struggled from the field shooting 4-for-14 for 10 points. However, despite the result, Melo felt his return to the NBA was special primarily because of the city where it happened.

That was a special game man going back to New Orleans. Like everything started to come to me: being in New Orleans, playing down there again, first game back, Syracuse National Championship in New Orleans. Like all of that stuff started to come back to me.

As a freshman, Anthony led the Syracuse Orange to a National Championship before declaring for the 2003 NBA Draft. 

Now, New Orleans has a special place in his heart for another reason; not an ending but a new beginning. 

The real reason Michael Jordan shrugged his shoulders after hitting those 6 threes

The real reason Michael Jordan shrugged his shoulders after hitting those 6 threes

In preparation for an upcoming documentary about Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls, there is a lot of Jordan talk going around right now, particularly at the four-letter network.

And when showing highlights of Jordan's incredible career, it never takes long to get to what people call the "shrug game." That's Game 1 of 1992 NBA Finals when Jordan knocks down six straight three-pointers in a half and then turns toward a camera and shrugs. I've heard all sorts of explanations for that shrug, including one that involved Jordan not believing the Trail Blazers were leaving him open to make those shots.

First, let me say some of those attempts were taken with Clifford Robinson guarding him. Robinson was 6-9 and a terrific defender at four positions.

But most important, the one thing nobody ever points out was that Jordan was a terrible three-point shooter at that stage of his career. Teams would dare him to take those shots. Jordan, in fact, shot just 27 percent from three-point range during the 1991-92 regular season.

That's right, 27 percent! And that's why in that season, he averaged only 1.3 three-point attempts per game.

I was there in Chicago Stadium when Jordan hit those threes and I always felt the one and only reason that he shrugged his shoulders the way he did was:

Of all the fantastic things he did in his career, Michael Jordan himself simply couldn't believe he did THAT.

Social media reacts (again) to Nurkic’s first game vs. Denver

Social media reacts (again) to Nurkic’s first game vs. Denver

Watching the March 28th, 2017 matchup between the Trail Blazers and the Denver Nuggets in Friday night’s classic game, fans were so happy to be watching Blazers games again.

The Trail Blazers (35-38) entered the game tied with the Nuggets (35-38) for the eighth seed in the Western Conference playoffs race.

But, besides the importance of the game with the playoff hunt, it was Jusuf Nurkic’s first game in a Trail Blazers uniform against his former team.

It was on Feb. 12 when the Trail Blazers acquired Nurkic and the rights to Memphis’ 2017 first round pick from Denver in exchange for Mason Plumlee, along with a 2018 second round pick, and cash considerations.

Nurk fever had already started in Rip City before this game, but it was in full effect as he cruised to a career-high 33 points to go along with 15 rebounds, two blocks, and one steal.

Let the Nurk Fever tweets commence!

Also, how much did re-watching this game give you flashbacks of the strong connection between Damian Lillard and Nurk?

Their pick and roll action is a thing of beauty and it got people talking on Twitter.

The Blazers beat the Nuggets 122-113 in the fourth and final regular season matchup between the two. Portland took the season series 3-1. 

Another trending topic from fans of today -- was the hard screens set by the Bosnian Beast and the Hammer, Meyers Leonard.

In the win, CJ McCollum finished with 39 points and five rebounds.


And we can't forget Nurk telling his former team to, "I wish those guys a happy summer."

 

Carmelo Anthony credits LeBron James for saving his life

Carmelo Anthony credits LeBron James for saving his life

Here is a fun fact: Did you know that LeBron James once saved Carmelo Anthony from being swept out to sea?

He did. 

Don't believe us, then just take it from the man he saved. 

Anthony was on Instagram Live with Dwyane Wade on Friday and the two were talking about a time they were all out on the water, presumably doing some scuba diving when the current started to pull Anthony away. 

Anthony came up from below the water only to notice that the current was taking him away from the boat. 

A panicked Anthony thought the end was near. 

That's when King James jumped into action.

"The current is taking me in the middle of the ocean, opposite of the boat," said Anthony. "I look up at the boat and Bron jumps off the boat like he was MacGyver... He jumped off the boat into the water. He was bringing me back with one arm. He's swimming with one arm and he's carrying me with the other arm." 

Yo, Bron, I appreciate that. You saved my life that day. Them little flippers wasn’t working for me. - Carmelo Anthony on LeBron James

Mr. James, Rip City sends you its gratitude. 

Meyers Leonard and his wife Elle gave out their phone numbers

Meyers Leonard and his wife Elle gave out their phone numbers

It's been just over two weeks since the NBA announced the suspension of its season to combat the spread of COVID-19. 

Since the beginning of the hiatus, NBA players have occupied their time by making Tik Tok's, streaming themselves playing video games on Twitch and performed Q&A's on Twitter. 

Humans are social beings, so while everyone practices social distancing, the desire for contact with the outside world, to communicate with others becomes paramount. 

Now, former Trail Blazers big man Meyers Leonard and his wife have taken it one step further: They're giving out their phone numbers and asking you to text them!

View this post on Instagram

309-328-3605 ... text me.

A post shared by Elle Leonard (@elleleonard) on

“You heard it here first,” Meyers said in a video released on his wife Elle’s instagram page. “We’re both legitimately giving out our phone numbers.”

Sitting side by side, Meyers gave his pitch on why you should text him.

“If you’re looking to have a better tan like me — text me, not her.”

“Text me, because Elle is by far better,” Elle chimed in. “She provides puns and GIFs— all around just better.”

It’s not 100% clear why they’ve decided to take this measure. Maybe they’re just bored?

Meyers’ pitch continued: “Ladies and gentleman, if you’re looking for the greatest content, text me.” 

So, if you've ever wanted a chance to be on texting terms with an NBA player, now's your chance! 

‘Jusuf Nurkic kicked our ass’— Memories from his revenge game vs. Nuggets

‘Jusuf Nurkic kicked our ass’— Memories from his revenge game vs. Nuggets

Friday night’s (6 o’clock, NBC Sports Northwest) Trail Blazer classic will undoubtedly be a feel-good game for fans of the team.

Not because it was a close game, a big upset or a game in which one player scored an extraordinary number of points. It was just a game in late March that gave Portland a one-game lead for the No. 8 playoff spot.

But it was obviously not just any other regular-season game.

The significance of the contest was that it was Jusuf Nurkic’s revenge night -- his first game against Denver after the Nuggets traded him to Portland,

And what a game he had.

In fact, Nugget Coach Mike Malone summed it up best afterwards when he said simply, “Jusuf Nurkic kicked our ass. He was very physical.”

Nurkic was sensational against his former team, which had benched him in favor of Nikola Jokic. Amid standing ovations from the Moda Center faithful, the fired-up Nurkic hit 12 of his 15 shots from the floor, seven of his nine free throws, scored 33 points, hauled in 16 rebounds (five of them on offense), had two assists and two blocked shots.

Mason Plumlee, who went to the Nuggets in the trade, went scoreless in the game and Jokic managed 17 points.

CJ McCollum, who has traditionally been a problem for the Nuggets to defend, came up big in this game, scoring 39 points on just 24 shots in 40 minutes. 

Coach Terry Stotts allowed Nurkic a curtain call with 19 seconds to go in what turned out to be a nine-point Portland win, removing him from the floor and allowing the crowd to favor him with one final deafening standing ovation.

Nurkic had found a home and this was the official signing of the deed.

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets

WHEN: Friday, March 27th at 6pm

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

CHANNEL FINDER

Stream the game here. 

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

The full schedule can be found here.

Damian Lillard reminisces on golden moments, relationships with Trail Blazer teammates 

Damian Lillard reminisces on golden moments, relationships with Trail Blazer teammates 

Damian Lillard has us feeling some type of way.

While the NBA remains suspended due to COVID-19, the Trail Blazers guard has been dishing out some throwbacks with a few of Portland’s favorite players over the years. 

Many former and current players are all there, including Earl Watson, Will Barton, Nicolas Batum, Mo Williams, Allen Crabbe, Wesley Matthews, Meyers Leonard, Thomas Robinson, Victor Claver, Dorell Wright, Robin Lopez and Joel Freeland.

But the photos with LaMarcus Aldridge photos hit particularly close to home. 

The relationship between Dame and the now San Antonio Spurs big man will always have a special place in our heart. 

In a recent interview, Lillard told Quentin Richardson and Darius Miles on Knuckleheads that he believes if Aldridge would have stayed in Portland, they could have won a championship together. 

“If me and him would have stayed teammates, and I could get to the level that I am now, we could have for sure got one,” Lillard said. “And then maybe we don’t lose Batum, lose Wes and we got CJ [McCollum], Will Barton, Allen Crabbe. We had the team to do it, we just needed to stay together. And in San Antonio, he’s been to the Western Conference finals and I’ve been to the Western Conference Finals, but we both came up short.”

We’ll never know what would have happened if Aldridge stayed, but we’re thankful Lillard’s Instagram is a treasure trove of amazing throwback photos we can always look back on during these unprecedented times. 

How to Watch: Jusuf Nurkic's first game vs. Denver Nuggets

How to Watch: Jusuf Nurkic's first game vs. Denver Nuggets

This instant classic will tug at your heart strings when thinking about the year-long rehab process that Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic has endured.

Let’s go back to March 28th, 2017, the first time would square off against his former team, the Denver Nuggets as a member of the Portland Trail Blazers. Denver had traded Nurkic to Portland just over a month earlier, and with it, Nurk Fever was born in Rip City.
Anybody playing against their former team always wants to show everyone that they are doing great and are in a better situation.

And boy, did Nurk do just that.
The Bosnian Beast and Nikola Jokic battles were fun to watch. As Nurkic took it right at the Joker, he made a statement by finishing with a career night of 33 points.
As for Mason Plumlee, the player he was traded for, the former Blazers center had zero points and one rebound.

Nurkic's performance earned him the postgame interview with Trail Blazers sideline report Brooke Olzendam.

Just like on the court, Nurk didn’t hold back.

"I wish those guys a happy summer," he told Olzendam.

And that’s when Rip City fell in love with Nurkic all over again.

Starters for Mar. 28, 2017 Game:

DENVER

Jameer Nelson

Gary Harris

Nikola Jokic

Wilson Chandler

Danilo Gallinari

PORTLAND

Damian Lillard

CJ McCollum

Noah Vonleh

Maurice Harkless

Jusuf Nurkic

HOW TO WATCH Blazers vs. Nuggets

WHEN: Friday, March 27th at 6pm

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

CHANNEL FINDER

Instagram Live: During tonight’s game, Jusuf Nurkic and Trail Blazers television analyst Lamar Hurd will be going live on the Blazers Instagram account.

Stream the game here. 

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

The full schedule can be found here.

Amid NBA hiatus, TV freelance workers thankful for Trail Blazers support

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Amid NBA hiatus, TV freelance workers thankful for Trail Blazers support

The Portland Trail Blazers announced last week a plan in which they will financially support Moda Center’s game night employees.

The team announced:

“To assist game night employees impacted by the NBA’s postponement, Jody Allen and the Portland Trail Blazers are committing more than $1.4 million towards COVID-19 relief effort. This includes paying part-time Rose Quarter employees for nine postponed Trail Blazers games.”

There were some freelance workers who are a big party of broadcasting the Trail Blazers games on television and radio that were concerned about what was going to happen during these trying times.

Being a contracted worker can be uneasy at times, especially now. 

But, the Trail Blazers are not just paying the hourly employees at the Rose Quarter who Trail Blazers fans get to often interact with, but the Blazers are also going to be paying the behind the scenes people as well.

The freelancers.

If an hourly employee or contracted employee was scheduled to work any of the home or road games, they will be getting their regular paycheck from the Blazers.

Longtime Trail Blazers baseline camera operator and freelancer John Curry showed his appreciate via Twitter, writing, “Trail Blazers stepped up big time! Received email this weekend stating Blazers were going to pay me for the final 16 games of the season that were cancelled.”

As part of the traveling television production crew, John Lukrofka is one of the five members. He posted a video to his Twitter thanking everyone at the Trail Blazers for their generosity. 

“I wanted to take a sec to thank the Portland Trail Blazers organization, owner Jody Allen, President Chris McGowan, the whole Blazers brass and my bosses. They’re compensating us for games missed. They’re going to pay us for the rest of the season. I can’t put into words what that means,” Lukrofka said. 

Now the question is will other organization follow in the Trail Blazers footsteps?