Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts and Nate McMillan share stories of Kobe Bryant

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts and Nate McMillan share stories of Kobe Bryant

There is a somber feeling throughout Moda Center Sunday night.

Before the Portland Trail Blazers and Indiana Pacers tip-off at 6:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Pacers head coach Nate McMillan shared their thoughts on the devastating news of Kobe Bryant’s passing this morning.

Coach Stotts on Kobe: “It’s a very sad day… The effect that he had on basketball around the world, he will be mourned tonight… I didn’t know him well… I just know him a competitor… I admired what he did.”   

Coach McMillan on Kobe:

“Extreme sadness. Kobe was a great man, a great role model for the NBA, for this generation, for young black men, just really extreme sadness.”

HEAR MORE FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

HEAR MORE FROM COACH MCMILLAN HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

CJ McCollum (left ankle) is not on the Blazers injury report for Sunday’s game after missing the last three games with a left ankle sprain.

Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), Skal Labissiere (left knee inflammation) and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Sunday’s game vs. Indiana.

PACERS INJURY REPORT:

TJ Leaf (right knee soreness) and JaKarr Sampson (left ankle sprain) are questionable; Myles Turner (illness)Malcolm Brogdon (concussion) and Victor Oladipo (right knee rehab) are out.

Hassan Whiteside for Defensive Player of Year? 'Let's talk about it'

Hassan Whiteside for Defensive Player of Year? 'Let's talk about it'

The political season is upon us and the Trail Blazers’ Hassan Whiteside is all set to launch his own campaign.

The “Whiteside for Defensive Player of the Year” express is ready to leave the station and make stops all over the NBA.

And why not?

Just because his team is struggling to stop its opponents doesn’t mean he hasn’t had a very big year in the middle for Portland.

Whiteside is averaging a league-leading 3.1 blocked shots per game and the next closest to him is Brook Lopez, with 2.5.

And his overall defensive rating of 112.1 is well ahead of Anthony Davis’ 106.2 and Rudy Gobert’s 105.4.

Is Whiteside worthy of consideration for the award? Well, he certainly believes so.

“I think so. I think so,” he said Sunday night. “Gobert won it because he was leading the league in blocked shots. This is going to be my second time (leading the league). Let’s talk about it.”

Davis, Ben Simmons and Giannis Antetokounmpo have all been mentioned as candidates for this season’s award and they all play for teams with winning records. But historically, the player who leads the league in blocked shots -- particularly if it's by a wide margin -- gets major consideration.

Rim protection is still important in this era of a long-distance shooting.

The Trail Blazers have struggled due to their injuries but Whiteside has provided their only rim protection on most nights.

“The team doesn’t get the award,” he said. “It’s a player award. And as far as blocking shots, there isn’t anybody even close.”

Some might say he’s blocked so many shots because his team’s perimeter defense is porous -- but his block percentage -- the percentage of blocks based on his opportunities -- of 64.8 is one of the best in the league.

Whiteside is actually having a much better overall season than a lot of people know about. He’s flown under the radar, in part because he plays with another superstar and also due to his team’s struggles.

But he ranks 12th in ESPN’s player efficiency ratings, ahead of many of the NBA’s more well-known stars.

Will he win the DPOY? It’s probably not likely, but as he said, “let’s talk about it.”

And he certainly belongs in that conversation.

CJ McCollum shouldering the load with Damian Lillard out

CJ McCollum shouldering the load with Damian Lillard out

The Trail Blazers desperately needed him and CJ McCollum delivered.

He’s done it before, and on much grander stages, but on Sunday night at the Moda Center with his team staring down an ugly loss McCollum put together his best performance season to keep Portland’s playoff aspirations alive.

“He led us,” Carmelo Anthony said. “He led us tonight. He came up big when we needed it, made the right plays. His shot was falling tonight. He put us on his back.”

McCollum scored 41 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished out career-high 12 assists, pulling the Blazers back from what would have been a sobering loss to the Detroit Pistons. He played the entire second half, and committed just one turnover despite commanding nearly all of the playmaking duties in his 43 minutes on the court.

Beating a 19-40 Pistons team at home after surrendering a 19-point lead might not land too high on McCollum’s resume, one that includes some monster postseason performances and a Game 7 game-winner on the road last April. But a loss on Sunday would’ve pushed the Blazers' already dicey playoff hopes to the brink. So McCollum came to the rescue again, only this time playing a decidedly different role.

Damian Lillard missed his second straight game against Detroit, which thrust McCollum into lead guard duties away from his comfort zone as a high-scoring second option. For the second straight game without his backcourt partner running the show, McCollum struck an impressive balance between facilitator and his more typical fearless shotmaker.

In two games with Lillard out of the lineup, McCollum is averaging 34.0 points, 7.5 rebounds and 11.0 assists. He says he welcomes the added responsibility.

“I’m ready for whatever honestly.  I’ve always felt like that,” McCollum said. “I work extremely hard on my game. I watch film. I adjust to the situation. I know how to play as the No. 2. I know how to play as other roles. I know how to play as a No. 1. Obviously right now we’re missing 30 points, eight assists, six rebounds. I can’t do it all by myself. I have to have help. I have to empower guys. I have to put people in a position to succeed, and take advantage of everybody’s skill sets, and still play at a certain level individually. I’m fully capable of that. I have all the confidence in the world in this team and myself because I know how much the game means to us.”

The knock on McCollum’s game is that it lacks variety. He can score with a dazzlingly array of dribble moves and counters but on most nights that’s the end of the story. However, McCollum has shouldered his Lillard-less responsibility admirably and he’s filled out the stat sheet in the process.

The Blazers have aided McCollum’s shift in roles. Terry Stotts is calling more plays from the bench than he does when Lillard is commanding the offense, and Lillard has been in McCollum’s ear regularly offering encouragement along with Xs and Os advice.

“He knows my demeanor,” McCollum said, explaining how Lillard has tried to help while sidelined with a groin injury. “He’ll tell you that I don’t lack confidence ever -- regardless of what’s happening. He’s just like, ‘Stay aggressive. When you need to keep the ball, keep the ball. When you need to make plays, make plays early. And then when it’s go time, go.’”

In the fourth quarter Sunday it was time to go. McCollum went. 

He scored 16 of 41 points in the final frame making 5 of 11 shots and working a two-man game with Anthony to guide the Blazers to a crucial comeback win. The scoring was familiar, the table setting was a necessary added wrinkle.

In the locker room afterwards, Trevor Ariza asked McCollum what his career-high was, and McCollum explained he had scored 50 in three quarters against the Bulls a couple season ago.

“I got hot,” McCollum told his new teammate.

“Stay hot,” Ariza instructed him.

To hear McCollum tell it that’s exactly what he plans to do.

“I think I’m built for the long haul,” he said. “Historically I’ve played well in the playoffs. I’ve played well down the stretch of games. Understanding there has to be a sense of urgency. We haven’t played well this entire season and for us to have a chance to make the playoffs I have to be elite, and I’ll do that.”

Blazers needed every bit of Vintage Carmelo Anthony

Blazers needed every bit of Vintage Carmelo Anthony

A jab here, a jab there.

And no, we aren’t talking about punches.

This season, the younger Trail Blazers have gotten a few old man cracks aimed at Carmelo Anthony.

It’s all love, though.

Bring on the jokes because Melo was laughing all the way to a season-high Sunday night.

The Trail Blazers clawed their way back after being down by as many as 10 points in the third quarter to snag a 107-104 victory over the Detroit Pistons Sunday.

Melo’s offensive production along with CJ McCollum’s takeover performance, sprinkled in with timely stops in the fourth quarter all added up to Portland snapping a three-game losing streak.

Anthony finished with 32 points in Sunday’s win, eclipsing his previous season high he set back on Jan. 7 at Toronto with 28 points. 

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony turns back the clock against Detroit, does something he hasn't done in three years

And boy was Melo right -- the Blazers required all 32 of those points to get the win.

I’ll tell you, we needed every bit of that. Every single point, we needed that tonight. Those guys just wasn’t trying to go away. After we got out in the first quarter, we kind of let our foot off the gas and those guys got confidence. They gained some momentum, they stuck with it to the end of the game. – Trail Blazers veteran Carmelo Anthony on scoring 30 plus for the first time in nearly three years. -- Carmelo Anthony

With Damian Lillard out for the second straight game with a right groin strain, both Melo and McCollum have stepped up in a big way.

“We have to,” Anthony said. “We don’t have a choice, right? We’ve got to go out there and do what we’ve got to do to help this team win, at least put ourselves in position to try to win a basketball game. At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to us two putting that pressure on us and saying this is what we’ve got to do. It’s the last quarter of the season. We’re in a dog fight trying to get that spot.”

That dog fight has included Gary Trent, Jr. stepping up in a big way on the defensive end. Trent, who was inserted into the starting lineup with Lillard out, admitted he got to see the Melo he grew up admiring.

It’s like vintage Melo tonight. Man, you know, I have flashbacks. I grew up watching him. I love all his moves. I got to see a lot tonight. Big up to Melo. -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame

“It’s crazy. I play with him on video games,” Trent added. “I watch all his games, all his highlights, his playoff battles with Kobe Bryant in ’09. I watch all of his stuff. It’s crazy. It’s surreal to come into practice every day and watch him, watch how he works, his approach to the game, he’s a true professional.”

Melo’s response of Trent Jr. playing him in NBA 2K:

“I’ve heard it before, but they won’t come to me and say it… It puts things in perspective. It puts a lot of things in perspective to know back then where I was at in my journey to see those guys finding my journey… It comes back full circle. [For Trent Jr.] to make that statement, it makes me proud.”   

Hearing that a second-year player plays him in NBA 2k, might make some people think Anthony would feel old with such a comment.

But, that’s not the case.

Melo was not only proud of that comment from Trent Jr., he was extremely proud of the way the Blazers came together to get the win Sunday night.

Now, who wants to bet Trent, Jr. went home Sunday night and started playing 2K?   

Trail Blazers bench outscored by 60 points and Portland still manages to win

Trail Blazers bench outscored by 60 points and Portland still manages to win

Injuries have been the story for the entire season as far as the Trail Blazers are concerned. And it’s gotten to the point now -- with Damian Lillard sidelined with a groin injury -- that Coach Terry Stotts can’t go to his bench without causing some serious damage.

The Trail Blazers jumped to a 19-point lead just eight minutes into Sunday night’s game with the lowly Detroit Pistons but then Stotts went to his bench.

The lead was still 16 after the first quarter, but with four reserves on the floor at the same time in the second period, bad things began to happen for Portland.

Detroit rattled off 18 of the first 21 points in the quarter and the game was tied and a dogfight the rest of the way.

It took some major heroics -- and major minutes -- from CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony and Hassan Whiteside to pull the Trail Blazers out of a 10-point, second-half deficit and into a 107-104 win.

Granted, Detroit got terrific play from its reserves, but the facts were the facts when this one ended:

The Pistons’ bench outscored the Portland bench 70-10.

That was 70-10!

To make up for that, McCollum needed to get 41 points, 12 assists and nine rebounds while playing 43:15. Anthony scored 32 in 37:21. Whiteside totaled 16 points, had 17 rebounds and four blocked shots in 38:26.

McCollum played the entire second half and Whiteside played most of it. And throughout the second half, Stotts kept two starters on the floor at all times, rather than just one, as he did in the first half.

“CJ played the whole second half,” Stotts said. “I don’t like doing that -- it was just one of those games where it was vital he stayed in the game. I don’t plan on doing that. Obviously, the rotation changed the second half.”

Does he plan to make a practice of that?

“Well, if I play them the whole second half I can do that.”

To win against the better teams, he may have to do that.

It was a crazy game in another way, too.

Throughout the first three quarters, Detroit was parading to the foul line and Portland just wasn’t getting there.

After three quarters, the Pistons were 19-20 from the line while the Blazers were a puny 5-9. But it was if somebody flipped a switch and either Portland suddenly started playing much better defense than Detroit or the referees just noticed the imbalance and decided to do something about it.

In the fourth quarter, Portland was 7-10 from the line -- more attempts than the entire game to that point. Meanwhile, the Pistons were 0-0. That’s right, they didn’t get a foul shot in the fourth quarter.

Such things help.

And right now, the Trail Blazers need all the help they can get.

Instant Analysis: CJ McCollum's near triple-double helps lifts Blazers past Pistons

Instant Analysis: CJ McCollum's near triple-double helps lifts Blazers past Pistons

The Trail Blazers game Sunday night honored the 2000s as part of their Decade Nights to celebrate their 50 years as franchise. 

During the first quarter, the Blazers honored Damon Stoudamire, Travis Outlaw, and former TV play-by-play announcer Mike Barrett.

Portland put on a show in the first quarter in front of the 2000s legends.

The Blazers went on a 24-2 run midway through the first quarter, and jumped out to a 40-24 lead after the first 12 minutes.

But, the Blazers lead didn’t last long.

The Pistons started the second quarter on a 16-3 run with Portland’s second unit on the floor and more specifically with CJ McCollum on the bench. McCollum was in takeover mode early as Damian Lillard sat out his second game with a right groin strain.

In the final minute of the third, McCollum scored seven straight points to pull the Blazers within five.

And the Blazers went on a tear to close out the game, outscoring the Pistons 16-4 in the final 5:39.

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 107, PISTONS 104

Here are three quick takeaways from Sunday’s win:

1. McCollum on a mission

CJ McCollum notched 15 points, five assists, and four rebounds in the 1st quarter.

Portland struggled to score without McCollum or Carmelo Anthony on the floor.  McCollum took it upon himself to fill the scoring void with no Lillard, but he also made sure to get his teammates involved just like he did against the Pelicans Friday night. McCollum dished out 10 assists by the fourth quarter, which tied a career-high. He ended the night with a career-high 12 assists  and 41 points. CJ finished just one rebound shy of a triple-double. 

2. The difference at the free throw line

Detroit was on the attack and it paid off. The Pistons had 11 more made free throws than the Blazers in the first half. Detroit’s free throws helped keep them in the game. The free throw discrepancy continued in the second half. At the end of the third quarter, the Pistons were 19-of-20 from the charity stripe, but did not attempt one in the final quarter. The Trail Blazers attempted 10 free throws in the final quarter, connecting on 12 of 19 in the game.  

3. Bench gives Pistons a boost

Christian Wood, who averages just over 11 points per game, had 16 points heading into the final period, while Brandon Knight added 15 points off the bench. Detroit had three bench players score in double figures through three quarters to the Blazers total of eight-bench-points.   

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Boston Celtics Tuesday night when they wrap-up their three-game homestand. Portland and Boston will tip-off at 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

Be sure to check back throughout the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

CJ McCollum notches career-high in assists vs. Pistons

CJ McCollum notches career-high in assists vs. Pistons

Dish them out, CJ McCollum!

The shooting guard recorded his 12th assist on the night in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Pistons, a new career-high. 

McCollum had notched 10 assists four times previously in his career, including last game vs. the Pelicans.

McCollum was in takeover mode all night as Damian Lillard sat out for his second straight game with a right groin strain. 

The Trail Blazers shooting guard found Carmelo Anthony on the wing for McCollum's 12th assist on the night as Portland went up 105-101 with 21.3 seconds remaining.

With McCollum’s 41 points and 12 assists he reached a double-double for the second straight game, which was the first time in his career that he had back-to-back double-doubles. This was his eighth double-double of his career. He was one rebound shy of a triple-double. 

McCollum not only put up career assist numbers against the Pistons, he also willed the Blazers to a 107-104 victory.

Carmelo Anthony turns back the clock against Detroit, does something he hasn't done in three years

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Carmelo Anthony turns back the clock against Detroit, does something he hasn't done in three years

The Blazers welcomed the Pistons to town on Sunday in a game that turned back the clock and celebrated the 2000s era of Blazers basketball. 

From the old school graphics on TV, to the retro music, to Damon Stoudamire and Travis Outlaw being in the building, it felt like the new millennium had started all over again.

Trail Blazers power forward Carmelo Anthony, well, he decided to take it all literally and turn back the clock, as well. 

Anthony looked like the 2003 Denver Nuggets version of Melo, going to his bag of tricks and torching the Pistons.

He ended the night with 32 points, and it had to feel special. 

Why?

Because it was the first time since he was a member of the New York Knicks that Anthony scored 30+ points.

Nearly three years ago to the day-- February 25th, 2017, to be exact-- Anthony dropped 37 points on the 76ers.

Asked about it after the game, Anthony kept it simple -  "I'll take it," he said with a grin. 

Not only did Anthony drop a 30-piece, but he was incredibly efficient in doing so.

He finished the game 11-16 from the field, including 5-9 from deep. In the first quarter alone he was a perfect 5-5 for 12 points. 

When you're hot, you're hot.

The ball was going in. It's simple. The ball goes in, it makes things easy.

- Carmelo Anthony

While Anthony was being humble about his vintage performance, social media was showing nothing but love.

Anthony will have another crack at it Tuesday night when the Trail Blazers welcome the Boston Celtics to town.

Mike Barrett returns to Trail Blazers television broadcast as part of 2000s Decade Night

Mike Barrett returns to Trail Blazers television broadcast as part of 2000s Decade Night

Sunday night is a celebration of the 2000s for the Portland Trail Blazers. Former players Damon Stoudamire and Travis Outlaw will be honored tonight during the Blazers and Pistons game.  

Throughout the ‘Decade Nights’ at Moda Center many former players have made their return to Portland and have been honored at center court.

The 2000s Decade Night also featured a beloved broadcaster.

Barrett, along with former Blazers point guard Damon Stoudamire and forward Travis Outlaw, were introduced during a timeout in the first quarter. 

The television play-by-play man for the Portland Trail Blazers from 2003-2016, Mike Barrett, made his return to Moda Center and to the television broadcast.

 

"It’s been great," Barrett told NBCSNW of his return. "I think we take for granted in this business sometimes the connectivity and the emotion and the relationship you have with fans. To hear those stories — and then everybody wants to tell you about their favorite call, their favorite game, their favorite team. That part’s been really neat. I probably underestimated how cool that would be."

In 1999, the Oregon State Grad was hired by the Portland Trail Blazers as radio studio host and editor of the Blazers' official magazine, Rip City Magazine.

In 2000, he went to work as a radio and television play-by-play announcer for the WNBA's Portland Fire and then was named the play-by-play announcer for the Trail Blazers for the 2003–04 season.

[RELATED]: Mike Barrett opens up about being let go by the Trail Blazers

Barrett is now the Managing Director of the Portland Diamond Project.

Barrett spoke with Brooke Olzendam during the first quarter about his return and his memories of the 2000s. 

You can watch the full interview in the video above. 

Welcome back, MB!

 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Mario Hezonja will test out ankle vs. Pistons

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Mario Hezonja will test out ankle vs. Pistons

It’s 2000s night at Moda Center.

Get ready to reminisce as the Trail Blazers host the Detroit Pistons.

Before the Blazers and Pistons tip-off at 7:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed tonight’s matchup, saying Detroit is a 'good drive and kick out' team.  

Stotts emphasized that his team’s individual defense is going to need to be better tonight in comparison to Friday night’s game against New Orleans. Stotts also said Mario Hezonja (left ankle sprain) will play tonight and test out his ankle.

As the Trail Blazers celebrate the 2000s, they will welcome back Damon Stoudamire, Travis Outlaw, and former Blazers TV Play-by-Play Announcer Mike Barrett to the Moda Center court.   

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

 

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Damian Lillard (right groin strain), Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Sunday's game vs. Detroit.

PISTONS INJURY REPORT:

Blake Griffin (left knee surgery), Luke Kennard (bilateral patella tendinitis), Louis King (Two-way), Jordan Bone (Two-way) and Khyri Thomas (G League) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Sunday's meeting will be the first of two games between the Trail Blazers and Pistons during the 2019-20 season.

-- LAST SEASON: Portland and Detroit split the season series, 1-1 during the 2018-19 season.

-- Portland and Detroit are both top-10 3-PT shooting teams this season, with Portland in sixth at 37.0%, and Detroit right behind in eighth at 36.8% • The Trail Blazers and Pistons have split the last 14 meetings, 7-7, dating back to the 2012-13 season.

-- CJ McCollum missed both games against the Pistons last season. He holds career averages of 19.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists in seven games (six starts) against Detroit.

-- Trevor Ariza averaged 16.0 points (50.0% FG, 45.8% 3-PT, 87.5% FT), 6.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists against Detroit last season with both Phoenix and Washington, including two games of 20-plus points. Ariza has scored in double figures in five of his last eight games against the Pistons.

-- Hassan Whiteside averaged 11.3 points (57.1% FG, 18.2% FT), 12.0 rebounds and 2.00 blocks in three games against Detroit with Miami last season. He has recorded a double-double in each of his last two outings against the Pistons

-- Derrick Rose averaged 17.5 points (42.1% FG, 75.0% FT), 5.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 1.50 steals in two games against the Trail Blazers with the Timberwolves last season. Rose has reached double-figures in scoring in 11 of his 12 career games against Portland.