PORTLAND, Ore. (Jan. 30, 2018) – The Portland Trail Blazers have recalled two-way guard Wade Baldwin IV from the Texas Legends of the NBA G League, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.
Baldwin IV has appeared in 17 games (16 starts) with the Legends, averaging 18.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, 4.9 assists, 2.18 steals, and 33.8 minutes.
The 17th overall pick of the 2016 NBA Draft, Baldwin IV (6-4, 200) posted averages of 3.2 points, 1.4 rebounds, 1.8 assists and 12.3 minutes in 33 games (one start) as a rookie with the Memphis Grizzlies during the 2016-17 season.
The Trail Blazers arrived in Memphis having lost 9 of their last 14 games and looked to right the ship vs. a Grizzlies team that also jumped out to a fast start to the season, only to stumble in six of their past nine.
Unfortunately for Portland, CJ McCollum was the only Blazer hot enough to combat the chilly night in Memphis, Tennessee.
McCollum tied a season high with 40 points on 16 of 27 shooting, which accounted for half of the Blazers made field goals in the Blazers 92-83 loss to the Grizzlies. Take CJ out of the equation, the Blazers shot just 26.7% from the field, including a 4-18 night from Damian Lillard and 1 for 15 night from Jusuf Nurkic. Portland has now lost 10 of their last 15 and are desperately searching for answers.
“We can’t do that in the Western Conference,” CJ McCollum said. “Every game is critical… We’ve got to turn the tide immediately.”
The Trail Blazers jumped out to a 12-5 start and took the Western Conference by storm, claiming the West’s top spot briefly. They have since fallen back to earth. Hard.
The once over-achieving second unit has almost completely fallen off the map. The re-insertion of Maurice Harkless into the rotation has not gone well. Teams are trapping Dame and CJ forcing them to live or die by their shot.
“On the whole, we haven’t played well,” head coach Terry Stotts said of the Blazers play since their 6-game road trip that extended both coasts heading into Thanksgiving. “Certainly not to the level that we were playing the first thirteen games of the season.”
The Blazers lost two physical, but close, games on this brief two-game road trip.
Last season, after an up and down first half to the 2017-18 season, the Blazers rode a 13-game win streak out of the All-Star break and clinched third place in the Western Conference. Their season came to an abrupt end with a first round sweep at the hands of the New Orleans Pelicans leaving a lot of “what ifs” on the table.
“It seems like we go through this once a year where we go on a streak and it’s terrible and it’s the worst thing in the world and we overcome it,” McCollum said. “Then, the year ends and you look back on it and you’re like, ‘man, if we could have just got those games.’ And it’s like we’re saying it again. We could have got those games.”
The Blazers haven’t played poorly in their slump. Head coach Terry Stotts liked his team’s performance in his team’s games vs. the Clippers and Nuggets, which both ended up in the “L” column.
Now, 10 of the Blazers next 12 games are against playoff contending teams, starting with the top team in the Eastern Conference, the Toronto Raptors, Friday night.
“It’s nut check time, man,” CJ McCollum said. “Coaches can only do so much… it’s on us.”
MEMPHIS – What are we to make of the Trail Blazers’ recent misadventures? I will attempt to address that as best I can.
Without the help of the team, which always seems to think everything is just fine.
The Trail Blazers followed a familiar script Wednesday night, jumping to a big lead, then squandering it and then coming back to make it a game.
Only to implode in the final minutes and lose 92-83.
But let’s take a dive into the bigger picture. There are obvious issues having to do with lineups, substitutions and why things are going wrong late in games.
First, it’s getting more difficult by the day to figure out this team’s starting lineup and bench. Coach Terry Stotts has always been a bit quirky with that stuff but this season it’s been more than that.
Maurice Harkless was given a precautionary night off to rest and in his place as a starter came Jake Layman. Which is the way this team opened the season, rather successfully, I might add.
But very often a player will reach the starting lineup for a game or two and then not play AT ALL in a following game. Layman did that for quite a spell. Seth Curry did once, too.
The bench was outscored again, this time 38-15 but it’s important to point out, the bench is different from what it was earlier in the season. Curry, a staple earlier who played down the stretch of Tuesday’s game, did not play at all Wednesday.
I’m not sure what you say to a player when you do that to him, but it certainly doesn’t breed confidence or consistency.
Nik Stauskas usually gets a few minutes here and there and very few three-point shots – which is his standout attribute.
Portland, in fact, ran a play for Stauskas to shoot a three to open the fourth quarter (which he made) but he finished the game with just two three-point attempts.
And seriously, this guy is a home-run hitter, not a bunter. I’m not clear why – on a team struggling to find three-point shooters – he isn’t getting more of them.
Stotts, speaking of three-point shooters, had Meyers Leonard up in the second half at the scorer’s table to go in the game but then pulled him back and inserted Caleb Swanigan – who had played only 106 minutes all season.
Stotts, at that point, appeared frustrated and just about at wit’s end.
In the final four minutes of the game, Portland stuck almost exclusively with Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum going one-on-one and drawing a crowd when they did.
I understand they are the go-to players and have no problem with them taking all the big shots but I can tell you it’s much more efficient to move the ball around and move bodies before getting it to them – complicating the chances of a double-team. And too, wide-open shots for other players are often better than contested shots for good players.
Stotts was asked after the game if enough of his players touched the ball on offense the last two games:
“Two different games,” he said. “You know, with Houston, a lot of switching, which leads to a lot of one-on-ones. I think Dame and CJ are our two best options. That being said, I think we run a lot of sets where Nurk touches it, CJ and Dame, Evan, so… I don’t know. The answer to your question is yes.”
I would say late in the game Wednesday that wasn’t the case. Nurkic got a shot off an inbounds play and when Lillard was trapped in a corner but mostly it was the Dame and CJ Show against most of the Memphis defenders.
And that didn’t work.
Players do not normally play well when used in inconsistent patterns. Consistent minutes maximize consistent play. It’s why most coaches set up a playing rotation that sticks with players through good and bad and allows them to become comfortable in their role – and not looking over their shoulder at the bench after their first missed shot.
I do not think the Trail Blazers have found that rotation yet. But somehow, they better.
Entering the Trail Blazers' game in Memphis, a big storyline was how well CJ McCollum has played against the Grizzlies over his five-year career. McCollum averaged 19.8 points per game against Memphis, which is his highest scoring average against any Western Conference opponent. Last season, McCollum averaged 30.5 points, 4.3 rebounds, 3.8 assists and two steals in the four-games series against the Grizzlies.
Not too shabby, huh?
Well, Wednesday night, Midrange McCollum was in full force in Memphis.
McCollum got the Trail Blazers going early with 10 first quarter points. Portland had a 20-10 advantage in the paint after one. The problem was-- The ball wasn’t really falling for anyone else not named McCollum, especially after the first and the Blazers fell to the Grizzlies 92-82 on Wednesday.
“After a really good first quarter, the rest of three quarters were a grind. We’ve had trouble scoring, part of it was their defense. I thought our offense never really got on track after that first quarter,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts told reporters postgame.
As a team, Portland shot 36.8% from the floor after hitting 32-of-87 shots and shooting 27.3% from three. McCollum himself made half of the Blazers field goals.
The Trail Blazers shooting guard went 16-of-27 from the field, including 2-of-5 from three and 6-of-7 from the free throw line to finish with 40 points, which ties his season-high.
“I tired to be aggressive, man. Back-to-backs, I know it’s tough on the body. A lot of traveling and it’s a mental game, so I tried to psyche myself out. Got some treatment early this morning, like I always do and just tried to give myself the best chance to feel as fresh as possible,” McCollum told reporters.
McCollum has now scored at least 36 points in four of his last eight games against the Grizzlies.
“As the game went along I thought we still did a pretty good job defending, but the ball didn’t go in for us. CJ was the only person making shots,” McCollum’s backcourt mate, Damian Lillard told reporters in the locker room.
HISTORY IN MEMPHIS
It was April 29th of the 2015 NBA Playoffs when McCollum had a breakout playoff game and Blazers fans remember it like it was yesterday. McCollum scored 33 points in Game 5 of the Blazers 99-93 loss to Memphis. That was his second year in the league. After dealing with injuries his rookie year, McCollum came off the bench in that playoff series playing behind Arron Afflalo.
It was the end of the series, but really, it was the beginning of McCollum’s NBA career. He burst onto the national scene following that Game 5 performance and he’ll never forget it.
“I like this city...They changed the trajectory of my career and I’m appreciative of it,” McCollum said.
But McCollum’s 40-piece wasn’t enough to defeat Memphis… So, what is going on with the Blazers?
McCollum feels it all goes back to “having lulls.”
The Blazers fall to 15-13 on the season and 5-9 on the road. In the locker room the players are talking about their frustrations.
“We’re losing winnable games and you can’t do that in the Western Conference. It seems like we go through this once a year,” McCollum said.
The players were also showing their frustrations on the court.
“When you feel like something wasn’t called right, we’re gonna tell them. We don’t have time to be soft out here- not to the refs, not to the other team, it’s a lot on the line every night, so if somebody wants to argue with the ref, argue with the ref, but make sure that it translates to aggressive play on the court,” McCollum said.
Both Lillard and Al-Farouq Aminu were charged with technical fouls for arguing calls.
The frustration is bound to happen when both Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic are not making their typical shots.
Lillard and Nurkic were a combined 5-of-33.
Nurkic scored two points in the loss, after making just one field goal on the night and had zero trips to the free throw line.
“I struggled… If I played a little bit better offensively, we’ve got a chance to win… It was definitely not my night,” Nurkic said.
“As the game went along I thought we still did a pretty good job defending, but the ball didn’t go in for us. CJ was the only person making shots,” Lillard said.
The Blazers will need their ‘Big 3’ as they gear up to host the Toronto Raptors on Friday and a chance to right the ship.
The Grizzlies have one of the best defenses in the league and they showed it off to the Blazers first hand on Wednesday. In Grind City the Grizzlies help Portland to a season-low 83 points and 36% shooting from the field. Now the Blazers limp back home after an 0-2 road trip to take on the league's best team, the 22-7 Toronto Raptors.
Here are some quick thoughts from our reporters on the scene...
Dwight Jaynes, Trail Blazers' Insider: Nothing but Lillard and CJ isos in the final three or four minutes. Another late game breakdown. Ugly loss.
Jamie Hudson, Trail Blazers' Reporter: Without CJ McCollum on Wednesday night in Memphis it would've been a really ugly game for the Blazers. Just as we have seen in the last couple games, the Blazers ran out of gas in the fourth. It looked like for both Jusuf Nurkic and Damian Lillard, the second night of a back-to-back was not only effecting their legs, but their shots as well, but you also give credit to the Memphis defense.
Peter Socotch, Producer on the Road: CJ McCollum continues his dominance against the Grizzlies. And while his 40 points were impressive, it came out of basic survival for the Trail Blazers. Damian Lillard couldn't get his shot to drop, even after he changed shoes at halftime. Nurkic was 1 for 15... my goodness. The bench didn't do much once again, although I did like what Stauskas provided throughout the night. The Blazers are up the river without a paddle. If you thought they got right, guess again.
***Be sure to check back here throughout tonight for locker room videos with Coach Stotts and the players, plus locker room reports from Jamie Hudson and Dwight Jaynes***
NEXT UP: The Blazers return home to take on the Toronto Raptors on Friday, December 12th. Tip-off is set for 7:00pm with coverage beginning at 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.
It’s the second night of a back-to-back for the Trail Blazers as Portland gets set to take on Memphis on the road. Before the two tip-off both Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff addressed the media to give the latest on their injured players.
Grizzlies Injury Update: Mike Conley (left hamstring), who was initially listed as questionable for tonight’s game, will play tonight.
Coach Bickerstaff discussed in his pregame availability that at times his team is too unselfish. “Sometimes taking the shot is the unselfish play because we might not get a better shot,” Bickerstaff said.
Hear from Coach Bickerstaff right here:
Grizzlies head coach J.B. Bickerstaff addresses the media ahead of tonight’s game vs. Portland https://t.co/LujADVF6D8— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) December 12, 2018
Blazers Injury Update: Maurice Harkless (rest) and Anfernee Simons (upper respiratory infection) are out for tonight’s game.
Coach Stotts told the media that Harkless will sit out to rest tonight because the Blazers are playing three games in four nights. Stotts did not confirm yet if Jake Layman will start in the place of Harkless.
Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest
Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App
Tip-Off Time: 5:00 p.m.
Point Spread: Memphis -3
Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio
The Portland Trail Blazers came up short on Tuesday night, falling to the Rockets in Houston 111-104. Let’s get you caught up with everything you might have missed from the Blazers loss to the Rockets.
The Blazers were in full force in the first quarter Tuesday, hitting seven of their first 11 shots and building a 15-point lead early in the game. But the Rockets blasted the Blazers later in the game, building a 17-point deficit Portland could once again not recover from.
Dwight Jaynes shared some thoughts on Portland’s fourth-quarter problems: “I’m not sure" -- The puzzle that is the Trail Blazers second unit
Damian Lillard may be in the thick of the MVP conversation, but he didn’t seem to get many MVP like calls going his way.
Jamie Hudson recapped Lillard’s 34-point performance in the Blazers loss: Physical game vs. Houston Rockets leaves Damian Lillard holding his shoulder and scratching his head
In addition to Lillard’s high-scoring night, the All-Star guard surpassed Terry Porter on the All-Time Free Throws Made list.
Jamie Hudson noted Lillard’s second most free throws in franchise history: Damian Lillard passes Terry Porter for second on All-Time Free Throws Made list
Jamie Hudson, Dwight Jaynes and Pete Socotch shared some quick thoughts from the scene immediately after the game: Rapid Reaction: Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers loss to the Houston Rockets
The Portland Trail Blazers jersey game has reached new levels.
The Blazers revealed Wednesday that they were selected as one of the teams to receive Nike's new "Earned Edition" jerseys. The "earned" jersey was given to the Blazers as a result of their playoff appearance last season.
The limited edition jerseys, which resemble Portland's black and gray "City Edition" jersey, are absolute fire. Take a look:
While many teams around the NBA have selected to wear their jerseys on Christmas Day, the Blazers have decided to dub their new wardrobe on December 29 against the Golden State Warriors.
The Utah Jazz, who also reached the playoffs last season, will debut their jerseys against the Portland Trail Blazers on Dec. 25 in Salt Lake City.
The newest jerseys are apart of the Nike NBA Earned Program, which tips off in 2018 with a collection of Earned Edition uniforms. The new uniforms, which are slight variations of each team’s Statement or City Edition uniforms, gives fans an opportunity to celebrate their teams success.
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.
WHY THIS GAME MATTERS
Portland is trying to right the ship on the road when the Blazers visit the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers have lost five straight away from Moda Center and seven of their last nine road games. The Blazers now hold a 5-8 road record.
No rest for Portland
Despite Damian Lillard's 34-point night performance on Tuesday night, the Blazers were not able to defeat the Rockets. Houston capitalized on the Blazers' 14 turnovers and walked away with a 111-103 victory. Portland struggled from the end of the third quarter to the start of the fourth and allowed Houston to go on a 37-13 run. And, with Lillard and CJ McCollum both playing 39 minutes on Tuesday night, we could see some tired legs in Memphis on Wednesday. In fact, all five Trail Blazers starters played at least 31 minutes after Portland’s bench was under-performing. The Rockets’ second unit outscored the Blazers’ bench, 37-13 in Tuesday’s loss.
Memphis starts homestand
The Grizzlies are coming off a 105-99 road loss to the Nuggets on Monday. In the loss, Mike Conley finished with 19 points and six assists. Wednesday's game vs. Porltand will be the start of a homestand that includes three games in four nights. Memphis is 8-4 at home this season.
Point guard battle
All eyes will be on the point guard battle on Wednesday night. Damian Lillard has led the Blazers to three wins in the last four trips to Memphis, while averaging 23.0 points per game. While Mike Conley, has averaged 15.3 points in his last seven games against the Blazers. Now that Conley is healthy this season he is averaging 20.2 points per game and 6.5 assists.
Maurice Harkless (rest) and Anfernee Simons (upper respiratory infection) are out for tonight’s game at Memphis.
For the Grizzlies, Dillon Brooks (left knee), Jevon Carter (right knee), and Chandler Parsons (right knee) are all listed as out. Mike Conley (left hamstring) is questionable.
Dwight Jaynes: "I'm not sure" -- The puzzle that is the Blazer bench
Where to Watch: NBC Sports Northwest
Where to Watch on the go: Stream the game live on the new MyTeams App
Tip-Off Time: 5:00 p.m.
NBCS NW Coverage: Blazers Outsiders Pregame Show (4:00 p.m.), Blazers Outsiders Postgame Show (immediately after the game).
Point Spread: Memphis -3
Radio: 620AM Rip City Radio
Every NBA season, MVP caliber players add a new wrinkle to their game. This 2017-18 season, Damian Lillard has made it a point to take the ball hard to the rim and in turn, make it to the free throw line more often than in years past.
But even though, there has been so much talk about Lillard continuing to raise his game and his name being thrown into the MVP conversation, he doesn’t seem to be getting the MVP like treatment on fouls called.
“I thought there was a lot of contact out there. I was on the refs… I was literally asking them questions, you know, ‘how is that not a foul’ and they explained what they thought and that was it,” Lillard told reporters postgame.
There was one drive in particular in Tuesday’s 111-103 loss to the Rockets that had Blazers fans holding their breath and Lillard holding his shoulder.
Lillard remembered the play vividly that had him and Rockets backup center Nene tangled up after Lillard drove to the basket with 3:29 left in the first quarter.
“I went to the rim, missed a shot, but I saw that it was going to be short and I jumped up to try to like tip the ball and Nene reached for the ball with two hands and when I had my hand kind of barely on it, he just kind of ripped through my arm. Like he tried to rip the ball away… And basically my arm ended up getting bent back a little bit to the side and it just aggravated the back of my shoulder,” Lillard described the play to NBC Sports Northwest reporter Peter Socotch.
Not only was Lillard holding his left shoulder, but he was also scratching is head after there was no foul called.
The Blazers called timeout immediately after the play and as Lillard walked back to the bench to be attended to by the team trainer, Lillard made sure to talk to the referee.
“I got in there to score… I play the game to score. I’m not trying to sell this or sell that, you know, but I thought it was a lot of contact,” Lillard said.
Lillard stayed in the game and the shoulder did not seem to have any ill effects on his performance. He finished with 34 points on 12-of-25 shooting, including 4-of-7 from three and 6-of-7 from the free throw line. It was also a night, where Lillard surpassed Terry Porter on the All-Time Free Throws Made list. Lillard is now second in franchise history in FTs made, ending the game with a total of 2,560.
In the locker room postgame, LIllard did not seem worried that this could have any lingering effects.
“As the game went on, it was just like tightening up, getting a little sore, but it was nothing that I was concerned about,” Lillard said.
This type of physical game can take a toll on any point guard around the league, but specifically a point guard that is averaging 35.2 minutes per game, like Lillard was entering Tuesday’s game.
“It’s hard when you’ve got teams trying to trap you… They’re being physical and they’re not being penalized for it all the time so they get a little more physical. That’s the kind of game it was,” Lillard said.
Lillard is averaging 7.4 free throw attempts so far this season and shooting 89.6% at the line through the first 27 games. For his career he averages 5.8 attempts.
Letting players play the game without a whistle to pause play makes it a more entertaining game and playing through contact is just part of the game. But, not getting a foul call is not the biggest concern – just like Lillard had mentioned after Tuesday’s loss, it’s about making sure to not get injured if opponents start thinking they can get away with fouls.
Portland can’t afford to lose its All-Star point guard to an injury.
The good news? Fans have seen this before. Lillard goes down, he gets back up, and he plays on.
The bad news? This won't be the last time he runs into a physical team.