Trail Blazers will start pre-camp workouts without Aminu & Nurkic who head to FIBA

Trail Blazers will start pre-camp workouts without Aminu & Nurkic who head to FIBA

When the Portland Trail Blazers get together for pre-camp workouts soon, they are going to be without two players who were starters last season. And those two players could be missing right up to or past the start of training camp on Sept. 25.

Al-Farouq Aminu (Nigeria) and Jusuf Nurkic (Bosnia and Herzegovena) are scheduled to represent their countries in the 2019 FIBA World Cup qualifying rounds. The format of the World Cup has been changed and teams now will be required to play qualifying rounds in 2018 to move into the 2019 Cup finals, scheduled to be played in China.

The two players could be occupied until the middle of September with the games, then will need to return to Portland. Often, after the national-team training camp and games, players are given a few days off to rest. And then they will need time to re-acquaint themselves with NBA rules and the NBA basketball, which is different than the FIBA ball. There is also the possibility of injury, particularly when playing against players who may not be as skilled as NBA players.

The Trail Blazers players' participation in the tournament has the franchise's blessing.

"Farouq and Nurk are elite players within their National Team programs and this is an excellent opportunity to represent their countries and solidify their inclusion in future international competitions," said Neil Olshey, Portland's president of basketball operations.

The USA roster for the qualifying tournament will be made up largely of G-League players and be coached by Jeff Van Gundy.
 

By the numbers: Damian Lillard in rarefied air after career night

By the numbers: Damian Lillard in rarefied air after career night

On a day where we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Damian Lillard gave his best performance.

Career-high 61 points, check. Most points by a player this season, check. An MLK Day record, check. Career-high and franchise record 11 three pointers, beating his own record, check. 

We marvel in the greatness that is Damian Lillard, and these numbers make his accomplishment that much more impressive: 

And perhaps the greatest stat of them all...? The Trail Blazers got the win!

Terry Stotts breaks with tradition after Damian Lillard's career night

Terry Stotts breaks with tradition after Damian Lillard's career night

Damian Lillard left it all out on the court Monday night. 

En route to the Trail Blazers overtime win over the Golden State Warriors Monday night at the Moda Center, Damian Lillard dropped a career-high 61 points, connected on 11 three pointers, breaking his previous career-high and franchise-high of ten, scored the most points EVER on MLK Day and the most points in the NBA this season.

It was only fitting that he received the game ball afterwards.

“That was a great team effort,” Terry Stotts said in the locker room after the game. “We had five guys play over 40 minutes, that was a hell of an effort. But, Dame, a career-high, a franchise-high...” (inaudible as the locker room erupts in applause)

Lillard, in true Lillard fashion, enjoyed the moment by acknowledging his teammates, walking around slapping hands with each of them.

Terry Stotts is not one to give out game balls, so this moment is especially special.  

After the game, Lillard’s teammates took to social media to show the point guard some love, too. 

An incredible effort from the Trail Blazers franchise player. 

Damian Lillard was 61-derful in his performance against Golden State

Damian Lillard was 61-derful in his performance against Golden State

One man isn't supposed to be able to win you a basketball game all by himself. Damian Lillard didn't quite do that Monday night in Moda Center -- but that's about as close as you will ever come to seeing someone do it.

It was 61-derful.

The Trail Blazers took a 129-124 victory away from the Golden State Warriors, thanks to Lillard's 61 points, built on 11 three-point field goals in 20 attempts. The other eight Trail Blazers who played combined for 68 points on 3-24 shooting from three-point range. It was the most points scored by an NBA player this season, a franchise record (breaking his own mark of 60 set earlier this season) and he became only the sixth player in league history to record multiple 60-point games. And oh yes, he also tied a franchise record by going 16-16 from the foul line.

"You kind of run out of adjectives for Damian and his performance," Coach Terry Stotts said. "The way he carried the team, not just on the court but in the huddles, timeouts, halftime. His leadership was great and like I said, you run out of adjectives. He's an amazing player."

Lillard did not minimize the importance of this game for his 19-26 team -- or the magnitude of his performance.

"It's one of the best of my career... one of my better performances in a game we needed to win," he said, "I think that's just what it is. We needed a win tonight. A great performance. I'm excited about it. I'm happy about it, but I wish it counted for three wins instead of one."

Lillard hit a 26-foot step-back three pointer with 15.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. He had scored 12 points in the period.

Then in overtime, after Portland fell behind by six points, he tied it with 58.3 seconds to play with a 27-foot pull-up jumper, then fed Gary Trent for a layup with 34.8 to go that pushed his team into a two-point lead. Alec Burks responded with a three that jumped the Warriors back into the lead with 32.7 left in the extra session but Lillard's two free throws seven seconds later helped Portland regain the lead.

Then, after Hassan Whiteside nailed two clutch foul shots with 8.5 seconds left, Lillard finished off his night with two more free tosses that got him to 61 points.

And he admitted later that he knew what his point total was when he went to the line.

"Yeah, I knew," he said. "I knew I had 59 after it was eight seconds left so I was like, it's probably going to sit at 59. Then the shot went up, I got the rebound, the guy bumped me and I was like, I'm going to fall down. They;re going to have to blow the whistle and I;m getting those two free throws."

He deserved them. It was his night.

He also deserved his first career triple-double. He ended with 10 rebounds and seven assists, but could have had four or five more assists had his teammates been able to knock down their open three-point shots.

"He's a great player," Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said. "He's a hell of a player. An all-star. He's hit some big shots in his career, so it didn't surprise me ..."

The ultimate Damian Lillard career-high highlight

The ultimate Damian Lillard career-high highlight

On a day where we honored Dr. Martin Luther King, Damian Lillard gave his best performance.

Career-high 61 points, check. Most points by a player this season, check. An MLK Day record, check. Career-high and franchise record 11 three pointers, beating his own record, check. 

We marvel in the greatness that is Damian Lillard in the video above.

 

Even Stephen Curry watched in awe of Damian Lillard

Even Stephen Curry watched in awe of Damian Lillard

DAMIAN. FREAKING. LILLARD.

Career-high 61 points, check. Most points by a player this season, check. An MLK Day record, check. Career-high and franchise record 11 three pointers, beating his own record, check. 

We all watched on in awe as Damian Lillard went off. 

So, too, did Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry, who remains sidelined with a broken hand. 

Curry is known to pour in buckets at a high clip in the past, but he's never scored 60+ points. His career-high is 54. 

So, as Curry watched helplessly from the Warriors bench, at least he can reslish in the fact that was able to get a front row seat to watch Lillard's greatness.

Presenting, the many faces of Steph Curry.

Same, Steph... same.

Social media lost its collective mind on Damian Lillard's career night

Social media lost its collective mind on Damian Lillard's career night

Damian Lillard is a BAAAD man. 

On the day where the world celebrated the sacrifice of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., the Portland Trail Blazers point guard provided the NBA’s best performance… ever. 

Lillard scored a career-high 61 points for the Portland Trail Blazers, connecting on a career and franchise-high 11 three pointers. 

He finished the game 11 for 20 from three.

It was the 7th career 50-point game for Damian Lillard, which matches the total from every other player in Trail history combined.

 

His performance had social media going crazy!

Have a game, Dame! Have. A. Game. 

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard drops 61 in Blazers OT win over Warriors

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard drops 61 in Blazers OT win over Warriors

Monday night was a battle of two undermanned teams.  

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum sat out of his second straight game with a left ankle sprain, while on the other end, the Warriors were without starting forward Draymond Green. Green suited up for Golden State, but did not play due to an illness.

Portland outscored the Warriors, 27-23, in the first quarter, but then struggled to muster up enough scoring in the second and third quarters. The Blazers were able to win the final period behind Damian Lillard's scoring prowess. Twelve was the Warriors' biggest lead on the night, but once Portland forced overtime the Blazers were determined to get the W. Hassan Whiteside hit two clutch free throws in the final seconds to help seal the deal for the Blazers.

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 129, WARRIORS 124

Here are three quick takeaways from Monday’s win:

1.  Lillard takes over 

Double-teamed, triple-teamed -- the Warriors threw everything they had at Damian Lillard. Golden State even picked Lillard up full court for most of the game. But, they still couldn’t slow down the Trail Blazers All-Star point guard. Lillard notched 42 points through the first three quarters. He was on the attack for most of the night, which resulted in him getting to the line. Lillard finished the night 11-of-11 from the charity stripe, but there were still plenty of no-calls Lillard was not happy about. Lillard's three-pointer with 15.6 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 113, which eventually meant the Blazers and Warriors were heading to OT. Lillard finished with a new career-high and franchise record 61 points. 

2. Both teams struggle from deep

The Trail Blazers had a good shooting night from inside the arc. Portland shot 54.2 percent from the field in the first quarter, but went just 1-of-4 from three for the quarter.  

It was even more of a struggle for Golden State early. The Warriors started the game shooting 0-for-8 from long distance in the first quarter, and 32.1 percent from the field.  The three-point shooting didn’t get much better for either team with Damian Lillard being the exception. Lillard was the only Trail Blazer who had made a three-pointer until 48.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Mario Hezonja hit a wide open three from the wing.

3. Warriors take advantage of young Blazers

Rookie mistakes quickly became a common theme Monday night for Portland. Nassir Little, Jaylen Hoard, and Moses Brown all found themselves out of rotation on the defensive end at least once or twice. Their lapses at that end of the floor not only resulted in the Warriors putting up big numbers in the paint, but the lapses also resulted in limited minutes for the young bigs.   

Up Next: Portland will continue its four-game homestand when the Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night.

Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more articles and videos from the players!

Damian Lillard sets career-high in points, breaks his own record for threes made in win

Damian Lillard sets career-high in points, breaks his own record for threes made in win

Damian Lillard played out of his mind vs. the Golden State Warriors Monday night at Moda Center.

With 58.3 seconds to go in overtime, Lillard set a new career-high in three-pointers made with at total of 11.

That mark of 11 makes from three is also a franchise record.

Lillard had made 10 three-pointers back on November 28th, 2018 vs. the Magic. He finished the game 11-20 from distance. 

Lillard finished with 61 points, which is a career-high, an MLK Day best and the most points by a player in the NBA this season!

Lillard finished 17-37 from the field.

More to come postgame after Lillard talks to the media!

Trail Blazers in action vs. Golden State Warriors, follow for live updates

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USA Today Images

Trail Blazers in action vs. Golden State Warriors, follow for live updates

Monday marks the first of the next four games at home for the Portland Trail Blazers (18-28).

The Blazers host the Golden State Warriors (10-34) after returning from their latest three-game trip banged up, dealing with the flu, and dealing with a trade.

For full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team, follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

How to Listen to the Game:

Catch all the action on Rip City Radio 620 with Travis Demers and Michael Holton

Quote of The Week

“When you’re sick, the morning is always the worst,” Trent Jr. said postgame. “You’re groggy, you’re tired, you’re sore and obviously playing that night before, but like I said though, the medical staff made sure I was well prepared for the game. So, I’m fortunate they were there for me." – Trail Blazers backup guard Gary Trent Jr. on playing through an illness on the night he scored a career-high 30 points

Quick Links 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts says the testing on CJ McCollum's ankle is 'manageable'

The real reason for making the Trevor Ariza trade is the most obvious one

VIDEO:  What does MLK Day mean to the Trail Blazers?

VIDEO:  HIGHLIGHT -- Shorthanded Blazers stumble in OKC

VIDEO:  PUT ANT IN THE DUNK CONTEST!

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