Who couldn't find warmth in Carmelo Anthony's rise to Player of the Week?

Who couldn't find warmth in Carmelo Anthony's rise to Player of the Week?

LOS ANGELES – Just one more interesting thing about Carmelo Anthony after he captured last week’s Western Conference Player of the Week award:

He’s become something of a new hero to basketball fans, not just in Portland but all over.

We heard it when fans in Chicago chanted his name during Portland’s win over the Bulls last week. And not only are they wildly cheering him in Portland, I expect he will get positive reactions, with few exceptions, in enemy arenas this season.

The buzz is there. Social media is alive with chatter about his comeback and I must say, it’s what everyone wants to talk to me about these days..

Certainly, he’s played well over his team’s last three games, averaging 22.3 points and 7.7 rebounds while shooting 57.4 percent from the field and 45.5 percent from three-point range. Not only that, his team is 3-0 in that span.

That’s terrific and it doesn’t even account for what his presence on the floor is doing to get open shots for teammates.

He beat out James Harden and his 60-points-in-three-quarters game for the PO award. And he trumped Luka and LeBron doing what they do.

I believe there’s a real element of warmth to his story -- a man whom everyone thought was finished. Washed up. Over the hill. Done. But a man who fought through all that and found another chance with an unlikely team a long way from home.

Who can’t identify with that? Who can’t help but feel good for him?

And in this case, it’s a player saddled with a lot of heavy baggage. He’s had a whole lot of bad raps. You know – a cancer in the locker room, ball hog, selfish, bad guy, not a winner. I have no idea where these things came from because he’s spent a good portion of his career doing his work a long way from here. All I know is that he was this country’s first basketball player to win three gold medals and a player known as a “glue guy” holding those talented teams together. His Olympic coach, Mike Krzyzewski said this about him:

 

We ask the guys for a commitment and selfless service. But Carmelo is a perfect example of commitment for the Olympics. That’s his entire playing career and to devote that amount of time is remarkable really, and it’s not been done. He’s been such a good guy to coach.

 

He’s had a fresh start in Portland and it’s been a hot start. And he may have as many fans on his side now than he ever has in his career. So far, it's one heck of an amazing story.

 

Listen to this week’s Talkin’ Blazers podcast here:

Gary Trent Jr.'s Flu Game leads to a career-high and a trip down memory lane

Gary Trent Jr.'s Flu Game leads to a career-high and a trip down memory lane

OKLAHOMA CITY – The flushed face, glazed over eyes, and low energy feeling being exerted from Gary Trent Jr.’s face was what his teammates witnessed at their team meeting Saturday morning in OKC. 

And then… 

Trent Jr. not only played, he dropped a 30-piece.

“There’s no way I thought he was playing today,” Carmelo Anthony chuckled when thinking about how Trent Jr. was barely moving at the team meeting. 

With injuries and a trade that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento, the Blazers had the required league-minimum of eight players on the active roster.

One of those eight was Trent Jr. who was still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  

Fortunately for the Blazers, he was feeling a lot better by tip-off.

“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."

Portland fell to the Thunder 119-106 despite Trent Jr.’s career-high and Damian Lillard’s 34-point performance.  

The short-handed Blazers clearly ran out of gas Saturday night.  

But, even though it didn’t look like Trent Jr. had any gas left in his tank after dealing with the worst of the illness Friday night in Dallas, he wasn't about to take a sick day.

There was no time when I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to be good to go. You know, your job is to play basketball. Some people go to work still sick, you still have to work, you still have to do your job in a sense. I was always going to be available no matter what my state was.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame

And hey, “just be great,” right?

That mantra is found all over Trent Jr.'s social media accounts whether he’s posting a photo to Instagram or tweeting out a highlight video with the ‘love-you gesture’ emoji hands, he says he not only plays by that motto, but also lives by it.

The now 21-year-old says he was trying to come up with a saying since LeBron James coined the ‘strive for greatness’ phrase and once he came up with ‘just be great,’ he “has been running with it ever since.”

“I’ve been saying that for a while now, since like high school,” Trent Jr. said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts reminded the media before the game that it was Trent Jr.’s 21st birthday. After the game, he gave praise to the birthday boy.

“I was very happy Gary Trent had a good game. Obviously, it was one of the best games of his career. Particularly coming off an illness, I thought that was a great game by him."

Anytime a professional athlete has a career night and doesn’t get the win, they’re obviously not satisfied.

“We came here to win,” Trent Jr. said. “I’m not here to get numbers, but it was a great thing for my birthday. But we lost, so we have to go back to the drawing board, and a good thing about the NBA is that we have another game Monday to redeem ourselves.”

A person's 21st birthday is usually one they remember forever. The best year in a long string of birthdays. That may not be the case for Trent. Not only was he sick, but his 21st birthday has some stiff competition.

“My 21st birthday I was sick, so nothing can beat five-year-old, six-year-old at Chucky Cheese,” Trent Jr. said with a smile. “It’s second to that,” he laughed.

Even with slightly glazed over eyes still late Saturday night, the second-year player grinned from ear to ear when talking about his birthday's of the past.

“There was a place that I used to love growing up in Columbus, Ohio called Magic Mountain. It was super fun. It’s an arcade mixed with a thirty-foot jungle gym. You should really check it out.”

While Magic Mountain is going to have to wait until the offseason, right now the Blazers are forced to battle through injuries and then work to integrate their new players on the roster.  

Portland’s All-Star point guard Damian Lillard is going to continue to be proud of what Trent Jr. did on Saturday night, but also what he’s been able to do to improve this season.

“He’s battling the flu. He’s tough for lasting through two nights playing through the sickness, and he had a great game. He was aggressive. He shot the ball well. He played a great game,” Lillard said. “We knew he could fill it up coming in. In training camp, he was scoring and was able to get baskets, I think his understanding of the game has improved from last year to this year as far as recognizing plays calls, remembering coverages, knowing personnel, knowing where to be, knowing how to make plays and be in positions.”

Trent Jr. knew he could not call in sick with his team so undermanned. He has always said he is here to do whatever he needs to do to help his team win and with no CJ McCollum because of a left ankle sprain, Trent Jr. was doing his best to pick up the slack.

January 18th, 2019 will always be known as the Gary Trent Jr. Birthday Flu Game.  

After being traded, Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver are flying back with Blazers to Portland

After being traded, Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver are flying back with Blazers to Portland

Since being traded earlier Saturday, now former Trail Blazers guard Kent Bazemore broke his silence on social media. 


I have A LOT of love for Portland... a place I always saw myself playing. A place I PRAYED about getting too, and it happened... unfortunately the sh***y part about this game is this side of it. Years and years of cultivating a relationship with your peers to all see it wiped away with in a couple hours. Even though my stay here was short lived, I felt like I gained some lifelong friends. My guys held me down regardless of how I played, we were all in this together... I dont even know what else to say but #GetOffThePropertyBruv 🤣🤣 #InsideJokes @trailblazers thank you for the opportunity 

The heartfelt post revealed one thing, however. Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver, who were traded to Sacramento for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel, Caleb Swanigan, and two second round picks are headed back with the Trail Blazers to Portland before they move on to their new team. 

The first photo shared in Bazemore's Instagram message shows the Trail Blazers players posing for a group photo. It became clear Bazemore and Tolliver were traveling back to Portland with the team when we noticed the clothing in the photo were the fits each player wore for Saturday's game in OKC. 

It shouldn't be shocking Baze and AT are headed back with the team, but since the deal hasn't yet been finalized, players and Coach Stotts are unable to provide much detail. 

Players have to pass physicals and paperwork has to be completed. It may take until Tuesday before the deal is completed with the league office.

So rest assured, Bazemore and Tolliver weren't left high and dry in Oklahoma City or forced to hitchhike to Sacramento.

 

Social Media reacts to Gary Trent’s flu game

Social Media reacts to Gary Trent’s flu game

Less than 24 hours before Saturday’s game vs. the Oklahoma City Thunder, Trail Blazers second-year forward Gary Trent, Jr. was getting an IV and being treated for flu-like symptoms in Dallas. 

On Saturday morning, coach Terry Stotts and members of the Portland Trail Blazers said Trent continued to not look good. “He was pale,” Carmelo Anthony said of Trent, Jr. at the team’s morning meeting. “Head on the table.”

“He did not look good.”

Then, the Trail Blazers made a trade, sending Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver out of town. The already depleted Blazers needed Trent, Jr. to suit up just to meet league requirements to field a team vs. the Thunder. 

"[I'll do] whatever I can do to help this team,” Trent, Jr. said pregame. “Whether that’s cheering on the team or playing. I’m all for it."

Instead of just riding the end of the bench, Trent, Jr. balled out. 

He made his first seven shots before a three pointer finally rimmed off. But, he remained hot, connecting on 12 of 18 of his attempts and scoring a career-high 30 points in the effort. 

It was his flu game. And while the Blazers may have lost, many on social media marveled in his effort.

What a way to ring in your 21st birthday, GT!

Just be great!

Instant Analysis: Gary Trent Jr. drops career-high despite flu

Instant Analysis: Gary Trent Jr. drops career-high despite flu

OKLAHOMA CITY – Just four hours before the Trail Blazers and Thunder tipped off from Chesapeake Energy Arena, reports surfaced that Portland had traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento.

With the two forwards no longer with the team, along with the recent injury coming Friday night in Dallas keeping CJ McCollum out of Saturday's game due to a left ankle sprain, the Trail Blazers suited up the league minimum eight players versus the Thunder.

And one of those eight players was Gary Trent Jr. who is still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  
Fortunately for the Blazers, Trent Jr. said before the game he was feeling better and had more energy. 

It showed.

After being down by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, it looked as though the Blazers were going to be able to rally back after outscoring OKC in the second quarter. But, it was apparent the short-handed Blazers ran out of gas by the fourth. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: THUNDER 119, TRAIL BLAZERS 106

Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday's loss:

1.  If you suit up, you had to play for Blazers

Besides Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr. was the only other Blazer in double figures midway through the second quarter. Lillard already notched 24 points at the break. But with McCollum out, Lillard was also trying to get his teammates more involved on the offense. He had four of the Blazers’ six assists in the first half. 

It was a night for the young Blazers to show what they got. 

Fighting through a flu bug, Trent Jr. hit his first seven shots. He didn’t miss a shot until the 2:54 mark of the third quarter. The second-year player showed his composure while getting extended minutes. Trent Jr. was Portland’s second-leading scoring on the night with a career-high 30 points.

2. CP3 leads the charge for OKC

Chris Paul was the Thunder's leading scoring at halftime with 21 points, while also being the hype man for OKC fans in attendance. With the trade deadline approaching, Thunder fans are making sure to show their love for the starting point guard. CP3 finished with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. 

3.  The battle on the boards

Through three quarters, Oklahoma City was outrebounding Portland, 39-32. Hassan Whiteside had nine of those 32 boards; however, Blazer fans have become accustomed to Whiteside reaching double-digit rebounds by the fourth quarter.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Blazers and Warriors tip-off at 7:00pm.

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

Trail Blazers run out of gas in second half -- but really, what did you expect?

Trail Blazers run out of gas in second half -- but really, what did you expect?

The worn-out and banged-up Trail Blazers ran out of gas after about two and a half quarters Saturday night in a 119-106 loss at Oklahoma City.

And what did you expect?

With only eight players in uniform after trading away Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver earlier in the day and CJ McCollum's ankle sprain Friday night, there just wasn't enough firepower in Portland uniforms to stay with the Thunder. Especially on the second of back-to-back road games.

Damian Lillard, after playing 40 minutes Friday night in Dallas, scored 34 points in 35 minutes, in spite of an 0-for-8 third quarter, to keep his team close for nearly three quarters but this one was never in the cards.

Portland's recent struggles from behind the three-point line weren't as bad against OKC as the rest of the month but they needed more threes to stay in the game. After shooting a remarkably consistent 36.5, 36.8 and 36.3 percent from three over the first three months of the season, the Trail Blazers came into this contest shooting just 32.9 in nine January games. They were better Saturday, thanks in large part to Gary Trent's 5-9 from long distance. Portland's opponents in January were shooting 38.7 percent coming into this game, making an average of four more per game than the Trail Blazers.

Chris Paul was vintage Chris Paul. He scored 30 points in 27 minutes, had seven assists and just one turnover while making 11 of his 15 shots.

"I thought Chris Paul was a really good player tonight," Terry Stotts said. "He's been a really good player for his career but he had a really good game tonight, He really managed the game, scored and when he was on the court they were a much better team. Hats off to him. I was really happy Gary Trent had a good game. Best game of his career, I think."

Trent made his first seven shots of the game and scored 30 points on just 18 shots.

Did Stotts think his team ran out of gas?

"That's possible. we were hanging in there close," Stotts said. "They made some runs, I don't know if we ran out of gas or not. Mostly, Chris Paul's impact on the game more than anything else."

Well, coaches don't like to make excuses, but they ran out of gas. And they have just one day to rest before playing host to the Golden State Warriors Monday night in Moda Center.