Carmelo Anthony

Hassan Whiteside's big night leaves Trail Blazers pondering

Hassan Whiteside's big night leaves Trail Blazers pondering

DENVER – Staring off into the distance sat a Trail Blazers big man who looked deep in thought after Thursday’s game.

It was Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, sitting there with his knees wrapped in ice and both feet ankle deep in a bucket of ice – that’s the norm for the Trail Blazers 7-footer.

But something was different. 

After the Nuggets defeated the Blazers by 15 points, Whiteside sat alone looking as if he was searching for answers. Pondering. 

In the first and third quarters in Denver, it was really all about Whiteside’s dominance at both ends of the floor.

Despite the big fella going off for a career-high 33 points, he was trying to figure out why his team didn’t come away with a win.  

There’s stretches when we look amazing and then there’s stretches where they go on big runs… They was hitting threes, they was making us pay, and we would over help, and that’s pretty much what happened. -- Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside postgame

Whiteside’s 13-point first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds helped the Blazers keep pace with the Nuggets early on.  

He also hit his first and only three-attempt this season, punctuated with a dab (or three).

Trail Blazers fans may have been surprised to see him hoist up three, but Whiteside was ready for the moment.  

“I shoot them all the time [in practice]. So, when it is a situation like that I feel comfortable…. I hate when people always saying, "why you working on that? You don’t do it in a game." Well, maybe that’s why you work on it.”

It's obvious that Whiteside has put in the work this season, and he and Damian Lillard have put in the work together on the offensive end.  

Whiteside's performance didn't go unnoticed Thursday. 

Lillard, who shot just 2-for-9 from three, gave his big man props.

He had a great game. They put a lot of attention on the ball and he was coming open all night and he scored early, and all throughout the game he made those short floaters, he made some jumpers, made free throws, I thought he played a good game. -- Trail Blazer point guard Damian Lillard on Whiteside

“He looked good." CJ McCollum added. "He finished around the basket. He rebounded. I thought he took advantage of how they were guarding him in the pick and roll and he capitalized."

Whiteside is putting up career numbers across the board this season from points to rebounds to blocks. He became the first Blazer with 10+ rebounds in 10 straight games since Buck Williams Thursday night.

He believes the success has been there in the first part of the season because of Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and his teammates believing in him.  

“I got a coach playing me,” Whiteside said. “Coach has been playing me and letting me play out there. My teammates trust me and I worked on it all summer."  

Trust can go a long way.

But, now Whiteside and the rest of the Trail Blazers are pondering why they haven’t been able to put together a consistent game on both sides of the floor even if they are trusting each other. 

What beat Blazers?: Defense? Rebounds? Bench? 3-point shooting? Or just effort?

What beat Blazers?: Defense? Rebounds? Bench? 3-point shooting? Or just effort?

If you knew ahead of time that Hassan Whiteside was going to outscore All-NBA center Nikola Jokic 35-20 and Carmelo Anthony would outscore Blazer killer Paul Millsap 20-6, wouldn’t you figure that the Trail Blazers would have a shot at defeating the Denver Nuggets, who were on a three-game losing streak?

Well, no. But I think you would have thought they wouldn’t lose by 15.

But that’s what happened in Denver Thursday night, when Portland was drubbed 114-99.

And like so many NBA games, it all turned on three-point shooting. The Trail Blazers shot a solid 47.7 percent from the field but just 30 percent from three (9-30) while Denver connected on 50 percent of its threes (18-36). In other words, the Blazers were outscored by 27 points from distance

That’s especially lethal when you’re getting pounded 15-7 on the offensive boards.

It was a game the Trail Blazers were in on all the way to the end of the third quarter, when they went into zombie mode. With 2:47 left in the period they trailed just 79-78. But the Nuggets rattled off the final 10 points of the quarter and never looked back.

Part of that can be blamed on the Portland bench, which played a total of 62 minutes and scored just nine points – all of them by one man, Anfernee Simons.

But the starters could be blamed, too. The Trail Blazers got a solid 62 points from their starting frontcourt of Anthony, Whiteside and Kent Bazemore but a combined 28 from their starting guards, Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, who were averaging 48.8 per game coming into this one.

“I know Whiteside hurt us,” Denver Coach Mike Malone said. “But when you can hold that backcourt, Portland’s starting backcourt, to 28 points (and) only three free-throw attempts… I thought our defense on Dame and CJ was terrific.”

And while holding down Portland’s guards, the Nuggets were piling up the threes at the other end.

“A lot like Game 1 (of the season) they made 18 threes and they made 18 threes tonight,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “To me, that was the difference in the game. Some of it was on us as far as leaving shooters and not contesting as much and some of it was on them for moving the ball and finding the open man.”

Lillard said, “We just didn’t have enough pressure on the ball. We let them get too comfortable out there. They’re a passing team. If we had had more energy and effort, like I said after the last game, we could have limited what they do. But we were back on our heels.”

This Trail Blazer season is going south fast. Energy and effort have been an issue recently and you have to worry about it becoming a chronic problem.

The Halloween candy was still in the wrapper the last time Portland beat a team with a record above .500. The Trail Blazers are now 1-9 vs. teams with a plus-.500 record – and that win was on Oct. 27.

 


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

 

     

 

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers couldn't overcome Nuggets hot shooting from three

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers couldn't overcome Nuggets hot shooting from three

DENVER  – Nuggets fans showed up in force Thursday night, but it's not certain if it was for their team, or Carmelo Anthony.

Either way, it was as close to sold out as the Pepsi Center gets for a Nuggets game. It even looked like there were more fans in the stands on Thursday than there were during last year’s postseason.

In Anthony’s return to Denver, he looked like vintage Melo, but also showed off his defense coming up with a couple of steals. 

It was a hard fought battle between two teams that are continuing to deepen their division rivalry. 

But, down the stretch, Portland wasn’t able to get stops. The Nuggets took a 2-0 series lead in their 111-99 win over the Trail Blazers. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: Nuggets 111, Trail Blazers 99

Here are three quick takeaways from Thursday’s loss: 

1.  Vintage Melo, Whiteside with multiple dabs

After Thursday’s shootaround, Melo talked about how special it was to be back where it all started for him. He then showed Denver that he could still be special. The 10-time All-Star finished with 20 points on 8-of-16 shooting and 2-of-5 from three. 

But, the first and third quarters were really all about Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside. 

Whiteside’s 13 points in the first quarter on 6-of-8 shooting and six rebounds helped the Blazers keep pace with the Nuggets early on.   

The Blazers 7-footer was also 1-for-1 from three in the first quarter. With the three-pointer also came a celebration from Whiteside with not one, not two, but multiple dabs.  Whiteside’s energy was contagious at both ends especially in the first and third quarters. 

2.  Nuggets go off from three

If it wasn’t for Denver’s hot shooting from three, the Nuggets would’ve had a tough time staying in the game early on. After three quarters, Denver was shooting 14-of-30 from deep and held an 11-point lead heading into the final period. The Nuggets shared the wealth too. Five players scored in double figures. 

3.  Blazers moving more without the ball, but couldn’t get stops in crunch time

Kent Bazemore made it hard on the Nuggets defense, especially in the first half. Whether he was cutting hard to the basket or running the baseline, he was on the move and his teammates were able to find him.  Bazemore made sure to convert too. And he wasn’t the only one making Denver work. The Blazers as a team were moving and cutting all night. Portland’s offense was clicking, but ultimately they weren’t able to get stops at the other end of the court when they needed them. 

Up Next: The Trail Blazers will visit the Phoenix Suns on Monday night. Tip-off is set for 6:00pm 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!

Blazers Shootaround Notebook: Nurk running stairs, Melo happy to be in Denver, & game plan vs. Jokic

Blazers Shootaround Notebook: Nurk running stairs, Melo happy to be in Denver, & game plan vs. Jokic

DENVER – As the Trail Blazers get set to face the Denver Nuggets, who have now lost five of their last six games, it’s a time for Carmelo Anthony to reflect on the place that started it all. 

It was in the 2003 NBA Draft when the Denver Nuggets selected Anthony as the third overall pick. The 10-time All-Star played for the Nuggets from 2003 to 2011.

“This means a lot,” Melo said of coming back to play in Denver.

This is where I spent my first seven and a half years here, right? So, I kind of grew up here in Denver with these people and this city. -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony  

When Thursday morning’s shootaround wrapped up, Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) was seen running two sets of stairs with Trail Blazers Sports and Performance Specialist Todd Forcier.    

 

From the looks of it, Nurk's rehab is coming along nicely. As of right now there is still no official timetable on his return. This is the first road trip Nurkic has been on with the Blazers since Portland's very first trip of the season in late October. 

With the Trail Blazers looking to even the season series up at one apiece vs. the Nuggets, Damian Lillard discussed how they plan to defend point-center Nikola Jokic.

I think you try to make him a scorer. It’s kind of like – not comparing him to LeBron [James]- but with LeBron you want him to be a scorer you don’t want him to be picking you apart, then scoring, and doing everything that he wants to do. Jokic, he’s a point-center, like, he’s facilitating everything and making them go, making all the plays.  -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard

“You don’t want to have him out here with 28 [points], 16 rebounds, and 14 assists because he’s capable of that. So I think just make him a scorer, try to take away the play-making,” Lillard added.

This season, Jokic is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

Portland and Denver tip-off at 7:30p.m. PT on TNT.

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

CJ McCollum: Melo going to those other teams was “a blessing in disguise”

CJ McCollum: Melo going to those other teams was “a blessing in disguise”

Earlier this season, the Portland Trail Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony to a non-guaranteed, 1-year deal to upgrade their wing rotation. After a few weeks and one Western Conference Player of the Week Award later, the Blazers fully guaranteed his contract. 

But this wasn’t Melo’s first chance to play in a Blazers jersey. Trail Blazers stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum have both gone on the record in prior offseasons to recruit the four-time gold medalist to Portland

McCollum recently joined Yahoo! Sports NBA Insider Chris Haynes' Posted Up Podcast where Melo was discussed.

CJ talked about what Melo has brought to the team and how him passing up the Blazers in the past was “a blessing in disguise” for him.

I told him ‘you going to [Oklahoma City and Houston] was a blessing in disguise for you.’ Because your understanding and appreciation for the game changed. He had time to be with his family, he got invaluable time with his son....He had a full year to workout and spend time with his kid and kind of like reflect on life, and I think his appreciation of the game shifted, it changed, the way he plays now you can see he’s excited about the game.

Anthony is averaging 15.9 points per game and 5.6 rebounds in eleven games played for the Trail Blazers. His scoring and shooting ability has provided additional spacing on the floor for Lillard and McCollum to operate. He has also played with excellent energy following a season away from the game. 

Now with the season-ending injury to starting small forward Rodney Hood, Anthony will be called upon to an even greater extent for offensive production. Good thing his legs are fresh. 

The Portland Trail Blazers (10-15) continue their season Thursday night on the road against the Denver Nuggets (14-8) at 7:30pm PST

What a win vs. Denver can mean for the Trail Blazers' psyche

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USA Today Images

What a win vs. Denver can mean for the Trail Blazers' psyche

The Trail Blazers have played a total of 25 games.

Of those 25, the Blazers have won 10.

Of those 10, the Blazers have just ONE win over a team with a winning record. (That was against the Dallas Mavericks on October 27th when Portland still had a healthy Zach Collins for three quarters of the game.)

That could change on Thursday night in Denver.

But it won’t be easy.

The Nuggets are currently 14-8 on the season, which puts them fifth in the Western Conference standings.

The good news for the Blazers: The Nuggets have lost five of their last six.

After easily defeating the New York Knicks Tuesday night, 115- 87, the Trail Blazers felt good about blowing out a team they were expected to blow out.  

“It’s good to have wins like this because it’s a team that we desire to beat, a team that is inferior to us, we want to go out there and take care of business and we did exactly that,” Kent Bazemore said Tuesday night.

Now as the Blazers shift their focus to Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets, former Denver Nugget Carmelo Anthony offered up his thoughts on how significant it would be for the Blazers to come away with a win in the Mile High City.

It’s definitely an important game, being in the same conference, knowing what we’re trying to accomplish. You know those guys are coming in with a loss tonight, so I’m sure they’ll be ready in front of their home crowd. This will be a good one for us to go get on the road. -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony  

Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts gave his opinion on Thursday’s matchup:

“They’re the same team that we played in the playoffs; we are not the same team, so it’ll be different. They are a good team. They are the same team that took us to game seven and they are at their place so it will be a challenge.”

As of Thursday morning, the Trail Blazers were three games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the West.

The last the time Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum played in Denver was in their Game 7 victory back on May 12th, using that nostalgia could provide just enough boost for the Blazers to hand the Nuggets their third straight loss.
The Blazers know they are going to need to slow down Nikola Jokic.

Jokic is averaging 16 points, 10 rebounds, and 6.3 assists per game.

In Portland and Denver's first meeting of the season, which also happened to be the Blazers regular season opener, Jokic had 20 points and 13 rebounds despite getting into early foul trouble.

In the loss, Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 32 points and eight assists, while Hassan Whiteside had 16 points and 19 rebounds in his debut as a Trail Blazer.

This is a must for Whiteside on Thursday:

The 7-footer will have to do his best to get a hand in Jokic’s face when the Joker is out on the three-point line.

The Blazers tip-off their two-game, six-day trip, at 7:30pm PT Thursday.

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

Here's what I think the Trail Blazers are going to do -- and I support it

In the wake of Monday night’s nasty home loss in Moda Center to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the season-ending injury to Rodney Hood, a lot of people seem to think the Portland Trail Blazers need to make a move. A trade, a free-agent signing – SOMETHING. But here’s what I think they will do:

Nothing.

And I think that’s the right course of action, too.

This team has been ripped apart by injuries. Last season’s No. 1 offensive rebounding team in the NBA, the Trail Blazers are now last in the league in that department. From first to worst in a few months. And why not? This team opened the season with thoughts of eventually having five seven-footers on its roster.

There was Hassan Whiteside, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, Jusuf Nurkic and Pau Gasol. But Gasol never made it to the active roster and retired. Collins was sidelined with shoulder surgery and Nurkic still hasn’t made it back from his broken leg. Labissiere, who wasn’t even expected to play much this season, has become the backup center.

And the Trail Blazers have taken a big step back on the boards and in physicality. Offensive rebounding is critical to this team, because it’s often the only avenue for easy baskets. Portland doesn’t get a lot of fast-break baskets and now, without its big men, isn’t getting to the foul line enough,

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are having to carry a big load.

When Collins went down, Neil Olshey, the team’s president of basketball operations, went out and got Carmelo Anthony – a nice addition. Anthony was a player with a presence and the team didn’t have to give up anything to get him.

The Trail Blazers had championship aspirations this season, but it’s becoming increasingly obvious those dreams won’t be realized this season without the big men.

This franchise would be stupid to sacrifice any of its future to obtain a role player just to attempt to improve its position this season.

With Nurkic, Collins and Hood back in the fold next season, the Trail Blazers would be smart to keep their vision long range – next season should be a nice reset.

In the meantime, there is still a chance that a major trade could be made that would make sense for the future.

Hassan Whiteside’s expiring contract has always been expected to be a trade piece at some point. Names such as LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin and Kevin Love have been mentioned and they would be difference-makers. But much more so next year than this, in all likelihood.

In regard to deals, it’s important to remember that NBA free agents cannot be traded for three months after they signed, or until after Dec. 15, whichever is later. And this season’s trade deadline is Feb. 6 and there is often a flurry of activity in the days leading up to the deadline as teams come to the realization that they probably won’t make the playoffs.

But Portland is not in a great space to make a deal with the Whiteside contract. The free-agent crop this summer is a weak one, with many of the top players expected to re-sign with their old teams. That would mean some teams would be reluctant to deal for a player who would provide cap space when there is not much to spend it on.

And there is a perception, too, that the Trail Blazers are desperate and other teams would want to squeeze more out of Portland in any deals.

So this is another situation when patience will be required. If the team doesn’t play any better than it did Sunday night against the Thunder, what would be the use of adding some marginal free agent who is sitting at home on his couch right now?

I would expect Nurkic to be back at some point this season, at least on a limited basis. Collins, I would assume, is more doubtful.

Better to allow the team’s younger players to grab that playing time, getting them ready for a bench role next season.

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

It wasn’t pretty.  

The Trail Blazers went 36-of-100 from the field and 9-for-33 from three in Sunday's 108-96 loss to the Thunder.  

Portland's newest edition, Carmelo Anthony, who played in his 10th game with the Blazers Sunday, had one of his worst shooting nights with his new team. Melo went 4-of-18 from the field, including 1-of-5 from long distance and scored just nine points.

“We were just off, couldn’t make shots,” Anthony said postgame.

But, Melo also gave credit to OKC.

“I think those guys just came out ready to play. They had dropped two games to us already. It’s hard to be a team three consecutive times without them making adjustments.”

“Tonight we didn’t have the energy, they did,” he added.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wasn’t concerned with the perimeter shooting, but was upset about his team missing baskets around the rim.

 

We had fifty shots in the paint, didn’t really convert in the paint very well, obviously Dame [Lillard] and Melo struggled at least from a percentage standpoint. That’s going to happen from time to time. You give credit to their defense they played hard, they made it difficult, but I thought that to get fifty shots in the paint you have to convert more than 21. -- Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

For Melo, “missing shots” was the most frustrating part of the game.

“Everybody [was missing], everything was short. And then when you’re missing shots like that, shots that you’re supposed to make and you normally make it puts a lot of emphasis on the defensive end and it makes it tougher to try to get stops on the defensive end, because if you don’t put a lot of effort and energy into making one stop, and trying to make consecutive stops going up against a team like that, they way that they played tonight, you have to be on point with [your shots].”

The 17-year veteran is confident this Blazers squad will bounce back and won’t shoot this bad again.

“We’ll be alright. We’ll get in the gym tomorrow, watch some film, and we’ll figure it out… We can’t shoot as bad as we shot tonight. I don’t think we’ll continue to miss those shots."

Yes, Melo is probably correct -- the Blazers most likely won't shoot that bad again, but as Damian Lillard said, the team lacked a sense of urgency. So, what will it take to get back to playing Trail Blazer basketball? Portland lost a playmaker in Rodney Hood. Filling their final roster spot with someone who can create his own shot seems like a must, but as of right now Coach Stotts says there hasn't been any talk of roster moves. Not yet at least. 

Lucky for the Blazers and their current shooting woes, along with injury woes, the worst team in the league makes a stop in Portland Tuesday night. The Blazers and Knicks tip-off at 7:00pm. 

Kent Bazemore starts: "It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it"

Kent Bazemore starts: "It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it"

The Trail Blazers played their first game since their starting small forward Rodney Hood went down with a season-ending Achilles injury. 

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts turned to Kent Bazemore to fill the void left by Hood.  

Bazemore was dialed in early and looked up for the challenge.

The career 35.1 percent three-point shooter hit his first three three-pointers on the night, tying his season-high from deep.

“I thought Kent got off to a great start," Terry Stotts said. "He made his threes, had good activity defensively, I was surprised he was 3 for 11 because I thought he impacted the game, he was on Chris Paul a lot. I thought he did a nice job in the starting lineup.”  

Bazemore attributes his success to getting open looks as well as getting to play alongside the Blazers other starters: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Carmelo Anthony, and Hassan Whiteside.

It’s good to be out there with that kind of firepower… When you’re on the floor with Dame and CJ, Melo, and Hassan, they’re going to attract a lot of attention. So, just being aggressive, guys closing out short, just being able to rise up and knock them down… I’m going to continue to let if fly. I’ve been a starter in this league before and there’s a lot of firepower in the first unit.  – Kent Bazemore

After a hot start for Bazemore, he cooled off on a night where the Blazers as a team struggled from the field most of the night.

The 30-year-old finished with nine points to go along with five rebounds and two assists.

It is Bazmeore’s energy and activity on both ends of the floor though that he has made at living at, and Sunday was no different.

“I’m not really a guy that needs the ball,” Bazemore said. “I just like to fly around, play a lot of defense, and just bring energy for the unit. The first go didn’t go as planned, but it’s a lot of things we can work on, make sure we’re successful with this change,” Bazemore said.

Oklahoma City got their first win in three tries against Portland this season.

In this new reality for the Blazers, Bazemore is going to be relied on heavily. In his last 10 games, he had played an average of 20.6 minutes per game. On Sunday night he played 36.

“I think he did good,” Melo said of Bazemore’s performance. “He’s going to have to continue to step up in that role and we’re going to rely on him to do a lot of things, and especially now with Rodney being out. We’re going to rely on him to do more, but he can do it, we know he can do it.”

Lillard mentioned how the Blazers missed Hood's impact on the game, while Bazemore echoed that he and Hood are two very different players, but that’s why it worked so well for them to sub in for each other.

What he brings to the table is a lot different from what I bring. This is why we complemented each other so great, but I came here to play with these guys and get an opportunity to go out there and start. It’s what I wanted, but not how I wanted it. I’m just going to continue to work hard, continue to figure it out, go home tonight and watch the game, see if I can do some things a little bit better to help my teammates. 

“Rodney was a huge part of it what we did. We’ll figure it out,” Bazemore added.

The Blazers next opportunity to figure it out will be Tuesday night when they host the 4-19 New York Knicks. 

What's wrong with Blazers? How about lack of 'urgency, energy, focus'

What's wrong with Blazers? How about lack of 'urgency, energy, focus'

With all the injuries the Trail Blazers have suffered this season, there have been some games where you have to just chalk up a loss to who isn’t playing for them.

On the other hand, Sunday night’s 108-96 defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder should rightfully blamed on those who did play.

The Trail Blazers were awful and not just where they’re usually awful – on defense. In this game they were pretty bad at the offensive end, too, shooting 36 percent from the field overall and 27.3 percent from three-point range.

Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony combined to go 3-17 from beyond the three-point line and 12-42 overall.

But let Lillard, the captain, explain how bad things are with his team right now:

“Not playing well enough to win games – and it’s frustrating,” Lillard said. “The start of the game – pretty much the whole game – we weren’t making shots. And on our home floor we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up and the situation that we’re in, our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be.

“You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game … And then the ball is not going in, so we don’t stay sharp and lock in at the defensive end. We just allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted. They started feeling good about themselves and you’ve got a guy like Chris Paul, who has been around and knows how to make a team go and get guys to believe, you could just see it – once they got a good start to the game, we were missing, our energy was low, they started to play with more belief. More conviction.

“We put ourselves in that position with how we came out.  It’s just frustrating to do that. No team should be more urgent than us. No team should be more locked in than us. I think for us, that’s the most frustrating part.

“We kind of just play well in stretches. We don’t have the luxury of playing well in stretches. We’re a team, if the ball is not going in, we’ve got to be getting to the 50-50 balls. We can’t keep letting teams get second and third opportunities.

"We foul every 30 seconds. We are doing a lot of things as team to put ourselves at a disadvantage. We’re just making the game harder than it has to be in a lot of situations. We’re not doing it on purpose. We’re competing hard. We’re trying hard.

“But when it comes to urgency, focus and energy we’re a team that has to have that every minute of every game if we want to have a chance. When it’s up and down, your season is up and down – and that’s what we’re up against.”

The only Portland starter who shot well was Hassan Whiteside, who made six of his eight shots, both free throws, had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Coach Terry Stotts was asked if he would have like to get the ball to Whiteside inside a little more and he answered simply, “Uh, no.”

“Hassan gets most of his stuff on pick-and-rolls,” Stotts said. “We’ve got three primary scorers in Dame, CJ and Melo and obviously we go through them and Hassan will get occasional post-ups, but his bread and butter for us has been rolling on the pick and roll.”

And all of that, from the captain to the coach, was the reality for the Trail Blazers Sunday night.

Along with plenty of complaining to the officials for the second game in a row -- which doesn't seem to be doing any good.