Gary Trent Jr.

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard ties career-high in points, Blazers move to No. 8 in West

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard ties career-high in points, Blazers move to No. 8 in West

The last eight match-ups between the Trail Blazers and Mavericks have been decided by single digits; and Tuesday was no different.

It was the Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic show early against the Blazers (Porzingis also had his way with Portland in the third quarter) after the duo sat out of the Mavericks win over the Jazz. 

The Mavs stars looked well-rested and started off hot from deep. Porzingis led all scorers with 16 points at the end of the first quarter. But thanks to the Trail Blazers defensive effort in the final couple of possessions of the first quarter, Portland took a 38-31 lead after the first 12 minutes.

The Trail Blazers finished the final 2:09 of the first quarter on a 13-0 run.

Tuesday's battle quickly became a game of runs. The Blazers were once again led by Damian Lillard. Lillard showed off his quick first step against the Mavericks bigs which definitely helped with his success at the rim. At the break, Lillard had 25 points on 10-of-15 shooting.

After the Blazers started out slow in both the first and second quarter, they came on strong to finish out both quarters to take a 66-58 lead at halftime.

Gary Trent Jr. continued to bring the energy, particularly on the defensive end.

Trent Jr. also slowed down Luka Doncic with his aggressive defense on the All-Star point guard. Trent Jr. was inserted into the starting lineup to start the third quarter in order to keep the second-year player on Doncic.

Lillard is now the first Trail Blazer player to record back-to-back 50+ point games as he once again led Portland in scoring and tied his career-high with 61 points in 41-plus minutes of work. Lillard also recorded eight assists, five rebounds, and one steal.  

Thanks to Lillard’s big-time performance and the Blazers ability to get stops when they needed them most, along with the Grizzlies loss to the Celtics earlier in the day, Portland now moves into sole possession of the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference standings with one game to play.

Just a reminder, the first Western Conference play-in game will tip-off at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.   

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 134, MAVERICKS 131

Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's seventh seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:

Dwight Jaynes, Insider:  

It was all Damian Lillard with little help. He has carried them two games in a row. They are in the driver’s seat now

 

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

Damian Lillard was dialed in, to say the least. The Blazers also needed him to play 40+ minutes once again. Lillard notched 34 points by the midway point of the third quarter and finished with a career-high 61. Between Lillard’s tough buckets at the rim and his long-distance shots falling at 53.4 percent on the night (including a crazy this crazy 3-pointer), along with Carmelo Anthony going to work on smaller defenders down low, as well as, Gary Trent Jr.’s bulldog mentality, the Trail Blazers were able to get it done against the unicorn and the Mavs.  

Mike Richman, Reporter

 It truly is a pleasure to watch Damian Lillard. If you're asking 'Where would the Blazers be without him?,' the answer is out of the playoff picture.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon:]

Up Next: The Trail Blazers take the court Thursday at 6:00p.m. in Portland’s final seeding game against the Brooklyn Nets. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.

Also, be sure to check back throughout the rest of the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers can't hold off Clippers in offensive clinic

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Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers can't hold off Clippers in offensive clinic

If you love a ton of scoring, you’d love this game!

The Portland Trail Blazers squared off against the Los Angeles Clippers who decided to rest their MVP Saturday morning.

The Clippers initially listed Patrick Beverley (left calf; strain) and Montrezl Harrell (not with the team) as out for Saturday's game. L.A. then added Kawhi Leonard to the injury list Saturday morning citing left knee soreness and load management. For the Blazers, Portland was without Hassan Whiteside (left hip strain).  

Despite an unusually early 1:00p.m. Orlando time tip-off, the Blazers got off to a quick start. Portland jumped out to a 15-8 lead thanks to their ball movement and player movement. Portland’s two starting 7-footers, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins, got things rolling from deep as both bigs hit from long distance in the first quarter.  

Lou Williams gave the Clippers instant offense off the bench. In his first seven minutes, he led all Clippers at the end of the first 12 minutes with 12 points.

At the end of the first quarter, the Blazers held a 37-34 lead.

With Saturday’s game the start of back-to-back for Portland, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts extended his rotation and did so early on. For the first time since the NBA restart, Damian Lillard was the only starter on the floor near the end of the first quarter. Nine Blazers saw significant minutes in this one and made big contributions, particularly early on.

In Saturday's high scoring game, the Blazers took a 75-69 lead at halftime.

Paul George led the charge on both ends for L.A. George finished with 21 points on 8-of-16 shooting, despite the Blazers sending two players at him. He also had two steals on the day.  

With both teams exchanging buckets in the third, the Clippers stayed within striking distance. L.A. was down 96-95 heading into the final period.

FINAL BOX SCORE: CLIPPERS 122, TRAIL BLAZERS 117

Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's fifth seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:

Dwight Jaynes, Insider:   

The wrong time to give away a game. One of the worst losses of the Stotts era. Dame missing two was hard to believe.

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

Since the Blazers and Clippers are two of the best three-point shooting teams in the bubble, we knew this had the possibility of being a very high-scoring one. And it didn’t disappoint. At the break, both teams were shooting around 60 percent from the field and over 50 percent from three. With no Patrick Beverley, Montrezl Harrell or Kawhi Leonard, the Clippers were clearly missing their top defensive players.

Damian Lillard did a little bit of everything on the offensive end as he continued to put the team on his back, per usual. But in the restart, it’s been obvious that Lillard now sees the No. 8 seed as a reality and he’s ready to secure that play-in spot.

While Gary Trent Jr. continued his hot shooting from three. But what fans probably enjoyed even more than that was watching Trent Jr. get under Paul George’s skin at the other end.

It also should be noted that the Blazers' ball movement was on point. Whether it was Jusuf Nurkic finding Lillard or CJ McCollum finding Nurkic, Portland was sharing the wealth Saturday. The Blazers hot shooting slowed down in the second half. Plus they couldn't get enough stops down the stretch or convert at the line in crunch time. 

Chris Burkhardt, Reporter/Producer 

Just Be Great! Win, lose, it doesn't matter, the rise of Gary Trent Jr. this season has been remarkable. I don't think fans outside the Northwest understand why Rip City has fallen in love with Trent Jr.

Not since Wes Matthews went down with an achilles injury in 2015, have the Blazers had a true three and D guy. Allen Crabbe tried. Moe Harkless tried. Al-Farouq Aminu tried. Numerous others have tried, but none were truly what Portland needed.

But this season, and specifically in the bubble, Trent Jr. has been that guy. It doesn't matter who is guarding him, or who he is guarding, Trent is gonna bring it.

Portland may be watching the birth of a star in the making right now, and if not, at least this ride is a fun one to be on.

[Richard Jefferson joined host Channing Frye on the Talkin' Blazers Podcast this week. Listen here]: 

Up Next: The Trail Blazers take on the Philadelphia 76ers at 3:30 p.m. (PT) in Portland’s second night of a back-to-back this weekend. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.

Also, be sure to check back throughout the rest of the day and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

Gary Trent Jr., NBA's most 'Bubblicious' player, is fearless when lights go on

Gary Trent Jr., NBA's most 'Bubblicious' player, is fearless when lights go on

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are a known commodity, one of the best backcourts in basketball. Even Jusuf Nurkic, an underrated player for sure, has a following.

But Gary Trent Jr.? Where has he come from?

And why was the most Bubblicious player during the NBA restart so far, not taken until the second round of the 2019 NBA draft?

Trail Blazer President of Basketball Operations Neil Olshey, the man who engineered a trade to grab Trent with the seventh pick in the second round of that draft, tried to explain it Friday.

“People forget, he was one of the top 10 players in America in his class coming out of high school, which was an elite class,” Olshey said. “He’s a guy that for systemic reasons, where people catch inertia -- either positive or negative -- around the draft, slipped way beyond what people would have thought his draft status would have been, given the hype and reputation and body of work that he entered Duke with.

“If you look at the Duke team, they were loaded. They came into the season with five guys projected to go in the first round. I think Gary had been on the radar for so long and such a high profile guy, that even though he was only a freshman, so much was expected of him, and I think he had a really good year -- i think he averaged 15 a game and shot 40 from three -- but i think he underwhelmed relative to expectations.”

It happens frequently. And it’s because there are so many metrics out there now with which to judge players. So many ways to judge them, that it's almost easier to find reasons not to draft someone as to draft him.

“So many things that factor in,” Olshey said. “Height, weight, measurements that have nothing to do with playing basketball. The combine isn’t reflective of NBA basketball.  Workouts down to 2-on-2 or 3-on-3. Guys lose sight of what they liked about a player when they were actually watching him play five-on-five, real competitive basketball. And they start using inconsequential data points. It’s paralysis by analysis.”

Olshey wanted to take Anfernee Simons in the first round because he knew there were several teams behind the Blazers who would snatch him up. But then there was a chance Trent would last into the second round.

“With Gary there was this kind of reverse heat, Olshey said. “There was an overcorrection accruing on Gary.  We felt if we could get back into the 30s, we would have a chance to get him.

“And with the exception of Will Barton, a lot of our second-round picks have been guys we bought into or traded to get. Allen Crabbe, Pat Connaughton, Jake Layman.

“We weren’t looking to get into the second round, but once he started falling, we got very aggressive. And you know (late owner) Paul Allen on draft night -- more is always better. Two future seconds and cash to get him (from Sacramento). We valued him as a first-round pick. We signed him to a full, three-year contract right out of the gate. We immediately gave him what we thought the value of a first-round pick would be.”

So Trent arrived in Portland as the guy who was selected after Anfernee Simons, who got most of the attention from the media as a kid who didn’t even attend college. Trent had a ways to go, just to get on the floor.

“What he needed to do is find his identity,” Olshey said. “He was a lot stronger than guys in high school and he was able to bully his way to the rim. What it resulted in for us was a lot of inefficiency. He was taking a lot of long twos. He was getting himself in trouble with a lot of over-penetrating into the lane and i think what he’s done is listen to all of us and he’s simplified his style of play to fit into what we need out on the court. Which is defensive energy, toughness, three-point shooting, moving without the ball, getting to the rim with opportunity for free throws.

“The scope of his game has narrowed and it has simplified things for him to where he can really just excel at what we need him to do to balance the floor when he’s out there with either Dame and CJ or in place of one of them.”

But did the Trail Blazers envision Trent turning into a shooter of this magnitude? Especially this quickly?

“You know what I saw,” Olshey said. “Right now, he’s on fire and I hope it continues. But I knew he was a really good shooter. What I had confidence in, was that he was a really good game shooter.

“You put him in a gym and there are four or five guys on our team who will outshoot him on the shooting gun. He’s a gamer. That’s the one thing Gary always did when we tracked him from high school. I saw him play seven times at Duke, he played great in the combine had a great workout with us and the one thing about Gary is, when the lights come on, he’s fearless.

“A lot of it has to do with his pedigree and the success he’s had at those different levels. But what I knew he could do is make game shots.

“So what’s interesting with him is, he needed an opportunity to get on the court. Because when you watch him just in drills and at practice, he’s not as dynamic a shooter as he is, once he gets into the flow of the game. All those psychological intangibles start coming into play when you get into that make-or-miss kind of format.”

And defense, which a general manager from a team that passed on Trent told me is what made teams hesitate about drafting him. "We didn't see a commitment there," the GM said,

Trent said this week that "100 percent" his defense is what got him on the floor for this team.

"First and foremost, it was his commitment to getting better defensively," Coach Terry Stotts said. "He didn't get to play much his rookie season but he really committed to being a better defender and getting a few minutes on the court that way. He's always been a scorer, but defensively, finding out what you can get away with, learning NBA defense, learning NBA personnel, locking in on game plans, learning from the guys who are playing, in a year that you don't play, you really have to utilize that time to get better, knowing the NBA game. I think he's improved in all those areas."

And up above, you have to believe Paul Allen is smiling.

“It was very hard for Paul to get excited about the obvious,” Olshey said. “He literally created the tech sector. He was always about discovering something nobody else saw. He loved the narrative around Nurk. He loved the surprises. He loved the unknowns. He loved young players and seeing them grow.”

And he would have loved the Gary Trent Jr. Story.

Damian Lillard & the Blazers are proving why they deserved a shot at the playoffs

Damian Lillard & the Blazers are proving why they deserved a shot at the playoffs

It was another close game for the Trail Blazers Thursday night, but this time, Portland faced a short-handed Denver Nuggets team who was without three of their starters in Jamal Murray (left hamstring; tightness), Gary Harris (right hip; muscle strain) and oPaul Millsap (rest).

Troy Daniels (right hip; tightness), Will Barton (right knee; soreness), and Vlatko Cancar (left foot; fracture) didn’t suit up for the Nuggets, either, as Denver continues to deal with the injury bug.

After Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard caught fire in the first quarter, scoring 14 points in his first 12 minutes, it seemed like the Blazers were going to steamroll the young Nuggets.

That wasn’t the case.  

However, Lillard wasn’t ready to say sorry for ‘only’ beating Denver by 10.

Some people might say, ‘oh, they didn’t play anybody,’ but for us, we’re not going to apologize for a win. We’re here to just get it done and teams have lost those games and I’m just happy we was able to pull ours out. -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard

There was plenty to like about the Trail Blazers' offense in Thursday's 125-115 win.

Lillard was red-hot from three and from all over the court really, hitting a career-high 11 threes on the night. He finished with 45 points, 12 assists, four rebounds and three steals. 

The Trail Blazers, as a team, knocked down 23 three pointers, a franchise-high, as Gary Trent, Jr. continued his hot shooting, connecting on 7-of-10 from beyond the arc. 

“We’re just trending and going in the direction that we want to be,” Lillard said.

Portland now sits just a half game back of the No. 8 seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

There’s a real chance that Portland could leapfrog the Grizzlies heading into the play-in games as the eight seed.

The Memphis Grizzlies have four games remaining: Oklahoma City, Toronto, Boston, and Milwaukee.

The Trail Blazers still must face the Los Angeles Clippers, Philadelphia, Dallas, and Brooklyn.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

  

But, as cliché as it may admittedly sound, Portland is taking it one game at a time.

And hey, that’s worked thus far.  

We can’t afford to watch the standings or watch the scoreboards because it’s that close and they’re so many teams that are right in the thick of things that… nobody is even close to a magic number so right now it’s just most important that we concern ourselves with winning games and doing what we have to do.-- Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

“I think we’re playing good basketball,” Coach Stotts added. “I think we’re playing with a determination in a playoff stretch that you have to have during this. So whatever people say about us or ninth seed, eighth seed, we have to win games and we’ve dug ourselves this hole, and we’re playing with the urgency that we need to play with, and I think one of the reasons we’ve won three of these games is because, and we played well against Boston, is that we’ve really approached each game with a playoff mentality, a must-win mentality, and when you play like that there’s a good chance you’re gonna play a lot better.” 

Coach Stotts reiterated that with four more games to go, there’s still so much up in the air with how close teams are in the standings in the bottom half of the West.  

“We’re all playing the same way,” Stotts said of the teams vying for a playoff spot. “There’s only one spot for us and we have to play that way… We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves and it’s just about playing the next game.”

“Sorry, pretty cliché,” Stotts added for good measure.  

A statement that was never looked at as cliché was the conversation Lillard had with Yahoo! Sports' Chris Haynes at the end of May when Lillard said he wouldn't play when the NBA returns unless Portland has a chance to compete for a playoff berth.

Four games in and now everyone sees why.

With the addition of Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins and the emergence of Gary Trent Jr., the Blazers are right where Lillard thought they would be if they were given the opportunity.   

Months ago when I said, ‘if we don’t have a chance to compete for a playoff spot, I don’t want to play,’ because I knew that if we did have a chance to play for a playoff spot it would look something like it looks right now because we’re a more healthy team, more rested, and I knew what our team was doing – guys was getting conditioning in and we stayed in contact. As soon as we opened our facility, guys were there every day. I knew that once we got here, we would be one of the teams that could take advantage of it. So far we have.  -- Damian Lillard

The Western Conference race for the eighth seed is heating up. While the Blazers are 3-1 in the restart, Memphis has struggled. So has New Orleans. The Blazers are 0.5 games behind the eight seed.

And Rip City knows, Lillard still has a lot more to say and do. 

Buckle up, Rip City! The chase continues.  

Damian Lillard carries Trail Blazers past Nuggets and closer to No. 8 seed

Damian Lillard carries Trail Blazers past Nuggets and closer to No. 8 seed

Damian Lillard wasn’t quite all the Trail Blazers needed Thursday night to beat the Denver Nuggets 125-115. But the Blazers most certainly needed all of what Damian Lillard gave them.

And that was a lot.

Lillard scored 45 points, had 12 assists, four rebounds and three steals -- and took on his team’s most difficult defensive assignment in the second half.

And the Trail Blazers, who came to the Orlando Bubble to try to claim the No. 9 spot in the Western Conference in order to earn a play-in series against the Memphis Grizzlies, moved within a half-game of the Grizzlies for the eighth position.

This was a big game for the Trail Blazers and Lillard knew that Denver -- even with four starters sitting out this game -- was going to be dangerous and he had to take the game seriously from the start.

Which he did, with 14 points in the first quarter. The Portland guard had made only 10 of his 30 three-point shots in the first three games in Orlando but knocked down 11 of 18 in this game, tying his own franchise record for most made threes in a game.

Lillard wasn’t going to let his teammates look past this game or take a win for granted because the Nuggets were short-handed. 

“We’re here to just get it done,” Lillard said. “Teams have lost those games. Tonight, I just wanted to come out and set the tone.

“They had guys out and you can’t come out and think you’re going to win. You have to come out and be present. I don’t care who is out there, we have to come out and play like everybody’s out there because it means more to us than it means to them. And that was my mentality.”

And after Michael Porter Jr. burned the Trail Blazers early, Lillard volunteered to take on the task of guarding the 6-10 power forward. Sometimes on defense, a big heart is as valuable as a big body.

“We’ve got eight games to try to get into the playoffs,” Lillard said. “It’s not like we’re looking at a full 82 game season. I told (Coach Terry Stotts), 'Let me guard him.' He made a few shots, was comfortable for a little bit and i just wanted to make him a little bit uncomfortable.

“I was physical. I made him work for it and I thought I did a pretty solid job of that.”

Lillard was Deep Dame for most of this game, launching long-range shots quick and accurately

“In the first two games, the ball was coming off my hands really well,” Lillard said. "I just wasn’t making it. It was just timing. We hadn’t played too many games.

“It felt good, I knew eventually it would click -- the ball would just go in and it would feel great.”

And when it clicks for Lillard, there’s a good chance it will click for others. When the Blazer star catches fire, he draws more attention and it opens shots for his teammates.

Down the stretch of the game, everybody was contributing to the offense as the defense focused on Lillard. Gary Trent and Jusuf Nurkic were the beneficiaries and Portland scored 15 of the game’s final 22 points.

But this doesn't get any easier.

After a day of rest Friday, Portland plays the Los Angeles Clippers Saturday and Philadelphia 76ers Sunday in its only back-to-back on the Orlando schedule.

And the Blazers are likely to again need all they can get from Damian Lillard.

Instant Analysis: Blazers set franchise record for 3-pointers made in win

Instant Analysis: Blazers set franchise record for 3-pointers made in win

Before tip-off, it seemed Thursday’s game was a lock for Portland since Denver was not only playing in a second night of a back-to-back, but the Nuggets were also short-handed.

Denver was without Troy Daniels (right hip; tightness), Jamal Murray (left hamstring; tightness), Will Barton (right knee; soreness), Vlatko Cancar (left foot; fracture), Gary Harris (right hip; muscle strain) and Paul Millsap (rest).

The Nuggets beat San Antonio Wednesday afternoon, 132-126 behind Michael Porter Jr.'s 30 points and 15 rebounds.

Porter Jr. picked up where he left off against the Blazers. But despite Portland's slow start, minus Damian Lillard, the Blazers took the 27-26 lead after one quarter.

Lillard took advantage of the Nuggets backcourt out with injuries.

In the Damian Lillard show early, the Blazers five-time All-Star dropped 14 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 4-of-5 from deep, while Porter Jr. had a quick 10 points in the first 12 minutes of action.  

Portland had all the momentum going into the break. The Blazers had continued contributions from Lillard as Gary Trent Jr. and Jusuf Nurkic also got in on the action with pull-up jumpers, dunks, and more dunks. The Blazers took a 62-49 lead at halftime.

The Nuggets didn't back down though. Portland struggled to get a stop in the second half.

Denver outscored Portland, 38-30 in the third quarter to stick around for the final period.  

Whether Nuggets big man Mason Plumlee was rolling to the hoop and finishing at the rim or having success on the glass, Plumlee along with Porter Jr. were two big reasons why the Blazers weren’t able to rest their starters in the fourth quarter.

The Trail Blazers knocked down 23 three pointers, a franchise-high. Damian Lillard connected on 11 three pointers. Gary Trent, Jr. went 7-10 from beyond the arc.  

FINAL BOX SCORE: Trail Blazers 125, Nuggets 115

Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's fourth seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:

Dwight Jaynes, Insider: 

It was all Dame all the time. With a little help from Trent.

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

Remember when people were talking about how the Blazers’ were struggling to score in the scrimmages games. Yeah, that was silly if people were concerned about this Blazers squad scoring. They’ve got plenty of options and with Damian Lillard starting off the game with 14 points in the first 12 minutes that set the tone offensively for the entire game.

ALSO: Is there anything that Gary Trent Jr. can’t do?

Between Jusuf Nurkic’s tomahawk dunks (and so many dunks in general) along with Trent Jr.’s pesky defense and threes, and then throw in Lillard’s shooting clinic, you would've thought this would've been a blowout win for Portland; credit the young Nuggets for keeping it close. 

Mike Richman, Reporter 

The Nuggets were already shorthanded coming in, and decided to rest most of their starters down the stretch, yet the Trail Blazers couldn't fully pull away until the final three minutes. It would have been a major missed opportunity. Instead, we'll probably remember this as a night the Blazers made a kajillion three-pointers and Jusuf Nurkic dunked a lot.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

  

Up Next: The Trail Blazers take on the LA Clippers Saturday at 10:00a.m. in Portland’s first leg of a back-to-back this weekend. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.

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

Carmelo Anthony continues to prove doubters wrong, deserves an apology

Carmelo Anthony continues to prove doubters wrong, deserves an apology

We are now accepting “Carmelo Anthony Apology” forms on behalf of the 12x All-Star from everyone who believed that Melo was ‘washed’ and that his time in the league had run its course.  

The 36-year-old veteran has proven the haters wrong.

ESPN First Take’s Max Kellerman had some choice words about the future Hall of Fame back on May 1, 2018:

‘Washed’ let’s face it… But Carmelo Anthony as has been pointed out by Paul Pierce on our air. Can’t really get his own shot anymore. If he is reduced to a catch-and-shoot guy, he’s not an incredible shooter. He can hit an outside shot of course, but he doesn’t do it at an incredible clip. He doesn’t play defense. So what else does he do? — Max Kellerman

[Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Blazers legend Bill Walton].

Well Max, let’s roll the clips and start with what he did on Tuesday night against his former team, the Houston Rockets.

This was the same reason that Houston let Melo go after just 10 games with the Rockets in 2018:

The 18-year, future Hall of Famer has been nothing short of clutch for Portland during this NBA restart, hitting huge shots with not a lot of time left on the game clock. He rises to these big moments. 

After the game, his point guard Damian Lillard spoke out:

He’s a Hall of Famer. I think it’s more disappointing that people are surprised by it. He’s a Hall of Famer like I said, he’s a great teammate, and that’s what we expect from him. We put him in those positions because we expect him to make those shots. We believe he’s going to make those shots, and we brought him here because we knew he would make a difference for our team and he’s been doing that. — Damian Lillard on Melo

Here’s what ‘Skinny Melo’ has been doing in the restart:

- Game 1 vs. Memphis: 21 points, 7 rebounds, two steals.

- Game 2 vs. Boston: 13 points, 3 rebounds, two assists, one block.

- Game 3 vs. Houston: 15 points, 11 rebounds, two steals, one assist.

Second-year player Gary Trent Jr. has quite literally turned up the heat for Portland this season. He has proven to be a solid backup at the three spot behind Melo and the two have formed a nice relationship on and off the court.

[RELATED]: Carmelo Anthony has taken a confident Gary Trent Jr. under his wing

GTJ also thinks Melo deserves an apology.

Everybody that's said something negative about him-- they need to apologize. That's Carmelo Anthony... for him to come back and bounce back like its nothing-- that's why he's Carmelo Anthony. It's a blessing to have him on our team. -- Gary Trent, Jr. 

Thank you to all the other teams who also thought Melo was ‘washed’ because Rip City sure loves Melo in a pinwheel jersey.

The Blazers will face the Denver Nuggets at 3 PM (PT) on Thursday Night and you can catch the game at NBC Sports Northwest or stream it on the MyTeams app!

Instant Analysis: Blazers snap Russell Westbrook's streak en route to victory

Instant Analysis: Blazers snap Russell Westbrook's streak en route to victory

Tuesday night, the Trail Blazers took advantage of their height against the small-ball lineup of the Houston Rockets.

Portland dominated on the glass from start to finish.

The Trail Blazers held a 29-24 lead after the first quarter thanks to their inside-out offense. As a team Portland started the game shooting 45.8 percent from the field, which included hitting 4-of-9 from three. The Blazers also recorded 20 rebounds in the first 12 minutes of action. That was just one way that Portland exploited Houston’s small-ball lineup.

The Trail Blazers success to slow down both James Harden and Russell Westbrook was a team effort with Damian Lillard getting the early defensive assignment on Harden. Gary Trent Jr. spent time defending the duo early on as well. The Blazers also ran two players at Harden.

At the half, Portland was up 61-56. As a team, the Blazers outrebounded the Rockets in the first half, 37-15 with nine of those 37 rebounds (a season-high) coming on the offensive glass.

The Rockets went 11-of-28 from deep in the first half in comparison to the Blazers’ 7-of-16 shooting from three.

Harden picked up his fifth foul midway through the third quarter. Harden finished with 23 points in 33 minutes of play.

Russell Westbrook was limited to just 15 points, as well. His streak of scoring 20+ points in a game was snapped at 36 games. 

Down the stretch, Carmelo Anthony came up big on the defensive end and then drained a three to help the Blazers take a 107-102 with just over 42 seconds remaining. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 110, ROCKETS 102

Here are three quick takeaways from Portland's third seeding game from our NBC Sports NW team:

Dwight Jaynes, Insider: 

 The Blazers went inside to hurt Houston all night but won it with a couple of clutch three pointers

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

This was a fun one. Just as expected the three-pointers were flying as soon as the game tipped off. But unlike in previous matchups where Blazers head coach Terry Stotts would adjust his lineup to fit his opponents’ lineup, Coach Stotts stood pat on his decision to stick with the big lineup of starting Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins alongside each other. And it worked out nicely. The Blazers bigs had a good two-man game working throughout the night. Plus, they got it done on the glass just as one would expect.

As for Gary Trent Jr., he continued to make noise on both ends in these seeding games, especially in the first half. Trent Jr. and CJ McCollum led the Blazers at the break with 13 points apiece.

Mike Richman, Reporter

At times it was ugly, as the Blazers seemed committed to missing layups for four full quarters. But in the end Portland stuck to its "Anyone But James Harden" plan and earned a massively important win as they chase down the eighth seed.

[You can listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast here with special guest Bill Walton]:

  

Up Next: The Trail Blazers face the Denver Nuggets for a 5:00p.m. tip-off Thursday. Catch all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and stream the game on the MyTeams app.

Also, be sure to check back throughout the rest of the night and tomorrow morning for analysis, articles, and videos from the players!

Gary Trent Jr.'s pregame fit is just like his game... ON FIRE!

Gary Trent Jr.'s pregame fit is just like his game... ON FIRE!

There’s no doubt that Trail Blazers backup wing Gary Trent Jr. has made the most of his opportunity this season.

Between his defense, his ability to knock down big shots, and the confidence he exudes on both ends has put Trent Jr. on the map this season, especially during this NBA restart.

He’s getting noticed all over the NBA world, not just in Rip City.

[RELATED]: Gary Trent Jr. has been a star in the bubble

And with Tuesday’s pregame fit, he looks like he’s about to take over the NBA world.  

Yep, definitely, “no shirt, no problems” here.

Also, where can we get this fire jacket!?

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast as special guest Bill Walton joins hosts Channing Frye and Dan Sheldon]: 

 

It’s pretty fitting that Trent Jr. is wearing such a fire fit tonight ahead of the Blazers showdown against the Houston Rockets.  

Houston fans are concerned that GT could go off on them.

 

Trent Jr. is averaging 19 points through these first two seeding games.

Trail Blazers fans are loving his game and now they’re really loving his pregame attire.

Trail Blazers could have done a lot of other things with 6.8 seconds left Sunday

Trail Blazers could have done a lot of other things with 6.8 seconds left Sunday

Just one more look back at that Trail Blazer possession with 6.8 seconds to play Sunday and no timeouts left.

But keep in mind, even if Portland would have somehow managed to hit a three-pointer there, it would just merely have tied the game and still left the Celtics a chance to win it. And the Trail Blazers weren't getting many defensive stops when they needed them. But I firmly believe that getting a three there was a must. Without a timeout, getting the ball back, advancing it up the court and then scoring is too difficult.

But a few things to point out:

  • Damian Lillard could have taken more time before unloading the ball. I realize there was concern about being fouled before taking a three, but you have to live with that. It didn't appear Boston had any interest in doing so or they would have gotten him immediately.

  • I understand Jusuf Nurkic is now shooting threes with some degree of accuracy, but I’m not sure I would have had him on the floor in that situation. Zach Collins or Anfernee Simons, who has yet to play a minute in Orlando, might have been more of a threat from distance.

  • That said, if Nurkic had just stayed behind the three-point line, he’d have had a wide-open shot at a three, or Gordon Hayward would have had to leave Gary Trent open to contest Nurkic’s shot. Which would have meant Trent -- probably the team's best three-point shooter these days -- would have had an open look.

  • It didn’t seem as if the Trail Blazers had a play ready after Hayward made his two foul shots to push the Boston lead back to three. There were still three seconds left, which should have been enough time to get off a decent shot. Three seconds usually means two dribbles and a shot, so it wasn’t necessary to throw a pass the length of the court. Hitting Lillard (or Trent or CJ McCollum) somewhere near halfcourt and giving one of them a long three would have been cool.

But, of course, they don’t give you do-overs. What happened, happened. And getting a stop or not having so many scoreless possessions late in the game would have helped, too.

The big thing now is to not let that game cost them the next one. There were big minutes played by key players and in a loss, that seems to have a bigger impact than in a win.

The schedule doesn’t get easier, either, with Houston up next.

In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t going to be easy.