Hassan Whiteside

Bizarro world?: Hassan Whiteside with 7 assists, CJ McCollum with 4 blocks

Bizarro world?: Hassan Whiteside with 7 assists, CJ McCollum with 4 blocks

It was a trip into bizarro world Wednesday night for the Portland Trail Blazers. You know – everything is backwards.

CJ McCollum had a career-high four blocked shots, Hassan Whiteside had a career-high seven assists and the normally slow-paced Trail Blazers had a season-high 28 fast-break points.

What’s next, Terry Stotts doing an hour of standup at Helium Comedy Club?

The Blazers pulled away from the Sacramento Kings in the fourth quarter in Moda Center and ran to a 127-116 win. Portland shot 56 percent from the field, including 50 percent from three-point range and got 20-plus points from four starters. Whiteside finished three assists shy of a triple double after getting 22 points and 16 rebounds.

And he had a couple of nifty backdoor passes that led to baskets off double-teams on the Portland guards.

“I love that backdoor pass, I should have gone to Princeton,” he said with a smile. “I don’t mind passing. I’m going to get better. I’m going to get better at making decisions. I’m new to this system and new to these guys and I’m going to keep working.

“I was impressed with (CJ’s) shotblocking. I was going to ask him for some tips.”

McCollum was hitting bulls-eyes all night. He was 14-22 from the floor, including 5-10 from long range, for 33 points. Damian Lillard chipped in with 24 points and 10 assists and knocked down a couple of big threes late in the game.

“What was more bizarre, his seven assists or my blocked shots?” McCollum asked. “I told him if would have wanted to get 10 assists he could have gotten 10 assists. Credit to him, he’s making the right plays and he’s learning.

“I’ll be at the rim every now and then, being a rim protector and helping people’s fantasy teams.”

The Trail Blazers, with Carmelo Anthony installed at power forward, are showing signs of becoming a very good offensive team.

“We’re just trying to build,” McCollum said. “We’re a top five or top 10 offensive team historically, but with him, we’re top five. We just have to figure out how to use all of our pieces. I think that’s the biggest thing. And then get that cohesiveness."

The defensive side of things is still a work in progress. And it’s going to take some progress.

The Kings, playing shorthanded, shot 46.3 percent overall.

“Obviously, to start the game, the first three quarters, (the Kings) played comfortable,” Lillard said. “We just didn’t do a good job in that stretch of the game and I think it showed because it was obvious toward the end of the game when we stepped it up and tightened it up at the end, we got separation because of it. The fourth quarter, we stepped it up and that was when we won the game.”

The Blazers will play host to the Los Angeles Lakers Friday night in Moda Center.

 

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

Hassan Whiteside sets franchise record for blocks in a game

Hassan Whiteside sets franchise record for blocks in a game

Not one. Not two. Not three... but TEN!!!!!!!!!! 

Ten. That was the number of blocks Hassan Whiteside had against the Bulls on Friday night at the Moda Center, setting the Trail Blazers' franchise record in the process. 

Whiteside had the paint locked down all game long, setting the tone for four blocks in the first quarter alone. He tied the franchise mark of nine (held by four other players) with five minutes left to play in the game, leaving plenty of time for him to get one more. 

A few possessions later, Lauri Markkanen drove to the basket and was met by the Blazers' block machine. Whiteside used his off-hand to swat the ball away and set the record. 

Fun fact: Whiteside's personal best for blocks in a game in 12... it also happened to occur in a game against the Bulls. 

Hassan Whiteside feeling healthy, feeling like he knows his role now

Hassan Whiteside feeling healthy, feeling like he knows his role now

Trail Blazers starting center Hassan Whiteside accepted the challenge of bodying up Thunder big man Steven Adams on Wednesday night.

Whiteside led all scorers after the first quarter with 14 points to go along with his six-first quarter rebounds.

The Blazers big man was a big part of Portland’s quick start against the Thunder as the Blazers rolled OKC 136-119 on Wednesday.

And Whiteside seemed to have found his groove on the offensive end over the last two games.

That sums up Whiteside's night. 

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how his big man had a “great start,” adding that, “[Hassan] had the full package again, he had it all. He’s got good touch in the paint, and I thought our guys did a good job finding him, and he did a good job finishing, and he was a big part of that first quarter.”

Whiteside amassed 21 points and 12 rebounds by halftime. He finished the night with 16 rebounds to Adams’ six boards. 

But what does the Blazers 7-footer think was working so well for the Blazers to score a season-high 42 points in the first quarter?

“I think, man, we’re just coming together. Guys are getting healthy, guys are getting back in the lineup, and I think we’re starting to build some chemistry, and getting stops, and offensively it’s coming along,” Whiteside said.

“We’re going to keep building,” Whiteside added.   

Both coach Stotts and Damian Lillard believe that having Carmelo Anthony on the floor for them obviously helps space the floor. But, they also feel that because the pick and roll between Lillard and Whiteside has evolved that has helped give the Blazers more open shots.

Coach Stotts mentioned how before Whiteside suffered a right hip injury, he and Lillard were starting to build a better pick and roll relationship.

Stotts also stated, “Damian had such good chemistry with Nurk (Jusuf Nurkic) and Nurk’s a different roller than Hassan, so I think Dame’s figured out where he’s gonna be and when he’s gonna be there and I think their pick and roll has become more effective.”

It was apparent in the first handful of games that Whiteside had never really been in this type of a role. He looked uncomfortable setting the screen at the top of the key and was struggling then to roll to hoop for his point guard to dish it to him down low.

The Trail Blazers winning two straight games goes hand in hand with Whiteside showing improvement on setting a solid screen and not just coming to the top of the key and slipping by the defender.

Lillard explained postgame, “the more I communicate with [Hassan], the more he’s starting to understand what I want to do. It’s just getting better with time. So 18, 19 games in, it should be getting better and it is.”

In Wednesday night’s win, Whiteside was one point shy of matching his season-high as he finished with 21 points.

He attributes his effectiveness to his body feeling good once again.

“Outside of the first game, I think this is probably the most healthy I’ve felt,” Whiteside said.

Trail Blazers' newfound secret? It's "governing each other on the floor"

Trail Blazers' newfound secret? It's "governing each other on the floor"

The Trail Blazers came out with purpose Wednesday night. And they put the Oklahoma City Thunder in the old Veg-O-Matic – you know, they sliced them and diced them.

In fact, a lot of Thanksgiving turkeys won’t be carved up as precisely as the Blazers chopped up the Thunder on the way to a 135-119 win in Moda Center, just the home team’s second win of the season in its own building. This is the latest Portland has ever had to wait for its second home victory of a season.

Portland hit 10 straight shots to open the game, led by as many as 23 points in the first quarter and settled for a 42-26 advantage at the end of the period.

The Blazers set a tone that led to 52.1 percent shooting overall, including 46.7 percent from the three-point line and a perfect 24-24 night at the foul line. It was one of those nights when Portland played decent defense but with an offense that efficient, it didn’t much matter.

That fast start included handling OKC blitzes on pick-and-rolls to perfection, getting the ball to open shooters, including CJ McCollum for open three-point shots and Hassan Whiteside for those little shot-puts he fires in the lane.

Scouting report or just solid reading and reacting?

“Both, everybody’s locking in,” McCollum said. “We’re in a tough spot right now. We’re trying to win games. You’ve got to pay attention to film but you’ve also got to independently study on how they’re guarding your pick-and-rolls, which we’ve all done a better job of preparing independently and bringing it together collectively as a team.”

What we saw Wednesday was much better than we’ve seen out of this team in the past.

“Learning,” McCollum said with a smile. “We’re learning.”

Damian Lillard, who led Portland with 27 points, echoed his backcourt partner. And talked about his team not losing faith through early season problems and talking its way out of trouble. There was no pre-game plan of attack on the pick-and-roll, what happened came from communication and self-analysis,

“We didn’t talk about (the pick-and-roll offense),” Lillard said. “We’ve been communicating with each other, Everybody on the outside has been saying, this team is not doing this and this. We’re accepting the fact that we haven’t played to the level we need to.

“But we’re also trying to find solutions. And that’s in our communication and talking to each other. What do we need to do? What do you see? Governing each other on the floor is just a step in the right direction for us.

“We’re kind of seeing that and talking it out to each other. It’s coming from everybody.

“This is what we’ve got to do and everybody’s accepted it.”

Terry Stotts was not ready to proclaim his team out of the woods quite yet. Is it too early, he was asked, to say his team has it all figured out?

“Yes,” he said, “I think we’re going in the right direction. We played well against Chicago and we played well tonight. But there’s going to be other teams coming up that pose other problems and we’re going to have to figure those out. But I think we’re going in the right direction.”

There were some notable highlights from this one:

  • It was the second game in a row in which all five Portland starters scored in double figures.
  • The Blazers had 23 assists, their eighth straight game with 20-plus assists.
  • Whiteside had 21 points and 16 rebounds in just 22 minutes, becoming just the fourth player in NBA history to record at least 21 points and 16 rebounds in fewer than 23 minutes.
  • McCollum had his sixth game in a row with 20-plus points.
  • Rodney Hood made all four of his three-point shots, the third time this season he’s been perfect from behind the three-point line.

Instant Analysis: Carmelo Anthony gives the Blazers something to be thankful for

Instant Analysis: Carmelo Anthony gives the Blazers something to be thankful for

Portland’s hot shooting carried over from Monday’s win in Chicago as the Blazers hosted the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday night. Plus, home cooking always seems to help.

The Trail Blazers fed off the Moda Center crowd with Blazers fans showing their excitement even before the game tipped off in Carmelo Anthony’s home debut.

The energy and the noise in Moda Center was amplified when Portland rattled off 42 first quarter points, which are the most points in a quarter for the Blazers this season.

After starting the game a perfect 10-for-10 from the field, the Blazers never really looked back as they led throughout the entire game.  

FINAL BOX SCORE: Trail Blazers 136, Thunder 119
Here are three quick takeaways from Wednesday’s win:

1.  Team ball leads to Portland’s hot shooting

Blazers Coach Terry Stotts had been emphasizing over the last few days that they need to get their assist numbers up. They did just that on Wednesday night. Portland finished with 23 team assists.

Portland shot well on the night due to the Blazers making the extra pass. They were able to find the open man whether it was driving to the hoop and then dishing it back out on the perimeter or by throwing the ball down low for an open lay-up or dunk. Carmelo Anthony got it going late and Blazer faithful was loving it. Melo finished with 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting and headed to the bench with "Melo! Melo!" chants from the Rip City crowd.

 

2.  Blazers dominate on the boards  

The script was flipped on Wednesday night. After struggling on the boards during their six-game road trip, Portland gobbled up the rebounds at both ends versus OKC. Hassan Whiteside accepted the challenge of bodying up Steven Adams. Whiteside had 21 points and 12 rebounds by halftime. He finished the night with 16 rebounds to Adams’ six boards.  

3. A complete game for Portland

Too often this season, the Trail Blazers have built big leads and then saw those leads dwindle. Against the Thunder, despite Danilo Gallinari finding a rhythm from deep, Portland held a comfortable lead for all four quarters. This is the second consecutive game that the Blazers were able to unload their bench in garbage time.

Getting the starters extra rest will be helpful with the Blazers looking to make a push to get back to .500 basketball. 

Up Next: The Blazers host the Chicago Bulls on Friday night with tip-off slated for 7:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest.

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

Could one play from Damian Lillard turn the season around? We’re going to find out…

Could one play from Damian Lillard turn the season around? We’re going to find out…

CHICAGO – In an instant, the ball can be turned over.  

In an 82-game season, things in the NBA can turn around in the blink of an eye.

So, how does one calculate a potentially season-changing play that lasted a total of seven seconds?

Monday night in Chicago was one to remember for the Trail Blazers.

It was the night Carmelo Anthony got his groove back. It was the night the Blazers got a healthy Hassan Whiteside back, too.

It was one where Portland ended its four game losing streak with a 117-94 blowout victory over the Chicago Bulls.

The Trail Blazers were rebounding (finally), shooting the ball well, communicating on defense; it was all there for the Blazers.

As CJ McCollum put it, “This was probably our most complete game of the season, and also, probably the first time we’ve had a lot of healthy people in the starting lineup. I think that made a difference and we’ve just got to continue to build on that.”

Point guard Damian Lillard wants his teammates to continue to build on the energy that showed on Monday night.

“This type of effort is what we’re gonna need, especially if we can get it form so many guys I think we can end up on the winning side, just like tonight.”

But this question remains:

Was it a night that Lillard will point to on a specific play that was a turning point in the Blazers season?

At the 5:03 mark of the third quarter, Zach LaVine stole the ball from Lillard.  

Then just seven seconds later, Lillard snatches the ball back from LaVine at the other end after LaVine attempted to pass the ball to Lauri Markkanen.

The Trail Blazers All-Star point guard showed his grit, determination, and his competitive nature within a matter of seconds. He wanted it. 

That third-quarter play by Lillard may have been the Bulls’ momentum killer.

Lillard knew one thing for certain after the game. That play had major significance:

In a lot of our games this season, teams, like we’ve talked about, they get offensive rebounds, they get fifty-fifty balls, they beat us to it… Sometimes it comes down to just competing, and having that desire, just really wanting it more than the other team. I think as soon as I threw the turnover, I didn’t think about the turnover. I was like -- the play is over, sprinting back, make a play on the ball, just try to make something happen and show them that everything that they get tonight is going to be hard.

That steal led to Lillard finding Hassan Whiteside for a layup, putting the Blazers up 79-64. It was total shift back in Portland's favor.       

That play is what Lillard believes the Blazers need more of, and should consider those types of plays season changing.

 That’s a really big play for our team that we don’t make enough of. So, I think that’s what I was just like – this is what we need to happen, this is how we turn our season around.

In Monday’s win, Lillard finished with a double-double of 13 points and 12 assists.

But, with two steals on the night, it’s that one particular change of possession that happened in the blink of an eye in which Lillard and the entire Blazers team will continue to look back on. They will continue to try to emulate to turn their 82-game, 175 day regular season around knowing that it can turn around in mere seconds, with a flip of the switch, or in this case, the flip of a ball.

Hassan Whiteside returns: A 'great feeling' playing with Dame and Melo at the same time

Hassan Whiteside returns: A 'great feeling' playing with Dame and Melo at the same time

CHICAGO – For the first time since Carmelo Anthony laced ‘em up as a Portland Trail Blazer, the starting lineup he was meant to play with was in-tact.

Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside, who has been dealing with right hip soreness, made his return after missing the Blazers’ previous two games.

Now, four games into Melo's tenure, Whiteside, along with the rest of the starters in Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, and Rodney Hood took care of business from the jump. The Blazers blew out the Bulls, 117-94.

I felt great coming back out there-- and just playing with these guys. It’s my first time playing with Dame and Melo at the same time, so it was definitely a great feeling.

Whiteside brought the energy on both ends while doing what the Blazers needed most: Pulling down rebounds and altering shots at the rim.

The 30-year-old shot an efficient 6-of-8 from the field to score 13 points on the night. He led the team in rebounding with 12, and three of those boards came on the offensive end. The Blazers center also finished with two blocks, but also altered more shots than the box score showed.  

Whiteside admitted after the win that by sitting out and being able to observe what is team has needed over the past couple of games really helped.

I got to see it from the sideline and, you know, I really feel like I can come and help, and I wanted to really do that, and it’s one of the points of emphasis and it felt great to get a win by such a large margin on coach's birthday.

Yes, it was a win for Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts on his 62nd birthday. Coach Stotts was pleased with how Whiteside asserted himself on both the offensive and defensive end, saying, “his presence in the paint at both ends was something that we had been missing. He was blocking shots, he was getting rebounds, [and] finishing around the basket.”  

Whiteside hadn’t played since the Blazers dropped one to the Pelicans on November 19th. In the loss, the Blazers big man had a double-double with 14 points and 14 rebounds.

It wasn’t just that everything seemed to be working for Whiteside on Monday in Chicago; it was that everything was working for the entire team.

Guys were hitting shots. I was just trying to get them open with screens, just trying to rebound as best of my abilities, and guys were just clicking, and I really think we can be a dangerous team.

Having Whiteside back meant he brought a lift on the defensive end and on the boards. He helped re-energize the team.

Although, McCollum made sure to mention he and his teammates were also energized because they knew they were ‘going back home.’

This team is ready to get back to Portland there’s no ands, ifs, or buts, about it.

And, don’t get it twisted: Having what Coach Stotts called ‘vintage’ Melo out there was key in routing the Bulls, but having their final piece to the puzzle in Whiteside was what started off the great night, and the great way to end the this trip.