James Harden

"It's about time!" Damian Lillard grabs elusive 10th rebound for triple-double

"It's about time!" Damian Lillard grabs elusive 10th rebound for triple-double

“One more rebound, one more rebound!”

That chant was heard echoing from Trail Blazers fans in the 300 levels at Moda Center at the 2:48 mark of the fourth quarter Wednesday night.

Blazers fans were encouraging their All-Star point guard to complete something he had yet to accomplish: A triple-double.

He had yet to do until Wednesday night. 

Following the Blazers 125-112 victory over the Rockets, Carmelo Anthony strolled past Damian Lillard’s locker with a big smile on his face postgame while yelling, "DAME!!"

Portland not only handled Houston, but both Lillard and Anthony reached personal milestones.

Lillard notched his first career triple-double, while Anthony climbed to No. 16 on the all-time scoring list.    

That is not a typo.

Wednesday marked Lillard’s first triple-double in 594 games played.

He finished with 36 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds.

Fans and new teammates alike both shared their confusion that Lillard had never reached this milestone before.

Lillard felt the same.

It’s about time. It took eight years.

I think it’s been plenty of times where I could have just kind of hunted it – I’ve been two rebounds or one assist away, but it’s just something about I never wanted to go out there and just chase it. Just growing up, my dad would just always be on my case about playing the game the right way and letting it play out how it’s supposed to play out. So that’s kind of been my approach with the triple doubles and tonight, I was close but a lot of times where I was like—‘alright, tonight I can’t walk off the court stuck at nine with all this time. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard

The Blazers team captain snagged his ninth rebound with 4:38 remaining in the game.

But, it wasn’t until there was just 57.3 seconds left on the clock, when Lillard missed a tip shot to snag and offensive rebound to record that elusive 10th board.

And then the standing ovation occurred. 

That tip-in attempt had his teammates smiling after the game, though.

“I told him please go get the rebound, go get it,” Melo said with a big grin. “This time, tell me to get out of the way.”

CJ McCollum joked, “I didn’t even know. I was wondering why he jumped so high for that rebound.”

And, just like that it happened.

“Everybody was like, ‘Get one rebound, get one rebound.’ Lillard said. “So I was like, ‘Imma crash the offensive glass, get in position to defensive rebound’ and the last shot came off and I just jumped first and I got my hand on it and I tried to tip it in, boom.”

Boom, indeed.

Lillard has been within reach of this impressive feat 10 times in his career. He was either two rebounds or one assist shy of grasping that almighty accomplishment.

At the end of the third quarter Wednesday night, the triple-double watch started.

Lillard had 30 points, eight assists, and 7 rebounds through three quarters.

Wednesday’s achievement meant more to Lillard because it came in a win against a good team.

Not because it was against Russell Westbrook.

But man, isn’t that extremely storybook for Lillard to notch his first triple-double against Westbrook?

Yeah, it totally is; there’s no denying that.

“I was just playing the game. I was just making the plays that I saw, making the right passes and guys made shots,” Lillard said.

So what about it coming against Westbrook? Is there anything extra to it because of that?

 “I mean, not really,” Lillard said with an inexpressive face. “It was my first career triple double, it didn’t really matter who it was against. I’m just happy that it came in a win like you said, and just that it was a performance where it was needed. It wasn’t like we just came out here and blew a team out and I just benefited from it by just getting a stat line. I think it was a kind of team effort where it was a real game and it led to a win too.”

Lillard also set a new franchise record scoring 30+ points for the sixth straight game.

Plus, he really surprised his new teammates.

Trevor Ariza, who is already fitting in nicely after playing in just three games with the Blazers, was in disbelief that Lillard hadn’t recorded a triple-double before Wednesday night.

But, he was definitely happy for his new point guard.

“Yeah, I looked up and saw that he needed one rebound and it was exciting. I didn’t know it was his first one, I just thought it was another one he was going to rack up. It’s great, we had two historical nights, Melo moved up (on the scoring list), Dame got his first triple double, it’s exciting,” Ariza said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts mentioned how he is still surprised that this was Lillard’s first triple-double as well.  

“I’m happy for him,” Stotts said. “He’s been playing great, I’m glad they gave him that last tip as a rebound. To be honest, I’m surprised he hasn’t had one before now. He plays an all-around game, but to get your first triple-double, on national TV against a really good team, it’s pretty cool.”

Not only is it storybook that this happened on a night against Westbrook, but it comes on the heels of Lillard earning Western Conference Player of the Week after averaging over 52 points per game.

“He’s been locked in, playing at an elite level, this is his best basketball he’s played in his career. We needed every basket, every assist, and every rebound,” McCollum said.

The Lillard takeover continues. 

Trevor Ariza, Trail Blazer bench combine with Lillard to throttle Houston

Trevor Ariza, Trail Blazer bench combine with Lillard to throttle Houston

Certainly it was Damian Lillard’s night. The red-hot Portland guard posted his first career triple-double topped by 36 points, but there was much more to the Trail Blazer story Wednesday night.

The oft-maligned Portland bench, led by Gary Trent and Nassir Little, chipped in 13 points in a 41-24 Trail Blazer blitz in the second quarter that turned the game around after an agonizing first five and a half minutes.

The Blazers needed more than two minutes to score their first points of the game and five and a half minutes to make their second field goal, but things got a whole lot better in that second period.

Trent, getting regular minutes in the rotation recently, went 2-2 from three-point range, had two assists and two steals in the quarter -- finishing a plus-16 in that period. Little was also plus-16 and made his only shot.

Lillard had nine in that quarter and Trevor Ariza got six, along with a team-best plus-17 for the quarter.

Ariza’s presence in the starting lineup has made a world of difference for Portland, with not only his added size but his basketball intelligence.

“Somebody like Trevor, who knows the game, you don’t have to tell him multiple times what to do,” said Carmelo Anthony, who moved into 17th place (passing Kevin Garnett) on the all-time NBA scoring list at the 9:14 mark of the second quarter. “He just knows how to play the game.

“He knows how to play off people. For the younger guys, seeing that stuff really helps. You can’t teach it. He just knows.”

Ariza, who made nine of his 13 shots, half of his six threes, and chased James Harden all over the court most of the game, finished with 21 points and more alert plays at both ends of the court than you could count.

He credited his teammates for his ease with fitting into the team’s suddenly very solid starting lineup.

“The players,” he said. “These guys have a very high IQ and are very talented and all I have to do is catch the ball and shoot it, or get the ball and put it in the basket, or rebound and make simple plays.”

Hassan Whiteside also played a big role in this one, as Coach Terry Stotts stayed with his big man even when Houston went to smaller lineups.

“I thought Dame did a nice job of finding him and he was able to finish around the basket,” Stotts said. “Those were some big plays that he made -- the finishes and the ‘and-ones.’ He did a nice job with that.”

Whiteside had 15 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots and a team-high plus-18. And it appeared Harden wanted no part of him at the basket.

“Yeah, that’s my job,” Whiteside said. “I feel like I’m the best at doing it. Just protecting that paint.”

Whiteside pointed to Ariza as a difference-maker.

“He’s the ultimate three-and-D guy,” Whiteside said. “He’s out there playing amazing defense -- doing a great job.”

And suddenly, Lillard is getting enough help to make this team competitive.

Harden finished with 18 points, going 5-18 from the field and 2-8 from long range.

The Trail Blazers meet the Lakers in Staples Center Friday night -- a game that probably no team in the league wanted to play. It's the Lakers' first home game since Kobe Bryant's death.

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard making history AGAIN

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Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard making history AGAIN

That's a wrap on Portland's four-game homestand. 

After a slow start against the Houston Rockets, the Trail Blazers went on a 10-4 run to finish the first quarter down by just six.

Houston held a 12-point lead in the first quarter, but thanks to the Blazers defense down low and a scoring tear in the second quarter (41 points), Portland held a 71-60 halftime lead.

If it weren’t for the Blazers quick six turnovers to start third quarter, Portland would’ve blown the game wide open much sooner.

The Trail Blazers now improve to 5-3 in their last eight games. 


Here are three quick takeaways from Wednesday's win:

1.  The Lillard vs. Westbrook Show

Just ask former NBA player Kendrick Perkins:

It’s fun to watch Damian Lillard battle it out with Russell Westbrook.

The two did not disappoint Wednesday night.

Damian Lillard finished the first quarter with 16 points on 5-of-7 shooting, including 3-of-4 from deep. Lillard not only had it going from three-point range, he was also finding his teammates all night. 

Trevor Ariza, Hassan Whiteside, and CJ McCollum were often the beneficiaries of Lillard’s dimes.

Westbrook and Lillard were neck and neck when it came to who was going to be the leading scorer for the game.

But, heading into the fourth quarter, it was triple-double watch time for Lillard. To end the third, he had 30 points, eight assists, and 7 rebounds. Lillard reached the impressive feat for the first time in his career when he attempted a putback tip-in in the final minute, which was his 10th rebound on the night. 

2. Rockets fire away from three, per usual

Houston’s three-point shooting kept the Rockets in the game early on. At the break, Houston was shooting 42.3 percent from long distance.  

Ben McLemore gave the Rockets a big boost off the bench with his 12 first quarter points all coming from behind the arc.

Eric Gordon, who got the start for the Rockets and was coming off a 50-point performance, struggled from three against the Blazers.  

3.  Ariza making a difference

One of the newest Trail Blazers, Trevor Ariza, made his presence felt on both ends of the court. Ariza used his lengthy arms to snag the ball or at least get a handful of tips on the night. On the other end, the 6-foot-8 veteran forward notched 18 points through the first three quarters on an efficient 8-of-12 shooting.

Ariza is averaging 6.5 points on the season. 

Up Next: Portland visits the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night. The Blazers and Lakers tip-off at 7:00p.m. PT on NBC Sports Northwest.

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

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Rockets operating at full strength

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Rockets operating at full strength

The Trail Blazers host the Houston Rockets on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App at 7:00pm tonight.

Before the game tipped off, both coaches gave updates on the matchup.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts described the battles between Damian Lillard and Russell Westbrook, saying, “you can see it out on the court.”

While Rockets head coach Mike D'Antoni said that James Harden will get the start despite being listed as questionable for tonight’s game with a thigh contusion. D’Antoni added that Eric Gordon will start in place of Danuel House following Gordon’s 50-point performance.




Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), Skal Labissiere (left knee inflammation) and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Wednesday’s game vs. Houston.


James Harden (left thigh contusion) and Clint Capela (right heel contusion) are available. Nene (left adductor strain) and Gerald Green (left cuneiform fracture) are out.


-- Wednesday’s game will be the third of four matchups between the Trail Blazers and Rockets during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

-- LAST MEETING: The Trail Blazers defeated the Rockets 117-107, in Houston on Jan. 15. Damian Lillard led Portland with 25 points (8-20 FG, 1-8 3-PT, 8-8 FT), seven rebounds, seven assists and two steals, while Russell Westbrook paced Houston with 31 points on 11-of-22 shooting (2-5 3-PT, 7-12 FT), to go with 11 rebounds and 12 assists.

-- Houston’s starting lineups have averaged 91.9 ppg this season while the Trail Blazers starting lineups have averaged 86.0 ppg. They rank first and second in the NBA, respectively.

-- Damian Lillard has scored at least 20 point in eight of his last 10 appearances against the Rockets. In two games against Houston this season, Lillard has averaged 21.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 9.0 assists and 1.00 steal.

-- CJ McCollum recorded 24 points (9-18 FG, 3-6 3-PT, 3-4 FT), six assists and two steals against the Rockets on Jan. 15. McCollum has hit three or more three-pointers in four of his last five games against Houston, going 14-of-32 (43.8%) from deep over those four games.

-- James Harden scored 13 points (3-12 FG, 1-6 3-PT, 6-8 FT) to go with eight rebounds, seven assists and two blocks against the Trail Blazers on Jan. 15. It was his second lowest-scoring game this season (12, Jan. 24 at Min.).

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets tonight at 7:00pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers vs. Houston Rockets tonight at 7:00pm

The Trail Blazers (20-27) are coming off a 139-129 victory over the Indiana Pacers, as Damian Lillard continues his scoring tear.

Now Portland will host the Houston Rockets (29-17) Wednesday night.

It was just two weeks ago that the Blazers went into Houston and stunned the Rockets beating them 117-107. After the victory, the Blazers credited their defense to why they were able to come away with the win, using their diamond defense to hold the Rockets to 39.6 percent shooting and James Harden to 13 points.

You can watch all the action between Portland and Houston on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?  

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Rockets

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

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


When you playing and you just trying to do whatever you can to win the game, it kind of sets in later. Like, at first, it was like a crazy run and then you see the numbers and then, I saw a picture of just them saying I was Player of the Week and I just saw the stat line and I was like- '52 points- that’s a lot, that’s crazy.’ Like, when I actually saw it I was just like that’s kind of crazy.” -- Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard on his recent performance  

If James Harden plays, will the Trail Blazers have another diamond for him?

If James Harden plays, will the Trail Blazers have another diamond for him?

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Trail Blazers went into Houston and stunned the Rockets 117-107, using gimmicky defenses to hold the home team to 39.6 percent shooting and James Harden to 13 points.

Portland employed a rarely used diamond-and-one defense against the Rockets, defending Harden with a player -- usually Kent Bazemore, who is no longer on the team -- and getting help for him from the four other Blazer players stationed in a diamond-shaped zone defense.

Other times, Portland sent random double-teams after Harden or used other forms of zones.

Harden, who has missed his team’s last two games due to a thigh bruise, went only 3-13 from the field in that loss to the Trail Blazers, 1-6 from three-point range and was just beginning a stretch where he’s had shooting problems.

In his last nine games, Harden has averaged 2.6 three-point field goals made on 22.3 percent shooting -- after shooting 42.2 percent on 5.7 attempts per game in his previous 28 games.

Would the Trail Blazers give those defenses an encore performance Wednesday night against the Rockets in Moda Center?

“We’ll try it,” Coach Terry Stotts said after practice Tuesday. “I’m sure they’ll be prepared for it. We don’t know if Harden is playing or not but we’ll give it a shot. Having Trevor (Ariza) gives us a different dimension, so we’ll see.”

Harden, Russell Westbrook (rest) and Clint Capela (right heel contusion) sat out Houston’s game at Utah Tuesday night and then the Rockets got a career-high 50 points from Eric Gorden to beat the Jazz 126-117.

Both Harden and Capela were listed Tuesday as “questionable” for the game against the Trail Blazers.

“Having Harden play or not play changes the dynamics for them and so it changes them for us,” Stotts said.

The Rockets shoot a lot of three-point field goals but Stotts said that doesn’t apply pressure to his team to match their three-point output.

“It’s important to play our style,” Stotts said. “If we can get some open threes… the challenge against them isn’t necessarily shooting threes, it’s that they do a lot of switching (on defense) and staying engaged and they kind of force you to play one-on-one at times.

“It’s just the challenge of playing against them and attacking them in the best way possible. If it means shooting more threes, so be it.”

Stotts, Trail Blazers prove that even in basketball, diamonds are forever

Stotts, Trail Blazers prove that even in basketball, diamonds are forever

When the Trail Blazers broke out that diamond-and-one defense Wednesday night in Houston, it jogged my memory.

And it took a while to remember where I'd last seen that defense,

I had a nagging thought that it had to do with Houston. And it did. But it was way back to the "Game of the Century" in 1968 when the Elvin Hayes-led University of Houston Cougars knocked off UCLA 71-69 n the Astrodome, ending a 47-game Bruin win streak. The dome was sold out (52,693) for the game, the first nationally televised, non-NCAA tournament college game. It didn't help UCLA, by the way, that center Lew Alcindor had suffered an eye injury in a previous game and it was troubling him in this one.

The teams met again in the NCAA tournament semifinals and the Bruins routed the Cougars 101-69. And the key to that win was UCLA's innovative diamond-and-one defense that held Hayes, who was averaging 37.7 points per game, to just 10 points.

Harden came into the game Wednesday night averaging 37.8 points per game and was held to 13 by the Portland diamond.

"We used the diamond-and-one on dead-ball situations (after turnovers, after timeouts, backcourt out of bounds)," Stotts said Thursday in an email. "Once Harden gave it up, we were in man to man (four on four) and face-guarded Harden.

"Other times, we would just go double-team him and get the ball out of his hands. We did not stay in the diamond once Harden gave it up. Brooklyn and Toronto used versions of it (they lost those games) and we tweaked it."

Stotts remembers the "Game of the Century" but didn't remember the diamond and one in the rematch.

"Black and white TV," he said. "The Game of the Century."

Wednesday's win at Houston wasn't in the realm of the game of the century -- but for the Trail Blazers, it was probably the game of the year, so far.

That Trail Blazer defense on James Harden? Call it a Twilight Zone

That Trail Blazer defense on James Harden? Call it a Twilight Zone

Where in the world did that defense come from?

Coach Terry Stotts didn't get specific about it, but the Trail Blazers were different Wednesday night than they've been all season. The team that hasn't defended well, did. Portland held Houston's James Harden, who came into the game averaging a league-leading 37.8 points per game, to just 13 points on 3-12 shooting on the way to a virtual wire-to-wire 117-107 triumph.

A really good win for us," Stotts said. "I was proud of how we competed. We did some things defensively... the guys were really locked in on what we did.

"We tried to get the ball out of (Harden's) hands in different ways. I thought our guys took the challenge of getting the ball out of his hands."

It appeared the Trail Blazers often used a combination defense, something between a box-and-one and a diamond-and-one, which led to opportunities to double-team Harden many times and just as often led to open three-pointers for other Houston players. But the Rockets made only 16 of 49 three-pointers, with Harden going only 1-6. The league leader at getting to the foul line, Harden was just 6-8 from there and he averages 11 made charity tosses a game.

"We gave him a lot of attention," Damian Lillard said. "We pretty much decided we were going to live with somebody else beating us and it turned out to be a pretty good game plan. Our coaches came up with a great defensive game plan."

Houston shot only 39.6 percent from the field as a team.

Hassan Whiteside had 18 rebounds -- seven on the offensive end -- to lead the Blazers to a 58-50 advantage on the boards. Kent Bazemore had a miserable 3-13 shooting night but had nine rebounds, three assists, a blocked shot, a steal and was in Harden's face a good part of the game.

This was a terrific team win -- the best of the season -- as the bench gave quality minutes and the offense resulted in all five starters scoring at least a dozen points.

But it was the defense that won this one. Was it a zone? If so, what kind?

Well, it came from out of nowhere. It was like nothing the Trail Blazers have done all season.

A zone? Yes... call it a Twilight Zone.

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers tip-off road trip with win in Houston

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers tip-off road trip with win in Houston

HOUSTON -- Wednesday night’s game between the Trail Blazers and Rockets tipped off after 8:30pm local time.

The late start seemed to favor the Trail Blazers, especially to start the game. Portland jumped out to a 22-18 lead midway through the first quarter.

The Blazers brought the energy and made sure to exhaust a Rockets team that had lost on the road the night before.

Once the Rockets converted from three in the fourth quarter, the Blazers weren't able to keep their double digit lead midway through the period.

However, Portland’s hot field goal percentage accompanied by the Blazers crashing the boards early and often, Portland was able to steal a win on the road.

Here are three quick takeaways from Wednesday’s win:

1.  Blazers slow down Rockets

During his pregame interview, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how the Rockets are a much faster-paced team with Russell Westbrook; however, Wednesday night the Blazers seemed to slow down Houston. At the break, the Rockets had zero fastbreak points on six opportunities.

Portland has had its fair share of issues on the defensive end this season, but the Blazers were able to come together on that end of the floor on Wednesday. The Trail Blazers were communicating and rotating fairly quickly on the perimeter. Houston was still able to get a handful of wide-open threes, yet they were having a hard time hitting from deep all night.  

The Blazers limited James Harden to just 12 attempts on the night thanks in part to Kent Bazemore's pesky defense. Harden finished with 13 points.  Westbrook still got his shots though. He went 11-for-22 from the field to finish with 31.

2.  Melo’s return to Houston

With Carmelo Anthony's time in Houston a total of 10 games last season, he was still greeted with cheers from Rockets fans during pregame introductions. However, the cheers were not nearly as loud as many other arenas Melo has visited this season.

The 35-year-old did give Blazers fans plenty to cheer about though. Melo exploited the mismatches down low. The 17-year veteran finished with 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds.

3.  Lillard on the attack

Early on, Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside had a good two-man game going. As the game went on Lillard attacked the rim more. In turn, he got to the free throw line. Heading into the fourth quarter, Lillard was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their three-game road trip Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks. The Blazers and Mavs will tip-off at 6:30pm PT 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

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: How to defend the 'two dimensions' of the Rockets

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: How to defend the 'two dimensions' of the Rockets

HOUSTON -- It’s the first of the next three games on the road as the Trail Blazers get set to for the Houston Rockets tonight.

The Rockets are coming off a road loss to the Grizzlies last night.

Before Portland and Houston tip-off at 6:30p.m. PT tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed how Russell Westbrook brings a different dynamic to the Rockets and how they play at a much faster pace this season.

Coach Stotts also explained how they need to defend the two-man game between James Harden and Clint Capela, saying, “It starts on the ball. Obviously it’s difficult because they have a lot of success in their two-man game, but trying to keep Harden a little off guard, not letting Capela roll behind… Harden puts a pressure on the big man.”



Mario Hezonja (low back contusion) is OUT for tonight's game.


P.J. Tucker (right shoulder stinger) is available; Gerald Green (left cuneiform fracture) and Nene Hilario (left adductor strain) are out.


-- Wednesday’s game marks the second of four meetings between the Trail Blazers and Rockets during the 2019-20 season. Houston leads the season series, 1-0.

-- LAST MEETING: The Rockets defeated the Trail Blazers in Houston on Nov. 18, 132-108. CJ McCollum scored a team-high 25 points (10-19 FG, 5-12 3-PT) to go with five rebounds, three assists and two steals for Portland while James Harden led the Rockets with 36 points (11-19 FG, 5-10 3-PT, 9-10 FT), six rebounds, five assists, one steal and one block.

-- Portland and Houston are 2-2 in their last four matchups with Portland winning the 2018-19 season series, 2-1.

-- Seven Trail Blazers players scored in double figures against the Rockets on Nov. 18.