Jimmy Butler

Trail Blazers drub 76ers, who played without the world's best player

Trail Blazers drub 76ers, who played without the world's best player

The Philadelphia 76ers proved one thing Sunday night in Moda Center against the Portland Trail Blazers:

Their center, Joel Embiid, who sat the game out with a sore knee, may well be the best player in the world. He MUST be, to make the hapless-on-this-night Sixers worthy of a 23-14 record.

Philadelphia, which was just this side of pathetic against the Trail Blazers, shot only 35.4 percent from the field and an incredibly horrific 18.6 percent from three-point range. Portland, meanwhile, worked Philadelphia over to the tune of 59 percent from the floor and 54.5 percent from three – both season highs.

The Blazers’ 34-point victory was their largest of the season and they actually led by 43 at one point. They shot 65.6 percent after three quarters before turning the game over to the end of their bench.

“I was really proud of the way we played in the first half at both ends,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said.

The Trail Blazers got 35-51 shooting from their starters, with Evan Turner taking over for Maurice Harkless, who was resting a sore left knee. But the big news was that CJ McCollum was able to shoot his way out of a three-point slump that had been hindering him for a few weeks.

McCollum went 13-18 from the field and 4-7 from three-point range. He scored 35 points in just 27:50.

“Overall, I think we played a good game and I made some shots, which made it easier for everybody else,” McCollum said. “It was a big win for us going into a new year and a tough road opponent in the Sacramento Kings.

“I understand how much time I put in and how many shots I put up. I knew the tide would turn eventually.

“The important thing is to be yourself. If you’re a shooter, shoot it. If you’re a ball handler, handle the ball. If you’re a defensive player, defend.”

Sixer Coach Brett Brown pointed to the absence of Embiid and what it meant for his team.

“Just the reality of how much Joel means to the team,” Brown said, “I’ve said, I’ll say it again, I think he’s a defensive player of the year. You know, you feel him, whether you look at the points in the paint, it’s at 62 to 30, whether you look at the rebounding margin (59-36).

“And I think the guys that we had, we just struggled defending them. We missed a lot of shots, we had a hard time defending them and the combination is lethal.”

Very true, but I think it’s only fair to point out that the 76ers are very talented, even without their center. They have one of the best two-way players in the league in Jimmy Butler, supposedly. Butler went 2-12 from the floor.

They have JJ Redick, an all-time great three-point shooter who was 3-11 overall and 2-7 from three.

They have Ben Simmons, last season’s Rookie of the Year, who managed to go 7-12 from the field but just 5-10 from the foul line.

Simmons has a jump shot that looks like a right-handed player trying to work on his left-handed shots. Except that Simmons is left-handed.

The Trail Blazers, who got double-figure scoring from all their starters but Turner, who finished with 8, did a very good defensive job on the Sixers, one of those teams that insists on beating you with three-point field goals, even on nights when they are not going in for them. They finished a rather mind-boggling 8-43 from that range.

The Trail Blazers head for Sacramento Monday and meet the Kings on New Year’s Day.

Lillard: The Celtics "are never out of a game"

Lillard: The Celtics "are never out of a game"

The Trail Blazers had Friday off after playing every other day (with two back-to-backs mixed in) since the Blazers first road trip started back on October 25th.

On Saturday, it was back to work as Portland gets set to wrap up its six-game homestand with a tough test vs. the Boston Celtics on Sunday night.

Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard spoke with the media on Saturday about how having two days in between games is not necessarily a positive thing for himself and the team:

“We’ve been playing a lot of basketball. Me and CJ was talking about it, I usually feel better when there’s like one day in between games... We had nothing yesterday, came in today and I was like I felt it more having a day off then when we don’t have a day off. It’s kind of the effect when the summer comes. When the season is over like you finally start to feel everything-- your shoulder hurts, your back hurts, your ankle hurt, like man, I didn’t feel this two days ago when we had to play and that’s cause you know you had to play, so it’s one of those things,” Lillard said.

Saturday’s practice for the Blazers was about preparing to guard Boston’s sets and becoming more familiar with the Celtics’ tendencies. The Blazers also went through some shooting drills and played in their half court set.

When Boston visits Portland on Sunday, it will be the Celtics final contest on its current five-game west coast trip. The Cs are currently 1-3 on this trip after Friday’s comeback against the Jazz fell short. Boston is now 4-4 on the road this season.

And, Lillard knows that you can never let your foot of the gas when you’re going up against this Boston team.

“They’re never out of a game. You know you see them comeback against Phoenix, being down 20 and then last night against a really good Utah team in Utah they came back again without Kyrie. I think we just gotta be on point. It’s gonna be a 48-minute game. Understand that every guy is in attack mode, every guy is aggressive, looking for his shot… They’ve been leaning on their defense. They’re a tough team to deal with on the defensive end so we’re going to have our hands full,” Lillard said.

The big news around the NBA early Saturday was that the Jimmy Butler trade finally happened. As first reported by ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski, the Timberwolves and 76ers agreed to a deal that sends Butler and Justin Patton to Philadelphia for forwards Robert Covington and Dario Saric, along with guard Jerryd Bayless, and a 2022 second-round pick.

 

 

Lillard had this to say about the trade:

“I think that’s a great trade for Minnesota. I like Dario Saric a lot and I like Robert Covington too- he’s a ‘3 and D’ dude, got a lot of skills, he’s been there for the bad and the good for Philly. You know he’s grown a lot. I remember he was in Houston when we played them in the playoffs that one year. So I think that’s a really, really good trade for Minnesota. And obviously Philly, they got a ‘Big 3’ over there now so I think it was a good trade,” Lillard said.

When Dame was asked if it’s nice to see Butler move from the Western Conference to the Eastern Conference, Lillard had a simple answer:

“We focused on ourselves now,” Lillard said.      
 

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Short-handed T-Wolves just what the doctor ordered for Blazers

Short-handed T-Wolves just what the doctor ordered for Blazers

The Minnesota Timberwolves were just what the doctor ordered for the Portland Trail Blazers Sunday night.

After a tough home loss to the Lakers Saturday, the T-Wolves came to Moda short-handed and looking as if they’d like to be anywhere but on a basketball court in front of a large group of witnesses.

The final score was 111-81 but it could have been just about anything the Trail Blazers wanted. Without Jimmy Butler, Derrick Rose and Jeff Teague, Minnesota was hopeless.

And the Blazers did exactly what good teams are supposed to do to such teams – knock them down, help them up, dust them off and send them on their way.

Minnesota shot 31.2 percent from the field and got mauled on the boards 66-38. And the Portland bench outscored the Timberwolves’ bench 44-23.

The T-Wolves were that bad.

But the Trail Blazers were that good, too.

Portland put up quarters of 30, 31 and 31 to make the final period a glorified summer charity scrimmage.

“It was a good bounce-back game for us,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said, “Obviously, they were a little undermanned but I like the way we played. I thought we had a good rhythm offensively for most of the game. Defensively, as well. But like I said, without Butler and Rose and Teague, they’re a little undermanned."

More than a little, but I’m not sure that was the total problem for the visiting team. They’re also dealing with Butler’s early season love/hate relationship with the team and all it’s brought along with it.

The Trail Blazers polished off their first 10-game stretch of the season with seven wins and Stotts tried to put it in perspective.

“I don’t know,” he said. “We’ve done some good things. We had a good flow offensively. Obviously, the second unit has established itself as an integral part of the team. We’re scoring a lot of points. Defensively, it’s been a little sporadic. But I think what I like is being 7-3.”

The Blazers got balanced scoring and pretty balanced minutes from their players Sunday. Jusuf Nurkic had 19 points, CJ McCollum 16 and Damian Lillard 18. Off the bench, Meyers Leonard scored 15 and Zach Collins had 11.

Leonard also had 12 rebounds en route to the first "Mey-ers, Leon-ard" chant of his career and first double-double of the season.

Back-to-back games at home are a rarity and Portland seemed to enjoy the quick opportunity to erase last night’s memories.

“We weren’t sharp against the Lakers and made a lot of mistakes we don’t usually make,” Collins said. “It seemed like they made us play quick because of how fast they play. But the biggest thing for us is we couldn’t dwell on it. We had a quick turnaround.

“Obviously they had some guys down but this was real important for us.

“Back to backs are definitely a little easier when you can sleep in your own bed. It’s not as difficult -- so we were ready.”

 

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Trail Blazers engage Minnesota Timberwolves in potential Jimmy Butler deal

Trail Blazers engage Minnesota Timberwolves in potential Jimmy Butler deal

NBA sources confirm the Portland Trail Blazers are one of as many as eight teams involved in negotiations for disgruntled Minnesota forward Jimmy Butler. 

Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor has no interest in bringing Butler into the team's training camp and threatening a bigger circus than already exists within the franchise, and has demanded that Wolves GM Scott Layden not only take calls on potential deals, but reach out to initiate conversations, according to ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski. 

In the Blazers calls with Minnesota, it was made clear that neither Damian Lillard nor CJ McCollum would be part of the discussions. 

Also to note, Jusuf Nurkic, whom the Blazers re-signed during the offseason, would not be in any trade scenario. Nurkic is ineligible to be traded until Jan. 15th. 

No teams have progressed very far with Minnesota in a deal for Butler, league sources tell NBC Sports Northwest.

The Blazers have had a long interest in Butler, which has been widely known and reported on, and a deal for the All-Star forward would mean they are taking a chance that he could become a one year rental. 

During a meeting with Tom Thibodeau last week, Butler reportedly highlighted the LA Clippers, the New York Knicks and the Brooklyn Nets when demanding a trade, all teams that will have cap space to secure Butler on a long term  max contract when he becomes a free agent next season. 

NBA training camps open Monday with media day.