LeBron James

Damian Lillard joins Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony in rarefied air

Damian Lillard joins Kevin Durant, LeBron James, and Carmelo Anthony in rarefied air

Despite playing with an upper respiratory infection, Damian Lillard had an impressive first half against the Mavericks on Friday night in Dallas.

He was hitting deep threes, driving for buckets, and finding teammates for easy assists.

He ended that half with 25 points and four assists. 

Not only was it a great half of basketball for the Trail Blazers star, but it also happened to be historic. 

With 2:29 left in the second quarter, Lillard drove to the basket and scored his 21st point of the game.

It also happened to give him 14,000 points for his career.

Scoring 14,000 points is monumental enough. To do it in just eight seasons is incredible... and rare.

Lillard now sits with some elite company. There are only four active players in the NBA that have scored 14,000 points in just eight seasons: Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant, and now Lillard. 

That is quite the Mt. Rushmore. Three sure-fire Hall of Famers, with Lillard well on his way to joining them.

Lillard wasn't the only Blazers setting records on this night. Teammate Carmelo Anthony also scored the 26,000th point of his career, making him just the 18th player in NBA history to meet that mark. 

Russell Wilson is a terrific quarterback -- but he's going to need some help

Russell Wilson is a terrific quarterback -- but he's going to need some help

Watching Russell Wilson almost single-handedly carry the Seattle Seahawks over the Green Bay Packers  -- but fail -- at Lambeau Field Sunday brought to mind all that talk about the greatness of players in all sports, not just football.

Wilson is terrific. But he needs help.

So many people today want to simplify their evaluations by making their case built on the number of championships a player has won. And that's just wrong.

Wilson is a very, very good quarterback -- one of the best in the NFL. But watching him try to win a game behind a porous offensive line, with no running backs and an inconsistent defense shows how difficult it is for a quarterback to win without help. I saw the same thing with John Elway in Denver. He was an incredible athlete with a big arm -- but until he got a full team and quality coach, he didn't win a ring.

I apply the same argument to basketball players, even though there are fewer players in the game and the value of each player is thus magnified. Still, it takes more than one player to win championships,

But a whole lot of NBA "experts" want to base their greatest-player arguments on the number of rings a player has won. They seem unaware of how long it took Michael Jordan to win a title before the right pieces were around him. It's so circumstantial in the NBA, because of where certain players land on their first team. The draft very often sends the best college players to the worst pro teams, where they can often languish for years with a franchise that not only has no talent, but doesn't really know how to acquire it.

And oh yes, when people talk about "winning rings" they usually have a limited knowledge of history. They usually skip over Bill Russell's 11 championships in 13 seasons with the Boston Celtics. It doesn't fit the "Jordan vs. LeBron" narrative, you see. And they don't mention Robert Horry's seven rings because, really, who is ever going to menton him as one of the greats? Some of the knuckleheads who believe rings are a measure of a player's greatness even want Horry in the Hall of Fame -- which is pure nonsense.

There are all kinds of metrics to judge players and I think they probably all have some merit. But I have watched everyone's idea of the "greatest quarterback of all time," Tom Brady, for years now and still haven't been able to convince myself that he's better at the position than Elway. Great players help, but they don't do it by themselves. Elway was more athletic, had a better arm and was ahead of his time as a runner. But he'll never get his due because his early teams were good enough -- thanks to him -- to win a lot of games but not go all the way.

Championships are the goal for every team and every individual player. But they are a measure of a team, not an individual.

Anthony, Lillard crack Top 10 in second return of 2020 All-Star voting

Anthony, Lillard crack Top 10 in second return of 2020 All-Star voting

The NBA released its second round of All-Star voting results on Thursday and a couple of Trail Blazers still remain in the Top 10. 

Among Western Conference guards, Damian Lillard is in third place with 687,855 votes. He trails only Luka Doncic and James Harden. While teammate Carmelo Anthony is in eighth place among Western Conference frontcourt players with 520,021 votes. 

LeBron James is the leading vote-getter in the west with 3,359,871 votes. Overall among Western Conference players, Lillard and Anthony's vote counts rank seventh and 14th respectively. 

This season Lillard is averaging 26.9 points, 4.2 rebounds, and a career-high 7.6 assists. He is a four-time All-Star, having played in the game in 2014, 2015, and each of the past two seasons. 

Anthony is a 10-time All-Star, having last played in the game in 2017. 2018 was the first time Anthony wasn't an All-Star since the 2009 season, breaking a run of eight-straight All-Star Game appearances. This season he is averaging 16.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, and 1.3 assists. 

To keep your favorite Blazers in the Top-10 and help them secure a trip to Chicago for All-Star Weekend, all you need to do is vote. 

You can cast your votes at NBA.com

Game-winners? Carmelo Anthony has more than Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade

Game-winners? Carmelo Anthony has more than Kobe Bryant, LeBron James, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwyane Wade

TORONTO – If you’re going to take a last-second shot to win a game and you’re the Portland Trail Blazers, who do you go to?

Damian Lillard is the obvious choice. But what if the other team double-teams him and makes it impossible to get him the ball?

Then you go to CJ McCollum, right? Well, that’s what the Trail Blazers did Tuesday night against the Raptors, with the scored tied at 99 and the clock ticking down past 10 seconds.

McCollum took an inbound pass and had a lane to the basket. An open lane, he figured. But knowing it wouldn’t be right to take his shot too early on the clock, he held back – a smart move by a mature player.

Suddenly, Carmelo Anthony popped open near the top of the three-point circle and McCollum found him with a pass.

Melo with the ball and a chance to win the game? That’s money, folks. Look it up. It’s not this guy’s first rodeo.

Since 2003-2004, according to STATS Inc., he’s been the best in the NBA at hitting shots in the final 30 seconds of a game to give his team a lead for good. He’s done it 26 times, better than Kobe Bryant (22), LeBron James (20), Dirk Nowitzki (18) and Dwyane Wade (16).

You want it done in the final five seconds? According to ESPN Stats and Information, he's done that 17 times, four more than any other player since he came into the league.
“It was very important for us to come back on the road,” Anthony said. “We were able to get stops and make shots. A big morale booster for us.

“This is something I’ve always embraced, loved those moments. Whenever you get a chance to have those moments you have to take advantage of it. Throughout my career I’ve always been the guy who would take those shots. I’ve made a ton of them and missed a lot of them, as well. You just have to be willing, to want to take them.”

Anthony was able to get to his spot on the floor, a jump shot that was a virtual free throw. It’s a shot you can see him practicing over and over before games.

“I was able to get to my spot and it felt good,” he said. “Very important to get to my spot. Only thing I didn‘t want to do is settle, settle for that three. Once I was able to get to my spot, there was a great chance of that ball going in.”

The Blazers and Raptors – two teams playing without some of their best players – stumbled around a lot in this game but the Blazers really were tested. If there was a night for them to just give up on a game, this would have been it. For most of the first half they couldn’t make shots and couldn’t get defensive stops. It was a frustrating night, given that the Blazers’ first and only lead prior to Anthony’s game-winner lasted 14 seconds and made the score 4-3.

“We gave up 22 in the third and 21 in the fourth and we started to limit their second chances,” Lillard said. “The way we did it is the style we need to play to win us games.”

The Raptors specialize in playing defense that takes the opponent’s best player out of the game and they got it done over the first three quarters, throwing multiple players at Lillard. But in the fourth, he was able to get more room by getting a pick set higher and making his threes from longer distance.

“I just played from further out,” he said. “I didn’t want to force it and play in a crowd. I had to change my pace, get the screen set higher. And we also got stops so we weren’t playing against a set defense.”

Lillard played a key role in forcing a Toronto turnover, as Patrick McCaw threw a pass between Kyle Lowry’s legs and out of bounds.

“Kyle was coming off a pin down and I saw it developing,” Lillard said. “They were trying to catch us off guard. I shot the gap and the guy threw a bounce pass and Kyle was running through it and didn’t have a chance to catch it. A big play.”

Portland had to survive a last-second three from Kyle Lowry but it was a miss and the Blazers had the win.

To be fair, the Raptors were playing without injured Pascal Siakam, Marc Gasol, Norman Powell and Fred VanVleet, among others. Of course, the Blazers – without Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins, Rodney Hood and Skal Labissiere – have no sympathy for them.

This trip concludes with a game Thursday night at Minneapolis against the Timberwolves.

LeBron James praises DK Metcalf, but PFF snubs the Seahawks WR from NFL All-Rookie list

LeBron James praises DK Metcalf, but PFF snubs the Seahawks WR from NFL All-Rookie list

“Congrats Young…too fast, too strong.”

That was the message NBA legend LeBron James had for Seattle Seahawks rookie DK Metcalf after his historic playoff performance in Seattle’s 17-9 Wild Card victory over the Eagles on Sunday.

Metcalf set a Super Bowl-era NFL record as a rookie, catching seven passes on nine targets for 160 yards and one touchdown. He also set a franchise-record for receiving yards in a playoff debut. 

But not everyone thinks Metcalf deserves such an endorsement. If you take a look at Pro Football Focus’ 2019 All-Rookie list, you’ll notice Metcalf’s name is absent.

This comes as a surprise as the 22-year-old receiver has caught 58 passes on 100 targets for 900 yards and quickly become one of Russell Wilson’s main targets with seven touchdowns in the regular season. PFF’s Ben Linsey did note, however, that some positions, such as wide receiver, had worthy players miss the cut.

While Metcalf wasn’t recognized for his notable performances with Seattle, his close friend and former Ole Miss teammate, A.J. Brown, did make the list. Brown led all wide receivers this season with 8.9 yards after catch and 16 broken tackles.

LeBron James is the King of all calls and the referees are his minions

LeBron James is the King of all calls and the referees are his minions

I wanted to take several hours to consider this before I wrote it and do a lot of thinking about it.

I’ve seen a lot of the greatest NBA players during my decades of covering the league. And after due consideration and much mental anguish I’m ready to express my opinion and put one of them above all the rest in one important category.

And let me say, it’s good to be king.

LeBron James, the self-proclaimed “king” of well, something, is the player who, night after night, gets more favorable treatment from referees than any of the other great players. But make no mistake, it was a close race.

Shaquille O’Neal was in the running but late in his career, that changed for some reason. Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant? Well, they got help, but not like LeBron. Wilt Chamberlain never fouled out of an NBA game, but I’m not convinced he got the benefit of as many favors as James.

That mystery foul called on Portland’s Anthony Tolliver Saturday night, when LeBron went flying down the left side of the lane for an uncontested breakaway layup that he missed and Tolliver was whistled for a foul is a classic example.

Portland Coach Terry Stotts challenged the call and lost the challenge, probably as much because it was “The King” as anything else. On replay, the only contact on that play was when James’ left leg went backward and made contact with one of Tolliver’s legs. James probably initiated the contact more than did Tolliver. And that certainly couldn't have been what the official saw in real time when he blew his whistle. He saw James miss an easy shot and figured someone HAD to foul him or he wouldn't have missed it.

But the play was a classic case of “incidental contact” – meaning:

The mere fact that contact occurs does not necessarily constitute a foul. Contact which is incidental to an effort by a player to play an opponent, reach a loose ball, or perform normal defensive or offensive movements, should not be considered illegal.

That contact, if indeed it even occurred, had nothing to do with James blowing that shot. But he got the call. And that’s certainly not the only case of him being protected, but an example of what happens frequently.

But more than getting calls, he’s even better at not getting called for fouls he actually commits, particularly on the offensive end,.

Everyone knows he plays the game like a bull in a china shop, bowling over defenders and using his size and strength to overpower smaller defenders. And he’s also known as a very good defender – which means at both ends of the court he’s doing things that make him subject to getting fouls called on him.

But he doesn’t get fouls called on him. Like, hardly ever. Including this season, it’s been nine years since he averaged more than two fouls per game. That’s ridiculous, given his physical style of play.

And I haven’t even mentioned the amount of times he gets away with traveling, including this laughable one that almost broke the internet a few weeks ago. And he changed pivot feet and traveled more than once Saturday night.

I’ve always hated the fact that superstars get special treatment in the NBA. Of all people, they need it less than anyone else. But it’s just the way things work. And LeBron is the king of all calls.

The referees are, it turns out, his minions.

How to watch, stream Blazers vs. Lakers tonight at 7:00pm

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How to watch, stream Blazers vs. Lakers tonight at 7:00pm

The Portland Trail Blazers (14-18) host the Los Angeles Lakers (24-7) Saturday night in their second of three meetings this season. 

Portland nearly completed a thrilling come from behind victory Thursday night in Salt Lake City, but the Jazz were able to hold on for the six-point victory.  

As of Friday afternoon, it looks like Portland fans will get to see King James suit up. 

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, LeBron James is “on track” to play Saturday night despite dealing with a nagging groin injury. 

You can watch all the action between the Blazers and Lakers 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. Lakers

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. 

QUOTABLE

"I just tried to do what I needed to do to help the team. You know, we came up short, but I think out team effort was pretty good. Our guys came in, second unit, and do what we’re supposed to do, bring the energy and just the little things, set good screens, and Dame and CJ were just making shots." -- Trail Blazers backup big man Skal Labissiere on getting the fourth quarter minutes over Hassan Whiteside Thursday night 

REPORT: LeBron James expected travel, play vs. Trail Blazers

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REPORT: LeBron James expected travel, play vs. Trail Blazers

Just like the Portland Trail Blazers, the Los Angeles Lakers have been dealing with a handful of injuries.

When the Lakers come to town to face the Trail Blazers on Saturday night, it sounds like Portland fans will get to see King James suit up.

According to The Athletic’s Shams Charania, LeBron James is expected to travel to Portland today and is “on track” to play Saturday night.

In the Lakers-Clippers Christmas showdown, James collided with Patrick Beverley in the first quarter of the Lakers' 111-106 loss.  

He stayed in the game and even played 39 minutes, but getting kneed in the groin aggravated his nagging groin injury. James said postgame the injury  "Kind of set me right back to where I was five days ago."

3:45 p.m. UPDATE: The Lakers have listed Anthony Davis (right knee; soreness) and Kyle Kuzma (left ankle; sprain) are probable. James (groin; contusion) is questionable for Saturday's game.

James missed considerable time last season with a groin injury. That was on his left side, though. This particular injury is to his right side and is not as serious, but can worsen overtime without proper treatment and rest. LeBron is 34 and in the middle of his 17th campaign.  

The Lakers are now 24-7 on the season. James has missed just one game so far this year, which occurred on December 22nd vs. Denver. James is currently averaging 25.7 points, 7.6 rebounds and a league-best 10.6 assists per game. 

Terry Stotts ejected for first time in 880 games and 'it was very necessary'

Terry Stotts ejected for first time in 880 games and 'it was very necessary'

The Los Angeles Lakers Friday night showed everything you need to have to be a championship team.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis they have two superstars, Hall of Fame-caliber players who are tough at both ends of the floor. They’ve surrounded those players with shooters and veterans who know how to play.

Almost as important as that, they’ve got an experienced coaching staff that appears to have its team buying into defense and moving the ball. Frank Vogel and his assistants are doing an outstanding job with this team that has won 20 of its first 23 games.

And in the Lakers’ 136-113 win over the Trail Blazers in Moda Center, the Lakers got all the help they needed from a very weak officiating crew -- John Goble, Tre Maddox and Leon Wood -- that had Terry Stotts going apoplectic and his players so frustrated they didn’t know what to do.

Stotts was ejected by Tre Maddox with a little more than a minute left in the third quarter after a foul call on Kent Bazemore, who had flown past Anthony Davis without touching him. This after Skal Labissiere was in the locker room getting four stitches in his lip from an elbow by Kyle Kuzma that was not called a foul.

My only question about Stotts getting run was, “What took you so long?”

It had been a poorly officiated game all night and it was the very first time Stotts, in his 880th game as an NBA head coach, has been booted from a game.

“It was very necessary,” Damian Lillard said, then said again. “It was very necessary.”

Bazemore said, “I had four fouls. I didn’t touch him. I was just trying to get out of the way.”

Bazemore got in James’ face and exchanged some words with him a couple of times, but wouldn’t share the content.  “I didn’t get here by backing down from anyone," he said. "That’s not who I am. I’m a fiery player. Very passionate. This is what I like to show.”

It was a contentious game that left Portland players feeling they didn’t get a fair shake. CJ McCollum reacted with dismay when he thought he was fouled in the third quarter. And he got a technical foul for it.

“I was clearly fouled,” McCollum said. “He hit me in the head. They didn’t call it. So I let him know that he missed the call. He didn’t appreciate it.

“They were very inconsistent all night.”

He was asked about Stotts’ getting ejected.

“Tells you the kind of night it was -- he doesn’t freak out for no reason,” McCollum said. “He just doesn’t do that. Kent runs by a guy and doesn’t touch him. Wouldn’t you be mad?”

Is it difficult to play a team with big-name players who seem to get calls?

“That’s what it looked like tonight,” he said. “It is what it is. It’s not even about the calls they get. It’s, can we get the same calls?”

The Lakers didn’t need any help. They buried Portland early with dunks off lobs and then put the hammer down with their three-point shooting, hitting 17 of 36 from long range.

Lillard had 29 for Portland, which now has the problem of replacing starting small forward Rodney Hood, who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon.

 

Instant Analysis: Blazers lose Hood to injury, Stotts to a double-tech, & the game to Lakers

Instant Analysis: Blazers lose Hood to injury, Stotts to a double-tech, & the game to Lakers

Friday night, the Blazers lost their starting small forward Rodney Hood to a season-ending injury.

Before Hood’s injury late in the first quarter, the Blazers and Lakers were exchanging buckets. 

While the Blazers made in-game adjustments without Hood, the Lakers started to run away with the game. LA’s biggest lead on the night was 21.

The Blazers starters continued to battle in the final period even after their head coach got ejected. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: LAKERS 136, TRAIL BLAZERS 113

Here are three quick takeaways from Friday’s loss:

1.  Hood leaves game early

Blazers starting small forward Rodney Hood left Friday night's game with torn left Achilles tendon.

The injury came at the 3:27 mark of the first quarter when Hood grabbed a defensive rebound. 

Hood planted his left foot and immediately fell to the floor. It was a non-contact injury.

Trainers rushed to Hood where he was surrounded by his teammates. He had to be helped off the floor by the team trainers. At the end of the first half, the Blazers announced that an MRI confirmed Hood had suffered a torn left Achilles tendon.

Kent Bazemore assumed the starting three spot for the night.  

2.  So many Laker dunks

Los Angeles showed off its size and length early and often against the Blazers. It was pick your poison under the basket on Friday night. LeBron James, JaVale McGee, Anthony Davis – all three Laker bigs were involved in a dunk-fest in the first quarter. Los Angeles took advantage of a smaller Blazers lineup, especially once Hood left the game.  

3.  Coach Stotts gets tossed

It has been a heated night between fans, between players, and between Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts and the officials.

Coach Stotts was seen chirping at the referees and giving several looks of disgust through the first three quarters game.

After a personal foul was called on Kent Bazemore when Bazemore went up to contest Anthony Davis’ lay-in with 1:05 remaining in the third quarter that was the final straw.

Stotts was hit with two technical fouls and was ejected from the game. This is the first time in his Trail Blazers coaching career that he has been tossed from a game.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Oklahoma City Thunder. The game will tip-off on Sunday at 6:00pm on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams App.

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