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Hassan Whiteside isn't one of the league's best defenders, according to NBA coaches

Hassan Whiteside isn't one of the league's best defenders, according to NBA coaches

The Trail Blazers defense has struggled at times this season, but one person has been a standout from day one: Hassan Whiteside. 

Whiteside, who came over in an offseason trade with the Miami Heat, has done an incredible job filling in for the injured Jusuf Nurkic all season.

His very first night as a Blazer was a 16 point, 19 rebound performance against the Denver Nuggets on opening night. 

From there, he just kept climbing. 

Whitside is statistically having one of the best seasons of his career, averaging 16.3 points and career-highs of 14.2 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game.

Whiteside is the league's second-leading rebounder, trailing only Andre Drummond of the Detroit Pistons (15.2 rpg).

But where he is most untouchable is defensively at the rim. 

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon]

Whiteside leads the entire league in blocks per game at 3.1. That is nearly a full block more than the two players tied for second, Anthony Davis and Brook Lopez (2.5 bpg). 

Whiteside has 187 blocks on the season, compared to 147 for Lopez and 138 for Davis. Both Lopez and Whiteside have played 61 games, while Davis has played 55. 

Regardless, you think the league's second-leading rebounder and leading shot-blocker would be recognized for their defensive prowess, right? You'd be wrong. 

Jon Krawczynski and Josh Robbins of The Athletic anonymously polled 33 NBA coaches, some head coaches, some assistant coaches, to get their expert opinions. 

The coaches had to vote for the first-team and second-team all-league defensive teams, while 23 of the coaches also voted on Defensive Player of the Year. 

The only rule was they had to vote for two guards, two forwards, and one center for the all-league teams. 

So, where did Whiteside fall?

He fell all the way out of the coaches consciousness. 

Whiteside did not earn first of second-team All-League Defense, he also was not named Defensive Player of Year. 

The really surprising part, however, is that Whiteside didn't even receive a single vote for any of the lists. 

How can the league's leading blocker not even receive a vote for All-League defense? 

According to the coaches' vote, Rudy Gobert was the Center on the first-team, and Bam Adebayo was the Center on the second team. Other centers receiving votes included Brook Lopez, Joel Embiid, Myles Turner, Tristan Thompson, Steven Adams, Andre Drummond, Jarrett Allen, and Domantas Sabonis. 

[READ THE ENTIRE LIST HERE]

As for the Defensive Player of the Year, the coaches picked Rudy Gobert, with Brook Lopez and Bam Adebayo being the only other centers to receive votes. 

Here is how Whiteside compares to those three centers:

HASSAN WHITESIDE: 16.3 ppg, 14.2 rpg (10.2 drpg), 3.1 bpg

RUDY GOBERT: 15.1 ppg, 13.7 rpg (10.3 drpg), 2.0  bpg

BAM ADEBAYO: 16.2 ppg, 10.5 rpg (8.0 drpg), 1.3  bpg

BROOK LOPEZ: 11.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg (3.8 drpg), 2.4  bpg

Whiteside averages more points (though that doesn't matter for defense), rebounds, and blocks than the three centers that made the list. The only category any of those centers beat Whiteside in is defensive rebounds, where Gobert averages 0.1 more per game... 0.1! 

When averaged out to a per 36, Whiteside leads in all categories.

HASSAN WHITESIDE PER 36: 18.7 ppg, 16.4 rpg (11.8 drpg), 3.5 bpg

RUDY GOBERT PER 36: 17.9 ppg, 14.5 rpg (10.2 drpg), 2.6 bpg

BAM ADEBAYO PER 36: 17.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg (8.3 drpg), 1.4 bpg

BROOK LOPEZ PER 36: 14.9 ppg, 6.0 rpg (5.1 drpg), 3.3 bpg

However, Whiteside lags behind all three of those players in overall defensive rating: Lopez (99.1), Gobert (106.8), Adebayo(107.7), Whiteside (112.2)

More telling is that his individual defense hasn't led to overall improvements in team defense.

The Bucks lead the league in defensive efficiency (101.6), Utah is 11th (108.8), and Miami is 14th (109.2). The Blazers fall near the bottom, ranked 27th (113.6).

While the Blazers' struggles on defense aren't Whiteside's fault, the numbers show he isn't necessarily helping either.

As for the coaches, they value how a player impacts and changes the team defense over a player's individual numbers. Based on individual numbers alone, Whiteside should be in the conversation with those other centers, not an afterthought.

Again, how does the league's leading shot-blocker not even receive a vote for all-league defense? 

Luckily for Whiteside, the Blazers have at least eight more games for him to put on a defensive show.

Why does Robin Lopez want to trade Disney hotel rooms with Damian Lillard?

Why does Robin Lopez want to trade Disney hotel rooms with Damian Lillard?

Get ready!! We are about to learn a lot more about the nicest hotels on the Disney World Resort campus.

As many concerns as well as new protocols from the league have been reported over the past few days with the NBA eager to send 22 teams to begin play in Orlando on July 31, we now know where the teams will be staying while they’re in the Disney ‘bubble.’

Shams Charania of The Athletic reported that the hotel situation for each team is actually based on current standings:

Thus, with the Trail Blazers currently tied for the ninth-seed out West with a 29-37 record, they will be staying at The Yacht Club instead of the Gran Destino, which just opened last summer.

Check out the differences for yourself:

Gran Destino:  

Yacht Club:  

But according to sources close to me, the Yacht Club is “more family friendly and has a bigger variety of entertainment and food options… There's a lot of food!”

So would the family friendliness be the reason former Trail Blazers Robin Lopez is looking to stay at the Yacht Club versus kicking it at the Gran Destino?

Probably.

[Listen to the latest Talkin’ Blazers Podcast with hosts NBA Champion Channing Frye and Emmy Award winner Dan Sheldon and special guest Jordan Kent].

 

ROLO even went as far as to ask the Trail Blazers Big 3 of Damian Lillard, Carmelo Anthony, and CJ McCollum to swap rooms with him since the Bucks are holding down the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference and thus will stay at the brand new hotel.

Lopez isn’t alone in his thinking that the Yacht Club is where it’s at:

The current Milwaukee Bucks big man is looking for a beach getaway theme hotel, clearly.

Social media, though, has had a field day with the seeding of hotels and poking fun at the Yacht Club.

 

 

Now we wait and see if Lillard, Melo or CJ are willing to trade hotel rooms with ROLO, and how the ‘Yacht Club team’ fares in Orlando.

Cheers to the Yacht Club Squad!  

Be sure to check out Sports Uncovered: The uniform craze that revolutionized college football

NBA players begin pledging money to assist arena employees during suspension

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NBA players begin pledging money to assist arena employees during suspension

NBA stars continue to help their arena staff members. 

Friday, Milwaukee Bucks All-Star Giannis Antetokounmpo announced on social media that he has pledged $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff in order to aid in offsetting costs related to loss of earnings with the NBA currently suspended.

It’s bigger than basketball! And during this tough time I want to help the people that make my life, my family’s lives and my teammates lives easier. Me and my family pledge to donate $100,000 to the Fiserv Forum staff. We can get through this together! -- Giannis Antetokounmpo wrote on his Twitter

Antetokounmpo and the Bucks held the best record in the NBA at 53-12 when the league was put on hold. The 2019 MVP will be eligible for a supermax contract extension after the season that would most likely make him the highest paid player in the NBA.

The Greek Freak was the second known NBA player to make such a pledge.

To help ease the financial burden for the Cleveland Cavaliers arena and support staff, Thursday, Cavs All-Star Kevin Love pledged to donate $100,000 through the Kevin Love Fund. 

Even more players are planning to help out. New Orleans rookie Zion Williamson will reportedly donate enough money to cover the wages of the Smoothie King arena's staff for the next month. 

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has also said that he plans to continue to pay arena employees as if the games were still being played.

Belief, not hope is what drives Carmelo Anthony

Belief, not hope is what drives Carmelo Anthony

The Portland Trail Blazers are entering the second half of the of the 2019-20 season Wednesday night in Houston.

It’s been a season of expect the unexpected with a multitude of injuries and the signing of future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony.

In the Trail Blazers 41st game, Portland claimed victory over Charlotte. Monday night’s 115-112 win was Anthony’s 26th game with Portland, and it was also the night Melo where he reaffirmed he can play defense, too.

With 36.2 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter, the 35-year-old sacrificed his body, diving to the floor. 

Melo anticipated the bad pass from Terry Rozier and it was that effort that sealed the game.

It’s his mindset that could also seal the deal for the Blazers making the playoffs.

More on that later.

As for Monday night’s steal that eventually had Anthony on his backside on the baseline, it was a play that the veteran realized was a must.

I knew I had to make it. I saw them looking for that pass in the corner, [I] made a great play, got my hand on the ball, but I couldn’t really control it, but my thing was just to keep it inbounds and just try to get in. My teammates did a great job of getting control of the ball – made my hustle play look even better. -- Melo

And it was Anthony’s effort, his sacrifice, that had his teammates buzzing after the win.

Damian Lillard said, “It was huge. Obviously, we were in a scramble situation and just trying to come up with a stop and come up with the ball. That was just a great play by him. First of all, seeing it as it developed and then making that type of save and hustle play to secure a possession, I thought that was huge.”

While CJ McCollum said, “Melo with a clutch save down the stretch.”

And, Blazers Coach Terry Stotts added: 

Big time play. To track it down and save it, he might have gotten fouled on it. The plays that we made in the fourth quarter, they may have gotten on their run, but we made some big time plays defensively. It’s plays like that that win games. -- Stotts

 

Even though he wasn't with Portland during training camp and for Portland's first 15 games, Anthony’s teammates know what kind of teammate they have in Melo.

Fellow veteran forward Anthony Tolliver, who was also key in securing a victory Monday night with his 16-fourth-quarter points, described what it’s like playing alongside the future Hall of Famer.

“Melo is a consummate professional. I know he had a bad reputation I don’t know where it came from. The dude is amazing. He’s a blessing to our team. He’s been amazing since he’s been here. One of the best teammates I’ve ever had. I’m glad he’s with us,” Tolliver told Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam.  

Anthony is averaging 16.3 points and 6.1 rebounds so far this season.

Recently, there’s been a lot of chatter on social media in regards to NBA fans needed to apologize to Melo for believing that he was “washed up.”

And then there’s the Rockets…

With just 10 days total as a Houston Rocket last season, Anthony clearly wasn’t given the chance to show he’s still got game.

And after sitting out an entire year, working on his craft, and working on himself, the 17-year veteran sure seems to be enjoying life despite the Blazers' losing record.

He’s back. He’s playing the game he loves. He doesn’t view this season as his farewell tour.

He also has faith. 

And, if there’s anything that Melo has learned over the past year is how to keep the faith.

But, don’t get that confused with hope.

After Saturday’s loss to the Bucks, Melo said definitively “we know” what type of group we can be.  

I believe. I try not to hope. I try to keep hope out of it, but my expectation is the same as when you asked me the first day that I got here -- one day at a time, take it from there, and I still believe that. -- Melo

As Trail Blazers fans struggle to come to terms with their team sitting on the outside of the playoff picture with a record of 17-24, Anthony isn’t letting that hang over his head at the halfway point of the season.

 

We know who we are; we know what type of group we are… I know for a fact that the guys that are in this locker room know who we are, know what we want to be, know what we want to do, know what we want to accomplish. -- Melo

Because remember there’s a difference between hoping and believing.

Melo continued, “We believe. At the end of the day -- we believe. In spite of whatever situation we are in, we believe and we gotta win games, we gotta put games together, no matter who is gonna be out there.”

The Trail Blazers now tip-off the second half the season in Houston with a three-game road trip that also includes stops in Dallas and Oklahoma City.

The Blazers won’t stop believing.

Will you?   

Their journey continues Thursday night in Houston at 6:30pm on NBCSNW. 

Through the eyes of Jaylen Hoard: A window seat guy with a curious mind

Through the eyes of Jaylen Hoard: A window seat guy with a curious mind

It was the morning of October 27th before the Trail Blazers tipped off their third game of the season. They were facing the Dallas Mavericks on the road. Yes, that’s when Zach Collins suffered his shoulder injury, but that’s also when Jaylen Hoard and Moses Brown were first transferred to the G-League Texas Legends.

Fast-forward to January 11th and a lot has changed.

Anthony Tolliver started at center Saturday night with Hassan Whiteside out due to an upper respiratory illness.   

That also meant rookie two-way forward Jaylen Hoard, who was recently brought back to the NBA ranks, saw back-up center minutes.

Who would’ve guessed a night like this would happen in early January?

Not Hoard.

“I felt like I’d mostly be playing in the G-League with the Texas Legends and just kind of work my way up… Just being able to play early like this it feels great. Even though we didn’t get the win today, just being out there was a blessing,” Hoard said.

As Damian Lillard described it, his frontcourt teammates are being forced to figure it out on the fly.

“Certain guys are playing positions that they weren’t’ gonna play and have never played. Guys are playing more extended minutes than they have ever played or had to play. We got guys -- this is their first time consistently playing. That’s tough. There’s a learning curve. It’s a physical battle for the people that haven’t experienced it,” Lillard said.

EARNING THOSE FREQUENT FLYER MILES

Hoard has now been transferred to and from the G-League a total of seven times this season. SEVEN!

“At first the traveling was a little different, a little difficult, but I feel like I’ve adjusted to it,” Hoard said after Saturday’s game.

Yet, this seventh transfer might be the longest time Hoard spends with the Blazers.

In 17 minutes of action Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, Hoard proved he has no fear against the best team in the league. 

Yep, there was no 'fear the deer' for Hoard even though the Blazers ultimately lost 122-101

There’s plenty the Blazers know they need to work on. Of course, being banged up isn’t helping them; however, Hoard was a bright spot and his performance didn’t go unnoticed.

“I thought he did a great job,” CJ McCollum said postgame. "Obviously he’s gone back and forth from the G-League to here. He’s extremely athletic, he wants to learn, he’s aggressive, and we need as many bodies as possible right now based on what we’re going through.”

He played really well. Since he’s been back up, he’s been put out there a lot and getting some minutes, and I think it’s evident that he’s a smart player. He’s able to figure things out on both ends of the floor, good instincts, and I think with more experience, and the more he’s out there, and the more comfortable he gets, I think you’ll just see him keep getting better and better.  -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard said postgame

Kent Bazemore picked up two quick fouls just three minutes into the first quarter, leading Terry Stotts to call Hoard's number early on. The 20-year-old made the most of his minutes and didn’t shy away from contact, taking it right at the Bucks.

Hoard finished the game with six points and five rebounds.

They weren't jump-off-the-page numbers. But, they didn't need to be.

It was plays like the one that happened at the end of the third quarter, when Hoard stole the ball from Giannis Antetokounmpo and took it coast-to-coast for the and-one that people will remember. 

“I feel like I’m getting pretty comfortable and my coaches – I feel like they believe in me and my teammates they give me a lot of confidence too,” Hoard said.

Per league rules, two-way players can only spend a total of 45 days with their NBA team before the team must add them to their roster with a fully guaranteed contract or part ways with them.

But, Hoard is out to prove his worth. 

EAGER TO LEARN

In this most recent stint with the Blazers, Hoard has progressed since signing a two-way contract with Portland on draft night. 

One thing is for sure: Hoard is getting valuable time with the Blazers right now after being transferred from the Legends on January 2nd.

The rookie forward also got some run against the Timberwolves Thursday night. In the losing effort, he had eight points to along with four rebounds and two steals. Blazers head coach Terry Stotts has been pleased with Hoard's progression.

“I thought Jaylen played well in Minnesota, I thought he played well tonight, looks like he’s improved since training camp, and it’s very encouraging,” Stotts said.

Stotts also understands the challenges that arise for Hoard.

“This is our first two-way guy, really. And going back and forth, I think, playing for two different teams and knowing two different systems, fitting in, in that situation… I think it’s probably the most impressive [thing] in two games – just being able to come in and blend in, and do well."

Besides his consistent effort during game action, Hoard has shown consistently that he's hungry to learn.

Stotts added, “He asks good questions.”

That may seem like an obvious thing. Duh, a young player who doesn’t have a guaranteed contract wants to learn more.

That’s just not always the case, and his teammates have been able to see his drive and his want to get better and continue to learn.

"During the game everybody was trying to give me pointers and stuff, so I feel like I’m not as lost as I would be if I didn’t ask questions," Hoard said. "Everybody’s just trying to help me, the coaches too, it’s been pretty good."

THE FIRE RUNS DEEP

Hoard says he has a different mindset ever since going undrafted last summer.

Honestly, I feel like it just motivated me, it gave me a chip on my shoulder. Now I feel like I play with a lot more fire. I’m just confident, just trying to prove that I belong in this league. – Trail Blazers rookie Jaylen Hoard on being undrafted

And now, not only is Hoard dealing with being transferred back and forth from Portland to Texas, he’s also dealing with having to learn three different positions with the Blazers:

Small Forward. Check.

Power Forward. Check.

And now… Center...? Check.

With Whiteside out against the Bucks, Hoard saw time at the five spot.

Think about that for a moment.  

“It was just different I hadn’t really played center before at this level, so it was kind of different. I feel like with time and if the team still needs me to play that position I’ll be able to contribute,” Hoard said.

Try learning stick shift on the fly. Sure, you know how to drive. But, somehow it's different. Now do that in front of thousands of people, on TV, against the best other "driver" in the world.

That's a lot of driver's manuals... positions to memorize, and he already has to know two different playbooks.

Hoard is up for whatever is thrown his way, though, even if that means he'll take another Southwest Airlines flight back to the Dallas-Fort Worth area to play for the Legends again.

Because, at least for Hoard’s sake, he's a good airplane sleeper.

“I’m a window seat guy. Because I sleep the whole time, so I just like to lay my head on the side,” Hoard said with a smile.

And, at least for the Blazers' sake, he’s a good teammate who is eager to get better, and has already shown he can fit in, in such a short amount of time.

Missing players and missing shots a bad combination for Trail Blazers

Missing players and missing shots a bad combination for Trail Blazers

Outmanned and outsized Saturday night against the Milwaukee Bucks, it was the perfect time for the Trail Blazers to shift gears into the new-school NBA:

Spread the floor and fire up a load of three-point field goals. I mean, just bring out the long-range artillery. From high school through college and the NBA, the way smaller teams with lesser talent deal with their situation is to shoot from long range and try to make most of their shots count for three points instead of two.

It's effective if you can make the threes.

But it didn’t work out that way for the Trail Blazers in Moda Center. The idea was fine, but the execution was lacking. Portland hit four of its first seven three-point attempts and then finished out the first quarter missing its next six and went 7-20 in the first half. And as the misses mounted up, the attempts dried up. The Trail Blazers finished 10-36 from long range (27.8 percent) and lost the game 122-101.

“Obviously, we weren’t going to beat them inside,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “I thought we could collapse the defense with some penetration. They were open from three, we wanted to shoot them. I’m glad we took 20 in the first half. I was hoping we would take at least 20 in the second half.”

Damian Lillard, the only Portland starter to make at least half his shots (10-20), knew Milwaukee would be vulnerable from the outside.

“Watching them on film, they give up threes and opportunities were there with the bigs being back, so we took them,” he said. “Those were the shots that were there.”

The Bucks did very little to take advantage of their overall size advantage with Portland center Hassan Whiteside sitting the game out with an upper respiratory illness. Milwaukee took two more threes than the Blazers did and only seven more shots in the paint than Portland. Vulnerable to offensive rebounds in the recent past, the Blazers, with nobody on the floor taller than 6-8, allowed only 10 of them to the visitors.

Milwaukee is 35-6 this season and probably figured it could win the game without making any major adjustments in its style of play, which leans on the three-point shot.

“If we would have shot well, we would have been fine,” said Anthony Tolliver, who, at 6-8, got the starting nod at center vs. a front line that was 7-foot. 6-11 and 6-7. “Unfortunately, the ball didn’t go in for us at the right times. We made a few shots, but not enough. That’s today’s NBA. It’s a spread-out court and you depend on a lot of shooting.

“Most teams who have had so much success with the way they play, just stick to the game plan and play the way that they play.”

The Blazers got only four three-point attempts from their reserves, who made none of those shots.

Portland came into the game shooting only 31.9 percent from three over its previous five games and couldn’t even do that well against the Bucks.

Instant Analysis: NBA MVP and company roll short-handed Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: NBA MVP and company roll short-handed Trail Blazers

Portland welcomed in the best team in the league Saturday night.

The injury-riddled Trail Blazers were even more undermanned against the Milwaukee Bucks. Hassan Whiteside was ruled out about an hour prior to tip-off as he continues to deal with an upper respiratory infection. Anthony Tolliver, who stands at 6'8", got the starting nod at center.

Milwaukee jumped out to a 32-24 first quarter lead against Portland's small ball lineup. Following the first 12 minutes, the Blazers hung around with a near 10-point deficit until the fourth quarter.

FINAL BOX SCORE: BUCKS 122, TRAIL BLAZERS 101
Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday’s loss:

1.  Where there's a Lillard there's a way

It wasn’t until less than eight minutes to go in the first quarter when the Blazer made a field goal that wasn’t a three-pointer. Portland’s first nine points were three straight three-pointers.  Through the first quarter, the Blazers let 13 three-pointers fly. They made just four for the quarter though. 

It was clear throughout the game, Portland's game plan to keep it close against the number one team in the NBA was to take as many threes as possible.

But when the three-ball wasn't falling for Portland, it was All-Star Damian Lillard who shouldered the offense once again. Lillard had 26 points and five assists heading into the final period. 

2.  Blazers hang tough on the glass

As one would expect, the Trail Blazers had a tough time bodying up Giannis Antetokounmpo on the defensive end. Antetokounmpo finished with 32 points and 17 rebounds (16 of those were on the defensive end).  Neither The Greek Freak nor Brook Lopez or Robin Lopez took advantage of the Blazers on the offensive glass.

When the roster doesn’t consist of one true center, it would be the expectation that it's going to be a long night on the boards. However, it was a by committee effort, as the Trail Blazers stood their ground and fought for rebounds.  At the break, Milwaukee was out-rebounding Portland, 31-25. Tolliver led the charge on the glass for the Blazers with seven through the first two quarters. But Carmelo Anthony also made it a point to snag rebounds. By the end of the third quarter, Melo already had 10 boards. 

3.  Hoard gets an opportunity

Kent Bazemore picked up two quick fouls and played just three minutes during his first stint. The foul trouble made way for rookie two-way forward Jaylen Hoard. The 20-year-old made the most of his minutes. He didn’t shy away from contact and took it right at the Bucks. He also wasn’t afraid to crash the boards. Hoard finished with six points and five rebounds in 16 minutes of work.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers continue their quick two-game homestand Monday night against the Charlotte. The Blazers and Hornets will tip-off at 7:00pm 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!

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Anthony Tolliver will start at center with Hassan Whiteside OUT

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Anthony Tolliver will start at center with Hassan Whiteside OUT

Before the Trail Blazers and Bucks tip-off at 7:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts gave an update on the health of his team.

The nasty cold that CJ McCollum has been dealing with for the past week, and has been going around has not spread to anyone else on the team; however, Hassan Whiteside is not feeling better. Whiteside will not play tonight. Coach Stotts said Anthony Tolliver would get the start at center.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Hassan Whiteside (upper respiratory illness) is OUT. Mario Hezonja (low back contusion) is available for Saturday's game.

BUCKS INJURY REPORT:

Wesley Matthews (left finger soreness) is available; Kyle Korver (back soreness) is out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Saturday’s game will complete the two contests between the Trail Blazers and Bucks during the 2019-20 season. Milwaukee leads the season series, 1-0.

-- LAST MEETING: Milwaukee took down Portland, 137-129, on Nov. 21 in Milwaukee. CJ McCollum paced Portland with a season-high 37 points (15-29 FG, 5-10 3-PT, 2-2 FT), six rebounds and 10 assists. Eric Bledsoe led the Bucks with 30 points (11-21 FG, 2-6 3-PT, 6-6 FT), four rebounds and six assists. November 2st1 was McCollum’s only double-double of the season.

-- Rim Protection: The Trail Blazers (6.5 bpg) and the Bucks (6.3 bpg) rank second and third in the NBA in blocks per game, respectively.

-- Portland has hit exactly 17 three-pointers in three of their last seven matchups with the Bucks.

-- Damian Lillard sat out of the last matchup with back spasms, but has scored at least 20 points in four of his last six outings. against Milwaukee.

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Bucks

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers loss to the Bucks

Two teams on the opposite side of the standings clashed in Milwaukee, with the 11-3 Bucks welcoming the 5-10 Blazers. The result was something no one expected. 

Damian Lillard and Hassan Whiteside both sat this one out due to injuries, so Coach Terry Stotts went with Anthony Tolliver and Gary Trent Jr. to start in their place. 

If that wasn't surprising enough, Skal Labissiere came off the bench and put on a show. Skal scored 22 points, pulled down a team-high 12 rebounds and had five blocks to boot. 

His effort was infectious, and despite the seemingly insurmountable odds, the Blazers had it close late. 

The Bucks, led by a Giannis Antetokounmpo triple-double, secured the victory in the final minutes, but the Blazers made sure they had to sweat it out. 

Final score: Bucks 137 - Blazers 129

QUOTABLES:

Carmelo Anthony on how his body feels:

I feel good, man. I feel good. I don't think it should be a question anymore. I'm well-rested, man. I've been out for a year. I take care of my body, I take care and do what I have to do. I feel good. I'm going to feel good from here on out.

CJ McCollum on Skal Labissiere:

He was great. He was aggressive. He had 22 points, 12 rebounds and some blocked shots. He showed us what we all know he can do. We've seen it in practice. We've seen his skill. It's just about mentally locking in and understanding what he's capable of. 

Milwaukee Coach Budenholzer on Anthony's return to the NBA:

He's just an incredible talent, incredible scorer. He can just take over a game, make lots of tough baskets... One thing that is not talked about enough is how he can go and get his own misses. He was relentless at times on the offensive boards and just a physical force... He's been a part of a lot of great teams and has had a lot of success in the NBA.

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Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers hang around, but Bucks take advantage of Portland's small ball

Highlights: Blazers fought valiantly but come up short 

Skal & Trent: taking big advantage of big time minutes

Trail Blazers role players show up in Milwaukee 

Seldom-used Blazer players take advantage of 'golden opportunity' 

 

 

 

Seldom-used Blazer players take advantage of 'golden opportunity'

Seldom-used Blazer players take advantage of 'golden opportunity'

The Trail Blazers actually played one of their best games of this young season Thursday night in Milwaukee.

Of course, given all their injuries, it wasn’t enough against one of the best teams in the league, the 12-3 Bucks.

Portland was crushed on its defensive boards as Milwaukee snagged 18 offensive rebounds and turned them into 27 second-chance points to the Blazers’ 9 second-chance points and the Blazers lost 137-129. And with the depleted Portland front court, that was to be expected. The Blazers also made it tough on themselves with eight turnovers – not a high number, but they were of the open-court variety many times, allowing the Bucks to turn them into 19 points.

The interesting thing about that rebounding edge was that a lot of it didn’t come from the front line. But Milwaukee outscored Portland in the paint 64-38.

“They have a very active team,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “They had nine different guys get offensive rebounds. Their guards run around and they were active. Their starting center didn’t even get a rebound.”

Indeed, in 30 minutes, Brook Lopez didn’t get a single board. But he did hit a pair of long three-point field goals late in the game that helped snuff out a Trail Blazer comeback.

Portland stayed in the game with terrific three-point shooting and 32 assists, moving the ball unselfishly. CJ McCollum led Portland with 37 points (5-10 on threes), 10 assists, six rebounds and three blocked shots, keeping the offense organized and productive in the absence of Damian Lillard, still sidelined by back spasms.

 “I was really proud of the way we competed,” Stotts said. “The way we came back after we got down early was really impressive. We made some mistakes at the end, but overall, I like the way we played.”

Carmelo Anthony pitched in with 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists, hitting three of his five three-point shots. Skal Labissiere had a big night with 22 points, 12 rebounds and five blocked shots.

“Offensive rebounds, second-chance points,” said Anthony. “Those things we’ll get better at. This was definitely a better game than we had in New Orleans.”

The Blazers were 17-39 from three-point range and needed the long-range points to keep them in the game almost all the way to the end. And they outscored Milwaukee by a point in the fourth quarter while shooting 50 percent from the floor and holding the Bucks to 40 percent. Giannis Antetokounmpo had a triple-double for the Bucks but needed 27 shots to score his 24 points. “Our guys, as a unit, did a good job of not letting him get out in transition and the open court,” Anthony said.

Another big difference was the foul line, where Milwaukee went 21-26 and Portland was just 12-14.

But it was a good night – especially for some players who don’t usually get long playing time.

“I told the guys before the game, this is a golden opportunity for a lot of you guys to get more minutes and take advantage,” McCollum said. “I remember when I was in that position. It sucks when people get hurt, but when you don’t play, you relish the opportunity to get out there and get extended minutes.   I thought Gary (Trent) looked great, I thought Skal was ready, I thought Anthony Tolliver was great. Everybody contributed and showed what they have to offer -- which is what you would have expected.”