Greg Oden wishes he would've listened to his body, gives advice to Zion Williamson

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Greg Oden wishes he would've listened to his body, gives advice to Zion Williamson

The pressures that come with being a No. 1 overall NBA pick.

Having bad knees.

People believing that this pick is transcendent, that it's going to turn the franchise around.

Those are just a few things that former Trail Blazers center Greg Oden and current New Orleans Pelicans big man Zion Williamson have in common.

Oden opened up about his difficult time in Portland on Thursday’s episode of the ‘Scal and Pals’ podcast with Brian Scalabrine and Steve Ceruti.  

Scalabrine wanted to know the truth about Oden’s knees: Were there any signs of knee troubles before the Trail Blazer selected him as the No. 1 pick in 2007?

"No." According to Oden, the knee problems started after the team was trying its best to fix a length difference in his legs.

I never had any knee issues before – after Summer League and then out of nowhere it spiraled after that, and it was just thing after thing. Nothing that I could do to control it… When I look back at it that summer, I had like a leg length differential, so when I first got into the league, I got some new orthotics that fixed that all the way when my whole entire growing up and playing career I was so used that leg length, my little length on my right side… That was comfortable for me.  – Former Trail Blazers big man Greg Oden

Oden added, “I got those orthotics and then two days later, my knee was so swollen I couldn’t even put jeans on.”

The now 31-year-old believes that by fixing the length differential in his legs he had to overcompensate and thus the effects of the orthotics are were all the knee problems began.

By trying to do what the best for Oden, did those decisions actually expedite his early retirement in 2016?   

Another big man, who has been dealing with his own knee issues, is No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson.

Williamson underwent surgery on the meniscus in his right knee on October 21st. He first returned to full practices the first week of January.

Oden offered up this piece of advice to the young fella:

“Get as much information about your own body as possible, figure out what works for you, work with the doctors and the trainers to figure out what’s going to be the best thing for you instead of just going with the first option,” Oden said.

Oden also discussed what kind of pressure comes along with being the top pick.

I remember being drafted and I was the first one to do all the interviews and then I was the last one to leave the arena from all the interviews [on draft night]. And then, I had an hour to get my stuff together and I was on a plane to Portland and I was surprised with a parade and I was like – ‘oh shoot, like this is real.’ It looked like the whole city showed out for it.  So, I mean, instantly it’s a lot of pressure. You feel like you’re going to let a lot of people down or you see a lot of people looking up to you like you’re going to change that city for the better – I think that’s the definition of pressure, actually. -- Greg Oden on Scal and Pals

The former Blazer says he wishes all the best for Zion after meeting him last summer.

The original timetable for Williamson’s injury was six to eight weeks. His now targeted return date of January 22nd would be a little more than 13 weeks from the surgery.

LISTEN TO ENTIRE PODCAST HERE:

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

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

The Blazers had a chance to extend their season-long winning streak to five games when they welcomed New Orleans to town, but the Pelicans had other plans. 

It was the final game before Christmas, but the Blazers got no gifts from Lonzo and Co... or at least no gifts from the basketball gods.

Portland put up 29 three-point attempts but connected on just four of them. Damian Lillard was 0-10 from beyond the arc, while CJ McCollum was just 2-10. A  combined 2-20 from the two best long ball threats on the team makes for a rough night. 

On the bright side. Carmelo Anthony returned after missing a game with a left knee contusion and he balled out. He led the team with 23 points and finished one rebound shy of a double-double. 

Speaking of the ol' two by ten, Hassan Whiteside had 11 points and 16  rebounds to record his 15th straight double-double, the second-longest streak in Trail Blazers history. 

There were some good moments but in the end, a loss is a loss. Time to move on to the next. 

Final score in this one: Pelicans 102-94. 

QUOTABLES:

Coach Stotts on if the game felt like a setback:

Well, it’s disappointing, we had a chance to run this homestand, and have a streak going into Christmas, so it’s disappointing. I don’t fault the effort, you know usually if we can hold a team to 102 and 41% shooting, we’d feel pretty good about our chances

Damian Lillard on rough shooting night:

It’s not going in. It’s not the first time or the last time. I don’t think it’s no crazy feeling, you’re just like, damn, we’re missing a lot of shots. Even when you get a good look and it don’t go in, you just try to keep going and hopefully you can see something go in at the right time. We just didn’t tonight.

Damian Lillard on what you take from a game like that:

I mean, I think it’s just something that you understand with experience. You understand that sometimes you come out and you make every shot and sometimes you start missing at the beginning and then you finish the game making shots and sometimes you start off making them and you end missing them. It’s just a lot of things that can happen in an NBA game. Some nights it just don’t go in. Tonight was one of those nights but I think I’ve been scoring and shooting the ball well in this league for long enough to know that it’s not something that I’m about to go home and stay up over. I mean, I didn’t shoot the ball well. I thought I got some pretty good looks. I thought we got some pretty good looks as a team, we just didn’t shoot the ball well enough to win the game. With the way we shot the ball, I thought we didn’t come up with the stops and the rebounds we needed to make up for that and we lost the game.

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Both out for a year, Carmelo Anthony reacts to Marshawn Lynch's return 

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Melo on Marshawn's return to Seattle: "They need him!" 

Both out for a year, Carmelo Anthony reacts to Marshawn Lynch's return

Both out for a year, Carmelo Anthony reacts to Marshawn Lynch's return

Real recognize real.

Or in this case, Beast Mode recognize Beast Mode.

After Monday night’s Trail Blazers game, veteran forward Carmelo Anthony was asked about Marshawn Lynch’s return to the field.  

Obviously he must’ve wanted to come back. He walked away from it, you know, when he wanted to walk away from it… Now he’s deciding to come back, so obviously he’s made peace with that decision of being away from the game and coming back.  --Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony 

Lynch is returning to Seattle for his second stint with the Seahawks, and 12s aren’t the only ones excited for Lynch to be back.

Melo understands that excitement surrounding Lynch’s return.

Since this was the first Anthony was hearing the news after Monday’s loss to the Pelicans, he asked reporters about the return saying, “Is it with Seattle?”

“They need him. They could use him. They definitely could use him,” Anthony said with a smile.  

Lynch retired after the 2015 season, however, the five-time Pro Bowler came out of a one-year retirement to play for his hometown team, the Oakland Raiders, in 2017 and 2018.

At 33 years old, Lynch never filed retirement papers with the league after last season.

Melo admits that his own return and Money Lynch’s return aren’t the same because he can imagine it’s different returning to play in the NBA versus the NFL.

But, there’s one major factor that both Melo and Lynch have in common in their return:

Both players are and have been extremely well-received.

Just as the love poured in from around the NBA when Anthony first stepped foot back on the court with the Blazers in New Orleans back on November 19th, Money Lynch hasn’t even put on a practice jersey for the Seahawks yet and 12s are going nuts for the reunion.

So from one Beast Mode player to the next, Rip City says welcome back Marshawn Lynch.

Historic poor shooting means not-so-Merry Christmas for Trail Blazers

Historic poor shooting means not-so-Merry Christmas for Trail Blazers

With a chance to take a five-game win streak into the holiday, the Trail Blazers Monday night dropped a big lump of dubious history into their fans’ Christmas stocking.

And it was just about the only target they hit all evening.

Portland made only 4 of its 29 three-point shots (13.8 percent) while the New Orleans Pelicans drilled 15 of 35 to beat the Blazers 102-94, outscoring the home team by 33 points from beyond the arc. It tied the lowest three-point shooting percentage on that many attempts in franchise history. And the Trail Blazers’ most reliable shooters were the ones most responsible, as CJ McCollum went 2-10 from long range and Damian Lillard went 0-10, the worst three-point shooting game of his career.

It was a crazy night. The Pelicans, who had lost 14 of their previous 15 games, were able to post a comfortable, eight-point win even though they shot only 40.9 percent from the field.

Over the previous four games, Portland had made 39 percent of its threes so this may have been a radical regression to the mean for a team shooting 36.6 percent from three overall, prior to this game.

Whatever, stuff happened. Or didn’t happen, whichever way you prefer to state it.

“The obvious thing was the three-point shooting,” Coach Terry Stotts said. “It was the difference. They shot extremely well and we didn’t.”

Lillard, who still managed 18 points and seven assists, said, “I thought we had some pretty good looks. The ball just didn’t go in. It’s not the first time or the last time.”

McCollum had 20 points and Carmelo Anthony led the Blazers with 23, along with nine rebounds. Hassan Whiteside continued his streak of double-doubles with 11 points and 16 rebounds, along with four blocked shots.

Ahead are games on the road at Utah and at home vs. the Lakers so any hopes of the 14-17 Trail Blazers getting to the .500 mark soon are likely going to have to wait.

Instant Analysis: Pelicans steal one from Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: Pelicans steal one from Trail Blazers

It was a back-and-forth game between the Trail Blazers and Pelicans Monday night.

There were seven lead changes in the first quarter alone.

New Orleans hung around with Portland thanks to its hot three-point shooting in the third quarter, and ample second chance points in the fourth quarter.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Pelicans 102, Trail Blazers 94

Here are three quick takeaways from Monday’s loss:

1.  Blazers take advantage of Pelicans down low

The Trail Blazers took advantage of the Pelicans small three-guard lineup, particularly early in the game. Whether it was Damian Lillard taking it hard to the rim or Anfernee Simons and Hassan Whiteside slamming it home, the Blazers were scoring in the paint. At halftime, Portland outscored New Orleans in the paint, 32-20.  

2. Melo’s return

After missing the last one and a half games, Carmelo Anthony made his return to the court for Portland. Melo played his normal starter minutes.

In his first seven-minute stint, he went 2-for-3 for six points to go along with four rebounds. To end the first quarter, Anthony had fans on their feet. Melo stole the ball from Frank Jackson in the final seconds of the quarter and then promptly swished a long three-pointer as time expired.

 

Melo’s scoring continued in the second half. The 17-year veteran came up with big buckets over multiple defenders.

3. The struggle was real from three

Melo’s three-pointer to end the first quarter was the sole three-pointer made by the Blazers in the first half. Portland went 1-of-12 from long distance through the first 24 minutes. Entering the fourth quarter, the Trail Blazers were 2-of-18 from deep thanks to CJ McCollum knocking down a three-pointer early in the quarter. The Blazers' rough shooting from three-point range continued in the final period.  

Up Next: The Trail Blazers visit the Utah Jazz on Thursday. The Blazers and Jazz will tip-off at 7:30pm 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: Carmelo Anthony WILL play tonight vs. Pelicans

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Carmelo Anthony WILL play tonight vs. Pelicans

Monday night, the Trail Blazers will look to extend their winning streak to five straight with the New Orleans Pelicans in town.

Before the Trail Blazers and Pelicans tip-off at 7:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts gave credit to the Blazers’ health and performance team. Stotts said they did a great job working with veteran forward Carmelo Anthony to get Melo back to feeling like himself again. 

He will play tonight against New Orleans and will not be on any minutes restriction.

Coach Stotts also added that his team might have two days off with Christmas Eve and Christmas Day depending on the outcome of tonight’s game.  

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

 

PELICANS INJURY REPORT:

Zion Williamson (right knee; scope), Darius Miller (right Achilles; surgery),  Josh Gray (two-way) and Zylan Cheatham (two-way) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

LEAGUE LEADERS: Damian Lillard ranks seventh in the NBA in scor- ing (26.9) and is seventh in the league in assists (7.5). CJ McCollum ranks 21st in the league in scoring (22.4). Hassan Whiteside ranks fourth in the league in rebounds (13.4), is first in blocks (2.70) and is seventh in field goal percentage (61.1%).

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

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

The Trail Blazers (14-16) are looking to stretch their winning streak to five straight when they host the New Orleans Pelicans (7-23) Monday night.

Portland has listed Carmelo Anthony (left knee contusion) as questionable for Monday's game.

You can watch the game 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. Pelicans

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
“He was just aggressive. I think a lot of times we talk about a good game for him being aggressive -- it’s on the defensive end of the floor. Tonight, he saw when the defense was pulling over and loading up and he was catching it, ripping, and attacking and he found his spots really well. If we get that type of game from him, we can’t let it go to waste. It has to be a win.” -- Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard on Kent Bazemore’s performance in Saturday night victory over the Timberwolves

 

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

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

The Blazers made a stop in NOLA to introduce their newest addition, future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony. Anthony hadn’t played in an NBA game since November 8, 2018 and the entire basketball world was ready to welcome him back to the court.

He wasted little time getting his first bucket and finished the night with 10 points, four rebounds and a block.

Unfortunately for the Blazers, Anthony’s debut was spoiled by the Pelicans. Portland was without Damian Lillard who was sitting out due to back spasms, and playing on the second night of a back-to-back caught up with them.

Portland had a slim one-point lead at halftime, but their legs went out from there. The Pelicans outscored the Blazers 35-25 in the third quarter and the Blazers simply ran out of gas.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Pelicans 115 – Blazers 104

QUOTABLES:

Rodney Hood on playing with Carmelo Anthony:

These are guys that I watched when I was a little kid, eleven o'clock at night, staying up and watching them play. I watched them on YouTube... I used to be in class watching his post-ups and how he played. It's just amazing to be out on the court with him.

Rodney Hood on what he saw from Anthony:

He got to his sweet spots. I felt like he hit it a few times when he was in the lane... we're going to continue to milk those mismatches and continue to lean on him for post scoring.

CJ McCollum on Anthony joining the team:

You have to be able to adjust on the fly. Like you said, he hasn't practiced with us. He walked through some plays by himself with the coaching staff this morning. He's trying to memorize five plays. We have 100 plays... it's a lot in the middle of a season. 

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Carmelo Anthony's Trail Blazers debut: Hugs, emotions, fouls, buckets, and so much more

Carmelo Anthony's Trail Blazers debut: Hugs, emotions, fouls, buckets, and so much more

NEW ORLEANS –Tuesday night had a different vibe in the air, even before future NBA Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony stepped foot in the arena.

Anthony wasn’t just making his debut for the Portland Trail Blazers, he was returning to the life he has always known. He was returning to the life he has always loved.

The excitement that exuded from him was also felt from peers, Pelicans fans, and those who work in and around the league.

It was a night of hugs, emotions, fouls, buckets, getting acquainted with each other, and so much more for a player who hasn’t played in the league since November 8 of last year.

And most importantly for Anthony, he felt great.

“It felt great to be back into the flow of the game, be back on the court, be back to where I think I belong at, just be out there with the guys again, more so the routine – the team bus, team lunch… That’s the routine that I’ve been used to for 17 years now… As far as the game goes, it felt great to get back out there,” Anthony said postgame.

Portland dropped its 10th game of the season after the Pelicans came up with a big third quarter to take a 115-104 victory.

Anthony started alongside backup point guard Anfernee Simons in place of an injured Damian Lillard, who was out due to back spasms.

It didn’t take long for Melo to get on the scoreboard Tuesday.

At the 10:50 mark in the first quarter, he drained his first three-point attempt.

The Blazers hung around with the Pelicans even though they were working through adding a player, who has yet to practice with them.

Not only has Melo not be given the chance to run up and down on the practice court with the Blazers, but he feels he hasn’t been able to fully digest this new chapter in his life.

Instead, it's go-time for Melo.

“Going from just getting that phone call to really solidifying that and making it happen, and to coming here and playing my first game, not really having a chance to kind of take it all in and think about it, and reflect on it, it’s – you gotta go, there’s no time for that,” Anthony added.

Clearly, Anthony has been playing in several pickup games and his workouts have not included NBA referees officiating his game. In his first game back, it was obvious Anthony is going to have to get used to having fouls called against him again.

He admitted the game has changed in his time away from the court. "Within a year the game has changed. The physicality of the game has changed, the way that they call the game, the way that the game is played changed.”

The 35-year-old finished with 10 points on 4-of-14 shooting to go along with his four rebounds, one block and five personal fouls.

Trail Blazers starting small forward Rodney Hood believes Melo’s scoring output could’ve easily doubled if he had some calls go his way.

“It could easily turned to a 20-point night for him, if got a couple of those calls, get to the free throw line, and stuff like that, but he was real aggressive, real patient… He looks good, obviously he hasn’t played in awhile, and as he gets more acclimated he’ll get better and better,” Hood said postgame.

Not only did Anthony have zero practices with the Blazers under his belt, he also didn’t even get to run through shootaround with the team because the Blazers were coming off a game in Houston on Monday night.

Inserting a new player fifteen games into the season obviously presents its challenges.   

For Hood, it was all about feeling each other out.

“Sometimes it can be difficult, but you just feel it out. We turned the ball over a lot during that first few minutes, just trying to feel each other out, which it was expected, get some of the rust off. He’s going to be an integral part of our offense, so we’ve gotta continue to use him, get acclimated with him. Tonight was a great practice even though it was a game,” Hood said.

The Blazers and Melo will now try to get acclimated a little more and get set for Thursday’s tough test against the Bucks.

Nassir Little loses starting spot but finishes with his best game yet

Nassir Little loses starting spot but finishes with his best game yet

Something you don’t see very often… a young rookie loses his job to a veteran, a someday Hall of Fame player, and then goes out that night and outplays him.

Seriously outplays him.

And that was just about the only Trail Blazer highlight during a dismal 115-104 loss at New Orleans. The Trail Blazers were undressed in the second half at both ends of the court in the debut of Carmelo Anthony in a Portland uniform.

Anthony got off to a decent start but ran out of gas in the second half (1-7 from the field after halftime) while rookie Nassir Little – who had been starting -- went 5-6 from the field, including 2-2 from three-point range, had 11 rebounds, two blocked shots and 12 points.  Anthony scored 10 points but managed to hit only 4-14 from the field, had five fouls and five turnovers.

And really, you can’t blame Anthony, but taking a guy who hasn’t played in a year and throwing him into the starting lineup without as much as a practice with the team is probably not likely to be voted Idea of the Year.

“Nassir continues to play well,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “I’m glad to see him hit a couple of threes. He plays with a lot of energy.”

Little has been playing hard and instead of shrinking from the challenge of playing behind Anthony and his big-time credentials, or pouting about the situation, he responded with his best game of the season.

“I think I had a pretty good game,” Little said. “I had my first double-double. I made shots and rebounded the ball well, so it was pretty solid.”

His teammates were impressed.

“He’s just bringing energy,” Rodney Hood said. “He doesn’t care if he’s starting or not starting. He’s been a great boost to us since he’s been in the lineup.”

CJ McCollum said, “He was great. He’s kind of figuring out the NBA lifestyle, on and off the court. I think he’s finding his sweet spot between work and rest.”

The Trail Blazers led after one quarter and at the half, but were beaten by 10 in the third quarter and offered barely a hint of a fourth quarter rally, perhaps because they were without Damian Lillard (back spasms) and on the second of back-to-back games. Portland shot 48.7 percent in the first half and 39.1 in the second half.

Oddly, Portland had a terrific night from three-point range but wasted it. The Blazers were 16-29 (55.2 percent) from three but only 8-13 from the foul line while the Pelicans hit 20-24.