REPORT: 1st Lillard vs. Westbrook matchup of season set for November

REPORT: 1st Lillard vs. Westbrook matchup of season set for November

You may or may not believe that Damian Lillard waved goodbye and ended the Russelll Westbrook era in OCK with his 37-foot buzzer beater.

Even if you don't think 'the shot' had anything to do with the Thunder going in a new direction, fans all across the league have fun watching the Lillard and Westbrook matchup.

So it's time to mark your calendar.  

According to a report from Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports, the very first Lillard and Westbrook showdown since their postseason matchup is tentatively slated for November 17th in Houston.

With reports of Christmas Day games and various other regular season games being rumored all over twitter, NBA fans are even more eager for the 2019-20 NBA regular season schedules to be released.

The NBA should be announcing the schedules the second week of August.

For the Trail Blazers, Portland will reportedly not being play a Christmas Day Game.

Make sure to keep checking back at NBS Sports Northwest for more on the Blazers schedule has we get closer to its release.

The tendon "recently just re-attached": An injury update on Zach Collins' thumb

The tendon "recently just re-attached": An injury update on Zach Collins' thumb

The NBA offseason is a chance for every player's body to get right.

For Trail Blazers center Zach Collins, this summer has been about healing his right thumb that was injured during the postseason versus the Oklahoma City Thunder, while also trying to refine his skills and put on muscle mass.

In a recent sit down interview with NBC Sports Northwest in his hometown of Las Vegas, Collins explained how the injury occurred and the progress of his healing. 

“It was in Game 2 of the first round and I just went up, someone swiped down and just tore the tendon in my thumb, Collins said. "It recently just re-attached after the season and now it’s just about getting it stronger again. It’s progressing really well." 

While the injury didn't sideline Collins during the Trail Blazers run to the Western Conference Finals, he was forced to wear a wrap to ease any pain and help stabilize the thumb. He continues to sport one even during workouts.

Collins has been consulting the Blazers’ hand specialist in Portland, who has been pleased with his progression. He is confident the tendon will heal on its own without surgery. "Luckily, there’s no surgery or anything, so that's good,” Collins added.

"Big Z's Big Summer" airs Wednesday on @NBCSNorthwest on Twitter and on our website NBCSnorthwest.com.

Social media reacts: Dame didn't just call "game" or "series", he called "rebuild"

Social media reacts: Dame didn't just call "game" or "series", he called "rebuild"

Houston, we have a Brodie. The Beard and The Brodie have been reunited.

In the latest of all Woj bombs to strike the NBA, Oklahoma star Russell Westbrook is packing his bags and heading 445 miles south to join the Houston Rockets.

I think you all remember, and how could you forget, that moment that Damian Lillard sent the OKC franchise into a downward spiral... Dame didn't just call "game" or "series", he called "rebuild"... and Twitter didn't forget:

https://twitter.com/CodySharrett/status/1149476850030137345

 

 

Rockets get Westbrook -- Did they watch him play in the Blazer playoff series?

Rockets get Westbrook -- Did they watch him play in the Blazer playoff series?

So the Houston Rockets wanted Russell Westbrook so bad they gave up Chris Paul, two first-round picks and two first-round swaps Thursday?

To get a point guard who seems very close to being an impossible partner for James Harden.

And I really think somebody should ask the question in Houston – did you guys watch any other playoff series but your own last spring?

The Westbrook we saw in the Portland-Oklahoma City, first-round series was one who was far below the public perception of what Westbrook is supposed to be. He’s a guy who thinks he can make all the big shots late in games and doesn’t understand that the reason the Trail Blazers were sagging about eight feet off him is that they WANTED him to shoot.

Don't fall for all that triple-double hype -- this guy is more relentless about that stat than he is about winning. He's prickly with not just the media but most people he comes in contact with, doesn't know how to gear his game down when the situation calls for it and, oh yeah -- he can't shoot.

I think this deal also sets up a situation with the starting Houston guards – Westbrook and Harden – fighting over the ball and ending up resenting each other. The only way I see this working is if Westbrook defers to Harden – because Harden isn’t going to defer to Westbrook. Nor should he.

And I don’t think Westbrook will defer to ANYBODY.

I can’t wait to see this in action. And to watch some Harden eyerolls after Westbrook clanks a few jumpers off the rim in the fourth quarter. And how crazy Westbrook is going to get while Harden is pounding the ball at the top of the circle waiting to beat somebody off the dribble.

Mike D'Antoni is going to need the touch of Houdini to make this work.

And that leaves the final question – Will the Thunder buy out Paul’s contract, freeing him to move to one of the superteams? I can’t imagine him being happy in OKC for more than a minute.

But of course, I can’t imagine anyone being happy in OKC.

Russell Westbrook traded to Houston for Chris Paul... thanks a lot Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons!

Russell Westbrook traded to Houston for Chris Paul... thanks a lot Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons!

LAS VEGAS - In the middle of the madness of NBA Summer League, an introductory press conference for newly acquired big man Hassan Whiteside, and an injury to Nassir Little's shoulder, the NBA dropped another trade bomb on fans around the league. 

Russell Westbrook to the Houston Rockets for Chris Paul. 

What? Yeah, not a typo. 

But really, isn't this all Damian Lillard and Anfernee Simons' fault? 

Let us explain. In the final game of regular season, Terry Stotts went with a six man rotation while he rested his rotation players for the playoffs. Anfernee Simons played the entire game and dropped 37 points on Sacramento in a comeback win that nobody expected. That win coupled with other game results around the league flipped the playoff matchups, vaulted Portland to the #3 seed and slotted them in vs. Russell Westbrook and the OKC Thunder. 

Enter Damian Lillard. 

Trail Blazers fans know the story. In Game 5, Lillard hit a step back 37 footer to put in the dagger and send OKC packing. He finished it all off with 'The Wave' as the celebration ensued inside Moda Center. 

As former Blazers Edge contributor and current Washington Post reporter, Ben Golliver pointed out in a recent interview with Jamie Hudson at Summer League, that Wave may have shook up the entire NBA. If Simons doesn't go off in the regular season finale and change the playoff seeding and Lillard doesn't hit The Wave shot...does OKC still blow it all up?

Does Paul George head to the L.A. Clippers if OKC wins a playoff series? Probably not, according to Golliver. 

So, while the faces of the Western Conference have changed dramatically in the last three weeks and OKC's two stars have new homes, the NBA can thank the likes of Anfernee Simons and Damian Lillard for making it all possible. 

Scoop Journal: April 23rd – a night we won’t ever forget

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NBC Sports Northwest

Scoop Journal: April 23rd – a night we won’t ever forget

Welcome to The Scoop Journal, where every week I empty my notebook of wide ranging Trail Blazer thoughts, observations, and randomness. I hope you enjoy this light-hearted weekly blog...

April 25, 2019

Dear Scoop Journal,

I started jotting down my random Trail Blazers notes in my Scoop Journal at the beginning of the 2018-19 season and now here we are in late April and the season is not over.

It’s really just beginning… At least that’s the feeling around Portland. 

Now that I have had a couple of days to digest what went down at Moda Center on Tuesday night, April 23, with Damian Lillard having arguably the best performance of his career after dropping 50 points and hitting an insane, 37-foot three-pointer to clinch the series over the Thunder, I think it’s time to write in my journal again.

My latest Rip City thoughts as the Blazers advance to the Western Conference semifinals for the 12th time in franchise history and the first time since 2016:

*THIS JOURNAL ENTERY is going to be one I will look back on fondly and often!

*My initial thought when Lillard rose up and fired over Paul George as time was expiring was – OHH MY GOD, are you kidding me!? And then… the celebration in Moda Center began!  

*The Trail Blazers dogpile celebration was also one for the ages.

*These were some of favorite postgame quotes from Dame:

“That was the last word. I was having the last word.”

“I thought this was a comfortable range”

*And then there was this gem from CJ McCollum:

“I didn’t know he was going to raise (up) from 40. I was like ‘Go! Go!’ Then he raised from 40 and I was like 'That’s a bad ... you know what I said.”

* There have been a total of six walk-off, series-winning buzzer beaters in NBA history. Damian Lillard and Michael Jordan are the only two players with multiple ones. YEP… NO BIG DEAL.

*It was fun listening to all the different radio and TV calls from around the world. Kevin Calabro and Brian Wheeler both had phenomenal calls on the game winner, but I also have to give it up to the Korean radio call too --- “Dame Time!!!!”

*I don’t think Rip City will ever forget the Thunder’s antics and the “next question” feud between Russell Westbrook and the Oklahoman’s Berry Tramel or the fact that Paul George called Lillard’s game-winner a “bad shot.”

*It was an extra special night on Tuesday with Jusuf Nurkic making his first appearance at Moda Center since his leg injury. I believe wholeheartedly that he was the good luck charm the Blazers needed in the final minutes of that game.

*Now, we wait and see.

*The Blazers will either face the No. 2 Denver Nuggets or the No. 7 San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference semifinals. The Nuggets lead that first-round series 3-2, with Game 6 set for Thursday night in San Antonio.

*Time now to focus on Round Two!

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

Damian Lillard on Paul George's 'bad shot' comment: He's "kind of being a poor sport...If anything, it was bad defense"

Damian Lillard on Paul George's 'bad shot' comment: He's "kind of being a poor sport...If anything, it was bad defense"

Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard has ice in his veins. Lillard’s buzzer-beating, 37-foot 3-pointer over Paul George that sent the Thunder packing has been all the talk around the NBA in the last two days.

George didn’t think it was a good shot, though.

"That's a bad shot,” George said postgame. “I don't care what anybody says. That's a bad shot. But, hey, he made it. That story won't be told, that it's a bad shot. You live with that."

On this week’s ‘Pull Up Podcast,’ hosted by Trail Blazer shooting guard CJ McCollum, Lillard joined the podcast to respond to George’s comments:

“It was a good shot.

I think a lot of people don’t know what goes into the moments. That’s because they’re not the ones that’s there. I literally work on those shots. And I don’t work on it so I can just come out and just shoot it for the whole game. I work on it just because, over my career, I know how much attention I’m going to get from defenses.

So it’s just like you’re just keeping stuff, adding more things, adding more and more, keeping stuff in your pocket, in case these types of situations do present itself. Even if it’s not something you want to lean on, it’s something that you have there, that you worked on, you spent time doing. So, you’ve got confidence in it when the time does come. That’s why, when I was just standing there, I was like, well, it’s probably not good in a lot of people’s eyes.

But I’m comfortable with this, and I’m confident in this. So, to me, it’s a solid shot.”

Lillard also added that George was, “just kind of being a poor sport” after the loss:

“For him to say that’s a bad shot, that’s just kind of being a poor sport. If anything, it was bad defense, because I had the ball in my hands with two seconds, and I wasn’t going to drive, so maybe he should’ve just bodied up.”

One thing is certain -- Lillard is built for these moments and Rip City is still rejoicing in the “good shot” heard around the world.

You can listen to the full ‘Pull Up Podcast’ right here.

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

Outsiders Blog: Will it be the Spurs or will it be the Nuggets

Outsiders Blog: Will it be the Spurs or will it be the Nuggets

On Tuesday night Damian Lillard drilled an improbable 37-foot step back jumper over Paul George to give the Trail Blazers the walk-off victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder. 

It was a game winner. It was a series clincher. It was the thing movies are made of. In a series where Oklahoma City's rallying cry seemed to be "next question," they really should have been worrying about Lillard's next shot. 

"The Shot," as it will probably go down in Blazers lore, sent Oklahoma City home and sent Portland to the second round. Now the "next question" on everyone's mind is, who will the Blazers play? Will it be the Denver Nuggets or the San Antonio Spurs? We could know as soon as Thursday night. 

Denver leads the series 3-2, with Game 6 in San Antonio. You know the drill - Denver wins, they move on. San Antonio wins and we have a winner take all Game 7. 

So who do you want the Blazers to play? Each team has its advantages and disadvantages. 

Denver: The Blazers lost the season series to the Nuggets, 3-1. However, the Nuggets' three wins came by a combined total of just 13 points. That's just 4.3 points per game. Get a few extra spots, hit a couple extra buckets, and the Blazers win those games.  With no Nurkic, Denver's Nikola Jokic will be a major problem. He is a triple-double threat any time he takes the court. Can the Blazers subdue Jokic and take the Nuggets down, I think they can. But it will be one tall task. 

San Antonio: The Blazers split the season series with the Spurs, 2-2. San Antonio has played well in this series against the Nuggets, but winning it in seven would certainly be an upset. The Spurs could have been up 3-0, but they let Game 2 slip away, then the Nugget blew the doors off in both games four and five. San Antonio can be an up and down squad. If they're up, they can beat almost anyone. If they're down, they can lose to anyone. The Blazers match up very well with the Spurs, making this a favorable series for Portland.

Verdict: Give me the Spurs. First, the storyline of LaMarcus Aldridge versus the Trail Blazers in the playoffs is fantastic theater by itself. But the reality is the Blazers are a much better team than the Spurs. I just don't know if DeMar DeRozan and LaMarcus Aldridge can outplay and outscore Lillard and CJ McCollum over a seven-game series. Throw in the fact that Al-Farouq Aminu and Moe Harkless are playing their best ball of the season, and I think the Blazers are easily favored to beat San Antonio. I think the Nuggets are beatable too, but the Spurs would be better odds. But let's be real, real honest. It doesn't matter who the Blazers play. After two straight first-round sweeps getting a taste of the second round again is oh so sweet. 

Bring on the Spurs.
Bring on the Nuggets. 
Bring on the second round.

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

As Damian Lillard takes questions, Russell Westbrook is left searching for answers

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USA Today Images

As Damian Lillard takes questions, Russell Westbrook is left searching for answers

Damian Lillard has become one of the most lethal players in the NBA.

According to NBC Sports NBA Insider Tom Haberstroh, Lillard generated the fifth-most wins in the NBA while the Portland Trail Blazers are the third-most efficient offense in the league.

On Tuesday night, Lillard, in the 45th minute, delivered a legendary 37-foot three-pointer over Oklahoma City’s Paul George that proved when there’s nothing left in the tank, Lillard’s ready. The game-winning shot sealed the deal for Portland, who is on its way to the second round of the NBA Playoffs.

While Lillard was drilling shots and dropping 30-footers, the Thunder seemed puzzled on how to defend Mr. Unguardable. This used to be the way people would talk about Russell Westbrook, but according to Haberstroh, the tides have changed.

Here’s a few takeaways from Haberstroh’s latest article: How Dame Lillard and the rest of the NBA left Russell Westbrook behind

On Westbrook’s performance in the Blazers-Thunder series:

In this series, Westbrook struggled to get to the rack and finish at a high level. He missed over half his layups, making just 48.8 percent of his shots at the rim (league average is about 60 percent). Westbrook finished with zero dunks in the series and his transition efficiency ranked dead-last among players with at least 20 transition plays, per NBA.com tracking. Normally, we could chalk that up to small sample size, but Westbrook ranked last in transition efficiency in the regular season among the 27 players with at least 250 transition plays. This is more than a blip.

On what’s changed in Westbrook:

He’s dunking less, getting to the foul line less and missing more layups than he makes. These are all the markings of a player either in decline or in the wrong era, perhaps both. George’s arrival was supposed to weed out Westbrook’s most inefficient shots and make him more effective. But the opposite has happened: George’s efficient shot has only made Westbrook’s weaknesses more glaring.

On how Lillard and Westbrook differ:

Lillard doesn’t overwhelm with his size. In fact, he was equally inefficient at the rim as Westbrook, shooting 47.4 percent on his 38 attempts in the restricted area. But Lillard has a counter.

The difference is that Lillard has put in long hours behind closed doors and developed a knockdown jumper in case he can’t get to the rim as easily as he used to. In this series, Lillard made 48.1 percent of his 3-pointers and was a mind-numbing 10-of-15 from 28 feet and beyond. It’s something you can’t readily defend, as George found out the hard way.

Lillard was facing a nearly impossible task there in the closing seconds: Find a good shot against George. These moments are extremely difficult to begin with. Potential go-ahead shots in the final 10 seconds in the last give postseasons have gone in only 26 percent of the time (17-of-64), according to data from Basketball Reference. That was the baseline from which Lillard was working. Out of nowhere, he created a shot he has made nearly 40 percent this season.

On Lillard ushering in a new generation of players shooting from 30-foot-plus:

Lillard’s long-range jumper serves like David’s slingshot in a game of goliaths. With diminutive ball-handlers like Lillard, Trae Young and Stephen Curry bombing away from deep, it’s easy to see how this might be the future of the NBA. This season, a record-breaking total of 1,008 shots were taken from 30 to 40 feet, up from 860 from last season and nearly double the total of 525 from 2016-17, per Basketball Reference. 

Read full story here

Stay ahead of your Trail Blazers and get all you need to know this postseason. Get LIVE Trail Blazers coverage, in-depth articles, podcast, videos and more.  All you have to do is download the app,  log-in and the Blazers are at your fingertips. Download Now!
 

NBA players react to Dame's insane game-winner

NBA players react to Dame's insane game-winner

The year was 2014. There were 0.9 seconds left on the clock. Damian Lillard caught the inbounds pass, lifted up, and drained the improbable game-winner over an outstretched Chandler Parsons to send Houston home.

A lot has changed since then, yet much remains the same...

The year was 2019. There were two seconds left on the clock. Damian Lillard dribbled to his right, stepped back, lifted up, and drained the improbable 37-foot game-winner over an outstretched Paul George to send Oklahoma City home. 

With all that has changed, one thing is still certain: Damian Lillard has ice running through his veins. 

As expected with a shot like that, social media blew up. But it wasn't just the Rip City faithful that were amazed. Lillard's NBA counterparts were just as blown away... 

https://twitter.com/sheldonmacc/status/1120918097337171968

It wasn't just players from around the NBA that chimed in. Lillard's teammates, both past and present were amazed as well...

And before we leave, let's not forget about ol' Chandler Parsons, the man that Lillard hit that 0.9 shot over...