Gary Trent Jr.'s Flu Game leads to a career-high and a trip down memory lane

Gary Trent Jr.'s Flu Game leads to a career-high and a trip down memory lane

OKLAHOMA CITY – The flushed face, glazed over eyes, and low energy feeling being exerted from Gary Trent Jr.’s face was what his teammates witnessed at their team meeting Saturday morning in OKC. 

And then… 

Trent Jr. not only played, he dropped a 30-piece.

“There’s no way I thought he was playing today,” Carmelo Anthony chuckled when thinking about how Trent Jr. was barely moving at the team meeting. 

With injuries and a trade that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento, the Blazers had the required league-minimum of eight players on the active roster.

One of those eight was Trent Jr. who was still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  

Fortunately for the Blazers, he was feeling a lot better by tip-off.

“When you’re sick, the morning is always the worst,” Trent Jr. said postgame. “You’re groggy, you’re tired, you’re sore and obviously playing that night before, but like I said though, the medical staff made sure I was well prepared for the game. So, I’m fortunate they were there for me."

Portland fell to the Thunder 119-106 despite Trent Jr.’s career-high and Damian Lillard’s 34-point performance.  

The short-handed Blazers clearly ran out of gas Saturday night.  

But, even though it didn’t look like Trent Jr. had any gas left in his tank after dealing with the worst of the illness Friday night in Dallas, he wasn't about to take a sick day.

There was no time when I didn’t think that I wasn’t going to be good to go. You know, your job is to play basketball. Some people go to work still sick, you still have to work, you still have to do your job in a sense. I was always going to be available no matter what my state was.  -- Trail Blazers shooting guard Gary Trent Jr. said postgame

And hey, “just be great,” right?

That mantra is found all over Trent Jr.'s social media accounts whether he’s posting a photo to Instagram or tweeting out a highlight video with the ‘love-you gesture’ emoji hands, he says he not only plays by that motto, but also lives by it.

The now 21-year-old says he was trying to come up with a saying since LeBron James coined the ‘strive for greatness’ phrase and once he came up with ‘just be great,’ he “has been running with it ever since.”

“I’ve been saying that for a while now, since like high school,” Trent Jr. said.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts reminded the media before the game that it was Trent Jr.’s 21st birthday. After the game, he gave praise to the birthday boy.

“I was very happy Gary Trent had a good game. Obviously, it was one of the best games of his career. Particularly coming off an illness, I thought that was a great game by him."

Anytime a professional athlete has a career night and doesn’t get the win, they’re obviously not satisfied.

“We came here to win,” Trent Jr. said. “I’m not here to get numbers, but it was a great thing for my birthday. But we lost, so we have to go back to the drawing board, and a good thing about the NBA is that we have another game Monday to redeem ourselves.”

A person's 21st birthday is usually one they remember forever. The best year in a long string of birthdays. That may not be the case for Trent. Not only was he sick, but his 21st birthday has some stiff competition.

“My 21st birthday I was sick, so nothing can beat five-year-old, six-year-old at Chucky Cheese,” Trent Jr. said with a smile. “It’s second to that,” he laughed.

Even with slightly glazed over eyes still late Saturday night, the second-year player grinned from ear to ear when talking about his birthday's of the past.

“There was a place that I used to love growing up in Columbus, Ohio called Magic Mountain. It was super fun. It’s an arcade mixed with a thirty-foot jungle gym. You should really check it out.”

While Magic Mountain is going to have to wait until the offseason, right now the Blazers are forced to battle through injuries and then work to integrate their new players on the roster.  

Portland’s All-Star point guard Damian Lillard is going to continue to be proud of what Trent Jr. did on Saturday night, but also what he’s been able to do to improve this season.

“He’s battling the flu. He’s tough for lasting through two nights playing through the sickness, and he had a great game. He was aggressive. He shot the ball well. He played a great game,” Lillard said. “We knew he could fill it up coming in. In training camp, he was scoring and was able to get baskets, I think his understanding of the game has improved from last year to this year as far as recognizing plays calls, remembering coverages, knowing personnel, knowing where to be, knowing how to make plays and be in positions.”

Trent Jr. knew he could not call in sick with his team so undermanned. He has always said he is here to do whatever he needs to do to help his team win and with no CJ McCollum because of a left ankle sprain, Trent Jr. was doing his best to pick up the slack.

January 18th, 2019 will always be known as the Gary Trent Jr. Birthday Flu Game.  

Instant Analysis: Gary Trent Jr. drops career-high despite flu

Instant Analysis: Gary Trent Jr. drops career-high despite flu

OKLAHOMA CITY – Just four hours before the Trail Blazers and Thunder tipped off from Chesapeake Energy Arena, reports surfaced that Portland had traded Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver to Sacramento.

With the two forwards no longer with the team, along with the recent injury coming Friday night in Dallas keeping CJ McCollum out of Saturday's game due to a left ankle sprain, the Trail Blazers suited up the league minimum eight players versus the Thunder.

And one of those eight players was Gary Trent Jr. who is still dealing with a “flu-like” illness.  
Fortunately for the Blazers, Trent Jr. said before the game he was feeling better and had more energy. 

It showed.

After being down by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, it looked as though the Blazers were going to be able to rally back after outscoring OKC in the second quarter. But, it was apparent the short-handed Blazers ran out of gas by the fourth. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: THUNDER 119, TRAIL BLAZERS 106

Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday's loss:

1.  If you suit up, you had to play for Blazers

Besides Damian Lillard, Gary Trent Jr. was the only other Blazer in double figures midway through the second quarter. Lillard already notched 24 points at the break. But with McCollum out, Lillard was also trying to get his teammates more involved on the offense. He had four of the Blazers’ six assists in the first half. 

It was a night for the young Blazers to show what they got. 

Fighting through a flu bug, Trent Jr. hit his first seven shots. He didn’t miss a shot until the 2:54 mark of the third quarter. The second-year player showed his composure while getting extended minutes. Trent Jr. was Portland’s second-leading scoring on the night with a career-high 30 points.

2. CP3 leads the charge for OKC

Chris Paul was the Thunder's leading scoring at halftime with 21 points, while also being the hype man for OKC fans in attendance. With the trade deadline approaching, Thunder fans are making sure to show their love for the starting point guard. CP3 finished with 30 points on 11-of-15 shooting. 

3.  The battle on the boards

Through three quarters, Oklahoma City was outrebounding Portland, 39-32. Hassan Whiteside had nine of those 32 boards; however, Blazer fans have become accustomed to Whiteside reaching double-digit rebounds by the fourth quarter.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers host the Golden State Warriors on Monday. The Blazers and Warriors tip-off at 7:00pm.

Check back throughout tonight and tomorrow for more articles and videos from the players!

After trade with Kings: Will Blazers have enough players required to suit up vs. Thunder?

After trade with Kings: Will Blazers have enough players required to suit up vs. Thunder?

OKLAHOMA CITY – Just before 1:00pm CT, the Portland Trail Blazers announced their injury report, which included the status of CJ McCollum, who is out dealing with his left ankle sprain.

But, the injury report did not include Gary Trent Jr., even though the back-up shooting guard left Friday night’s game in Dallas in the final period due to an illness. He even received an IV after the game.

It seemed crazy to think that someone that ill could turn 180 degrees and be feeling so much better that he'd able to suit up and play the following day in Oklahoma City.

But, then the reports of a trade involving the Trail Blazers surfaced just before 4:00pm CT.

And then, it made so much more sense why Trent Jr. was not listed on the injury report.

The Blazers are reportedly trading Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver and two second-round picks to the Sacramento Kings for Trevor Ariza, Wenyen Gabriel and Caleb Swanigan, leaving Portland with just eight players who are still with the team and "healthy" enough to suit up.

Since the trade hasn’t even been made official yet and the players will still have to pass physicals, the newest Trail Blazers will most likely not be with the team until the Blazers get back to Portland, Sunday at the earliest.

Eight players suiting up is the league minimum.

And that's where the Blazers are at, exactly. 

The eight players currently available on the Blazers active roster who are on this trip:

  • Damian Lillard
  • Carmelo Anthony
  • Hassan Whiteside
  • Anfernee Simons
  • Nassir Little
  • Gary Trent Jr.
  • Mario Hezonja  
  • Jaylen Hoard (two-way player who is currently with the team)

The Trail Blazers have not called up their second two-way player Moses Brown, who is still with the Texas Legends.

Portland has already been short-handed this season, but Saturday night in OKC will be the absolute minimum.  

Wouldn't it be crazy if they were forced to put Jusuf Nurkic in uniform? It almost certainly won't happen. But, that's where things are at. 

 

CJ McCollum OUT vs OKC

CJ McCollum OUT vs OKC

Back-to-backs are always tough in the NBA, but this one just got tougher for the Blazers - Star shooting guard CJ McCollum will not play tonight against Oklahoma City after suffering a left ankle sprain in Friday's game against the Mavericks.

With about eight minutes left in the second quarter, McCollum drove to the basket for a layup attempt. Everything played out as normal until McCollum came down for the landing. 

McCollum's left foot came down on the right foot of Maxi Kleber, rolling in the process. He immediately went to the locker room and did not return.

McCollum played just 12 minutes of action, scoring four points and dishing out two assists.

On the season, McCollum is averaging 21.9 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 3.4 assists per game. 

It is not yet known who will start in McCollum's place. McCollum missed a game a few weeks ago while dealing with an upper respiratory ailment and Gary Trent Jr. got the starting nod.  

However, Trent Jr. left Friday's game with as well and his status is currently unknown, though he was not listed on today's injury report.  

Should Trent Jr. be unable to go, it is likely the Anfernee Simons will get the start. 

Stayed tuned to NBC Sports Northwest for the latest updates from OKC. 

 

 

How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Thunder tonight at 6:00pm

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How to watch, stream Trail Blazers at Thunder tonight at 6:00pm

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Trail Blazers (18-25) conclude their three-game road trip with this final stop in Oklahoma City.

Both the Blazers and the Thunder (23-19) will be playing in the second night of a back-to-back when they square off Saturday night.

OKC is coming off a 115-108 home loss to the Heat, while Portland is coming off a 120-112 loss to the Mavericks.

You can catch the Blazers and Thunder in action 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:

3:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

5:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

5:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

6:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Thunder

After the game catch Blazers Outsiders with hosts Joe Simons and Dan Marang!

Plus, 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:

“Some teams go through a lot of things throughout the year, so we’re just going to show how battle tested we are, how good we can be, when things are going down like this – players are getting hurt, getting sick, we’ve just got to stay together, fight together, and it will all work out,” Gary Trent Jr. after Friday’s loss on dealing with an illness that has been going around

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

Carmelo Anthony: "We'll be alright, we can’t shoot as bad as we shot"

It wasn’t pretty.  

The Trail Blazers went 36-of-100 from the field and 9-for-33 from three in Sunday's 108-96 loss to the Thunder.  

Portland's newest edition, Carmelo Anthony, who played in his 10th game with the Blazers Sunday, had one of his worst shooting nights with his new team. Melo went 4-of-18 from the field, including 1-of-5 from long distance and scored just nine points.

“We were just off, couldn’t make shots,” Anthony said postgame.

But, Melo also gave credit to OKC.

“I think those guys just came out ready to play. They had dropped two games to us already. It’s hard to be a team three consecutive times without them making adjustments.”

“Tonight we didn’t have the energy, they did,” he added.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts wasn’t concerned with the perimeter shooting, but was upset about his team missing baskets around the rim.

 

We had fifty shots in the paint, didn’t really convert in the paint very well, obviously Dame [Lillard] and Melo struggled at least from a percentage standpoint. That’s going to happen from time to time. You give credit to their defense they played hard, they made it difficult, but I thought that to get fifty shots in the paint you have to convert more than 21. -- Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

For Melo, “missing shots” was the most frustrating part of the game.

“Everybody [was missing], everything was short. And then when you’re missing shots like that, shots that you’re supposed to make and you normally make it puts a lot of emphasis on the defensive end and it makes it tougher to try to get stops on the defensive end, because if you don’t put a lot of effort and energy into making one stop, and trying to make consecutive stops going up against a team like that, they way that they played tonight, you have to be on point with [your shots].”

The 17-year veteran is confident this Blazers squad will bounce back and won’t shoot this bad again.

“We’ll be alright. We’ll get in the gym tomorrow, watch some film, and we’ll figure it out… We can’t shoot as bad as we shot tonight. I don’t think we’ll continue to miss those shots."

Yes, Melo is probably correct -- the Blazers most likely won't shoot that bad again, but as Damian Lillard said, the team lacked a sense of urgency. So, what will it take to get back to playing Trail Blazer basketball? Portland lost a playmaker in Rodney Hood. Filling their final roster spot with someone who can create his own shot seems like a must, but as of right now Coach Stotts says there hasn't been any talk of roster moves. Not yet at least. 

Lucky for the Blazers and their current shooting woes, along with injury woes, the worst team in the league makes a stop in Portland Tuesday night. The Blazers and Knicks tip-off at 7:00pm. 

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

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

Life without Rodney Hood got off to a rough start for the Blazers when they welcomed the Oklahoma City Thunder to town. They hoped for a win, but the game didn't go according to plan. 

Portland started slow out of the gate and trailed by as many as 18 points in the first half before mounting a comeback to make it a game. 

However, the team just couldn't overcome a rough shooting night.  Hassan Whiteside was six for eight from the floor, but the other four starters combined to shoot just 23 of 74. On top of that, the bench was only able to contribute 18 points on the night, being outscored by the Thunder bench by 24 points. 

On the bright side, despite a tough shooting night, Kent Bazemore played well with the starting lineup. He flowed within the offense and was his usual energetic self on defense. But on a night when shots weren't falling, the Blazers couldn't get over the hump. 

Final score in this one: Thunder 108 - Blazers 96.

QUOTABLES: 

Chris Paul on this two delay of game calls:

Two delay of game calls on me; That was good, he got me, he got me back. I learned you can’t have your shooter shirt and your pants on when you checking in. They said if I would have had just one of them on, you learn something new.

Damian Lillard on what frustrated him about the loss: 

I mean, I think to start the game, pretty much the whole game, but to start the game, we weren’t making shots and on our home floor, we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up the situation that we’re in, I just thought our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be. You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team that we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game. Then the ball’s not going in so we don’t lock in and stay sharp on the defensive end, we just allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted.

Coach Stotts on Kent Bazemore starting for Rodney Hood:

I thought Kent got off to a great start, he made his threes, had good activity defensively, I was surprised he was 3 for 11 because I thought he impacted the game, he was on Chris Paul a lot. I thought he did a nice job in the starting lineup.

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Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

Chris Paul gets played by the "delay of game" game

The Thunder may have won the battle against the Blazers on Sunday, but they haven't won the war. The Blazers are 2-1 against the Thunder this season, and if you count the game within the game, they're 3-1. 

As the old saying goes, "don't hate the player, hate the game."

On Friday, Chris Paul played the game with the Timberwolves. Minnesota was up 121-119 with 1.1 seconds left in the game and Karl-Anthony Towns at the line for two free throws. He missed the first one and that is when Chris Paul alerted officials to the fact that Jordan Bell had checked in with an untucked jersey. The refs called a delay of game on Minnesota, and since it was their second of the game it was a technical foul.

WATCH

The Thunder hit the free throw, making it a one-point game. Towns hit the next free throw to make it a two-point game, but the Thunder sent up a prayer and tied the game as time expired. If not for the delay of game technical the Thunder wouldn't have forced overtime. Oklahoma would go on to win the game, but it was all thanks to Chris Paul's vet savvy. 

That was Friday. On Sunday against the Blazers, he didn't play the game, the game played him. 

Paul was called for two delay of game penalties, resulting in a technical foul free throw for the Blazers. 

Paul called out the refs, saying they were "trying to prove an (expletive) point."

No, Chris. The Blazers were just playing the game you are a master of. Don't hate the player. Hate the game. 

 

What's wrong with Blazers? How about lack of 'urgency, energy, focus'

What's wrong with Blazers? How about lack of 'urgency, energy, focus'

With all the injuries the Trail Blazers have suffered this season, there have been some games where you have to just chalk up a loss to who isn’t playing for them.

On the other hand, Sunday night’s 108-96 defeat at the hands of the Oklahoma City Thunder should rightfully blamed on those who did play.

The Trail Blazers were awful and not just where they’re usually awful – on defense. In this game they were pretty bad at the offensive end, too, shooting 36 percent from the field overall and 27.3 percent from three-point range.

Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony combined to go 3-17 from beyond the three-point line and 12-42 overall.

But let Lillard, the captain, explain how bad things are with his team right now:

“Not playing well enough to win games – and it’s frustrating,” Lillard said. “The start of the game – pretty much the whole game – we weren’t making shots. And on our home floor we’ve got to bring energy into the game. Our crowd is out here showing up and the situation that we’re in, our urgency wasn’t where it needed to be.

“You come out with an opportunity to get some momentum going into another home game with another opportunity to win against a team we just played a few games ago and blew them away, played a great game … And then the ball is not going in, so we don’t stay sharp and lock in at the defensive end. We just allowed them to pretty much do what they wanted. They started feeling good about themselves and you’ve got a guy like Chris Paul, who has been around and knows how to make a team go and get guys to believe, you could just see it – once they got a good start to the game, we were missing, our energy was low, they started to play with more belief. More conviction.

“We put ourselves in that position with how we came out.  It’s just frustrating to do that. No team should be more urgent than us. No team should be more locked in than us. I think for us, that’s the most frustrating part.

“We kind of just play well in stretches. We don’t have the luxury of playing well in stretches. We’re a team, if the ball is not going in, we’ve got to be getting to the 50-50 balls. We can’t keep letting teams get second and third opportunities.

"We foul every 30 seconds. We are doing a lot of things as team to put ourselves at a disadvantage. We’re just making the game harder than it has to be in a lot of situations. We’re not doing it on purpose. We’re competing hard. We’re trying hard.

“But when it comes to urgency, focus and energy we’re a team that has to have that every minute of every game if we want to have a chance. When it’s up and down, your season is up and down – and that’s what we’re up against.”

The only Portland starter who shot well was Hassan Whiteside, who made six of his eight shots, both free throws, had 10 rebounds and five blocked shots. Coach Terry Stotts was asked if he would have like to get the ball to Whiteside inside a little more and he answered simply, “Uh, no.”

“Hassan gets most of his stuff on pick-and-rolls,” Stotts said. “We’ve got three primary scorers in Dame, CJ and Melo and obviously we go through them and Hassan will get occasional post-ups, but his bread and butter for us has been rolling on the pick and roll.”

And all of that, from the captain to the coach, was the reality for the Trail Blazers Sunday night.

Along with plenty of complaining to the officials for the second game in a row -- which doesn't seem to be doing any good.

Instant Analysis: A tough shooting night plagues Blazers vs. Thunder

Instant Analysis: A tough shooting night plagues Blazers vs. Thunder

In the third meeting between the Trail Blazers and Thunder this season, both teams got out to a very slow start on Sunday night. At the end of the first quarter, Oklahoma City held a 21-20 lead.  

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts inserted Kent Bazemore into the starting lineup at small forward with the Blazers playing in their first game without Rodney Hood who suffered a torn left Achilles tendon on Friday night.

After being down by as many as 18 points in the first half, Portland charged back to take the lead in the third quarter. Yet, it was all Thunder in the final minutes of the fourth as OKC wins its first game against Portland this season.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Thunder 108, Trail Blazers 96  

Here are three quick takeaways from the Blazers loss:

1.  Rough shooting night

With Damian Lillard and Carmelo Anthony shooting a combined 4-of-20 at halftime, the Blazers were lucky to be down just eight heading into the third quarter. As a team, there were a lot of shots that were in and out in the first half for Portland. Melo missed a lay-in that looked halfway down the basket before it popped out. It was one of those nights where things were not going right offensively. CJ McCollum was one of the only Trail Blazers who found his rhythm from start to finish on Sunday.

2. Bazemore stepping into starting role

In this new reality for the Blazers, Bazemore is going to be relied on more on the offensive end. He delivered on Sunday night. He was ready to step into the starting role. Bazemore was a perfect 3-for-3 from three in the first half and he was still his usual active self on the defensive end all night.

3. Portland’s frustrations come out

In the final seconds of the second quarter, Carmelo Anthony was hit with a technical after missing a lay-in and arguing with the referee because he thought he got fouled on his way to the rim.  Then with just over seven minutes left in the third quarter, Kent Bazemore earned a technical foul for yelling at an official after being charged with a personal foul.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers will wrap-up their four-game homestand on Tuesday night with the New York Knicks in town. The Blazers and Knicks 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!