Phoenix Suns

Countdown to Tip-Off: Blazers make it 10 in a row in 2010

Countdown to Tip-Off: Blazers make it 10 in a row in 2010

We're counting down the days until the Portland Trail Blazers open up the 2019-2020 NBA season by looking back at each of the victories in the 18-game home-opener win streak. Here is a look at what happened back in 2010 when the Portland Trail Blazers faced the Houston Rockets in the home-opener.

Can’t remember what the NBA was like in 2010? Let’s paint the picture:

  • LeBron James was the reigning MVP, winning in back-to-back years
  • The Los Angeles Lakers were the defending champions
  • Tyreke Evans had just won Rookie of the Year
  • John Wall was the No.1 overall pick in the 2010 NBA Draft.
  • The Blazers had the No.22 pick and drafted Elliot Williams. They also drafted Armon Johnson (No.34).
  • Kevin Durant was the league's leading scorer
  • The Blazers signed Wesley Matthews prior to the season
  • Brandon Roy made All-NBA Third-Team.
  • 2010-2011 would end up being Roy's last season with the Blazers, as he would have to medically retire.  

 

As for the Blazers home opener...

The Blazers opened up their home schedule and the 2010 season with the Phoenix Suns. It was a close game throughout, until we got to the fourth quarter. Entering the fourth Phoenix held the 81-75 lead, but the Blazrers would outscore them 31-11 in the quarter, thanks in large part to an 18-2 run in the final 5:44 of the game. Portland picked up the 106-92 victory and their tenth home-opening victory in a row. 

Notable stats: 

Phoenix -

Steve Nash – 26 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds.

Jason Richardson– 22 points, 6 rebounds, 1 assist

Portland –

Brandon Roy – 24 points, 6 assists, 3 rebounds 

Nicolas Batum – 19 points, 11 rebounds

Marcus Camby – 13 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists

Wesley Matthews– 13 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists

The Blazers would finish the season 48-34, good for the sixth-best record in the Western Conference. Portland would go on to lose to the Dallas Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs. 

What's going on with the Blazers' defense? Is it just preseason basketball?

What's going on with the Blazers' defense? Is it just preseason basketball?

It’s preseason.

That’s one thing to always keep in mind after watching a star-less Phoenix Suns team take it to the Portland Trail Blazers.

Saturday marked the Blazers third exhibition game of the 2019-20 season and it wasn’t a pretty one against the Suns, particularly on the defensive end, and even more specifically, on the perimeter.

In Phoenix’s 134-118 win over Portland, the Suns shot lights out from three. 

Phoenix went 24-of-45 from deep. They did that without Devin Booker on the floor. So, what do the Blazers chalk it up to?

For CJ McCollum, who got it going from three himself, he attributes the Suns knocking down so many deep balls to a number of things. 

“We’ve got a lot we’ve got to improve on, tighten up, but they’re NBA players. They made some tough shots, some of them were wide open, some of them were more contested, but we’ll be better as the season gets closer,” McCollum said.

 

“Obviously they shot the ball really well and some of that is on us,” Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame. “I don’t think we ever necessarily made them feel uncomfortable with their shot and they got their confidence going. I don’t think we started the game really locked in and that set the tone. Hats off to Phoenix, they shot the ball really well…Like I told the team, it’s a good lesson because on any night teams can get it going and they got it going tonight.”

[RELATED]: Trail Blazers aren't ready for primetime yet, but it's only preseason

Two Trail Blazers who are notably defensive first guys and always take pride in what they can accomplish on that side of the ball, wanted to make sure they gave credit to their opponents.

“They just shot the crap out of it tonight. That’s the beauty of this league. Regardless of who is playing there’s a lot of talented people and lot of guys got a lot of opportunity and they took advantage of it,” Kent Bazemore said.

Yet Zach Collins was not ready to give them too much credit.

“Our defense wasn’t very good,” Zach Collins added. “We let them shoot a lot of threes and they made a lot, you’ve got to give them credit. They shot the hell out of the ball. But we obviously, we should have turned up the defense. We talked about it at halftime and we just didn’t come out and play as hard as we should have, so it’s mostly on us.”

But what about chalking this game up to it just being the preseason?

Damian Lillard believes that would be the easy way out.  

“What I just said was the easy thing to say – it’s just the preseason,” Lillard said. “But it’s a lot of things that you look at that game and you take away from it saying we need to do better. Too many missed communications. We allowed too many comfortable catch and shoot threes. A lot of that came from miscommunication, turning the ball over, they’re not playing a half court set defense, they’re pushing it against the break so our defense is off-balance, guys trailing the play – a lot of situations like that.”

Nobody would expect the leader of this Blazers team to give the excuse of 'it’s just the preseason.'

Thus, Lillard and the Blazers now have 11 days to tighten things up before it all really begins.

Trail Blazers aren't ready for primetime yet, but it's only preseason

Trail Blazers aren't ready for primetime yet, but it's only preseason

After being buried under a barrage of three-point field goals by the Phoenix Suns Saturday night, CJ McCollum and Damian Lillard – as they usually do – summed up the Trail Blazer situation very aptly,

“We’ve got 11 days, so it’s a good thing we don’t play tomorrow,” McCollum said. “We’ve got a lot we need to improve on and work on but that’s what the preseason is for -- Tighten up, figure out how you can better for the regular season. I don’t think there are any finished products out there right now so championships aren’t won right now, but we’ve got to tighten up and get ready for the regular season."

Is he more worried about his team’s offense or its defense?

“Neither,” he said firmly. “We’ll be OK.”

And after watching the Suns hit 24 of their 45 three-point field goals on the way to a 134-118 win with stars Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Ricky Rubio sitting the game out, Lillard had a similar handle on the situation.

“Room for growth,” he said. “The easy thing to say is ‘It’s the preseason,’ which it is. They made a lot of shots but we had a lot of areas we need to clean up. We had a lot of miscommunications. To start the game we allowed them to get their confidence early. Sometimes that happens but I think it was a little too comfortable for them. Once they got it going, it stayed that way for the rest of the game.

“That’s why you have the preseason – get the rust off and work through it. We’ve got two more. There are a lot of things we should have done better. When a team makes that many threes you’ve got to start running them off the line.”

The prevailing opinion out of the locker room was that the game was a good thing – a wakeup call of sorts.

“It’s good that it happened and it doesn’t count against us,” Lillard said. “We can see what happens when we don’t come out and do what we’ve been doing the entire time (in camp). We don’t have the luxury of going out there and just trying to outscore teams. It’s good to see how it went down tonight. Take what we can from it and move forward.”

And as Lillard walked away from his interview, he couldn’t resist an additional comment.

“But ... it is only preseason,” he said with a smile.

The Suns are going to be another one of those teams buying into shooting threes by the dozens. They took them every chance they got and nailed more than half of them. Portland shot 53.2 percent from the field but couldn’t get on top in this game because of 22 turnovers and being outscored by 39 points from the three-point line.

It was not a good night at either end of the court for Portland. Was it an indication of where this team is at this point of the preseason?

“Maybe,” said Coach Terry Stotts. “I don’t know. Look, Dame and CJ played a lot of minutes for the first three quarters and we didn’t have enough to get over the hump, so certainly, it shows that we’re not a finished product by any means.”

But, lucky for Portland, there is still time to finish the product.

Instant Analysis: What to make of the Blazers' defense in preseason action vs. Suns

Instant Analysis: What to make of the Blazers' defense in preseason action vs. Suns

It was a night full of young Suns players getting most of the playing time and plenty of preseason mistakes for both teams as the Trail Blazers hosted Phoenix on Saturday night.

Portland started the game off with two quick turnovers each coming after a miscue in the pick and roll.

Despite the sloppy play, the Blazers and Suns quickly started heating up from downtown and it was CJ McCollum who led the charge on the offensive end for Portland.

FINAL BOX SCORE: Suns 134, Trail Blazers 118

Here are three quick takeaways from the loss from our NBC Sports team at the game:

Mike Richman, Reporter

The Blazers defense was mostly a nightmare. It would be foolish to overreact to a preseason game, but we haven't seen this team play good defense at any point during the exhibition season. They've got 10 days to figure it out before the games start to count. Sunday is an off day, which means Monday's film session will probably be long and full of defensive lowlights.

Jamie Hudson, Reporter

It felt like the Phoenix Suns could not miss from the three-point line from start to finish of this game. So the question is: Was that just preseason basketball or were the Blazers just a step too slow on rotating on the perimeter because they’re still working out the kinks? It’s probably a little bit of both. Plus, the Blazers were without starting wing Rodney Hood who was out with back spasms. One thing is certain – the Blazers will be looking at game film of the Suns’ made three-pointers.

Chris Burkhardt, Producer

We saw a couple of things Saturday that stood out. First, Coach Stotts experimented with Anthony Tolliver starting at power forward, bringing Collins off the bench. I love the fact the roster allows Stotts to tinker so much. Realistically, this could be something we see in the regular season, especially if Pau Gasol takes a while to heal up.

Back to Tolliver though. I was impressed with how he moved and communicated on both sides of the ball. He fills a lot of holes defense and is always talking to the other four Blazers on the floor. That veteran savvy is why the Blazers brought him in.

The second thing we saw tonight was the Dame-CJ-Ant three-guard lineup. That group has a lot of potential to drop buckets. At the very least, it's fun to watch. On to the next.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers visit the Utah Jazz for a 6pm tip-off on Wednesday.

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

It's definitely still preseason basketball as Suns decide to rest stars

It's definitely still preseason basketball as Suns decide to rest stars

Tonight’s game is the third of five preseason games for the Portland Trail Blazers as they welcome in the Phoenix Suns.

When: Saturday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. PT
TV Channel: NBC Sports Northwest
Live Stream: MyTeams App

Radio: NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard: 'Time to start tightening up and getting it ready"

During warm-ups Rodney Hood was seen sitting on the baseline as he stretched a little bit. Hood has now been added to the injury report. He is dealing with back spasms and will not play against the Suns.

Kent Bazemore will most likely get the start in place of the injured Hood.

The Initial Injury Reports:

For the Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic (left leg), Pau Gasol (left foot) and Nassir Little (left ankle) are out for Saturday's game.

The Suns will be without David Kramer (left tibia stress reaction). Tyler Johnson (migraine) is probable.

BUT NOW…

Phoenix has decided to sit its stars.

Deandre Ayton (rest), Devin Booker (rest), David Kramer (left tibia stress reaction), and Ricky Rubio (rest) are ALL OUT.

For the Suns, you should expect to see a lot of Kelly Oubre Jr., Aron Baynes, and Frank Kaminsky.

Preseason Game Tonight: How to watch Trail Blazers vs. Suns

Preseason Game Tonight: How to watch Trail Blazers vs. Suns

Three more exhibition games remain for the Portland Trail Blazers this preseason.

Saturday’s meeting between the Trail Blazers (1-1) and Phoenix Suns (1-1) is the only preseason matchup between the two this year. The teams will meet four times during the regular season with the first matchup slated for December 16th at Phoenix.

Saturday's game can be seen on the official network of the Trail Blazers, NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Jordan Kent along with Dwight Jaynes and Jamie Hudson will also bring you a special halftime show live from Moda Center.

[RELATED]: Damian Lillard: 'Time to start tightening up and getting it ready"

Saturday’s contest concludes the Blazers week of home preseason games. Next week Portland will have back-to-back games versus the Jazz and then the Nuggets.

Injury Reports:

For the Blazers, Jusuf Nurkic (left leg), Pau Gasol (left foot) and Nassir Little (left ankle) are out for Saturday's game.

The Suns will be without David Kramer (left tibia stress reaction). Tyler Johnson (migraine) is probable.

[RELATED]: How do we curb our expectations for Anfernee Simons?

Portland was 3-0 against Phoenix last season, winning both home games and once down in the desert.

Here's how to watch Saturday's preseason game on TV and listen on the radio:

When: Saturday, Oct. 12, at 5 p.m. PT -- pregame coverage begins at 4 p.m.
TV Channel: NBC Sports Northwest
Live Stream: MyTeams App

Radio: NBC Sports Northwest Rip City Radio 620

Damian Lillard: 'Time to start tightening up and getting it ready"

Damian Lillard: 'Time to start tightening up and getting it ready"

The Portland Trail Blazers head into Saturday night’s exhibition game against the Phoenix Suns (5pm on NBCS Northwest) with a clear objective of playing this one more like a regular season game than the previous non-counters the team has played in the past week.

The Denver exhibition game Tuesday in Memorial Coliseum had a weird vibe to it because of the locale (Memorial Coliseum) and most of the starting lineup for that game played only about 15 minutes together. Thursday night in Moda against Moccabi Haifa, Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Hassan Whiteside did not play at all. There are three exhibition games remaining on the schedule but the final one, at Denver next week, will probably not feature many minutes for the starters, given the Blazers will open the regular season vs. the Nuggets.

That means the heat is turned up for the next two games.

Coach Terry Stotts said he expects Lillard and McCollum to play about 25 minutes Saturday and then probably more than 30 at Utah Wednesday.Those games figure to be dress rehearsals for the regular season.

Lillard and McCollum stayed after practice for an extended period of time, getting up an extra 250 shots apiece Friday afternoon.
“Play more minutes tomorrow,” Lillard said. “I know we’re going to play more so we have to get ready for that. Time to start tightening up and getting it ready.”

The Blazers, 1-1 in preseason games, open the regular season Oct. 23 against the Nuggets in Moda Center.

It wasn't pretty, but the Trail Blazers had to win. Period. No excuses.

It wasn't pretty, but the Trail Blazers had to win. Period. No excuses.

It was one of those supposed-to-win games.

The Portland Trail Blazers met the Phoenix Suns Saturday night in Moda Center and the fact that the 15-52 Suns are the only team to have defeated the Eastern-Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks twice this year meant nothing.

As far as most people figured, this was a game the Trail Blazers were supposed to win. Period. No excuses.

And they did, by the score of 127-120. It wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t efficient. But it went into the win column, just the same.

“I just go out there and hoop,” said CJ McCollum, who had an 11-14 shooting night en route to a game-high 26 points. “I don’t worry about who we’re playing. They have capable players, guys who are capable of beating you. You have to be ready to play.”

And the Trail Blazers managed to get a few positive things out of the game.

For the first three quarters, Portland was all over the Suns, leading 102-77 heading into the fourth period, shooting 50.7 percent from the field and a spectacular 52.4 percent from three-point distance. All while holding the Suns to 35.9 percent shooting.

That didn’t last, of course. Coach Terry Stotts cleared his bench in the final quarter and Portland was outscored 43-25 over the final 12 minutes.

But the fact is, the Trail Blazers gave a lot of players a chance to knock the rust off and get a good run. And as long as you win the game, you can always laugh off the final quarter.

“Really good, solid win,” Stotts said afterward. “For three quarters. I thought we got a lot of contributions from everybody, just up and down the lineup. Everybody who played in the first three quarters just did a nice job.”

And along the way, little things were being done to improve the situation. The most apparent was the obvious attempts by the Trail Blazers to set up new backup center Enes Kanter -- who finished with 12 points on 5-7 shooting in 16:34 -- on the block. And Damian Lillard, who has done such a great job with starter Jusuf Nurkic in that regard, is doing the same thing with Kanter.

“I think it’s something we have to do,” Lillard said. “Him coming in off the bench with that second unit is a great option. He provides scoring and when all else fails, to have somebody you can just drop the ball down into and get a quality possession.

“He’s a handful. I just try to give him those early opportunities to have the kind of game that he can.

“Nurk is much bigger. He covers more space. He delivers blows to people. He moves people around. But Enes is actually really good in those (postup) situations.

“It’s just a matter of him getting more and more comfortable in where he has to be. It will get better as time goes on.”

It’s probably more important to get Kanter more offensive opportunities because he is not the defender Nurkic is. You want to maximize what he does best, which is score and rebound.

“You know what he can do for you, offensively, so you have to give him those opportunities,” Lillard said. “Defensively, I think when you go to a new team, our principles are different than the last team he played for. We do stuff differently. There’s a lot on his mind trying to figure out what he’s supposed to be doing, remembering what we call our coverages and where he’s supposed to be in the coverages, the tendencies of the player he’s supposed to be covering.

“It’s a lot to think about, so you’ve got guys who are great defenders who just figure things out and you’ve got offensive guys we lean on knowing the plays. That’s the kind of situation he’s in – knowing our principles and where he’s supposed to be.

“Once he does that, he’ll be sharp from there.”

Ahead on the Portland schedule are more of these games against teams below it in the standings. At Los Angeles against the Clippers is the next one, followed by road games at New Orleans and San Antonio.

They’re supposed to win those games, right?

Anfernee Simons logs real minutes that come with many teachable moments

Anfernee Simons logs real minutes that come with many teachable moments

During the final minute of the second quarter between the Trail Blazers and Suns on Saturday night, Trail Blazers PR announced that backup wing Rodney Hood would not return to the game due to right hip soreness.

According to Blazers PR, Hood suffered the injury in Thursday’s game against the Thunder; however, he played through the injury in Saturday’s game, but he didn’t last long.   

Hood played just nine minutes, finishing with four points.

With Hood now sidelined and Evan Turner already out due to left knee soreness, that made way for the Trail Blazers' rookie shooting guard Anfernee Simons as he recorded some meaningful minutes in Portland’s 127-120 victory over Phoenix.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts subbed Simons in for CJ McCollum with the Blazers up 92-74 with 2:48 remaining in the third quarter.

Coach Stotts could have played his other backup wings more minutes, but instead he saw a great opportunity for the youngster and he ran with it.

“I was glad Anfernee got a chance to get some minutes, you know, with Rodney being out and Evan being out, I wanted to have him be out there with Damian [Lillard]… So Dame could be kind of a settling influence with him out there, but I thought he did well in the third quarter,” Stotts said.

Simons even knocked down his first career three-pointer in the third with an assist from Lillard.

“I threw it to him. He’ll remember that forever,” Lillard said with a smile.

“It’s the first of many. He’s a young talent. He’s gonna be good for years to come,” CJ McCollum told Trail Blazers sideline reporter Brooke Olzendam postgame.

Jusuf Nurkic celebrated the three-pointer from the bench and after the game he smiled saying, “they say you always remember the first one… I was giving him a hard time for him not making some, but I’m happy he made his first one. It was really a great moment for him.”

Lillard wasn’t just happy about the three Simons put down, but also that Simons got some “real experience.”  

“I was excited to be able to coach him while he was on the floor and kind of trying to put him in good situations and get that real experience,” Lillard said.

“Get that real experience, that’s different than the G-League and practice or getting in when we are up 25. He got in the game when it was still a real part. He got into a real intense part of the game against their starters and I thought that was good for him,” Lillard added.

Nearly a minute after Simons entered the game, he picked up a quick foul and then another foul less than 30 seconds after the first one.

McCollum took it upon himself to talk with the young fella about another teachable moment.

“Stop fouling so much. He fouls too much, but other than that I think he was just excited,” McCollum said. “Getting used to guarding guys with referees, I think that played a factor.”

Simons finished with five points on 2-of-5 shooting. He ended up committing three fouls on the night.

The 19 year-old scored a career-high seven points back on November 16th against the Timberwolves, but that was solely in garbage time in Minnesota.

One final teaching point: as Simons’ career continues to rise, he’ll have to get used to the media attention. Simons was quick to leave the locker room after Saturday’s win as a lot of rookies are accustomed to doing.

Not so fast young fella.

Not so fast.

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Phoenix Suns

usatsi_12319257.jpg
USA Today Images

Rapid Reaction: 3 Quick Takeaways from the Trail Blazers win over the Phoenix Suns

The Portland Trail Blazers concluded its quick two-game homestand on Saturday night with the Phoenix Suns in town. Entering Saturday’s game, Portland had won nine consecutive games against Phoenix, including five straight at home.

It took a little over a quarter for Portland to get its offense clicking, but once the Blazers pulled away they never looked back. The Trail Blazers cruised to a 125-120 win over the Suns and most importantly the starters got some much-needed rest.

Portland now improves to 40-26 overall.

Final Box Score: Trail Blazers 125, Suns 120

Here are some quick thoughts from the Blazers home victory over the Suns:

1. Slow start for both teams

The Blazers and Suns both looked a bit off on the offensive end to start the game on Saturday. But hey, it’s game 65 for the Blazers. Going 8-for-26 in the first quarter can happen at this point in the year, luckily, for Portland the Suns had a worse time on the offensive end early.

This game had the making of a trap game for Portland after coming off such an intense, playoff like game against the Thunder on Thursday.

The Blazers proved to not let that be the case in the second quarter though. The ball was moving more and the Blazers got out and ran in the second, which created some separation. Midway through the second, Jusuf Nurkic and Moe Harkless got the Moda Center crowd going for what seemed like the first time in the game after throwing down back-to-back dunks. The crowd needed those jams because as mentioned before this was a very different kind of game than Thursday night.

2. Hood suffers injury

During the final minute of the second quarter, Blazers PR announced that wing Rodney Hood (right hip soreness) would not return to the game.

Hood played just nine minutes and was 1-for-1 from the field and 2-for-2 from the free throw line to score four points.

If Hood’s injury is a serious one, that will obviously be a big blow to the Blazers’ second unit. Hood has played 21.8 minutes per game in his last 10 contests with Portland.

3. McCollum pours it on the Suns

It should come as no surprise that CJ McCollum had an efficient shooting night against the Suns. In his previous two games this season against Phoenix, McCollum averaged 20.0 points on 53.3% shooting from the field and 50.0% from three.

In Saturday’s win, McCollum was an efficient 10-of-13 including 4-for-7 from deep to score 24 points after just three quarters. It was nice too see McCollum have a bounce back game after shooting 9-for-24 on Thursday night against the Thunder.

With this blowout win, McCollum played just 30 minutes, while Damian Lillard played 29 minutes and finished with 24 points. Anytime you can get your star backcourt playing less minutes, it’s always a good thing, especially at this point in the season. And don’t forget, this Suns team swept the Milwaukee Bucks this season so a blowout victory was not a given.  

NEXT UP: The Trail Blazers tip-off a three-game road trip on Tuesday night when the Blazers travel to Los Angeles with a matchup against the Clippers at 7:30pm. Our pregame coverage starts at 6:30pm on NBC Sports Northwest.

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