The Trail Blazers' schedule since Christmas Day has been exhausting

The Trail Blazers' schedule since Christmas Day has been exhausting

The Trail Blazers have two days off before they play again Thursday night at home against Dallas.

OK, so what?

Well, I'll tell you what. It's the first time Portland has had two days in a row without a game since Christmas Day, and that's ridiculous. This team has played every other day for 26 straight days -- except last weekend when it had to play back-to-back road games at Dallas and Oklahoma City. That's been 14 games in 26 days with very little recovery time in between games.

At best, it's been monotonous. At worst, it's been extremely exhausting.

And nine of those games were played on the road, including a killer five-game north-south swing through the east that featured games at New York, Washington, D,C., Miami, Toronto and Minneapolis.

And after that long trip, the Blazers returned home and had just one day off before playing again -- which is not normal NBA procedure. Usually, after a 10-day road trip, a team would get two days without a game before playing again.

It's no wonder that there was susceptibility to cold and flu -- even on charter planes, travel can wear your resistance down.

But just to show how crazy the schedule is, the Blazers now get two consecutive days off prior to each of their next three home games.

Go figure.

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win over the Warriors

Morning After: Everything you may have missed from the Blazers win over the Warriors

The Blazers returned home after a brief 1-2 road trip and were welcomed by the Golden State Warriors.

The Blazers, once again with limited bodies, started Anferenee Simons and Nassir Little, and even Moses Brown got a small run. 

But for all the makeshift lineups and crazy rotations, there was only one player to watch on this night: Damian Lillard
 

Lillard absolutely went off against the Warriors.

He hit a franchise-record 11 threes en route to scoring a franchise record 61 points! 

The outburst broke the team's previous record of 60 points, set by Damian Lillard earlier this season.  

It was also the most points scored by a single player in the NBA this season, and the most points ever scored by a player on MLK Day. 

The performance even prompted Coach Stotts to give Lillard the game ball, and if you know Stotts, you know he rarely hands out a game ball. 

Needless to say, this game was a big deal. 

The Blazers needed every single one of Lillard's points, as they struggled to keep pace with the Warriors. In fact, the Blazers trailed by double-digits for large chunks of the game. 

But once the clock struck Lillard Time, it was all over. 

It may have taken overtime and a record-breaking night from Lillard, but the Blazers picked up a much-needed win. 

Final Score: Blazers 129 - Warriors 124

QUOTABLES:

Hassan Whiteside on Damian Lillard:

It's amazing. Dame played amazing. I just told him to keep shooting, even when you miss, just keep shooting, I’m going to keep trying to get you open with these screens so keep shooting.

Coach Stotts on the Victory:

It was an outstanding win. Finding a way to win a game like that, obviously, both teams were a little undermanned, but you kind of run out of adjectives for Damian (Lillard) and his performance, the way he carried the team, not just on the court but in the huddles, time outs, half time, his leadership was great, and like I said you run out of adjectives, he’s an amazing player.

Damian Lillard on his record-setting game:

I mean, it’s one of the best of my career so I mean, I think that’s what it means, one of my better performances in a game we needed to win. I think that’s just what it is. We needed a win tonight. It would have been a tough one for us to give up. We’ve got a good home stretch of games, a good opportunity to get some wins against some tough teams on our home floor so it was necessary and it was on time. On to the next one now. A great performance. I’m excited about it, I’m happy about it but I wish it counted for three wins instead of one

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Sounds like Trail Blazers dodged a bullet with Anfernee Simons' rolled ankle

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Sounds like Trail Blazers dodged a bullet with Anfernee Simons' rolled ankle

In a season that has been defined by injuries, it sounds like the Trail Blazers avoided anything serious in Monday night’s win over the Warriors.
With 1:28 to go in overtime, after he hit a clutch three-pointer, shooting guard Anfernee Simons was subbed out of the game. 

He rolled his ankle in making that three. 
Simons did not return to action.
Blazers head coach Terry Stotts offered up a quick update on Simons.

He turned his ankle; I don’t think it’s bad, but he turned it. -- Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts said postgame.

Simons was receiving treatment after the game and was not made available to the media.
The good thing for Simons and the Blazers is they now have 2 days in-between their next game.
The Blazers will use Tuesday as a ‘health and performance day’ to get their bodies right.
Portland hosts Dallas on Thursday night.

Damian Lillard was 61-derful in his performance against Golden State

Damian Lillard was 61-derful in his performance against Golden State

One man isn't supposed to be able to win you a basketball game all by himself. Damian Lillard didn't quite do that Monday night in Moda Center -- but that's about as close as you will ever come to seeing someone do it.

It was 61-derful.

The Trail Blazers took a 129-124 victory away from the Golden State Warriors, thanks to Lillard's 61 points, built on 11 three-point field goals in 20 attempts. The other eight Trail Blazers who played combined for 68 points on 3-24 shooting from three-point range. It was the most points scored by an NBA player this season, a franchise record (breaking his own mark of 60 set earlier this season) and he became only the sixth player in league history to record multiple 60-point games. And oh yes, he also tied a franchise record by going 16-16 from the foul line.

"You kind of run out of adjectives for Damian and his performance," Coach Terry Stotts said. "The way he carried the team, not just on the court but in the huddles, timeouts, halftime. His leadership was great and like I said, you run out of adjectives. He's an amazing player."

Lillard did not minimize the importance of this game for his 19-26 team -- or the magnitude of his performance.

"It's one of the best of my career... one of my better performances in a game we needed to win," he said, "I think that's just what it is. We needed a win tonight. A great performance. I'm excited about it. I'm happy about it, but I wish it counted for three wins instead of one."

Lillard hit a 26-foot step-back three pointer with 15.3 seconds to go in the fourth quarter to send the game into overtime. He had scored 12 points in the period.

Then in overtime, after Portland fell behind by six points, he tied it with 58.3 seconds to play with a 27-foot pull-up jumper, then fed Gary Trent for a layup with 34.8 to go that pushed his team into a two-point lead. Alec Burks responded with a three that jumped the Warriors back into the lead with 32.7 left in the extra session but Lillard's two free throws seven seconds later helped Portland regain the lead.

Then, after Hassan Whiteside nailed two clutch foul shots with 8.5 seconds left, Lillard finished off his night with two more free tosses that got him to 61 points.

And he admitted later that he knew what his point total was when he went to the line.

"Yeah, I knew," he said. "I knew I had 59 after it was eight seconds left so I was like, it's probably going to sit at 59. Then the shot went up, I got the rebound, the guy bumped me and I was like, I'm going to fall down. They;re going to have to blow the whistle and I;m getting those two free throws."

He deserved them. It was his night.

He also deserved his first career triple-double. He ended with 10 rebounds and seven assists, but could have had four or five more assists had his teammates been able to knock down their open three-point shots.

"He's a great player," Golden State Coach Steve Kerr said. "He's a hell of a player. An all-star. He's hit some big shots in his career, so it didn't surprise me ..."

Hassan Whiteside wanted those free throws.... real bad

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Hassan Whiteside wanted those free throws.... real bad

“Sixty! Sixty! Sixty!” -- That was the chant coming from Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside inside the locker room after the Trail Blazers beat the Warriors in overtime, 129-124.  

It was Damian Lillard’s night, leading the Blazers to a victory after scoring a franchise-record 61 points.

Everything was going right for Lillard, who said it was “just one of those days.”

After the game, Whiteside was quick to comment on Lillard’s stellar performance.

“It’s amazing. Dame played amazing. I just told him to keep shooting, even when you miss, just keep shooting, I’m going to keep trying to get you open with these screens so keep shooting,” Whiteside said.

But down the stretch, Hassan Whiteside also stepped up, too.

He did it from the line.

The Blazers held a one point lead with 8.5 seconds remaining in the game when Alec Burks fouled Whiteside.

It's pretty well-known that NBA guards around the league often say they want that chance to win a game at the free throw line. And bigs have the reputation of not being able to convert. 

Yet, on Monday night, it was this big man that had ice in his veins.

Whiteside nailed both free throws, making the score 127-124 -- Trail Blazers.

That was a huge moment for the big fella, especially since he put so much work in on his free throw shooting over the summer.

I wanted those free throws. I think these last two games have been my worst free throw shooting games. I think last game I missed three free throws which is the most free throws I missed all season. Dame was just telling me to take my time and knock them down. I’ve been waiting for it and I knocked them down. – Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside after Monday's win

Whiteside was cool, calm, and collected at the charity stripe; however, that wasn’t the case in the final seconds of the third quarter. Portland was down 90-84 with 16.1 seconds remaining in the quarter when Whiteside was hit with a technical foul.

This was the one time that the 7-footer didn’t listen to his team captain.

The good thing about him is he actually listens. Tonight he actually did the opposite. I tried to calm him down and he was still like elbowing dudes, got a tech. And, I went up to him again and I was like – ‘I just said keep your cool, like we don’t need a tech right now and you did it.’ He was like – ‘no, I got you,’ and he shook my hand. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard said postgame

Of Monday's win, people will definitely remember Lillard’s overall performance. They might also remember Whiteside knocking down two clutch free throws as well as getting kneed where the sun don't shine.

Whiteside joked postgame he was still in pain and he struggling to do his interview.   

It’s probably fair to say that Whiteside took one for the team when Eric Paschall kneed him right below the belt with 39.5 seconds remaining in overtime.

Whiteside was lying down on the baseline for a couple of minutes. In the moment, it looked scary. Then, the replay explained Whiteside just needed a minute.

With Whiteside challenging Paschall on that play and coming up with the block, it, in turn, led to the go-ahead Gary Trent Jr. lay-up that put the Blazers up 123-121.

That entire sequence was just seconds before Whiteside’s two free throws which helped the Blazers put the Warriors away.

Lillard couldn’t help but give credit to his big man.

[He] come up with a big verticality block that lead to a Gary Trent lay-up, then he get a big rebound, he get fouled, then he made two big free throws and that was the stretch that won us the game, so I think that says everything.   – Damian Lillard on Hassan Whiteside

Whiteside finished the game with 17 points, 21 rebounds, and six blocks.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts reiterated that it was Lillard’s night, but Whiteside had some key contributions.

“He made some good plays, big plays,” Stotts said. “He’s out there with Dame a lot, his screen setting, his reaction on defense, his rebounding, obviously, everybody who was on the court had something to do with the game, obviously, Dame was the Man of the Hour, but Hassan really made a difference when he was in.”

The man of the hour also said he wasn’t going to lose to this extremely short-handed Warriors team.

With the win, Portland goes to .500 at home with a 10-10 record.

It's good that on a night where Lillard dropped 61, the Blazers got the win. Otherwise, the entire team, not just Whiteside, would have felt like they all got kneed below the belt.

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard drops 61 in Blazers OT win over Warriors

Instant Analysis: Damian Lillard drops 61 in Blazers OT win over Warriors

Monday night was a battle of two undermanned teams.  

Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum sat out of his second straight game with a left ankle sprain, while on the other end, the Warriors were without starting forward Draymond Green. Green suited up for Golden State, but did not play due to an illness.

Portland outscored the Warriors, 27-23, in the first quarter, but then struggled to muster up enough scoring in the second and third quarters. The Blazers were able to win the final period behind Damian Lillard's scoring prowess. Twelve was the Warriors' biggest lead on the night, but once Portland forced overtime the Blazers were determined to get the W. Hassan Whiteside hit two clutch free throws in the final seconds to help seal the deal for the Blazers.

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 129, WARRIORS 124

Here are three quick takeaways from Monday’s win:

1.  Lillard takes over 

Double-teamed, triple-teamed -- the Warriors threw everything they had at Damian Lillard. Golden State even picked Lillard up full court for most of the game. But, they still couldn’t slow down the Trail Blazers All-Star point guard. Lillard notched 42 points through the first three quarters. He was on the attack for most of the night, which resulted in him getting to the line. Lillard finished the night 11-of-11 from the charity stripe, but there were still plenty of no-calls Lillard was not happy about. Lillard's three-pointer with 15.6 seconds left in regulation tied the game at 113, which eventually meant the Blazers and Warriors were heading to OT. Lillard finished with a new career-high and franchise record 61 points. 

2. Both teams struggle from deep

The Trail Blazers had a good shooting night from inside the arc. Portland shot 54.2 percent from the field in the first quarter, but went just 1-of-4 from three for the quarter.  

It was even more of a struggle for Golden State early. The Warriors started the game shooting 0-for-8 from long distance in the first quarter, and 32.1 percent from the field.  The three-point shooting didn’t get much better for either team with Damian Lillard being the exception. Lillard was the only Trail Blazer who had made a three-pointer until 48.3 seconds remaining in the third quarter when Mario Hezonja hit a wide open three from the wing.

3. Warriors take advantage of young Blazers

Rookie mistakes quickly became a common theme Monday night for Portland. Nassir Little, Jaylen Hoard, and Moses Brown all found themselves out of rotation on the defensive end at least once or twice. Their lapses at that end of the floor not only resulted in the Warriors putting up big numbers in the paint, but the lapses also resulted in limited minutes for the young bigs.   

Up Next: Portland will continue its four-game homestand when the Blazers host the Dallas Mavericks Thursday night.

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

Trail Blazers in action vs. Golden State Warriors, follow for live updates

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Trail Blazers in action vs. Golden State Warriors, follow for live updates

Monday marks the first of the next four games at home for the Portland Trail Blazers (18-28).

The Blazers host the Golden State Warriors (10-34) after returning from their latest three-game trip banged up, dealing with the flu, and dealing with a trade.

For full coverage of the game from Dwight JaynesJamie Hudson and our digital team, follow us on social throughout the night for the latest updates. 

How to Listen to the Game:

Catch all the action on Rip City Radio 620 with Travis Demers and Michael Holton

Quote of The Week

“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." – Trail Blazers backup guard Gary Trent Jr. on playing through an illness on the night he scored a career-high 30 points

Quick Links 

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts says the testing on CJ McCollum's ankle is 'manageable'

The real reason for making the Trevor Ariza trade is the most obvious one

VIDEO:  What does MLK Day mean to the Trail Blazers?

VIDEO:  HIGHLIGHT -- Shorthanded Blazers stumble in OKC

VIDEO:  PUT ANT IN THE DUNK CONTEST!

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

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts says the testing on CJ McCollum's ankle is 'manageable'

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Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: Terry Stotts says the testing on CJ McCollum's ankle is 'manageable'

The Trail Blazers will suit up nine players against the Golden State Warriors Monday night with rookie two-way player Moses Brown brought up from the G League for Monday’s game. 

Before the Blazers and Warriors tipped off on national television, Portland’s head coach Terry Stotts gave the latest updates on his banged up team.

He wouldn’t give too much of an update on McCollum’s left sprained ankle.

I’m not going to necessarily comment on the severity or when he’s going to come back or anything like that… Yeah, go ahead and ask me every game… Whatever testing was done it’s manageable. – Terry Stotts on CJ McCollum’s ankle.

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

CJ McCollum (left ankle sprain) is out for Monday's game vs. Golden State.

WARRIORS INJURY REPORT:

Glenn Robinson III (right ankle sprain), Steph Curry (left hand fracture), Jacob Evans (concussion), Kevon Looney (left abdominal soreness), and Klay Thompson (left acl rehabilitation) are out.

Even though Draymond Green is not on the injured list it sounds like he will not play due to an illness. 

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Monday’s contest will mark the third of four meetings between the Trail Blazers and Warriors during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

-- LAST MEETING: The Trail Blazers beat the Warriors, 122-112 in Portland on Dec. 18. Damian Lillard led the Trail Blazers with 31 points (9-20 FG, 2-8 3-PT, 11-13 FT) to go with five rebounds and a season-high 13 assists while D’Angelo Russell paced the Warriors with 26 points (9-23 FG, 5-12 3-PT, 3-4 FT), seven assists and two blocks.

-- AT THE LINE: Golden State and Portland are the two best free-throw shooting teams in the NBA, at 81.0% and 80.9% respectively.

-- In two games against Golden State this season, Damian Lillard has averaged 35.0 points, 3.5 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.00 block. He has scored at least 29 points in each of his last four games against the Warriors. Lillard has a career scoring average of 27.7 against the Warriors, which is his highest scoring average against any team in the NBA.

-- Hassan Whiteside had 16 points (8-14 FG) and pulled down a season-high 23 rebounds to go with two blocks against the Warriors on Dec. 18. Whiteside has averaged 19.0 points, 17.0 rebounds and 2.00 blocks in two games against Golden State this season.

-- D’Angelo Russell has scored 20-plus points in four of his last five games against the Trail Blazers. In those five games, Russell has averaged 24.4 points, 3.8 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

Trail Blazers honor and pay tribute, explain what MLK Day means to them

Trail Blazers honor and pay tribute, explain what MLK Day means to them

A celebrated holiday once a year, but something and someone to remember every single day: This is Martin Luther King, Jr.

The Portland Trail Blazers took time to recognize and reflect on what this day means to each of them.

"MLK Day means a lot to me. Understanding the history of black culture, how far we’ve come in the United States. It just shows that we have a long way to go, but we’ve come so far." — CJ McCollum

"It’s the world acknowledging a man who played such a huge role in the world we live in today. The movement he created, the inspiration from his words, the fact that it’s living on to this day and people are giving it that much power— I think it’s only right that we celebrate on a day." — Damian Lillard

"MLK Day means coming together and everybody being treated as equals." — Hassan Whiteside

"A special day for everybody, in general. To come together as all races and commemorate somebody that fought for our independence and our rights to become equal." — Anfernee Simons 

"It’s one man sacrificing his life, his livelihood to see people like myself and others live out their dreams, achieve their goals and try to change the world." — Kent Bazemore

"He was such an amazing man and made such an impact on the world, not just the United States. Honoring him is a pleasure of mine." — Anthony Tolliver 

"It means a lot to me. It’s a day to celebrate Martin Luther King and all of his sacrifices that he made not just for African Americans, but for everybody in the world. We appreciate this day." — Rodney Hood

Watch the full video above for more

** We decided to keep the quotes of Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver in this article even though the two have been traded since the availability. Just because they're not on the team anymore doesn't mean their thoughts are any less valuable.

A leaner Caleb Swanigan making his return, but things are a bit different now

A leaner Caleb Swanigan making his return, but things are a bit different now

It was exactly 345 days since the reported trade that sent Caleb Swanigan to Sacramento to the reported trade that sent Biggie back to Portland. 

Swanigan, a 6-9 forward out of Purdue, was selected by the Trail Blazers in the 2017 NBA Draft with the 26th overall pick.

Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard is happy to see Biggie return to Portland. 

“It’s pretty cool,” Lillard said after Saturday’s loss to the Thunder. “I think his time here – he was young, he really wanted to play, wanted to help, but it didn’t work out, so I know he was frustrated by that."

Swanigan played in 45 games before being traded to Sacramento for Skal Labissiere at the 2019 trade deadline.

But, before he departed Rip City he developed special bonds with his teammates, especially the younger players.

On a night where Gary Trent, Jr. went off and scored a career-high 30 points against OKC, he also reminisced about playing alongside Swanigan.

The two had a pregame routine.

“My rookie year, I played Biggie basically one-on-one before every game. I’m glad to have him back… For the new teammates, too, I can’t wait to meet them, as well,” Trent Jr. said.

Much has already been made about Swanigan’s story.

At just 22 years old, there's no question, Biggie has been through a lot.

Growing up, Swanigan moved between Utah and Indiana while spending part of his youth in homeless shelters.

The power forward has discussed how he developed bad eating habits in high school that caused him to gain a lot of weight making it harder to play basketball.

He then got let go by the team that took a chance on him after just 45 games.

Watching the young fella go through that, Lillard believes that situation has most likely helped Swanigan grow as a player and as a person.

“At the time he probably felt like he needed a change and felt like he was going to go somewhere and get more opportunity. In SAC it didn’t work out,” Lillard said. 

I think he’ll come back and it’ll be refreshing for him to be back in a good environment, somewhere where he has been so it’ll be comfortable, and we dealing with all these injuries, so it’s going to be a lot of opportunity here for him. – Trail Blazers All-Star point guard Damian Lillard on Caleb Swanigan

This season, Swanigan appeared in just 10 games with Sacramento. He has spent a majority of his time with the G-League’s Stockton Kings where he averaged 8.6 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game in 19.7 mintues.

According to NBCS Kings Insider James Ham, the Blazers will be getting back a leaner Swanigan. Biggie is as much as 40 pounders smaller than he was when he left Portland.

With Saturday’s trade not being made official until Tuesday, it’s still unclear whether Swanigan will be in Portland's long-term plans or if he may be included in any future dealings.

But for right now, Lillard wants to set the record straight about his teammates' attitude, which can seem gruff, at times.  

“Biggie’s a really good dude," Lillard said. "Just misunderstood sometimes, but I think it’s a great opportunity for him especially because he’s been here before and we actually need big bodies.”

That they do.

Portland announced Sunday that they have recalled center Moses Brown from the G-League’s Texas Legends.

The Blazers host the Warriors Monday night before the trade of Swanigan, Trevor Ariza, and Wenyen Gabriel becomes official Tuesday.