San Antonio Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge to Trail Blazers fans: 'You all were amazing'

LaMarcus Aldridge to Trail Blazers fans: 'You all were amazing'

Tuesday night, the Portland Trail Blazers continued celebrating their 50th Anniversary while honoring the 2010s.

Special video messages played on the jumbotron at Moda Center throughout Tuesday's 121-105 win over the Phoenix Suns. 

With all of the prominent Trail Blazers players of the 2010s still playing around the league, just on different teams, the former players sent their love via video.

During a timeout in the first half, Blazers fans were treated to a message from LaMarcus Aldridge.

The L-Train, who is currently in his fifth season with the San Antonio Spurs, thanked Rip City for his time spent in Portland.

What’s up, Rip City, it’s LaMarcus Aldridge here. I just wanted to say thanks to all the fans. I enjoyed my time here in Rip City. You all were amazing, ya’ll supported us great, you cheered me on night after night, so I just want to say thanks. My time here in Portland was great, to see a city come together, and support us and have our back, I enjoyed every game, I enjoyed the home court advantage of how loud it got, and how the fans just loved every game and just loved us.  -- LaMarcus Aldridge

Aldridge wasn't the only Blazer of the 2010s to record a video. Robin Lopez, Wesley Matthews, Nic Batum, and Ed Davis all had a message to share with Rip City. Besides Matthews and Davis, LA’s video received some of the most cheering from the Moda Center crowd.

Over his nine seasons with the Blazers, Aldridge averaged 19.4 points on 48.5 percent shooting to go along with 8.3 rebounds.

He played the fourth most games in franchise history (648) and third most minutes played (22,972), while scoring the third most points (12,562). He still holds the franchise record for rebounds (5,434)

Now that it has been years since Aldridge left Portland and signed with the Spurs, Rip City has recently shown its love for the L-Train.

Tuesday night he showed that love right back.

Watch the full video above. 

Trail Blazers have left themselves little margin for error in 'The Race for Eighth'

Trail Blazers have left themselves little margin for error in 'The Race for Eighth'

You could call it “The Race for Eighth.”

The Trail Blazers kicked off the critical final portion of their schedule Wednesday night with a home win over Washington.

And make no mistake, there are several winnable games ahead -- but Portland has left itself with very little margin for error if it is going to climb into the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Six of the Blazers’ next seven games are at home, almost all of them against teams either virtually even with them in the standings or below them. Meaning, of course, those games must be won.

Portland travels to Phoenix for a Friday night game, returns to Moda for a Saturday contest vs. Sacramento, followed by home games vs. the Suns, Memphis, Houston, Minnesota and Dallas. After that, it’s back to the road for six games -- the last long trip of the season.

Portland is chasing Memphis in the standings right now, but New Orleans, Sacramento and San Antonio are also in the race. Keep in mind, the Trail Blazers have played Memphis just once so far and lost that game to the Grizzlies on the road. There are two contests left against Memphis, both in Portland, and they are close to must-wins for tiebreaker purposes.

Memphis is four games better than Portland in the loss column, which sets up some dramatic scenarios for the Blazers.

The Grizzlies are a .500 team and have 20 games left and if they win just half of them, they will finish at .500 -- 41-41. For the Trail Blazers to finish at .500, they must win both games vs. Memphis and 13 of their remaining 19, which is a lot to ask from a team that’s compiled a 28-35 record so far.

And that’s not even mentioning the possibility that one of the other teams in the Race for Eighth will get hot and pass up both Portland and Memphis.

Obviously, that record would be easier to attain if either Zach Collins or Jusuf Nurkic returned to the active roster to provide depth in the middle. But there is no word on when or if either of those players will be back this season.

You could find out launch codes for guided missiles easier than you can uncover condition reports on rehabbing Trail Blazer players.

Caleb Swanigan has been serving as the team’s backup center, but is more of a power forward than center and doesn’t provide the rim protection this squad needs to make its defense barely adequate. He fouled out in 10 minutes Wednesday night vs. the Wizards.

But the Trail Blazers have Damian Lillard back in the lineup and he doesn’t have an ounce of give-up in him. Surrender is not in his vocabulary.

“It’s a great opportunity to do something special,” he said with conviction Wednesday, prior to the game. “It’s going to be fun.”

Lillard calls Hassan Whiteside 'the best shot-blocker I've ever been around'

Lillard calls Hassan Whiteside 'the best shot-blocker I've ever been around'

It was a long day for Hassan Whiteside. But things got a whole lot better a little after the noon hour.

That’s when the Trail Blazer center knew for sure he wasn’t going to be shipped out of town at the NBA trade deadline, after months of speculation that he might be dealt to a team looking for salary-cap relief when his contract expires at season’s end.

“This was probably the most… I was thinking about it this time,” Whiteside said Thursday night after his 17 points, 23 rebounds and four blocked shots propelled Portland to a 125-117 win over the San Antonio Spurs in Moda Center. “It wasn’t anything I lost sleep over. I just didn’t want to hear about it no more. It was more that I got tired hearing about scenarios, outside noise …”

Whiteside played 36:15 as Coach Terry Stotts matched his minutes against the Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge, who played the identical total.

Aldridge is smaller and more mobile than Whiteside, so it meant a long night of chasing the former Trail Blazer all over the floor. But Aldridge finished with 20 points and needed 23 shots to get them.

“He took a lot of shots,” Whiteside said with a laugh. “I played a lot of defense. I just wanted to make it tough for him and I felt like I did. I think our team defense was great in the second half.”

Whiteside blocked Aldridge twice -- and getting him even once is usually an achievement.

“He shoots so high,” Whiteside said. “He likes to lower his shoulder and hit you, then create space. He’s got a quick release. He’s going to get enough attempts.

“I feel like I did good.”

Others felt the same way.

“He’s the best shot-blocker I’ve ever been around,” said Damian Lillard, who had 26 points and 10 assists for the Trail Blazers. “I feel like he’s going to block everything. The only people I’ve seen block (Aldridge’s) turnaround is him tonight and Anthony Davis. Those are the only two people I’ve seen even get to that or come close to it, so it’s impressive.

“I mean, it’s crazy. You want to see those type of numbers impact winning and I think that’s what he’s been doing lately. It’s been a big part of us winning games.”

Stotts was just as impressed.

“Hassan was terrific,” he said. “I thought the defensive job he did with LaMarcus in the second half -- LaMarcus had four points -- and what he had in the first half, 16. He took away the middle, contested shots, obviously the rebounding. But he had a terrific game.”

And it isn’t just the blocked shots. It's also that he’s leading the league in that department is like putting a big, flashing “Caution” sign in the middle of the lane.

Opposing players steer clear of the rim very frequently when he’s lurking in the basket area. He’s an intimidator in a league where it’s considered embarrassing to get shot batted into the third row of the seats.

The Blazers had a big night from three-point range (18-37), sparked by a 6-7 effort from Gary Trent -- enough to make up for a 16-point deficit from the foul line.

Portland has little time to rest. The Blazers were scheduled to be on their charter before 11 p.m., to fly to Salt Lake City for a Friday night game against the Jazz.

Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers finish strong in win over Spurs

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Instant Analysis: Trail Blazers finish strong in win over Spurs

The Portland Trail Blazers welcomed back LaMarcus Aldridge with a loud applause and cheers during introductions Thursday night as the Blazers hosted the San Antonio Spurs.

Tuesday night, CJ McCollum called Thursday’s matchup, ‘a huge game’ with potential playoff implications. 

Both teams got off to a hot start with both squads shooting over 52 percent from the floor in the first quarter.

After the Spurs took an eight-point lead in the first quarter, the Blazers started the second quarter on a 12-6 run.

From the midway point of the second quarter to the end of the game, it was back-and-forth on the scoreboard. There were 19 lead changes through the first three quarters. The game was also tied seven times.

But, it was Portland who closed out the game strong with a big scoring fourth quarter. The Blazers now improve to 14-11 at home. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: TRAIL BLAZERS 125, SPURS 117

Here are three quick takeaways from Thursday’s win:

1. All eyes on Whiteside vs. Aldridge

LaMarcus Aldridge brought Hassan Whiteside out to the three-point line and made the Blazers center pay for it, but only early on. 

While LA showed off his long distance shooting, Whiteside showed off his touch around the rim and how he can dominate on the glass. Whiteside was also alerting Spurs’ shots at the rim, while challenging Aldridge when LA had his back to the basket. Whiteside had fans on their feet with a monster dunk midway through the third quarter. After the slam, he ran back down the court looking at his hand almost in disbelief. But, what was certain: Whiteside was a difference-maker.  

2.  Three-ball keeps SA in game early

At the break, the Spurs held a one-point lead in big thanks to their three-point shooting. San Antonio went an efficient 8-of-15 from deep through the first two quarters to the Blazers’ 7-for-20. Spurs big man Trey Lyles was a consistent go-to guy from behind the arc in the first half. As a team, the Spurs cooled off from three in the second half.

3. Blazers close out game strong

Back-to-back three pointers from Trevor Ariza and Damian Lillard with just under seven minutes in the final period had Blazer fans on their feet with Portland taking a six-point lead. That also forced Gregg Popovich to call a timeout. The Blazers carried that momentum the rest of the way. Portland outscored San Antonio 37-23 in the fourth. 

Up Next: The Trail Blazers will play their second leg of this current back-to-back when Portland visits the Utah Jazz for a 7:30 p.m. PT tip-off Friday night. Check out all the action on NBC Sports Northwest and the MyTeams app.  

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

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: "We'll miss him" -- Terry Stotts on Skal Labissiere

Trail Blazers Pregame Notebook: "We'll miss him" -- Terry Stotts on Skal Labissiere

Before the Trail Blazers and Spurs tip-off at 7:00p.m. tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App, Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed the Skal Labissiere move, how he deals with the trade deadline, and how he didn’t doubt that LaMarcus Aldridge would become a good three-pointer shooter.

Coach Stotts said he’ll miss Labissiere and so will his players, but everyone understands it was a financial decision.

 

Stotts also added that leading up to the trade deadline, he doesn’t get caught up in any possible moves. He’s also been happy with the current roster makeup.  

 

“We’ve been playing well. We had a flat game against Denver… Obviously, our starting unit is playing well… From my standpoint, nothing really changes. Our focus is always on the next game.”

 

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

 

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Nassir Little (left ankle sprain), Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon),  Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Thursday's game vs. San Antonio.

SPURS INJURY REPORT:

Luka Samanic (G League) and Quinndary Weatherspoon (Two-way) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Thursday’s game will bring an end to the three game series between the Trail Blazers and Spurs during the 2019-20 season. The season series is tied, 1-1.

-- LAST MEETING: The Trail Blazers defeated the Spurs 121-116, in San Antonio on Nov. 16. CJ McCollum paced Portland with 32 points (13-25 FG, 6-11 3-PT), six rebounds and seven assists, while LaMarcus Aldridge led San Antonio with 30 points (12-20 FG, 2-5 3-PT, 4-4 FT), 13 rebounds, two assists and one block.

-- CLOSELY CONTESTED: Eight of the last 11 games between Portland and San Antonio have been decided by single digits, including each of the last four. • CJ McCollum is averaging 29.5 points (48.9% FG, 52.9% 3-PT, 80.0% FT), 4.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in two games against San Antonio this season.

--CJ McCollum has scored at least 20 points in six of his last eight games against the Spurs, and tied a career-high with seven 3-PM on Feb. 7 of 2019.

--Damian Lillard recorded 22 points (4-19 FG, 1-9 3-PT, 13-13 FT), six rebounds, six assists and one steal against the Spurs on Nov. 16. Lillard has scored at least 20 points in each of his last seven games against San Antonio, recording three or more made threes in five of those outings.  

--Hassan Whiteside added 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting (5-5 FT), to go with 12 rebounds and three blocks against San Antonio on Nov. 16. Whiteside has recorded a double-double in five of his last seven games against the Spurs, dating back to his time with the Heat.

How trades in the Western Conference affect Trail Blazers playoff chances

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How trades in the Western Conference affect Trail Blazers playoff chances

Now that the NBA trade deadline has come and gone, let’s assess the West.

There was plenty of movement in the Western Conference in the last two days.

With the Trail Blazers making a deal with the Atalanta Hawks that sent big man Skal Labbisiere to Atlanta, the Hawks will be saving the Trail Blazers $2.8 million in luxury tax. 

In the deal, the Trail Blazers will also receive a protected second round pick in 2024 from Atlanta and a $2.4M trade exception. 

Heading into Thursday's trade deadline, the Trail Blazers were $11.3 million over the cap, with a tax luxury payment of close to $20 million. 

But, after Thursday's deal with Atlanta and the January 18th move that sent Kent Bazemore and Anthony Tolliver for Trevor Ariza, Caleb Swanigan and Wenyan Gabriel from Sacramento, Portland now sits just over $4 million over the cap, with a luxury tax bill of $5.9 million.

But, how do the rest of the West’s deals affect Portland?

Here’s a quick breakdown…

Since the San Antonio Spurs are currently one of the teams, just like Portland, on the verge of making the playoffs, could it mean that they are not looking to make the postseason since they didn’t make a move?

Possibly. 

The Spurs and Thunder are two teams out West that did not make any moves by the deadline, which is surprising considering San Antonio sits in the 10th spot and OKC is barely holding onto the sixth spot. The Thunder were rumored to be sellers at the trade deadline and eventually fall out of the playoff picture. They reportedly tried to get a multi-team deal done with the Heat that included Danilo Gallinari, but things fell through. 

Now, Portland must contend with an OKC Thunder team that stayed pat at the deadline. 

Portland is three games back of the eighth-seeded Memphis Grizzlies.

 

The bad news for the Blazers? The Grizzlies were making moves. A lot of them. Memphis was involved in a three-team trade where they received Justise Winslow, Dion Waiters and Gorgui Dieng.

Winslow has been dealing with various injuries, but can definitely help the young Memphis roster that has already proven to be better than most expected. At least this soon anyway. Winslow is averaging 11.3 points, 6.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

They're not expected to keep Dion Waiters, who has been a consistent disruption in the locker room. 

Memphis also made another move Thursday, acquiring former Oregon Ducks Jordan Bell from the Rockets in exchange for Bruno Caboclo.

With their moves, the Grizzlies get some help at the forward spot as they continue to solidify their playoff position.

As for the Golden State Warriors and Minnesota Timberwolves trade, this will affect the Blazers more so next season.

Since it seems these two teams are looking to the future and not worried about this season, the Warriors get some much needed frontcourt help and the Timberwolves get some much needed backcourt help. Golden State trading D'Angelo Russell to Minnesota for a deal that includes Andrew Wiggins, a 2021 protected first-round pick and a 2022 second-round pick, makes complete sense considering each teams needs with their current roster makeup.

So, as Portland worked to cut down it’s luxury tax, they will continue to push for that playoff spot with their current roster. But lest we forget, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins are both set to return before the postseason.

And, the Trail Blazers have looked like a team that has found a groove with their current roster of adding Trevor Ariza and Caleb Swanigan into the mix, minus Tuesday’ loss at Denver.

For now, it’s about trying to beat out the Grizzlies and Spurs or any other team on the fringe in the West. With the trade deadline now behind us, it will be interesting to see if any of the bubble playoff teams in the Western Conference decide to go a different direction and not make a final push for the postseason.

Because, as long Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are playing, there is no doubt they will do everything in their power to get to the postseason.   

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

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

Thursday will mark the third and final meeting this season between the Portland Trail Blazers (23-28) and the San Antonio Spurs (22-28). The regular season series is currently tied at 1-1.

Portland is coming off a 127-99 loss to Denver after a 10-point second quarter ultimately doomed the Blazers. In the loss, Damian Lillard went 8-for-23 from the field and 1-of-6 from three-point range, finishing with 21 points.

The Blazers not only lost Tuesday’s game, but they also lost rookie Nassir Little to ankle sprain. Little injured his left ankle in the final 40 seconds of play. After the game, Little said, “It’s not that bad, I’m able to walk on it, so we’re going to see what’s up tomorrow.”

You can watch all the action between Portland and San Antonio on NBC Sports Northwest, the Official Network of the Portland Trail Blazers and you can stream the game on our website or by downloading the MyTeams app!

And, have you heard about Blazers Pass?

You can get 15 live Trail Blazers games, pre and postgame shows, and on-demand full-game replays with Blazers Pass! (Only available to fans located in Blazers Territory, pursuant to NBA rules and agreements. No TV provider required. Subscription Period: November 4, 2019 - April 16, 2020. Subscription auto-renews prior to start of next season.)

Don't miss any of the coverage of tonight's game:

4:30pm Blazers Game Day with Chad Doing

6:00pm Blazers Warm-Up

6:30pm Trail Blazers Pregame Show

7:00pm Trail Blazers vs. Spurs

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

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

QUOTABLE

"[It's] been awhile since we had a game like that. You’ve got to take the good with the bad, move forward, regroup, and get ready for San Antonio on Thursday." -- Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said after Tuesday’s blowout loss to the Denver Nuggets 

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

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

Talk about a roller coaster of emotion, because that is what Blazer fans dealt with in San Antonio on Saturday night.

The Blazers, without Carmelo Anthony and in desperate need of a win, jumped on the Spurs early. Portland held the 41-23 lead at the end of the first, and the lead ballooned to 23 just minutes into the second quarter.

It looked like the type of game the Blazers would pull away and coast to victory. But the Spurs wouldn’t have it.

In the second half, Gregg Popovich earned two quick techs and was ejected, jolting a little life back into the Spurs. San Antonio went on a 32-13 run following the ejection and had a double-digit lead in the fourth and final quarter.

Just when it looked like the Spurs had flipped the script, Portland flipped it right back. The Blazers clawed back and ended the game on a 17-6 run to grab the lead, and the victory over the Spurs.

Final score in San Antonio: Blazers 121 – Spurs 116.

 

QUOTABLES:

Nassir Little on the key to winning:

I mean, down the stretch we got key stops, and I think honestly the biggest play of the game was when I tipped it off of Rudy (Gay) and got the extra possession and Rodney (Hood) got the and-one to put us up three.

CJ McCollum on importance of the victory:

Super important. We took a loss to Sacramento then another loss at home. We got another long road trip, four games under .500, it was huge for us to not only get a win on the road to begin the trip, but just to start the trip the right way. 

Coach Stotts on what the win means:

Well, to win it in the fourth quarter, you know our defense, we had held them to 20 (points) in the fourth quarter, that's big for us. I think defensively in the fourth quarter, that was really important for us. It's been our Achilles heel lately, so hopefully, that will reinforce them.

BEST OF SOCIAL MEDIA:

 

LATEST NEWS AND ANALYSIS:

Whiteside leads Trail Blazer "other guys" to win at San Antonio

Trail Blazers ordered up a side dose of energy in the form of Nassir Little 

How a duo of techs ALMOST doomed the Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: Blazers rally late vs. Becky Hammon & Tim Duncan led Spurs to save the win 

Highlights: A wild game in San Antonio ends in Blazer win

Hassan Whiteside leads Trail Blazer "other guys" to win at San Antonio

Hassan Whiteside leads Trail Blazer "other guys" to win at San Antonio

That win in San Antonio Saturday night for the Trail Blazers?

It was engineered by the “other guys.”

With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum – usually the ones carrying the heavy load in the fourth quarter – suffering through 1-7 efforts from the field in the final period, their teammates stepped up and forged a rally from a 15-point deficit with 8:32 left to a 121-116 win over the Spurs.

And it was the rest of the starting lineup that provided a good deal of the firepower. In the fourth quarter:

  • Rodney Hood hit both his field goal attempts and only free throw opportunity, including a huge three-point play with 1:21 to go that pushed his team into its first lead of the period.
  • Nassir Little had five rebounds in the quarter, some outstanding defense, big hustle plays and a resounding dunk.
  • And Hassan Whiteside was the biggest of them all, hitting four of his five shots from the floor, all three of his free throws, grabbing six rebounds and blocking two shots – all in the final quarter. Whiteside finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds, three blocks and made perhaps the biggest play of the game with 37.1 seconds left and his team clinging to a one-point lead. He made a terrific block on DeMar DeRozan and then drew a loose-ball foul on DeRozan, who grabbed Whiteside’s shirt and pulled him down after the blocked shot.

Whiteside, a 57.5 percent career foul shooter, calmly made both free throws to push the lead to three.

“Hassan played a terrific fourth quarter at both ends,” Coach Terry Stotts said.  “He scored for us, he finished around the bucket, made his free throws. He was a big presence at the rim. He deterred a lot of shots. He really made a difference.”

Portland once led this game by 23 and had an 18-point lead after the first quarter. But the Spurs caught fire after Coach Gregg Popovich got booted out of the game at the 9:37 mark of the third period and climbed all the way into that 15-point lead.

“Basketball is a game of runs,” Whiteside said. “The difference in this one is we communicated down the stretch. We got stops at the end. I was telling the guys, we worked too hard to let this one slip away. We were just locked in on defense. Everybody just said it’s winning time. We definitely need a sense of urgency, but it’s not like the season is over. Guys are getting better. I’m doing things I’ve never done before in my career. I’m passing the ball more. Making backdoor passes to Dame. It’s the system here.”

The Trail Blazers were not sharing the ball early in the fourth quarter and missing quick shots. The big problem was a lot of one-pass or no-pass possessions before Stotts seemed to call for some multiple-player weaves, just to get the ball moving. The result was an 11-0 run that got the Blazers back in the game.

“Defensively, the fourth quarter was really important for us,” Stotts said. “We came up with a lot of loose balls and got some steals. It was a great game, big for us.”

Portland plays Game 2 of this six-game junket Monday in Houston.

How a duo of techs ALMOST doomed the Trail Blazers

How a duo of techs ALMOST doomed the Trail Blazers

How many times have you watched your favorite team in a mid-game slump, only to yell at the screen “coach really needs to get a tech right now! Pump some life back into this team!”?

Well, that is exactly what Spurs fans thought about their team on Saturday night, and it’s exactly what head coach Gregg Popovich did.

With 9:37 left in the third quarter and the Spurs trailing 77-64, Popovich had had enough. Upset with a call, he voiced his displeasure to the refs. Apparently, he said the magic words because he was handed two technical fouls on the spot and was promptly ejected.

Damian Lillard hit two technical free throws to makes it a 15-point game, but the Blazers' good feelings were ripped away shortly thereafter. 

Popovich walked out of the tunnel to the roar of the Spurs faithful showing their approval. There was energy in the stadium, and energy back in the Spurs lineup. With newfound life, the Spurs went on a 30-11 run to end the quarter and take the six-point lead into the fourth.

San Antonio only built on the lead from there, and it looked like it was going to be another big lead blown by the Blazers. But this is not how this one ended.

The Blazers showed poise, they showed character, and with their backs against the wall they were able to claw back and counter. Portland ended the game on a 17-6 run of its own, grabbing the lead back from the Spurs and the win with it.

The Blazers came out victorious, but they can still take a few notes from Pop and Co.

Sometimes it’s beneficial to shake it up. To do the unconventional in an attempt to ignite a fire. When Popovich earned the ejection, the Spurs regained their focus. Tim Duncan and Becky Hammon took the reigns and guided the ship and it almost worked.

However, the Blazers were ready for the challenge. Finishing strong has been hard for the Blazers early this season, but they were able to put the pieces together against the Spurs.

The lesson here is - next time you are watching the Blazers and think Stotts should take one for the team… you might get what you wished for. On Saturday, the Blazers saw just how effective that strategy can be.