Trae Young

What went wrong for the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Hawks

usatsi_14121074.jpg
USA Today Images

What went wrong for the Portland Trail Blazers vs. Hawks

ATLANTA – “If we move the ball and don’t guard, it’s not going to matter.”

That was final statement made by CJ McCollum during his postgame interview Saturday night.

McCollum was asked if his team needed to make more of an effort getting the ball movement flowing since Portland had just 14 assists on the night against the Hawks.

That wasn’t McCollum’s concern.

For the current team captain, who once again led the charge with Damian Lillard out, it was all about the Blazers defense and how the game plan didn't work against Atlanta.

They’re shooting the ball well. A lot of them were open so that’s a credit to them for making open shots… Part of the game plan was to try to stop Trae Young and to make other guys beat us and they did tonight. – Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum said postgame 

McCollum was discouraged and rightfully so.

“Absolutely. Lost opportunity.”

The 28-year-old finished with a game-high 35 points as the Blazers fell to the Hawks 129-117.  

Portland held Young to under his season average of 29.9 points with 25 points on the night, but like McCollum said, that made way for other Atlanta players to step up and knock down threes.

McCollum explained how “momentary breakdowns” on the defensive end was partly to blame for the Hawks shooting 42.9 percent from deep.

But, it was more than that.

It had to do with the scouting report on Atlanta. 

“Some of it was strategically trying to take the ball out of [Young's] hands, let the other guys shoot. I think [De'Andre] Hunter his about five threes, [John] Collins hit some threes, the rest of the guys did a good job knocking down shots. They’re playing well,” McCollum said.

“They shot the ball well. They got what they wanted most of the night.”  

The Hawks weren’t just getting threes from their starters, either.

Treveon Graham shot a perfect 2-for-2 from deep in his limited minutes. On the season, he is shooting 24.5 percent from long distance.

That says a lot. 

Even though the Hawks aren’t known for being a very consistent three-point shooting team this season when taking Young out of the equation, Atlanta has been changing that narrative.

The Hawks shot 48.7 percent (19-of-39) in their win over the Nets Friday night.

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was quick to mention that Atlanta is clearly a team that can knock down the long ball when given the chance.

“If the Hawks shoot the ball like they did last night and tonight and they did tonight, they’re going to score a lot of points,” Coach Stotts said postgame.

That brings us back to McCollum’s final statement.

Portland can have a lot of things working for them on any given night, but if the Blazers can’t defend, especially from three, the wins are not going to be there. 

Trevor Ariza and Trae Young hug it out in Atlanta, no bad blood

Trevor Ariza and Trae Young hug it out in Atlanta, no bad blood

Emotions were high inside State Farm Arena on Saturday when the Atlanta Hawks (19-43) welcomed the Portland Trail Blazers (26-35).

Portland came in having lost seven of their last 10 and hoped to right the ship. 

However, the Hawks shot the lights out and with it took away some of the hope the Blazers still have of making the playoffs. 

Down double-digits midway through the third quarter, the frustration finally boiled over. 

Trae Young tried to dribble the ball through Trevor Ariza's legs, but Ariza wasn't about to have it. 

The Blazers small forward reacted with a hockey-style check that sent Young flying.

The play resulted in a Flagrant 1 for Ariza, and moments later Young received a technical for taunting after a made three. 

It appeared the two players and the two teams had no love lost for one another. 

But after the game, they proved us wrong. 

As soon as the whistle blew, Ariza made it a point to find Young and prove they may battle each other on the court but it's nothing but love once the buzzer sounds. 

Sometimes emotions can get the best of us. When they do, it's always nice to bury the hatchet. 

If Meyers Leonard and Chad Doing can do it, anybody can. 

Ariza and Young quickly did so in Atlanta. 

 

Instant Analysis: Hawks continue high-scoring tear in win over Trail Blazers

Instant Analysis: Hawks continue high-scoring tear in win over Trail Blazers

ATLANTA – With the Hawks playing on the second night of a back-to-back, the Portland Trail Blazers looked to take advantage of potentially tired legs. However, the young Hawks squad looked fresh following their 141-118 win over the Nets Friday night.

The Blazers jumped out to a 28-23 lead after one quarter.

In the fifth consecutive game that Damian Lillard has missed following a strained right groin, CJ McCollum continued to lead the Blazers in scoring.  He finished with 35 points. 

Atlanta caught fire in the second quarter, outscoring the Blazers 40-28 to take a 63-56 lead at the half.

The second half was much of the same: The Hawks took full advantage of the Trail Blazers’ defense.

As the Blazers were trying to dig themselves out of a hole, Portland lost backup guard Anfernee Simons to a left ankle sprain late in the third quarter. 

FINAL BOX SCORE: HAWKS 129, TRAIL BLAZERS 117

Here are three quick takeaways from Saturday’s loss:

1.  Hawks get it going from deep

Despite Atlanta being one of the worst three-point shooting teams in the league, the Hawks were knocking them down against Portland. The Blazers had a hard time putting any pressure on the Hawks from behind the arc. Portland’s three-point defense has been an issue all season. De’Andre Hunter really took advantage of the open threes, as did, Trae Young, Cam Reddish, and Kevin Huerter.

2.  Offense running through Melo

After starting the game 2-for-6 from the field, Carmelo Anthony continued to try find a way to get points on the board. The Trail Blazers made a conscious effort to get the ball on the block to Melo, especially early on. Whether it was his power step to the hoop or his fadeaway, the veteran power forward was looking to help his team fight back after being down by 20 points midway through the third quarter.  

3. Getting heated

Even though in third quarter it felt as if the game was slipping away from the Blazers, Portland was still putting a fight. Trevor Ariza and Trae Young got into it. After a video review, Ariza was called for the flagrant one. 

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was hit with a technical foul in the first quarter after arguing a non-foul call.

Up Next: The Trail Blazers head to Orlando for the final game of this three-game road trip. The Blazers and Magic will tip-off at 4:00pm PT Monday 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!

Pregame Notebook: Blazers need to focus on pick and roll and three-point defense vs. Hawks

usatsi_13653032.jpg
USA Today Images

Pregame Notebook: Blazers need to focus on pick and roll and three-point defense vs. Hawks

ATLANTA – Portland is looking to take advantage of the Atlanta Hawks playing in the second night of a back-to-back.

The Trail Blazers and Hawks will tip-off at 4:30p.m. PT tonight on NBC Sports Northwest and on the 'MyTeams' App

Blazers head coach Terry Stotts discussed tonight’s matchup in his pregame media availability.

Coach Stotts mentioned that Trae Young has been able to ‘navigate things easier and makes fewer mistakes.’ Stotts also made sure to add that his team has to respect Hawks big man John Collins from behind the arc because he has become a consistent three-point shooter. Stotts emphasized that Young and Collins have a good two-man game with their pick and roll action as well.  

Stotts also gave his thoughts on how the season has gone for second-year player Anfernee Simons. Simons is averaging 9.0 points, 1.5 assists, and 2.4 rebounds this season.   

“I think he’s going through what you’ve kind of expect from a young player,” Stotts said. “He’s had some good games. He’s had some tough times… Like a lot of young players getting a chance he’s been up and down.”

HEAR FROM COACH STOTTS HERE:

(Audio start 48 seconds in)

BLAZERS INJURY REPORT:

Damian Lillard (right groin strain), Rodney Hood (left ruptured Achilles tendon), Zach Collins (left shoulder dislocation), and Jusuf Nurkic (left leg fracture) are out for Saturday’s game vs. Atlanta.

HAWKS INJURY REPORT:

DeAndre’ Bembry (abdominal pain), Clint Capela (plantar fasciitis), Dewayne Dedmon (right elbow pain), and Skal Labissiere (left knee chondral injury) are out.

STANDOUT GAME NOTES:

-- Thursday's meeting will round out the two-game series between the Trail Blazers and Hawks during the 2019-20 season. Portland leads the season series, 1-0.

-- The Trail Blazers have won four consecutive games against the Hawks, dating back to Jan. 5, 2018.

-- Portland and Atlanta rank second and third in the NBA in pick-and-rolls per game. The Trail Blazers run 27.3 pick-and-rolls per game, while the Hawks runs 26.7.

-- LAST MEETING: Portland defeated Atlanta in double-overtime, 124-113, at Moda Center on Nov. 10. Damian Lillard led Portland with 30 points (8-17 FG, 3-9 3-PT, 11-12 FT), seven rebounds, six assists and one steal, while Trae Young paced Atlanta with 35 points (9-30 FG, 3-13 3-PT, 14-17 FT), eight rebounds, 10 assist and three steals.

-- CJ McCollum scored 23 points (11-23 FG, 1-6 3-PT) to go with eight rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks in Portland's Nov. 10 win over Atlanta. McCollum has scored at least 20 points in six of his last seven games against the Hawks, with the exception coming when he scored 18 on Dec. 30, 2017.

-- Trae Young has scored at least 25 points in each of his three career games against Portland, including two games of 30-plus points. His 30.3 career scoring average against Portland is his third-highest against any team.

-- John Collins scored at least 20 points in both of his games against Portland during the 2018-19 season, averaging 20.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists over those two games. He missed the Nov. 10 game against the Trail Blazers.

Kent Bazemore gets revenge against the Atlanta Hawks, propels Trail Blazers at both ends of the floor

Kent Bazemore gets revenge against the Atlanta Hawks, propels Trail Blazers at both ends of the floor

Never bet against the player – in any sport – playing his first game against a team that traded him away. It’s seemingly inevitable that the discarded player will come up big against his former mates.

Ask Kent Bazemore, who stood out for the Trail Blazers Sunday night as Portland captured its first home win of the season with a 124-113 overtime decision over Atlanta.

“A lot of emotion tonight,” Bazemore said after his best performance of the young season at both ends of the court. “Obviously, every guy, once they leave a team is always looking to get back at them. Good to be out there competing against them.”

Bazemore took on a difficult defensive challenge, guarding Hawks’ talented point guard Trae Young and when you look at the points (35) that Young scored, it would appear the Atlanta player got the best of him. But Young went 9-30 from the floor, including 3-13 from three-point range, and had seven turnovers. Bazemore gave him a rough night.

And then on offense, Bazemore, thrust into the starting lineup because of Rodney Hood’s back spasms, scored 13 points – including two three-pointers early in the overtime period that vaulted the Blazers into a big lead – had eight rebounds, two steals and two blocked shots.

“It was huge,” Damian Lillard said of Bazemore’s effort. “Tonight, he had the assignment with Trae Young and (Young) had the ball in his hands pretty much the whole game – chasing him off screens, finding him in transition – just that type of effort is tough. He was there all night. And down the stretch, he was rewarded for his effort and for him to lock in like that – two big threes. But like I said, I think his effort on the defensive end and him taking that challenge was really big. I think it got his mind into the game and it was perfect. It came against his former team, and in a game that we needed.”

He wasn’t the only Portland player to step up.

The Blazers got 20 points on 8-12 shooting from Anfernee Simons, 23 points from CJ McCollum, who also had eight rebounds, four assists and two steals, and 21 points and 12 rebounds from Hassan Whiteside. Lillard finished with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists while playing 44 minutes.

Whiteside, never known as a great free-throw shooter, has made big strides in that department this season. And he went to the line to finish off a three point-play with a charity toss that pulled his team within a point with 2:20 to go. Then he hit two more to put the Blazer in front with 1:51 left in the fourth quarter.

“I work on them,” he said simply.

McCollum threw his hands in the air after hitting a three with 1:43 to play in overtime that seemed to ice the game for Portland. It appeared to be a gesture of relief and, after five three-point misses Sunday, the hope that his early shooting struggles are coming to an end.

“I just wanted to see one go in from long range,” he said. “I’m a good shooter, I get a lot of reps, I break down my shot weekly and I get a lot of help from people I work with. I have a lot of faith in myself, so it’s always good to make a shot when it counts.”

Both teams had 10 shots in overtime – Portland made five and Atlanta only two. It wasn’t a pretty win but the Trail Blazers weren’t in any position to worry about appearances.

“Needless to say, we needed that win,” Portland Coach Terry Stotts said. “I thought our guys fought through and found a way to win, however it came. And it didn’t come easy.”

Kanter is picking and the Trail Blazers are rolling to another win

Kanter is picking and the Trail Blazers are rolling to another win

ATLANTA – The indoctrination of Enes Kanter into the Portland Trail Blazers’ system continued Friday night against the Atlanta Hawks and it went very well.

First, the Trail Blazers thumped the Hawks 118-98 for their sixth straight win. Second, Kanter, again starting in place of injured Jusuf Nurkic, had perhaps his most-complete game yet for the Trail Blazers.

The former backup center scored 14 points on 7-11 from the field, had eight rebounds and a blocked shot in two seconds shy of 25 minutes on the court.

And he looked comfortable in the pick-and-roll with Damian Lillard, something we hadn’t seen a lot of prior to this game.

In fact, hadn’t seen a lot of it in Kanter’s career. He’s been a post-up, low-block player through most of his time in the league, but when you put him with Lillard, there’s instant chemistry.

“When you have Dame – they said Nurk and Dame was the best pick-and-roll in the league, so Coach told me, ‘Hey, we have the best guy so just go set a pick and he’s going to make the shot.’

“So my thing is, from Day One they were telling me to go set a good pick for Dame and that’s my focus every game. He’s going to score the ball and make everyone else better.

“This is the first time I’m actually running this much pick-and-rolls. But when you have a guy like Dame, I mean he’s just making everyone around him better. The game becomes so easy and everyone is comfortable out there.”

Lillard, of course, carried his usual heavy load with CJ McCollum home recovering from his knee injury and Nurkic out with a broken leg.

Lillard made 13-of-25 shots, including 4-10 from three-point range, had seven assists, a blocked shot, only two turnovers and 36 points in 32:04.

And he was taking on Trae Young, the latest of the young point guards to try to take Lillard on and prove something.

Young held his own in the first quarter, getting an 18-18 draw with Portland’s All-NBA point guard. But for the game he was only 1-8 from three-point range and needed 25 shots to score 26 points.

Portland Coach Terry Stotts liked his team’s defense.

“From a defensive standpoint, Atlanta had been on a roll, scoring 120 or something since the All-Star break,” he said. “So to hold them under 100 says a lot for our defense.

“First quarter, we probably didn’t defend as well as we needed to but after that it was pretty good. Damian was terrific again -- scoring, passing. Enes did a nice job in the lane, offensively and defensively. So, anyway, against a team that’s been playing pretty well lately it was a good win. They just beat Utah and Philadelphia and I think that speaks enough (about how good Atlanta is).”

Stotts continued his tinkering with lineups and ran out a group in the first half that included no centers at all.

“I mean Chief (Aminu) is long,” Stotts said, “He’s not a typical center but I think it’s something we have to look at, Whether it’s having Chief and Mo (Harkless), or Rodney (Hood) or Jake (Layman), Even (Turner) – we’ve got good length on the wings, so I don’t know how much we’ll do that but it’s something we have to look at and see how it goes.”

Stotts talked about the pick-and-rolls with Kanter.

“Our first five pick-and-rolls with Enes were scores,” he said. “Whether it was him or Dame, he set good screens, he’s rolling. The way the game started, him and Dame in pick-and-rolls worked pretty well.”

Porltand got balanced scoring, with 17 from Al-Farouq Aminu, 12 from Seth Curry and nine from Zach Collins.

The Trail Blazers get no rest on Saturday. They meet the Pistons in Detroit on the second of back-to-back games before finishing the four-game trip at Minnesota against the Timberwolves Monday night.