Trail Blazers

Melo haters are gonna hate

Melo haters are gonna hate

The news broke early Monday afternoon that Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony had been named Western Conference Player of the Week. It was shocking to say the least. Anthony went from out of the league, to one of the best stories in basketball. However, as the ol' saying goes, "haters gonna hate."

There is a camp among NBA fans that still thinks Melo is washed. That still thinks he can't help a team. That thinks he is a black hole on the court. Despite him proving them wrong in his first six games with the Blazers, those who don't believe are stuck in their ways. 

Enter NFL Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe. 

On Tuesday's episode of Skip and Shannon: Undisputed, Sharpe voiced his displeasure with Anthony gaining the honor. 

"I'm glad Melo's back," Sharpe said. "I really hope he has found a home now and he can play as long as he wants to play. But Carmelo Anthony didn't deserve this award."

Sharpe was less upset that Melo won, and more offended that James Harden did not. Harden dropped 60 points in a win over the Hawks and has been nearly unstoppable all season. Over his last 10 games, Harden is averaging 40.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 7.5 assists. Perhaps Sharpe has a point. 

But as his partner Skip Bayless said, "It's player of the week. Not an MVP."

Anthony is the best story in basketball. He has reignited the Blazers. He has helped lead them on a three-game win streak and potentially turned the season around. Some things just don't show up on the box score, Shannon. 

Don't fret, Rip City, the players want to win, too

Don't fret, Rip City, the players want to win, too

Blazers fans, we get it. Times are tough. The Blazers sit at 5-12 on the season, have lost four straight games, with their latest folly coming at the hands of the lowly Cleveland Cavaliers (5-11). Have you panicked yet? Probably. But as usual, the team hasn’t.

As Damian Lillard said, "We really do believe, as a group, that this is going to turn around."

Fans voiced their displeasure over the twelve losses on Twitter, where Jusuf Nurkic tried to set them straight.

Asked after the game what his message was for a fan base that was struggling with the string of losses. CJ McCollum didn’t mince words.

Real fans will still be fans and one that ain't won't. We are not losing on purpose. We like to win, too.

He’s not wrong.

Look, if you took offense to McCollum’s words, they probably weren’t directed right at you. Did McCollum sound angry? Of course, he did. But, he isn’t mad at you, the fan, for criticizing the team, calling him out, or jumping off the bandwagon. He is mad that the team’s performance has given people a reason to do those things in the first place.

As fans, we love to see our teams win. We bask in their reflected glory. We also cut off in reflected failure. When the Blazers win, “we” win. When the Blazers lose, “they” lose. "They" have lost a lot lately, and no one knows that more than the players in that locker room.  The same players that have full faith in their ability to turn this around. 

You all probably don't want to hear it, but there's such a long way to go... I think our team understands that there are certain things we're not doing well enough to win games. But we really do believe, as a group. that this is going to turn around. -Damian Lillard

Keep your head up, Rip City. 65 games from now, we might just look back and say, “Wow. Look at everything ‘WE’ accomplished.” If not, at least most of you will have just a little extra legroom on the wagon.

 

 

 

 

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

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

SAN ANTONIO— An energy difference maker? 

That is Trail Blazers rookie Nassir Little’s emerged role these days.

Portland fought back from being down by as many as 15 points in the second half to beat San Antonio 121-116. The Blazers tightened up on the defensive end and were able to come up with big plays down the stretch. 

And that’s where Little enters the conversation. 

“I think he made some amazing plays tonight," Rodney Hood said postgame. “Offensive rebounds… His energy was amazing and that’s what we needed. If we didn’t have that I don’t think we would’ve pulled this win out. I think he was one of the MVPs of tonight.”

Little finished with a plus/minus of a plus-15, the third best on the team.

The 19-year-old was in the game when it mattered in crunch time. He had an impact giving the Blazers extra possessions and bringing that energy.

Little threw down a monster dunk with 3:03 remaining in the game.

That dunk was mentioned on numerous occasions as a game changing moment with Little bringing that spark.

“He's got a lot of energy and a lot of athleticism, and he is using that. I think he’s been great for us in terms of his energy. He’s still learning and figuring out the game, but one thing he is going to do is play hard, and I think you can see that,” CJ McCollum added.

Little explained how the seas parted ways for him and he took it hard to the rim for the jam.

“CJ came off a pick-and-roll and I was coming behind rather than standing on the three-point line. I just cut because CJ was going off… I cut to the basket and then just went off. That’s one of my roles on the team -- is to bring energy, make those kinds of plays, and get my team extra possessions and keep us in the game,” Little said.

Just seconds before the dunk, Little was called for a shooting foul.

His teammates thought it was a clean block, but it cost the Blazers just one point with Derrick White making 1-of-2 from the line.

Little’s teammates loved his aggressive nature.    

“I think Nas got called on the foul, it wasn’t a foul but he really was the MVP. He made big plays tonight,” Hood said.

And so did Blazers head coach Terry Stotts.

“Nas got called for a foul on a block, but it was a great energy play,” Stotts said.

Little had played in just three games with 32 total minutes prior to starting the last two contests.

In his second straight start, Little is now averaging 6.0 points, 6.5 rebounds, and four personal fouls.

Little said he is “trying to do the small things” now that he has been given the opportunity.

As Damian Lillard put it postgame, Saturday’s game was a “super important one" for the Blazers to win.

And now, Little is showing off his super important athleticism and energy. Through the last two games Little has been a valuable piece to the puzzle. 

 

Listen to the latest Talkin' Blazers podcast below:

Trail Blazers facing plenty of questions heading into long road trip

Trail Blazers facing plenty of questions heading into long road trip

The feeling inside the Trail Blazers locker room was some combination of frustration and resigned optimism.

After falling to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday night, and losing for the sixth time in seven games to drop to 4-8 on the year, the Blazers were believably frustrated. The optimism was mostly by default.

It’s still November, the marathon NBA season is just beginning and for all of Portland’s clear and obvious issues, players pointed to the 70 games remaining on the schedule as the biggest reason to be hopeful the team can find its footing.

“It’s a long season,” Hood said, uttering a refrain that his teammates would echo. “Nobody’s in the playoffs right now. I don’t care if they’re number one in the league or number one in the west, everybody is fighting and figuring out everything. Nobody has tailed off and took off from everybody else. By next month we could be up there at the top so we just got to continue to stay positive and get better.”

If the Blazers are going to make as dramatic a turn as Hood suggested and end up in the top of standings by December, most of that progress will come on the road. Wednesday’s game against the Raptors was a brief pit stop in Portland before the Blazers head out for an 11-day, six game trip, finally returning to Moda Center the day before Thanksgiving.

Even early in the season, this trip looks daunting because this team has obvious flaws.

The Blazers are still searching for answers at power forward after losing Zach Collins to shoulder surgery until at least mid-March. With a combination of injuries and poor play, Terry Stotts has mixed and matched groups to open games, trotting out his sixth different starting lineup of the season in Game No. 12 on Wednesday.

Stotts turned to Nassir Little against Toronto. The rookie played hard and mostly held his own. It was an encouraging performance even with Little going 3-for-10 from the floor in 23 minutes. Frankly, going with the high-energy rookie at that spot might be the Blazers best option as Anthony Tolliver has been ineffective at best and Mario Hezonja isn’t suited for a big minute role. 

Beyond who starts, the Blazers desperately need to figure out how to finish games. Other than a face plant at Golden State, the Blazers haven’t been rolled over in most of their losses. Instead their consistently dropping games in crunch time, out executed or outworked at winning time. The Blazers have a league-worst 122.8 defensive rating in the fourth quarter, and they are the second worst defensive rebounding team in the final frame.

“Sometimes it’s not just because we can’t get a stop. It’s we can’t get a rebound,” Damian Lillard said. “If you give up two and three opportunities to an NBA team you’re going to get scored on.”

The reasons for frustration inside the locker room are obvious. The injuries, the shifting rotation and repeated late game letdowns are already threatening to derail this season in its early stages. And yet most of the Blazers said they were optimistic or even encouraged.

“You gotta just keep going. You gotta keep fighting," Lillard said. "I think that we should be encouraged by the fact that we’ve lost a lot of games the same way. We’ve been in the mix. We’ve been right there down the stretch and we lose games down the stretch. I think that’s one thing we can’t forget. But like I said before, we can’t fold. We gotta just keep coming, continue to try to correct the mistakes and the things we already know how (to do) to win games."

Brotherly advice: Meyers Leonard offers encouragement to Zach Collins

Brotherly advice: Meyers Leonard offers encouragement to Zach Collins

The news on Trail Blazers starting power forward Zach Collins took another turn Monday. After NBC Sports Northwest’s Dwight Jaynes reported the focus of Collins’ surgery to his left shoulder would be on labral repair, a timetable for his return would be measured in months, not weeks. 

To better understand Collins’ injury, we turned to a former Blazer with a history of shoulder injuries: Meyers Leonard. 

Leonard, who spent seven seasons in Portland and has started all six games for the Miami Heat this season, is no stranger to shoulder injuries.   

Throughout his career, the former Blazers big man has had three subluxations, which are also known as partial dislocations and two complete dislocations. The posterior capsule in his left shoulder was “destroyed,” as well. Over years of injuring and re-injuring his shoulder, Meyers opted for surgery in April 2016. He was able to return to the court for the 2016 preseason, roughly six months after surgery. 

Surgery was not welcomed news to Collins and the Trail Blazers. While he could sit out and rehab it naturally, the timetable to return would be 8-16 weeks. However, chances of injuring it again would be high. 

And while a six month timetable for return like Leonard faced may sound scary and daunting, it’s important to understand the injury to Collins and the injuries Leonard faced are not the same. 

“He will heal much faster than I did,” said Leonard, optimistically. 

Of course, the nature of the injury will not be fully known until the surgery itself takes place and the timetable for return will be set after the surgery is completed. His road to recovery will take time and everyone (fans, teammates, Zach) will have to be patient. This is the first major shoulder injury Collins has faced, and it happened to his non-dominant shoulder.

“I’m happy for him that he’s getting it taken care of now vs. waiting,” Leonard said. “[It’s a] much safer and easier surgery.”

Multiple sources told NBCSNW a return in time for the playoffs would also be a possibility. 

The Trail Blazers will miss Collins’ defensive presence. Portland lost to Steph-less, Klay-less, Draymond-less Golden State Warriors Monday night, in what Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum refer to as a “wake-up call.”

And while Collins and Leonard may not be teammates anymore, the two remain close. 

“Zach is like a brother to me,” Leonard said. “I’m incredibly proud of everything he’s done and he has a very bright future in this league. He’s tough, he works hard and he wants to win. I know that Zach will be laser focused during his rehab and recovery and will come back stronger than ever." 

"Prayers up for my brother! Stay strong!”

Social media reacts: Rodney Hood’s 'in rhythm' game not enough to lift Blazers over 76ers

Social media reacts: Rodney Hood’s 'in rhythm' game not enough to lift Blazers over 76ers

There’s a lot of 70s slang you could use to describe Rodney Hood’s performance against the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday.

Outta sight, so radical, and totally tubular are just a few.

But the Trail Blazers guard/forward had only two words to describe his season-high 25 points, two rebounds and 1 steal in Portland’s 128-129 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers: “In rhythm.”

While Hoodie’s hot night ended in a contusion in his left knee, let’s take a look at how fans on social media reacted to his monster outing.

[RELATED: Rodney Hood leaves game midway through 4th quarter with apparent leg injury]

The Trail Blazers (3-3) will have to bounce-back quickly after this one. Up next, they head to the Bay where they'll take on the wounded Warriors (1-5) on Monday at 7:30 p.m. 

Dame and CJ pull back the curtain on what makes their team special – its culture

Dame and CJ pull back the curtain on what makes their team special – its culture

You’ve heard the word many times from the Trail Blazers players and front office. It’s the secret sauce in Portland that’s not so secret anymore. You heard it again this summer, when new players joined the Portland roster.

Culture.

That’s been the key to this team outperforming expectations almost every season. It’s the culture – what’s expected of the players who come here and how they’re supposed to handle themselves on and off the court and with each other – that makes this operation work. And that culture is best set and enforced by the players themselves.

With the Trail Blazers, that’s meant the leaders – Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum.

I was recently afforded the opportunity to sit down with those players separately and drill down to the heart of, well, the heart of this team – its culture.

It came as no surprise that even though the players were interviewed by themselves, they spoke with one voice.

And their views on how they help run their team would serve as a solid guideline for anyone responsible for leadership of a team – in sports, business or just within a family.

Enjoy this special inside look at what makes the Trail Blazers a special team, edited by NBC Sports Northwest’s Peter Socotch, as these men speak candidly about their roles and expectations of themselves.

And you will understand, too, just how special they are. Could this intro possibly run above the video to best set it up? My experience lately is that some people are so dismissive of our auto-run video they pay no attention.

Tonight: Live streaming and on NBCS Northwest - Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets at 7pm

How to watch the Trail Blazers season opener vs. Denver

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USATI

How to watch the Trail Blazers season opener vs. Denver

The 2019-2020 season is finally here! The Trail Blazers open the season vs. the Denver Nuggets at Moda Center tonight with tip-off set for 7pm. 

It is a season of high expectations for the team, coming off a Western Conference Finals run last season and with an improved roster. 

Despite the high expectations, many on the national scene have already forgotten or over-looked the Blazers, which will only fuel their fire. 

You can watch the game 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!

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. Nuggets

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

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

Trail Blazers hope to exceed expectations

Trail Blazers hope to exceed expectations

The Blazers are coming off a trip to the Western Conference Finals last season, and with it the expectations are high.

While some experts and fans are sleeping on the Blazers, the team isn't sleeping on itself. Portland has championship aspirations, and it will take an entire team effort to achieve them. 

When you think of the Blazers, you think of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but it will take more than a dynamic duo to get out of the West. 

The Blazers will have to rely on their depth and their young bucks to step up to get the job done. With new acquisitions like Hassan Whiteside, Anthony Tolliver, Mario Hezonja, Kent Bazemore, and Pau Gasol, the road might be bumpy out of the gate. Still, it will be these veteran additions that will be the difference between a trip to the NBA Finals or a trip to the Draft Lottery. 

Of course, we can't forget about the young guys. With players like Evan Turner and Meyers Leonard having been traded, Portland will expect Anfernee Simons and Zach Collins to make big jumps in their production to fill the void. 

As you can see, the success of this team requires a lot more than just Dame and CJ. 

Jamie Hudson breaks it all down in the video above. 

How to watch the NBC Sports 2019 NBA Season Tipoff Show

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NBCS NW

How to watch the NBC Sports 2019 NBA Season Tipoff Show

Join us today at 1pm for a special NBC Sports NBA Season Tipoff Show, streaming on desktop and on the MyTeams app!

Jamie Hudson will join other NBA reporters from around the country to get you ready for the season. 

Trail Blazer topics that will be of discussion on the show include:

- What is the one key that will help the Blazers become a 'surprise' team again?

- Who are the key X-factors for Portland to help out Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum this season?

- With such high expectations from the team, how is it that the national media is already overlooking the Blazers?