Trail Blazers

Blazers happy with effort vs. Clippers, RHJ grateful to be in Portland

Trail Blazers
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Following Tuesday night’s game at Moda Center, in which the Blazers lost to the Clippers in the final seconds, CJ McCollum summed it up simply:

“It’s a make or miss league.”

And in Portland's third series game against the Clippers, McCollum missed the potential game-winner as time expired, while the Clippers held on for a 113-112 win.

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It was the third-straight game that the Blazers were without six-time All-Star Damian Lillard.

And despite not having Lillard or Jusuf Nurkic, the Blazers kept it close with the Clippers, who were also not at full strength with Kawhi Leonard and Serge Ibaka sidelined.

But the effort was there from the Blazers.

And it was a full team-effort to keep the game within striking distance.

 

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was pleased with McCollum’s final look and with his team's overall effort. 

I thought we played well tonight… Yeah, you hate to lose, but from a coach’s standpoint, you want to play well, play with good effort and I thought we did that.

Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts

McCollum finished with a team-high 28 points. 

Tuesday’s game was also another opportunity for the Blazers to see what they have in forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Portland signed Hollis-Jefferson to a second 10-day contract Sunday.

And now the Blazers have used the last two games with Lillard out, to get a real good look at the 6’6” forward.

“I thought Rondae did a nice job defensively,” Stotts said following Tuesday's contest. “I thought he just made some things happen. He got some extra possessions, provided some energy, good length.”   

Coach told me what he wanted me to bring to the table and that’s exactly what I did – defense, energy, extra plays, hustle, the little things.

Rondae Hollis Jefferson

In Tuesday’s loss, Hollis-Jefferson finished with five points and six rebounds.

But it was his value on the defensive end that had coach Stotts keeping him on the floor.

Hollis-Jefferson earned 24 minutes off the bench Tuesday after playing 22 minutes in Portland’s loss to Charlotte Sunday. 

With the No. 23 pick of the 2015 NBA Draft playing alongside Nassir Little, the two were able to double team and still recover when the Clippers threw out of the double-team. 

It was a long road back to the NBA for Hollis-Jefferson, who hadn't played in a regular-season game this year until signing with the Blazers.

“Being at home the last five months, going through so many different emotions, feeling like you can compete at the highest level against the best-of-the-best, and then having that moment where you feel like you don’t belong or people don’t want you for whatever reason, it’s tough,” Hollis-Jefferson said.

As a competitor, as someone who is passionate about the game, it was definitely tough to be at home sitting. There was a point where I didn’t watch any basketball at all... I’m definitely grateful for the opportunity and for the Portland organization for believing me.

Rondae Hollis Jefferson

The six-year veteran added that he “stayed the course” and “kept working” before finding his opportunity in Portland.  

 

The Trail Blazers are expected to get Lillard back for Wednesday’s home game against the Denver Nuggets.

But that doesn’t necessarily mean the Blazers won’t still need some of RHJ’s energy.