The Portland Trail Blazers have had a few archenemies in recent years.
Paul George, Patrick Beverley and Russell Westbrook all rank high on that list. But a member of the Memphis Grizzlies has now entered the conversation.
Former Oregon Ducks star Dillon Brooks is living rent free in the Trail Blazers heads and he has unleased psychological warfare on Portland for two-straight games.
“I talk the whole game,” Brooks said. “They don't like that. I’m physical and I don't think a lot of guys in the league see this type of defense so I’m bringing it every single night and trying to rise to the occasion.”
The flashy Grizzlies defender punked the Blazers not once, but twice in recent days. After recording 25 points and two rebounds as Portland suffered a 130-128 loss to Memphis on Friday, Brooks added 18 points and eight rebounds on Sunday as the Grizzlies claimed a second-straight win over the Blazers, 120-113.
Much of Memphis' success can be attributed to Brooks’ pesky defense and trash-talking, which left even six-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard agitated.
“The other night, I was just running down the court and you know, the ball was on the opposite side of the floor and he kind of ran over and tried to shoot me an elbow,” Lillard recalled. “So, when he did that, I kind of pushed him in his back. The referees were trying to calm us down and I was just like man, I don’t talk trash. I don’t get into all the back-and-forth stuff. That was a discussion that I told the refs, just handle it, control it. Just keep an eye on it and control it...
Brooks says he prides himself on making it “hell” for players the whole game, and it was effective against Lillard, who was just 16-of-49 (32%) from the field in the last two games and 7-of-21 from 3-point range.
He also got into heated trash talk with Carmelo Anthony and CJ McCollum Sunday night.
For Brooks, it was a last word of sorts after the Trail Blazers bounced the Grizzlies out of the playoff picture last season inside the NBA Bubble. Portland, then the eight seed, squandered nine-seeded Memphis’ playoff hopes in a play-in series to claim the final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
“I don’t think they think we remember it in the Bubble,” Brooks said in his walk-off interview. “I poke right back. I talked the whole game; they don't like that I'm physical. I don't think a lot of guys in the league see this kind of defense. I bring it every single night.”
The two teams could be on a collision course to meet in the NBA playoffs play-in tournament again this postseason. As of now, the Blazers (32-28) hold a half-game advantage over the Grizzlies (31-28) for the seventh spot in the West.
The Blazers and Grizzlies will meet a third and final time this regular season on Wednesday, April 28 in Grind City.