Trail Blazers

The Trail Blazers' longest season ever -- 311 days -- ends with a loss to Lakers

Trail Blazers
IMAGN

Only the Harlem Globetrotters have ever played a season longer than the one the Trail Blazers just finished, But the Trotters got to play the Washington Generals every night. Portland's marathon season is finally over after a 131-122 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers Saturday night.

The season that started on Oct. 23, 2019, ended 10 months and six days later -- or a total of 311 days -- with most of the last two months inside a quarantine bubble.

The defeat ended Portland’s playoff run at five games, after an eight-game seeding schedule and one play-in game.

It was a season full of landmark events, the majority of which were not happy ones for the Trail Blazers and their fans:

  • Portland began the season without injured center Jusuf Nurkic and he did not return until the seeding games.
  • Starting power forward Zach Collins was injured in the season’s third game and he didn’t return until the seeding games.
  • Portland lost 12 of its first 17 games and never quite recovered. There were some brutal losses mixed in, too.
  • Rodney Hood established himself as the team’s starting small forward and was off to an outstanding start, shooting 50.6 percent from the field and 49.3 percent from three-point range before he, too, was lost for the season, due to injury.
  • Carmelo Anthony was signed to a free-agent contract Nov. 19 and proved to be a valuable addition all the way through the playoffs -- and when the season ended he said he prayed he would return to Portland next season.
  • Team founder Harry Glickman passed away on June 10 -- probably the most influential man in Oregon sports history.
  • One of the team's all-time fan favorites and stars, Clifford Robinson, passed away at age 53 on the same day as the team's final game.
  • Damian Lillard put together the highest-scoring 10-game stretch in team history and had a six-game stretch when he scored 293 points and assisted on 151 points, accounting for 444 points -- the most for an NBA player ever, including that stretch when Wilt Chamberlain scored 100 points in one game.
  • Lillard also became one of just three players who reached the 60-point plateau three times in a season.
  • Hassan Whiteside, came in a trade to play the center position while Nurkic healed and led the league in blocked shots.
  • The league took a hiatus during the pandemic and the Trail Blazers were in ninth place at that time.
  • Portland won six of its eight seeding games in Orlando to get into the play-in and then dumped Memphis to move into the playoffs.
  • Portland took one game from the Lakers, then lost the next four, as injuries once again plagued the team.
  • First, though, Trevor Ariza, a late-season pickup who filled a void in the starting lineup, opted out of the bubble because of a custody situation with his son.
  • Collins, then Nassir Little, then Lillard, then Wenyen Gabriel were lost to injury in the playoffs.
  • CJ McCollum played most of the bubble with a fracture in his lower back, going 46 minutes in the final game. He said no surgery will be needed but he'll be resting it for a couple of months.

The Trail Blazers will head into next season with question marks -- too many to mention here and impossible to answer at this point.

After the financial disaster caused by COVID-19, the league’s salary cap is a moving target right now, making it impossible to know how much cap room teams might have to sign or re-sign players.

It was a strange season, all in all, and an even stranger year.

And it seemed as if it would never end.