It’s been reported that Lillard has a groin strain and will be getting an MRI in Chicago tomorrow morning.
The Portland Trail Blazers (20-27, 10th in West) hosted the Houston Rockets (29-17, 5th in West) at the Moda Center Wednesday night. The Blazers defeated the Indiana Pacers on Sunday night behind another stunning performance from Damian Lillard. Portland’s eight-year point guard earned Western Conference Player of the Week honors last week for his insane performances against the Warriors, Mavericks, and Pacers. Date Points FGs 3s FTs Assists Rebounds Result vs. Opponent Mon. 1/20/20 61 17/37 11/20 16/16 7 10 W 129-124 vs GSW Thurs. 1/23/20 47 16/28 8/15 7/7 8 6 L 125-133 vs DAL Sun. 1/26/20 50 14/23 8/12 14/16 13 6 W 139-129 vs IND Averages: 52.7 15.7/29.3 9.0/15.7 12.3/13 9.3 7.3 – Dame has one of the highest ceilings in the league, and it would be especially exciting to see him have another gargantuan night against his greatest nemesis, Russell Westbrook. The last time Russ played in Portland, he posted a solid night of 29pts, 14ast, and 11reb. He was as braggadocios as ever and, ironically, it took a 50-point performance and a bad shot by Dame to shut him up. But it’s a new season now. Westbrook is on a new team, and that team’s been doing pretty well. The Rockets are currently fifth in the Western Conference and have won three of their last four, with the only blemish coming to the Nuggets on the road. They had a big win against the Utah Jazz last night—without Russ, MVP candidate James Harden, or starting center Clint Capela—in which Eric Gordon (of all people) scored 50 points. I’m excited for this matchup. The Rockets have become one of Portland’s biggest rivals in the past few years. Adding Westbrook to that mix only strengthens mutual hate. Both teams are at an odd crossroads in their seasons, with Dame looking to turn things around for the Blazers and Houston trying to regain their footing in the Playoff standings. Injury Report Harden has been inactive for the past two games with a left thigh contusion, and he is still questionable tonight. So is Capela. Nene and Gerald Green are both out for the Rockets. Westbrook’s absence from the Jazz game was due to rest, so he’ll be fully available tonight. In case you needed a painful reminder—Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Skal Labissiere, and Jusuf Nurkic are all out for Portland. First Quarter Well, I heard Dave Pasch’s voice and was hoping for Bill Walton to be on the call, but I guess I’ll settle for the second-most over-hated announcer in basketball—Doris Burke. Whiteside had a pair of disappointingly low-effort plays, letting an Eric Gordon brick bounce in front of him and allowing the ball to be stripped from behind on a simple screen on the other end, gifting Houston four points. Portland’s offense was depressing in the early going. The Blazers had more turnovers than points in the first few minutes. Westbrook is pissed tonight. He made one shot on Lillard, rocked the baby, and got a couple big blocks early. The jaw-ing continued as he mounted a couple assists and Dame heaved a rare bricked thirty-footer. Lillard came down the court and scored a hard-earned and-one two possessions later, muttering what we can assume were some choice words for Westbrook as he flexed. Harden and Lillard swapped signature splashes, but Ben McLemore led all scorers near the end of the first, with 12 points from four buckets. Then Dame hit two straight threes, lifting his total to 16. Portland fought hard in the first quarter, but Houston’s 60% from three gave them a six-point advantage at the end of the first. Second Quarter The quarter began with Portland milking the Melo-on-Gordon matchup in the post, earning five points from it on three possessions. A couple possessions later, Carmelo moved up to 17th on the all-time scoring list, passing Kevin Garnett. Westbrook was working Nassir Little while CJ upped his usage on the other end. The Blazers cut the lead to 2 at the 7:06 mark, but Ariza committed an odd technical almost immediately after. Dame checked back in as the Rockets started to cool off. Gary Trent Jr. hit his second three to give Portland a four-point lead with 5:23 remaining. It would be great if Trent can continue to stretch the floor going forward this season, because he gets a ton of open looks with any combination of Dame, Melo, and CJ on the court. Dare I say, the Blazers look like a team to be reckoned with when they can hold their own on defense, and the return of three injured big men can’t be overlooked as we stretch for the playoffs. Dame took over on offense. As Burke noted, he had two great assists sandwiching a trailing three after a steal from Trent on Harden. Blazers 60, Rockets 51 at the 4-minute mark in the 2nd. Lillard with 21 on 7/9. Westbrook had a notable push-off against Gary Trent that was called a defensive foul, but Stotts’ challenge overturned this to make it an offensive foul against Russ. Whiteside had a pair of great blocks on Westbrook, but Houston finally hit a three after going nearly four minutes without a field goal. Portland continued to leave the far corner open on defense to double Harden, but Lillard continued to drive past Harden on defense. A pair of dunks put the Blazers up to 71 points with an 11-point lead at the half. Portland entered the break shooting 55.6% from the field and 14/18 from the free throw line, compared to Houston’s 48% and 1/3 from the line. Westbrook accumulated a quiet 19pts/4ast/5reb and Lillard had a loud 25/5/5. Both teams had eight turnovers. Third Quarter The second half admitted itself in an odd fashion. Both teams committed multiple bonehead turnovers and missed point-blank shots. PJ Tucker got called for a technical foul, Dame missed the free throw, and Capela lost a shoe. The Rockets were the first to recover, but Ariza struck back to preserve the 11-point cushion. Whiteside made great plays on both ends, swatting his sixth and seventh blocks and picking up a loose ball to score two more. Dame’s skip pass into a CJ three extended the lead to 83-67 with 5:49 left in the quarter. HUSTLE PLAY ALERT: Dame crossed up his defender and himself, losing the ball. Carmelo got dirty and dug it out to Ariza, who buried the open three. The Blazers made more high-effort plays, but the Rockets were also blowing layups and taking poor shots. All this was largely without Lillard’s scoring, as he didn’t earn his first points of the 3rd until there were less than two minutes left. He then followed that fadeaway with a pull-up closer to half-court than the three-point arc. Fittingly, Westbrook bricked his own pull-up as the quarter expired. Blazers 97, Rockets 82. That being said, Houston’s supporting cast hit a few big shots to keep them within shouting distance. If the Rockets succeed in the playoffs, it’ll be because of guys like Austin Rivers, Danuel House Jr., or Ben McLemore stepping up. Fourth Quarter The game got pretty chippy to open up the 4th, but the Blazers nurtured their lead to 20. Westbrook got angry after a foul request was ignored. Sometimes that’s a good thing for the opponent, but in this case he broke free for a swift transition layup and a neat assist to Rivers. Dame put the game away from the logo with six minutes left. He also assisted Whiteside for a pair of and-ones. Harden, Westbrook, and Mike D’Antoni were still fighting for fouls and points, but all it did was keep me up even later into the Eastern time zone night.
The Portland Trail Blazers (5-10, 13th West) were outmatched by the New Orleans Pelicans (5-9, 12th West) 115-104 at the Smoothie King Center in New Orleans, LA on the night of Tuesday, November 19th. It was the Trail Blazers debut for forward Carmelo Anthony, who had 10 points on 4-14 shooting (2-3 from three) in 24 minutes. He also had five turnovers. Starting Lineups Portland: Anfernee Simons, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside New Orleans: Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick, Kenrich Williams, Brandon Ingram, Jaxson Hayes Game Recap 1st Quarter: Portland 28, New Orleans 27 Notable plays:&nbsp; Whiteside tries to squeeze an awful pass to Melo, Redick bricks a 3 Melo hits his first bucket on his second attempt; CJ makes it back-to-back threes (10:30) Jaxson Hayes strong putback dunk Nassir Little answers with his own putback jam (5:05) Jrue Holiday drives and dunks over Little for the and-one (2:50) Ant drives off a Skal screen, kicks to Little for the corner 3 Trends: New Orleans scoring fastbreak points off Blazers turnovers Melo working the post-up game Blazers had to resort to zone defense for a few possessions with Melo Little making plays (7 pts on 3-3) 2nd Quarter: Portland 58, New Orleans 57 Notable Plays: Anthony scores off a simple screen to start the quarter Melo tries to jam on Hayes, misses Melo picks up his third foul via a moving screen (5:50) Hayes soars for a dunk (4:10) CJ hits his second 3 to take the lead (2:45) Hood scores on three straight possessions Trends: Little making some rookie mistakes (missed rotation, missed a 2v1 in transition, missed a pair of free throws) Blazers only took 10 threes but made six of them 3rd Quarter: Portland 88, New Orleans 79 Notable Plays: CJ gets us going with a three (9:24) Melo picks up his fourth foul on a push-off in the lane (9:00) CJ nasty crossover-stepback three (7:45) Redick curls around a screen for a patented three (5:30) CJ loses the ball in the backcourt, Melli gets a free dunk (3:30) NOLA gives the ball right to Rodney, Blazers can’t finish the 3v1 fastbreak but Little nails a trailing three (1:30) Hayes banks a desperate three at the buzzer (0:00) Trends: Blazers trying to feed Melo in the low post Pelicans getting open looks and building a lead (13 at its height) Blazers struggling to get defensive rebounds Blazers committing a lot of fouls (7 to NOLA’s 2) Portland’s 3-point shooting heated up toward the end of the quarter 4th Quarter: Portland 104, New Orleans 115 Notable Plays: Three turnovers in four possessions to start the quarter Ingram loses the ball, picks it up and scores in the low post Holiday hits the most casual three of all-time to go up 14 (8:04) Whiteside leaves E’Twaun Moore WIDE open under the basket (7:25) Melo answers with a corner 3 to hit the over on his (9.5) point total (7:05) Ingram gets an easy dunk on the next possession (7:00) Carmelo picks up his fifth foul, comes out (6:21) Starters pulled by Terry Stotts at the 2-minute mark Trends:&nbsp; Pelicans pushing the pace to get running starts at the basket Minimal defensive effort Blazers struggling to run any plays without Dame Kent Bazemore stepping up from behind the arc (3-5) Overall, this was a disappointing showing, even without Dame. The Pelicans were missing a bunch of role players and the Blazers didn’t look motivated at all down the stretch. There were a few bright spots, though: Nassir Little showed a lot of heart, getting a 12-point, 11-board double-double in 23 minutes of play. He shot 5-6 from the field. He was one of only two players with a positive +/- at +9. Whiteside was 5-7 for 14 and 14, although his effort was lacking at times. Anthony was exciting to watch, and the veteran looked hungry despite a rough shooting night. Dame isn’t out for an extended period of time. Portland will continue their road swing in Milwaukee on Thursday afternoon.
Carmelo Anthony will make his much-anticipated debut for the Portland Trail Blazers tonight against the New Orleans Pelicans. The future Hall-of-Famer was signed by the Blazers to a non-guaranteed deal over the weekend. Portland (5-9, 12th West) visits the Pelicans (4-9, 14th West) after coming off a brutal 24-point loss in Houston. Tip-off from the Smoothie King Center is at 5:00 p.m. on NBA TV/NBC Sports NW. The Blazers will be without Damian Lillard, who is dealing with back spasms from carrying the team. Lillard’s 536 minutes played (38.3 per game) leads the league so far. Interestingly enough, Portland’s C.J. McCollum is second on the list with 526 (37.6/game). Without Lillard, Anthony will be expected to have an immediate scoring role, but the Blazers really need help on the glass. They were out-rebounded 58-44 last night by the Rockets. He will start tonight, per Marc J. Spears at ESPN. The Pelicans present a great opportunity for Melo to shine, as New Orleans is surrendering 120 points per game to their opponents, second only to the Washington Wizards. New Orleans is coming off a 108-100 victory against NBA bottom-feeders Golden State, and have plenty of injury woes themselves. Expected Starting Lineups Portland: Anfernee Simons, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Carmelo Anthony, Hassan Whiteside Head Coach: Terry Stotts New Orleans: Jrue Holiday, J.J. Redick, Jaxson Hayes, E’Twaun Moore, Kenrich Williams Head Coach: Alvin Gentry Injuries Portland Damian Lillard – Out (back) Jusuf Nurkic – Out (leg) Zach Collins – Out (shoulder) Pau Gasol – Out (foot) New Orleans Derrick Favors – Out (Back) Josh Hart – Out (Knee) Darius Miller – Out (Achilles) Jahlil Okafor – Out (Ankle) Zion Williamson – Out (Knee) Odds and Prediction Spread: New Orleans -2.5 Total: 231.5 Prediction: Blazers cover. I think this will be a close one. It will be tough to close out a game without Dame, but C.J. and Carmelo aren’t exactly the worst players to have down the stretch. Vibe Check I’m starting a new segment in my previews where I recommend a song based on how I’m feeling about the game at hand. Tonight’s song is one that’s been in my head for about two days now: “What’s the Move (feat. Lil Uzi Vert) by Young Thug. In all honesty, we probably won’t learn much about the Blazers strategically from this match-up. More than anything, I want to see our guys having fun. And what’s more fun than Thugger?
This has become the most dynamic position in all of the league. Gone are the days of a true pass-first point guard and today we have guys who can score literally from anywhere on the floor (Stephen Curry and Damian Lillard). 30. Ish Smith – Washington Wizards Another one of the Wizards members ends up on the bottom of the list. Smith is a great backup option for most teams in the league, but he’s a bottom end starter. He’s keeping the seat warm until John Wall comes back or Scott Brooks gives the job to Isaiah Thomas. 29. Tomas Satoransky – Chicago Bulls He’s a good player, I view him as more of a sixth man or first guard off the bench. He’s not a starter on a playoff team. 28. Terry Rozier – Charlotte Hornets After a great 2018 (including playoffs) he fell off the boat last season. Let’s see if he gets back to where he needs to be. 27. Quinn Cook – Los Angeles Lakers He and Rajon Rondo are going to go back and forth here a lot. 26. Lonzo Ball – New Orleans Pelicans He has the tools and a readjusted jumper to be a very good player in the league, he just needs to stay healthy. I think he’s in a good spot in NoLa. 25. D.J. Augustin – Orlando Magic I’m shocked he’s still in the league and that’s not a knock. He’s a decent player, but gets talked into the ground by most “analysts” out there. Ultimately he is keeping the seat warm for Markelle Fultz. 24. Ja Morant – Memphis Grizzlies He’s going to be an exciting young player in this league. 23. Justise Winslow – Miami Heat This has been a long time coming. He may just succeed at this position. 22. Delon Wright – Dallas Mavericks The Mavs are probably going to run Luka at this spot a lot, but Wright is the starter by default. 21. Dennis Smith Jr. – New York Knicks There’s a chance he loses out to Elfrid Payton. That’s all you need to know about Smith and the Knicks. 20. Reggie Jackson – Detroit Pistons Bet he wishes he was backing up Russell Westbrook in OKC again. 19. Jeff Teague – Minnesota Timberwolves I like Teague. He’s such a solid point guard. Not a great point guard, but he’s pretty good. 18. Dejounte Murray – San Antonio Spurs I think Murray has a big year and moves up further in the rankings for next year. 17. Collin Sexton – Cleveland Cavaliers Sophomore slump or does he go crazy with Garland next to him? 16. Ricky Rubio – Phoenix Suns Ricky is so inconsistent. Some nights you might think he’s the best guard in the league (rarely happens) and others you wonder if he cares to play basketball on most nights. 15. Malcolm Brogdon – Indiana Pacers He is going to thrive under Nate McMillan. 14. De’Aaron Fox – Sacramento Kings The fastest guard in the NBA. Once he develops a consistent jump shot he’s going to be deadly. 13. Eric Bledsoe – Milwaukee Bucks He’s always good during the regular season and then takes the playoffs off. Must be an after effect of spending so much time in Phoenix. 12. Trae Young – Atlanta Hawks The heir apparent to Steph Curry. 11. Patrick Beverley – Los Angeles Clippers The best on the ball defender in the league at the guard position. The guy you want on your team and hate when he’s not. 10. Jamal Murray – Denver Nuggets He got the top 10 money and now he needs to play like it. 9. Kyle Lowry – Toronto Raptors This is probably the last year we’ll see Lowry in the top 10. His age has to catch up to him at some point. 8. Mike Conley – Utah Jazz He might be the missing piece in Utah. If he can find his offensive game the Jazz might be the deepest and most dangerous team in all the NBA. 7. Chris Paul – Oklahoma City Thunder He’s keeping this spot warm until he’s traded and SGA takes over. 6. Russell Westbrook – Houston Rockets He and Harden are going to have a lot of fun together. Not sure how many championships they are going to win together though. 5. Kemba Walker – Boston Celtics Brad Stevens is going to make him a winner. 4. Ben Simmons – Philadelphia 76ers Once he has a consistent jump shot he’s going to be #1 and it might be a decade before he gives it up. 3. Kyrie Irving – Brooklyn Nets There is no denying what Kyrie can do. He’s had some issues the last couple of seasons, let’s see how he has grown this summer. 2. Damian Lillard – Portland Trail Blazers Dame destroyed a franchise last summer. He has a legit claim at the number one spot. 1. Steph Curry – Golden State Warriors There is no better point guard in all the league. He’s the best shooter, a good defender, and a good leader. Other posts in this series: Ranking the 2019-20 coachesRanking the starting centersRanking the starting power forwardsRanking the starting small forwardsRanking the starting shooting guards
The Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) will head to San Antonio to face the Spurs (2-0) on the second night of a Texas-sized back-to-back. Last night, the Blazers pulled off a thrilling comeback victory against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. The Blazers will be without starting big man Zach Collins after he separated his left shoulder in the third quarter. Although Collins’ timetable is still up in the air going forward, but he is definitely out for tonight. Zach’s injury leaves a gaping hole in an already-thin rotation of Blazers bigs: Jusuf Nurkic is out for probably half the season and Pau Gasol still isn’t healthy. That leaves Hassan Whiteside and Skal Labissiere as the Blazers’ only remaining pure bigs. Mario Hezonja was forced to play center against Kristaps Porzingis down the stretch after Whiteside fouled out, so he’s my best bet to take Zach’s starting spot. Expected Starting Lineups: Portland: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Mario Hezonja, Hassan Whiteside San Antonio: Dejounte Murray, Bryn Forbes, DeMar DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge, Trey Lyles Portland got huge offensive contributions from their backcourt last night (Dame had 30 points; Cj 28) but it was the second-half defense that turned the game around. Dallas scored 71 in the first half and only 48 in the second. The Spurs are rounding out a third game of their opening homestand, most recently defeating the Washington Wizards 124-122 in their last game behind a game-winning bucket from DeMar DeRozan, who went 5-for-6 in the final quarter. San Antonio are six-point favorites. They have beaten the Knicks and Wizards so far, but this will be their first true test against a Western Conference opponent. Game Info Time: Monday, Oct. 28th at 5:30 p.m. PT Place: AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas How to watch: NBCSNW (click here for legal streaming options) Quick Stats Portland leads the league in two-pointers made through three games with 100 LaMarcus Aldridge is beginning his fifth season with the Spurs after nine years in Portland Portland and San Antonio split their season series last year
The Portland Trail Blazers (2-1) defeated the Dallas Mavericks (2-1) 121-119 on the road Sunday night thanks to a Damian Lillard drive and coach’s challenge by Terry Stotts. Portland trailed by 19 points in the early second quarter, but big contributions from CJ McCollum, Damian Lillard, and Rodney Hood kept them in the game. A shoulder injury to Zach Collins in the second half made things even more interesting, but the Blazers eventually got things going on both ends, taking the lead late in the fourth quarter. Starting lineups: Portland: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Rodney Hood, Zach Collins, Hassan Whiteside Dallas: Luka Doncic, Jalen Brunson, Delon Wright, Maxi Kleber, Kristaps Porzingis Who stood out? CJ McCollum scored 35 points on 50% shooting from the field and 8-8 on free throws. Lillard had 28 points and five assists on 10/20 shooting. Rodney Hood had 14 points in the first quarter and finished with 20 on 8/12 from the field (including 3/3 from three). Hassan Whiteside had six points and 14 rebounds in 26 minutes, although he did foul out with a couple minutes remaining. Luka Doncic put up 29 points, nine assists, and 12 rebounds, but on 36% shooting. Kristaps Porzingis recorded 32 points, nine rebounds, and five assists. Maxi Kleber added 14 points, most of which came in the first quarter. Dallas’ bench had 32 points as well. First quarter Momentum Plays: Porzingis and-one against Collins on 1st possession Whiteside called for a jump ball on a ball he thought he stripped; leads to aggression from Collins Kleber finishes alley-oop dunk from Doncic Hood ties it at 25 with 3:19 left in the quarter Porzingis block leads to tip dunk with 1 minute left, followed by a Curry three and a Luka dunk to cap a 15-0 run and a 15-point (40-25) lead for the Mavs. Maxi Kleber was the unlikely hero of the first quarter for the Mavericks. The German forward set wide screens, hit a pair of corner threes, and had an emphatic dunk that gave the Mavs energy in the first period. The Mavericks also enjoyed 13 free throw attempts in the first, compared to Portland’s two. However, Rodney Hood’s composed scoring kept the Blazers within reaching distance for most of the quarter. Second quarter Momentum plays: Kristaps hits back-to-back 3s to open the quarter—the latter “near logo Lillard land,” as Lamar Hurd called it CJ has a few straight scoring possessions three minutes into the quarter Dallas scores a quick eight straight points out of a timeout Doncic fakes out Whiteside, scoring amidst “oohs and aahs” from the home crowd (2:40) Hustle play – Lillard strips Doncic, leads to Hood dunk in transition CJ kept the Blazers in the game with 18 points during the second quarter, although Dallas still seemed to be scoring at will. His familiar craftiness helped the Blazers to a 12-0 run, cutting the Mavs lead to four points at one point. The Blazers finished the half with 14 fastbreak points, while Dallas’ bench already bad 18. Third quarter Momentum plays: Doncic draws a foul on Collins; gets 3 FTs—Zach is visibly frustrated after his 3rd foul (8:55) Doncic passes to Kleber to Wright for three—great ball movement by Dallas Doncic hits a big three out of a timeout to go up 10 Bazemore tough and-1 to pull within two Lillard rips the ball away and finishes a tough shot at the rim (5:10) Collins heads to the locker room immediately after a rebound attempt, holding his left shoulder and not moving his left arm at all (2:01) Lillard took over in the third quarter, scoring 10 points in the first three minutes of the half. He totaled 19 points in the third quarter alone. The Portland defense finally contained Dallas as well, allowing only 24 points. Fourth quarter Momentum plays: Bazemore’s corner transition three takes the first lead of the game for Portland McCollum passes Wesley Matthews on Blazers all-time three-pointers list Seth Curry‘s pull-up three ties it up at 107 (6:41) Porzingis scores an and-1 dunk on Whiteside (his fifth foul) Whiteside slams a one-handed put-back to take the lead back and gets a tough board on the other end before fouling out McCollum hits a classic tough jumper (1:30) Big defensive stop on Dallas’ inbounds pass to stay within one(:40) Blazers take the lead off a Lillard drive on Doncic (:26.8) Doncic misses a three, Dorian Finney-Smith snags the board, Dame is called for a reach against him, Stotts challenges and wins a jump ball(:08.6) This was the first instance of a coach’s challenge in a critical game situation this year. With 8.6 seconds remaining, Terry Stotts risked his final timeout to challenge a reach-in call against Lillard. The move proved to be a good one, as the original call was overturned and a jumpball was held at midcourt. With Hassan Whiteside fouled out, Mario Hezonja stepped up against the 7’3″ Kristaps Porzingis for the jump. Porzingis’ tip was controlled by Kent Bazemore, who was fouled with 5 seconds left and split the pair. With no timeouts, Dallas couldn’t advance the ball fast enough to get a good shot off Bazemore’s second free throw, and the Blazers stole a nervy 2-point win from the Mavericks.