Aldridge Continues Late-Season Climb Up NBA.com MVP Rankings

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

Last week, LaMarcus Aldridge returned to the NBA.com “Race To The MVP” rankings, showing up at No. 8, after a prolonged hiatus due to injury. Portland winning four-straight and clinching a playoff spot immediately following Aldridge’s return from a lower back contusion was all the proof needed to show that the three-time All-Star power forward is indeed a most valuable player to the Trail Blazers.

And this week, Aldridge continues to climb up the MVP rankings. While it’s all but a two-man race between Kevin Durant and LeBron James for the NBA’s most prestigious individual award, it’s still good to see Aldridge bump up three spots to No. 5 in this week’s rankings

Aldridge is the definition of an MVP with what he’s meant to the Trail Blazers this season. They were a totally different team without him in the lineup last month while he dealt with a sore back. Their 3-4 record during his absence last month put them in danger of falling out of the West’s ultra-competitive playoff chase. They are 6-1 since he returned (Aldridge is averaging 22 ppg, 11.6 rpg, 2.1 apg and 1.1 bpg in that span) and clinched their playoff spot during his comeback. As good as Damian Lillard is and has been this season, the Blazers will go only as far as Aldridge leads them in the playoffs. This is his team.

And it has been for some time now. The Trail Blazers would struggle mightily if Lillard, who made the MVP rankings back when the Trail Blazers were running roughshod over teams earlier in the season, missed time due to injury as Aldridge has this season, but Aldridge is still the linchpin to Portland’s success. That much was evident when the Trail Blazers lost three consecutive games, including a double-digit loss to the Orlando Magic, immediately preceding Aldridge’s return.

Aldridge is ranked behind Joakim Noah at No. 4 and ahead of James Harden at No. 6.

Show Comments

McCollum And Lillard Each Get 34 For Portland’s 30th

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

PORTLAND — Sunday night’s win versus the Utah Jazz was the first time that both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum each scored at least 30 points in the same game.

They didn’t wait long to repeat that feat.

Lillard and McCollum both scored 34 points to lead the Trail Blazers to a 112-104 victory versus the Brooklyn Nets in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 Tuesday night at the Moda Center.

“Well offensively, no question they carried us,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of his starting backcourt. “The first half, we had 15 assists in the first half. The ball was moving. Dame and CJ carried us at the end and certainly you look at the box score and they had 68 between them, but I thought we did a lot of good things offensively in the first half with 15 assists and screening and ball movement. When we screen and when we pass, we’re pretty effective. But 68 points from your backcourt, that goes a long way.”

The win moves Portland to 30-27 overall, 19-11 at home while extending their win streak to a season-best six games. What’s more, the Trail Blazers are now tied for sixth in the Western Conference standings with the Dallas Mavericks. Portland is 15-3 in their past 18 games and are now three games above .500 for the first time this season.

The Trail Blazers led by as many as 19 points in the second half, but a 15-4 run would help the Nets outscore Portland by 11 in the third and cut the lead to 85-82 going into the fourth. Behind the play of center Brook Lopez, Brooklyn took a three-point lead with less than six minutes to play.

“I say it all the time: we don’t have the luxury of coming in and expecting somebody to lay down to us or expecting to win games, period,” said Lillard. “We’ve got to come out, we’ve got to play four quarters, we’ve got to do those small things that make us the team that we’ve become. When we don’t do that you see, like tonight, we can be beat. It’s no surprise, nothing crazy happened, but we’ve just got to understand that when we don’t stick to those principle things, we can be beat.”

Though that wouldn’t be the end result Tuesday night. A late-game surge, led by the scoring of Lillard and McCollum and an increased effort on the defensive end, resulted in the Trail Blazers outscoring the Nets 19-8 in the last five minutes to keep their winning streak alive.

“The game got intense, they took the lead,” said Stotts. “You could just tell that there was a little more urgency at the defensive end. Obviously we made some baskets, I thought Mason made a couple good passes, our three man game was working between him and Dame and CJ. Obviously the two threes widened the gap. Probably offensively there was some trust there that we would make a play for one another and ultimately I thought that made the difference at the end.”

Lillard went 14-of-14 from the free throw line and 8-of-19 from the field to get his 34 whole also adding four assists, three steals and two rebounds in just under 37 minutes. He became the first Blazer to score at least 30 points in five consecutive games since Geoff Petrie in 1970. Lillard also passed Nicolas Batum for third all-time in franchise history in made three-pointers with 752 and counting.

As for McCollum, he used a 5-of-7 night from three to equal his backcourt partner in scoring while leading the in assists with six and grabbing five rebounds.

(McCollum) was fun to watch,” said Lillard. “A lot of times, I’d kick him the ball ahead and I’d go to the opposite wing and I’d catch myself watching him sometimes, the stuff that he can do, how crafty he is with the ball, the tough shots that he can knock down. I think the best part for me is that stretch at the end of the game, I didn’t feel like I had to keep the ball. A couple possessions where the game was tied, he hit a big three, we were down two, he hit a pull-up, tie game he hit another pull-up. So it’s comforting for me to know that I can pitch ahead to CJ and be on the weak side and if he gets trapped, they can swing it to me, but I’ve got a lot of confidence in him having the ball.”

Both Al-Farouq Aminu and Gerald Henderson each scored 10 points, with four players scoring four points. Mason Plumlee grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds.

Lopez finished with 36 points on 16-of-24 shooting, 10 rebounds and four steals in 40 minutes. Joe Johnson added 19 and Donal Sloan finished with 14.

Next up, the Trail Blazers finish a home-heavy start to 2016 by hosting the Rockets Thursday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.

Show Comments

New ‘Static’ Colorway Joins Lineup Of D Lillard 2 Options

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

It was announced today that a new colorway of the adidas D Lillard 2, the signature sneaker of Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard, was being released in a new “Static” colorway, which will be available February 27. With the new release, it seemed like a good opportunity to run through all of the currently available colorways of the D Lillard 2 outside of the original “home” and “road” options.

All photos and copy provided by adidas.

The “Static” colorway

Coming off the NBA All-Star break, Dame put on a show against the league-leading Golden State Warriors, dropping a career-high 51 points to go with seven assists and six steals in a 137-105 win. He’s the first Trail Blazer to post 30+ points in four-straight games since Clyde Drexler and the first player in NBA history to hit 150+ threes in his first four seasons.

D Lillard 2 Static Detail_blog1

Dame_Static_Twitter_02blog5real

“I don’t need validation – they’ve seen what I can do out there,” Dame explained. “As a man, I’ve grown to rise above it all and block out the noise. I’ll keep pushing, keep working and soon enough they’ll wake up.”

Dame_Static_Twitter_11_blog4real

Dame_Static_Twitter_20_blog3real

Constructed with white and black threads that deliver a fuzzing static effect along the upper, the latest D Lillard 2 is a symbol of Dame’s motivation to drown out the noise and reflects his unrelenting focus. The silhouette features black detailing throughout and is paired with white Oak Print accents on the heel cap and lace lock.

Dame_Static_Twitter_22_blog2real

Dame_Static_Twitter_15_blog6real

BOUNCE cushioning delivers lightweight comfort through an all-black midsole that is treated with a white speckled finish. The “Static” edition also features a Continental rubber outsole to ensure premium on-court grip during his patented step-back jumper and explosive drives.

“Static” ($105) drops February 27 at Foot Locker, Eastbay and adidas.com.

The “Aurora Borealis Triple White” colorway

The Aurora Borealis Triple White Collection, inspired by Toronto’s cool, winter climate and the Northern Lights that paint the sky in upper parts of Canada. The limited all-white renditions of the D Lillard 2 and T-MAC 3 will join the Aurora Borealis collection, including the James Harden PE announced yesterday. All three models appear triple-white only to reveal a Northern Lights glow under the night sky.

D Lillard 2 white blog1

D Lillard 2 white blog 2

The latest take on the D Lillard 2 features all-white tooling, a Primeknit upper and Boost cushioning in the heel. Pairing Toronto’s snow covered winter with the array of colors observed in the Northern Lights

D Lillard white blog 3

D Lillard white blog 4

Dame’s Triple White edition also incorporates glow in the dark design elements with blue hits on the heel and outsole that meet a gradient green fade along the upper.

d lillard white blog 5

D Lillard white blog 6

The Aurora Borealis Triple White colorway of the D Lillard 2 released on Thursday, February 11 on adidas.com, Foot Locker and Eastbay for $150.

The “Aurora Borealis” colorway

The D Lillard 2 edition of the Aurora Borealis collection to celebrate NBA All-Star Weekend in Toronto. Each model comes equipped with a Primeknit upper and Boost cushioning for enhanced breathability, comfort and performance on the court.

D Lillard 2 aurora blog 1

D Lillard 2 aurora blog 4

For the first time in Dame’s signature line, the D Lillard 2 is designed with a Primeknit woven upper and Boost cushioning. The upper features purple and pink gradient threads as a tribute to the glowing, radiant waves of the Northern Lights. The silhouette matches pink hits along the iced outsole, eyelets and signature details with purple tooling for a vibrant, bold finish.

d lillard 2 aurora blog2

d lillard 2 aurora blog3

The “Aurora Borealis” D Lillard 2 released on January 28 at adidas.com and select retailers for $115.

The “Black History Month” colorway

Inspired by the triumph of an American sports and cultural hero, adidas celebrates Jesse Owens with its Black History Month footwear collection.

Each model features cream tones, dark brown contrasts, gold accents and signature details including Owens’ 733 bib number treated with gold foil on the tongue and a 1936 graphic-print in the sockliner.

d lillard 2 BHM blog1

D lillard 2 bhm blog2

Inspired by Owens’ track uniform at the games, the D Lillard 2 is designed with an off-white color palette, while the upper’s cracked, gold foil texture and accents echo the medals won. The upper is also color blocked with cream suede and mesh paneling for clean, comfortable style on and off the court. The silhouette pairs Oak Print hits with a fresh coat of vintage-white at the midsole, eyelets and heel cap that seamlessly blend with a clear outsole.

d lillard 2 bhm blog3

D lillard 2 bhm blog 5

The “Black History Month” D Lillard 2 release in January at adidas.com and select retailers for $105.

The “Chinese New Year” colorway

Celebrating the Year of the Monkey, the Chinese New Year Collection features limited editions of the D Lillard 2 and D Rose 6. The collection is inspired by the symbolic nature of this year’s Chinese Zodiac – the “Fire Monkey” – and features custom fire monkey graphics, tonal prints and vivid color hits.

The collection also features apparel items inspired by NBA superstars Derrick Rose and Damian Lillard, who visited China in the offseason and met thousands of fans as part of the Take on Summer tour.

416056

416054

The D Lillard 2 features a fanged fire monkey graphic print treated with a gloss finish. Designed with an all-black upper, the silhouette is constructed with nubuck detailing and breathable mesh panels. The Year of the Monkey edition is capped off by fire red and gold accents, a clear blue outsole and Oak Print details on the heel cap and BOUNCE midsole.

d lillard 2 chinese blog3

d lillard 2 chinese blog4

The “Chinese New Year” colorway first limited release in China on January 1 and globally on February 5 at adidas.com and select retailers for $105.

Miadidas options

Fans can create custom pairs of the D Lillard 2 with an array of color options for each piece of the shoe. For the first time, the miadidas D Lillard 2 also offers custom name and number embroidery options for ultimate personalization.

419138

419140

419142

The miadidas D Lillard 2 is available at miadidas.com for $160.

Show Comments

Podcast: Lillard Talks About Success Without Compromise On The Jim Rome Show

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

The morning after scoring 30 points in Sunday night’s 115-111 victory versus the Utah Jazz at the Moda Center, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard joined The Jim Rome Show on CBS Sports Radio to discuss Portland’s play over their last 17 games, vastly exceeding preseason expectations, scoring 51 on the way to beating the Golden State Warriors and missing out on the 2016 All-Star Game. You can listen to the entire interview below…

Perhaps the most interesting part of the interview came at the end, with Lillard answering a question about whether even he is surprised by the success he’s achieved less than four seasons into his NBA career.

“I’m even amazed by a lot of the things that have happened, and I think I’m more amazed just because it’s all come without me having to compromise who I am,” said Lillard. “I’m able to be myself and work the same way I worked in the summer and before practice. On my downtime I listen to beats and I can still rap. Over the summer I can put the music out and I can still have my same personality, do commercials and stuff like that and just do it through being myself. I really am amazed by the fact that I haven’t had to compromise the person that I cam to have all of these things happen. I’m very appreciative and I understand how blessed I am to have it be that way.”

I’m guessing there are some Trail Blazers fans who are just as amazed as well.

(Interview provided courtesy of The Jim Rome Show)

Show Comments

Lillard Keeps Pace In This Week’s ‘Race To The MVP’ Rankings

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

Last week, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard jumped into the NBA’s weekly “Race to the MVP” rankings for the first time during the 2015-16 season by virtue of leading the Trail Blazers to win in 11 of their past 13 games while scoring at least 30 points in five straight games. The 6-3 guard debuted at No. 6 in the rankings, which also happened to be Portland’s place in the Western Conference standings with just over a month of games left to be played in the regular season.

This week, Lillard once again finds himself at No. 6 in updated MVP rankings after helping the Trail Blazers ensure at least a .500 record on their current six-game road trip, which continues tonight in Toronto against the white-hot Raptors, with wins versus the Bulls, Pacers and Knicks…

Lillard had his hands full in Boston Wednesday night with a group of the best defensive guards on any team in the league in Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and All-Star Isaiah Thomas. He finished with a team-high 20 points but had just four rebounds two assists and two steals. And he’ll have his hands full again tonight at the Air Canada Centre against Toronto Raptors All-Star Kyle Lowry (7:30 ET, NBA League Pass). Yet Lillard always seems to rise to the occasion when another elite point guard is lined up across from him. Lillard will have to continue to work his magic with C.J. McCollum if the Trail Blazers are going to get through th. current road trip intact and maintain the momentum they’ve built up recently.

While Lillard and the Trail Blazers can return home with their heads held high regardless of the result in tonight’s contest and the trip finale Sunday night in Detroit versus the Pistons, getting at least one more win would turn what has already been a good trip into a great one while improving Lillard’s chances of moving into the Top 5 of MVP rankings next week.

Lillard is ranked by San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard at No. 5 and ahead of Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook at No. 7. Lillard’s matchup in tonight’s game, Toronto point guard Kyle Lowry, is ranked No. 8.

Show Comments

Lillard Added To NBA’s ‘Race To The MVP’ Ranking For The First Time This Season

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

Near the end of Tuesday night’s victory versus the Nets, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was treated for the first time to chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P” by fans at the Moda Center. While Lillard’s stat line of 34 points on 9-of-18 shooting from the field, six assists, five rebounds and a steals was worthy of praise on its own, the “M-V-P!” calls on this night seemed to be more of an appreciation of an impressive series of performances that saw the 6-3 guard out of Weber State score at least 30 points in five consecutive games, all Trail Blazers’ victories.

“It felt like a ‘You’re Ours’ type of chant,’’ Lillard said after Wednesday’s practice. “It wasn’t even like a ‘You’re going to win MVP’ … It was more like, ‘If nobody else appreciates you, we appreciate you’ type of thing.”

But lately, that appreciation has not been unique to Trail Blazers fans. Now that the Trail Blazers are still in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race, people outside of Rip City are starting to come around on Lillard’s MVP credentials. That includes NBA.com’s Sekou Smith, who puts Lillard at No. 6 in this week’s “Race To The MVP” rankings…

Lillard fueled the Trail Blazers’ six-game win streak that ended Thursday night against Houston and James Harden by scoring 30 or more points in five straight games, including that 51-point masterpiece in the upset win over the Golden State Warriors. He’s on a 10-game roll that has seen him average 28.4 points, 7.7 assists, 3.6 rebounds and 1.9 steals. He might have missed out on being selected for the Western Conference All-Star team, but Lillard’s revenge could be leading an underrated and overlooked Trail Blazers team to a playoff berth. They are in the hunt thanks to the leadership and play of the last man standing after the franchise’s summer overhaul.

This is the first time this season that Lillard has made the Top 10 in MVP rankings. He’s behind Clippers point guard Chris Paul at No. 5 and ahead of Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard at No. 7.

 

Show Comments

Lillard Gets His First Moda Center ‘M-V-P!’ Moment

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 months ago

Though he’s provided fans with some of the most spectacular moments in franchise history, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard swears he’s never heard chants of “M-V-P! M-V-P! M-V-P!” at the Moda Center, or at least, not “M-V-P!” chants that were directed at him.

But that changed late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night’s 112-104 victory versus the Brooklyn Nets. As Lillard stepped up to the free throw line with just over 25 seconds to play and the Trail Blazers leading 108-104, the sellout crowd of 19,393 fans at the Moda Center made their appreciation well known, breaking into a loud and extended “M-V-P!” chant as the 6-3 point guard in his fourth season out of Weber State made both freebies to ice the game.

“It meant a lot,” said Lillard, who finished with 34 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds in 37 minutes. “When I got up to the free throw line I heard it was growing a little bit, then I made the first one and it got loud. I could see all the fans like standing up and stuff, so that let me know that they really meant that chant. It was a great feeling and I’ve just got to keep doing what I’m doing.”

While Lillard’s effort Tuesday night, particularly in the fourth quarter, was instrumental in lifting the Trail Blazers to their sixth consecutive victory, the first real “MVP!” chants seemed like an appreciation of his cumulative performance since returning from the All-Star break. He’s averaging 40.5 points on 57 percent shooting, 6.0 assists and 3.0 steals in the three games since the break, a run that included a 51-point performance in a win versus the league-leading Warriors and a 30-point night in Sunday’s win versus the Jazz, a team right next to Portland in the Western Conference standings.

“He’s playing at an elite level right now,” said CJ McCollum, who also put up 34 points in Tuesday win, “and we need him to sustain that up until the rest of the season, up until April and May.”

If Lillard can continue to performance at his current level into April, the Trail Blazers will have an exponentially better chance of extending their season into May. And if that is the case, fans at the Moda Center won’t be the only people thinking MVP with they see Lillard, though such honors are not of his concern.

“I said it a month and a half ago: my focus is to pour myself into the team,” said Lillard. “The reason why they were chanting that is because I poured myself into the team and we’ve gotten better and we’re winning games and I’m playing well through that. I’ll just continue to do what I do and I’ll let everyone else make (MVP voting) decisions like they have been and they always will.”

Show Comments