Blazers End Trip With Fifth-Straight Win Versus Bulls

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

CHICAGO — There’s nothing like going home happy.

After starting a five-game road trip off 0-3, the Portland Trail Blazers finished strong Friday night with a 91-74 victory versus the Chicago Bulls in front 22,055 at the United Center.

“I’m really proud of the way we played tonight,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “We stayed locked in and out defense was solid, we didn’t give up easy baskets to them … It’s good to get back-to-back wins here and after a good win last night.”

Chicago’s 74 points are the fewest Portland has allowed this season. The Bulls are now 0-11 this season when held under 80 points.

The Trail Blazers finish off their last multi-game road trip of the season with back-to-back victories after defeating the Hawks in Atlanta Thursday night. Portland sweeps the season series and has now won six-straight versus the Bulls and are 5-2 in their last seven games in Chicago.

Portland looked to be the fresher team despite playing their fourth game in five nights, which was even more impressive considering Chicago hadn’t played since Monday. The Bulls led for the first five and a half minutes of the first quarter, as neither team could find the mark early, but Portland would take their first lead after a Nicolas Batum three-pointer put Portland up 9-6 with 6:11 to play in the first quarter.

The Bulls would briefly take the lead again early in the second after starting the quarter on a 6-1 run, but it would be all Trail Blazers from there on out. Portland went on an 11-2 run between the 10:12 and 7:13 marks of the second thanks in part to three-pointers from Damian Lillard and Dorell Wright to take a 32-24 lead. Lillard, Wright and Mo Williams would combine to go 4 of 4 from three in the second quarter while the team shot 10 of 20 from the field to outscore Chicago 28-20 and take a 47-36 lead into the halftime intermission.

After gradually building a double-digit lead in the first half, Trail Blazers started the third on a 15-2 run. It was once again the three ball that did much of the damage, though this time it was Nicolas Batum and Wesley Matthews going 3 for 3 in the first three minutes of the half to help Portland take a 24-point lead, their largest of the game.

It would take a while, but the Bulls would respond with a run of their own, finishing the quarter by outscoring the Blazers 11-2 to cut the lead to 15 by the start of the fourth.

But rather than let the Bulls back into the game, Portland started the final quarter with another run, this one of the 9-1 variety, to push the lead back to 23 with 8:47 to play in regulation.

“We was able to jump out and take a pretty big lead,” said Lillard. “In the huddle once again we were saying. ‘Let’s keep them down. Keep our intensity up, keep our energy up.’ And they made a few shots and kind of dented the lead a little bit — I think they cut it to 14 or 15. We got it together, we tightened back up, we made things tough for them on the defense end, went down and executed and we made shots. Tonight we did a really good job of just playing a complete game.”

The teams would mostly trade scores from there on out, and with plenty of cushion, Portland would be able to put in the end of the bench with two minutes to play while coasting to a 17-point victory.

Six Trail Blazers scored in double digits Friday night led by Mo Williams, who played 25 minutes off the bench to finish with 18 points on 7 of 12 shooting.

“I thought Mo played terrific tonight,” said Stotts. “The way he played tonight was great because we needed his scoring and defense. It’s been well documented that usually when he scores for us, we win.”

Damian Lillard played 37 minutes and ended the game with 16 points on 6 of 14 shooting, four rebounds and four assists.

Nicolas Batum and Robin Lopez each scored 13, with Lopez adding five blocks, nine rebounds and two steals.

“Our defense tonight was just an example of everyone being there for each other,” said Lopez. “When you know there is someone behind you, it gives you the confidence to be aggressive. That’s how I felt out there tonight. I’m impressed with how we played out there tonight. We want to continue that now.”

LaMarcus Aldridge, in his second game back after missing seven games with a lower back contusion, shot just 2 of 10 from the field for five points, although he did pull down 13 rebounds. But with the Bulls double-teaming the three-time All-Star, shots opened up on the perimeter for his teammates and hey responded by shooting 46 percent from three, easily their best percentage from distance during the road trip.

“They get more energy and they get more happy,” said Aldridge of his teammates when they’re getting clean looks thanks to double teams. “I think when teams double team me, I feel like guys pull over to the ball fast. I think guys are more locked in. When I have the ball, normally I’m going one-on-one and I’m always shooting it, but like tonight when they double team, I feel like my teammates were more engaged.”

With the win, Portland remains in fifth place in the Western Conference standings with eight games to play.

“Every game is critical now,” said Stotts. “The playoff positioning is not set. The last couple of games on the trip got away from this group. However, this team knows what it has to do. It’s easy to get caught up in emotions with the rollercoaster effect of wins and losses. You just can’t get too high or too low.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers return home to host the Memphis Grizzlies at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 PM.

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VIDEO: Lillard Cuts Through Crowded Street Market In New Adidas Ad

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.

But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…

Here’s what the folks at adidas have to say about the spot…

In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.

The spot is one of three released by adidas as a part of the “Here To Create” series, which includes football players chasing rabbits through the Everglades and some kind of soccer/motocross amalgam.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Post Free Agency Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
1 day ago

With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. And a reminder that the offseason is a great time to leave a review on iTunes!

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Trail Blazers Match Four-Year Offer For Allen Crabbe

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.

ORIGINAL POST

After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…


As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.

But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.

There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…

With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.

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