Blazers Get Right With Furious Fourth Quarter

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

Through three quarters, it looked as though the Portland Trail Blazers would sink further into malaise with a loss to yet another team far below them in the standings.

But furious fourth quarter performances from LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews and Thomas Robinson lifted the Trail Blazers to a 110-94 victory over the Orlando Magic Wednesday night at the Moda Center.

“Well we need that one,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I was pleased for a lot of reasons. I thought our defense to start the game, our defense in the fourth quarter obviously was very good. Thomas Robinson came in and gave us nice energy in the fourth quarter. Wes carried us midway through the second half and LA was great all night.”

With the win, the Trail Blazers move to 27-9 on the season and sit a half game back from Oklahoma City and a full game behind the Spurs for the best record in the Western Conference.

Aldridge scored 21 points in the first half, but no other Trail Blazers logged more than seven before the intermission. Portland trailed by as many as 12 in the second quarter before pulling to within six before the halftime break.

“We had defensive letdowns. I thought loose balls – they played with a little bit more energy and urgency than we did,” said Stotts of the first quarter. “We didn’t necessarily shoot the ball well. A lot of times it’s a combination of both things. I was disappointed with our defense in the second quarter, and like I said, our urgency affecting the game.”

Portland trailed 75-71 going into the fourth, but they would start the quarter on a 13-5 run to seize control of the game. The Trail Blazers seemed inspired by the play of Robinson, who looked to reclaim his spot in the rotation with a six-point, three-rebound performance. While those numbers are in no way eye-popping, Robinson finished a game-high +22 in just 11 minutes, with all of those minutes coming in the pivotal fourth quarter.

“I just wanted to prove to coach that’s who I am as a player,” said Robinson. “I go back and forth with myself mentally and I have since I got drafted, trying to prove something to everybody, show that I can do so much other stuff that it just takes away from who I am. That’s what caused me to get out of the rotation. Going into tonight or any of the other games that I didn’t play, just mentally, patiently waiting for my time to get in.”

With Robinson providing the necessary hustle and Matthews handling the bulk of the scoring (10 points on four of nine shooting in the fourth quarter), the Trail Blazers would outscore Orlando 39-19 in the final 12 minutes to come away with a 16-point victory in front of a crowd of 18,949.

Aldridge finished with a game-high 36 points to go along with nine rebounds, three blocks and an assist. With his first free throw of the night, he surpassed Geoff Petrie for seventh on the Trail Blazers all time made free throws list (1,793) and by playing in his 544th career game, tied Rasheed Wallace for ninth in games played.

Batum, playing with a broken left (non-shooting) middle finger, recorded a triple-double with 14 points, a career-high 14 assists and 10 rebounds.

“I just get used to it now,” said Batum of playing with a broken finger. “I practiced with it and tried to not think about it and tried to play through it.”

Batum joins Rajon Rondo, Kevin Durant and LeBron James as the only NBA players with at least four triple-doubles over the past two seasons. He is just the fifth Trail Blazer in franchise history to record at least four triple-doubles.

“Last night in Sacramento, I thought he was tentative early in the game,” said Stotts of Batum. “As the game progressed in Sacramento, he looked more and more comfortable with it. Tonight, he hits that first shot and was aggressive and it didn’t look like he had any effects from it. It’s easy for me to say – I’m sure it’s bothering him – but I didn’t think he played like it was affecting him.”

Matthews shook off a rough shooting performance in the loss to the Kings on Tuesday to finish with 17 points, five rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes.

Said Mathews: “I was just trying to get back to being angry. Like I said after the Brooklyn game – a new level of angry, a new level of mad. Not to say I toned it down, but over the course of the season, I might have lost a little bit of it, so I had to get it back.”

Wednesday’s game was also the debut of Trail Blazers rookie guard CJ McCollum, who checked in for the first time in his professional career at the 3:15 mark of the first quarter. After missing the first 34 games while recovering from a fracture of the fifth metatarsal in his left foot, McCollum finished with four points and two rebounds in 14 minutes.

“It was what I expected,” said McCollum. “Getting to come in and kind of contribute off the bench and help contribute in a win was great. Great way to start my career. Just want to make sure I’m tight in everything, continue to work hard and not be content.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers host the Celtics Saturday night. Tipoff is schedule for 7 PM.

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

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
7 hours 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
8 hours 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
3 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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