Emotional Roller Coaster Ends With Loss To Mavericks In Dallas

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 years ago

DALLAS — The Portland Trail Blazers rallied from a 30-point first half deficit, held a seven-point lead in in the fourth quarter only to be outscored 11-0 in the final four minutes and 24 second of the game to fall 103-98 to the Mavericks Friday night in Dallas.

With the loss, the Trail Blazers fall to 42-20 on the season and 18-12 on the road. They now sit in fifth place in the Western Conference standings, four gamers back from the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Mavericks got into the bonus in the early stages of the fourth  and scored 13 of their 28 points at the line to get the win.

“Disappointed with our start – obviously getting down 30 on the road is not what you want,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “But I was proud of the way we competed and we were able to take the lead. We weren’t able to finish a few shots at the basket down the stretch. Dallas being in the bonus for most of the fourth quarter really affected the game in the fourth quarter. And that’s about it.”

Portland got off to easily their worst start of the season, shooting 21 percent from the field and turning the ball over six times to end the first 12 minutes with just 10 points.

Portland’s abysmal offensive production was just one side of a hideous first-quarter coin, with the Mavericks shooting 55 percent form the field and 50 percent from three to put up 33 points behind 15 from Dallas point guard Jose Calderon.

The Trail Blazers weren’t much better defensively in the second quarter, though they did improve to 50 percent shooting from the field to outscore Dallas 28-24. Thomas Robinson, playing for the first time since spraining the patella tendon in his left knee in Portland’s victory in Denver on Feb. 25, provided a much needed infusion of energy in the second, scoring nine points and pulling down eight rebounds while playing all 12 minutes in the quarter.

“We needed energy and he came in in the second quarter and he gave us a spark,” said Stotts of Robinson’s performance. “He did the same thing in the second half. It was good to see because he had been out for a while, but he has the ability to provide energy to the game and that’s what he did.”

But with so much damage already done in the first quarter, Portland trailed 57-38 at the halftime intermission.

But as bad as they were in the first quarter, Portland was just as good or better in the third. The Trail Blazers outscored the Mavericks 26-8 in the seven and a half minutes of the third quarter to pull to within 65-64. Roughly two minutes later, Portland would take their first lead of the night thanks to a offensive rebound and putback by LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 18 of his game-high 30 points in the third.

“That was my first time really having my rhythm (since missing five games with a groin injury),” said Aldridge of his third-quarter performance. “Really feeling like myself again, making shots and just making good moves again.”

Portland would outscore Dallas 36-18 in the third, but still trailed 75-74 going into the fourth quarter, highlighting just how deep of a hole the visitors dug for themselves in the first half.

“I thought we were very aggressive defensively,” said Stotts of what sparked his team’s comeback. “LA got on a roll. When you get stops, and are able to play and get in transition you’re able to change the momentum of the game. And we did it at the defensive end more than anything, but as I said LA. was – I don’t know how many he had in the quarter, but he was very effective with scoring the ball.”

It looked for a moment like the Trail Blazers might run away with the game in the fourth quarter after starting out on a 11-3 run to take a seven-point lead, their largest of the night, with 9:33 to play in regulation. But Portland was also called for five fouls in less than three minutes in the fourth, putting Dallas in the bonus for the almost the entire quarter. The Mavericks would go on to shoot 16 free throws in the fourth to just four for the Trail Blazers.

“I don’t know how you can overcome that,” said Wesley Matthews, who had a great game in his own right with with 26 points and six rebounds. “We got into the game with our aggression and we didn’t ratchet it up anymore, we kind of stayed at the same level. That’s how the game goes. The refs call what they see and we’ve got to adjust and we still gave ourselves a chance to win it.”

Even with Mavericks making seemingly endless trips to the line in the fourth, the Trail Blazers managed to hold a slight lead late into the fourth quarter. Monta Ellis converted a layup at the rim to tied the game at 98-98, after which both teams traded turnovers and misses for the next minute and a half of the game.

With 34 seconds to play, Aldridge would miss a desperation three with the clock winding down with Mavericks guard Devin Harris corralling the rebound. Harris drove full court into the paint before colliding with Damian Lillard, who trying to get in position to take a charge. But it was Lillard who was called for a foul as Harris’ shot attempt found the mark. Harris converted the three-point play to put Dallas up three with 24 seconds to play.

“He busted my mouth open,” said Lillard of his collision with Harris. “I knew that I wasn’t all the way in front of him but I figured since he dipped his head into my face they would call an offensive foul. But they called it the other way and that is something we had to live with. We still had a couple opportunities after that that we didn’t take advantage of.”

Those opportunities would include Ellis missing two free throws with 17 seconds to play and Portland still down three, but Vince Carter beat Aldridge out for the rebound. Aldridge would be forced to foul Carter, with the veteran wing hitting both free throws, effectively ending the game with 16 seconds to play.

“Being right there and not taking care of business down the stretch,” said Aldridge of what was the most frustrating part of Firday night’s loss. “I had some big miscues down the stretch. I missed some shots down the stretch. Fighting all the way back and being up and having an opportunity to win and not taking care of business.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers head to Houston to face the Rockets on Sunday in the second game of a difficult five-game road trip.

“From here on out, we’re going to have a lot of these game like this,” said Stotts. “Dallas made no secret: this was a must win for them and they were approaching it like that. You go down the line, we’re going to be in a lot of situations like this. We know what we’re capable of doing but it’s going to be a dogfight every night.”

Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 4 PM on KGW Channel 8 and 620 AM.

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Lillard’s ‘Music Monday’ Is Back With New ‘Talk To Em’ Track

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

With Portland’s playoff run now over, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard now has some free time on his hands to pursue his off-court interests. He’s already hit up Oak’s Park for some late-night rollerskating, attended a Portland Thorns game at Providence Park and welcomed his old buddy Tim Frazier back to town. And today, we know he’s back in the studio making music.

In a re-launch of the “Music Monday” feature that he started last offseason on his Soundcloud page, Lillard, or to be most specific, “Dame DOLLA,” has posted a new track entitled “Talk To Em” featuring V.I.P and Bozzle (who I think are Lillard’s cousins)…

One of Dame’s verses…

They glorifying goofballs, I’m salty as Utah
When you real they uncomfortable, plotting for you to fall
Man I’m changing up the game, forget about the politics
I stick my neck out for my loved ones, I’m like an ostrich
A lot of love around me you haters keep doing opposite
I’m really incompetent to taking many compliments

That sounds about right. Previous “Music Monday” releases from last year include “Soldier In The Game,” “Full Stomach,” “Why?” “Free Bands” and “The Villains.” Then there’s non-Music Monday releases such as “I Wish I Could Tell You,” “Heatwave,” and “They Sleep,” which, like “Talk To Em” was produced by Jahlil Beats, who also produced, among other things, the Rick Ross/Meek Mill hit “Ima Boss” and that Bobby Shmurda song whose name I can’t put on this blog. And of course, there’s “Bigger Than Us,” the video for which currently has roughly 750,000 views on YouTube.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, End Of Season Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 weeks ago

A happy Friday the 13th to all of you loyal podcast listeners. Before everyone goes their separate ways now that the offseason is here, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net and TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio one last time to record a season-ending edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

On this edition, we attempt recap the series versus the Warriors, which ended in five games with a 125-121 loss at Oracle Arena Wednesday night, and the season in general, discuss the lasting effects of the playoff run and the respect that they earned from around the league due to their performance and look forward to some of the questions the Blazers will have to answer in the offseason, particularly in regard to free agency. And as always, we finish up by answering your Twitter-submitted questions on topics such as the culture the Trail Blazers have developed, (more) free agency, exit interviews and favorite moments from the just-completed season. It’s been a fun one.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. Thanks to all of you who listened and left reviews this season.

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Trail Blazers Talk Season, Free Agency During Exit Interviews

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 weeks ago

Less than 12 hours after being eliminated from the postseason, the Trail Blazers returned to their practice facility in Tualatin to meet with the coaches to discuss offseason plans, clean out their lockers and take questions from the media one last time before starting their vacations.

Here’s the audio and a few quotes from Terry Stotts and the players from today’s exit interviews…

TERRY STOTTS

On the 2015-16 season…

“Like I said last night, this has been a special season. This group of players, what they were able to do individually and collectively, our chemistry was really good. We had good guys, they got along, players and coaches. It means a lot and it goes both ways. It was a joy. I think players enjoyed coming to work every day and I know the coaches and staff did, too.”

On whether this was his most rewarding season as a head coach…

“No question. This was an extremely rewarding season because it kind of played out the way we wanted it to. And we’re not talking about the record or the playoffs, everything was about growth, improvement, getting better throughout the season and being better at the end of the season. I think we did that individually and collectively and from a coaching standpoint, that’s as pure as it gets. That’s what coaching is about. You don’t get to experience that very much at the NBA level.”

On whether he expects anyone on his staff to be interviewed for various open head coaching positions…

“I hope so. I can’t say enough about how good my staff is. I think Jay Triano and Nate Tibbetts and David Vanterpool are all ready to be considering for head coaching jobs. I think they’re all prepared to do a great job as a head coach depending on whatever a team is looking for. I hope they get consideration because they’re all very deserving.

DAMIAN LILLARD

On many of his teammates deciding to stay in Portland during the offseason…

“That means a lot because I stay here every summer. I’m used to coming in here like ‘I wonder when everybody else coming back to town,’ you know what I mean? The trainers are here, the coaches are here and it’s an empty gym. And even after the game last night, on the plane, I started getting worried already. I was sitting on the plane like ‘Man, we had some success this year, it was unexpected it was no pressure. Next year people gonna expect a little bit more’ and I started to get worried about too many pats on the back. ‘They weren’t supposed to do this but they did that.’ I started getting worried, but we don’t have those kind of guys. We’ve got hungry guys, we’ve got humble guys that work hard. We had a taste this season as a young group of how well we could do and what it takes. We lost to a really experienced, championship team. That makes me happy to hear that so many guys are going to be here working out in the summer because that lets me know that they see how close we are and they see how important it’s going to be going forward.”

On free agency and having a say in the process…

“I’m pretty sure they’ll communicate what the plans are with me, but like I’ve said in the past, my job is to be a good teammate, to make sure I put in my time and become a better player and that’s what I’ll do. They ask me my opinion on something, I’ll give them my honest opinion, but I love all the guys that we have on our roster now. I think going forward, if we continue to grow together, we’ll be a good team. Obviously it’s a business and rosters change, players make decisions for themselves, so when that time comes, we’ll see what happens. But when they come to me ask for my opinion or what I think about something, I’ll tell them what I think.”

ALLEN CRABBE



On what he’s looking for as a restricted free agent…

“Any pay raise is going to be significantly higher than what I’m making now. But like I said earlier, it’s just situation really for me. It doesn’t make sense to make a lot of money and go to a team that, if you don’t fit that system, then get paid a lot of money to be frustrated? That doesn’t make sense to me. The culture here, it’s great. I know this organization well, I know the system, know the coaches, players. It’s just real comfortable here. I wouldn’t mind being here, I really wouldn’t. It’s really just coming down to situation and how I can continue to improve as a basketball player.”

On head coach Terry Stotts…

“Definitely think he should get an extension. I feel like everybody here knows that he should get an extension. He’s done a great job with this team. It’s really hard to put into words what he did with this group because nobody expected us to do what we did. Even from Day One, even through the games where we were 11-20, seven-game losing streak, he never folded and he always told us it’s all about trusting the process and we stuck with that throughout this whole year.”

CJ MCCOLLUM

On spending time in Portland this offseason…

“I think, for one, it doesn’t rain a lot in the summer, so that helps. Just being around the facility, 24 hour access, you’re able to get a lot of things done without a distraction. You go home, you go to certain cities, you either got to pay to get in the gym or you’ve got to worry about people interrupting you while you workout. I go back to my high school but sometimes I’ve got to just like lock the door so I can just workout and not have to worry about certain interruptions because you can’t get through a full workout when people are coming in, talk to you. It’s meant to be a compliment to you, it’s hard. So I think it helps that here, you just come in, the doors are locked, you’ve got your finger scan, you workout when you want, the weather is nice. You’re paying rent here anyway, so it makes sense.”

On the camaraderie of the roster and the changes that might be in store…

“I think we had a really unique group. They did a great job of putting together like minds, young guys who are easy to talk to. Nobody is really arrogant or overly cocky. We’ve got some ignorant guys on the team that you guys guys know who’s outlandish with his statements. I won’t put him out there, he knows who he is. Besides that, we all got along well, everybody spoke their minds, nobody was afraid to say certain things. If somebody played bad, if somebody wasn’t doing things the right way, you could address it and nobody would frown or look at you the wrong way. So I like the way our team is put together, I like the work ethic everybody had. This is one of the rare teams where you could hang out with players off the court. Everybody’s got their friends, but I could hang out with any one of the 15 guys off the court and be perfectly comfortable, eat dinner, et cetera… We’ve got a really good unit and a lot of guys made themselves some money this year, a lot of guy’s prices went up. Hopefully we can rekindle the flame, but if not, we had a good run, we had a good year together collectively and wish everybody the best of luck in the free agency process.

MEYERS LEONARD

On how he’s approaching restricted free agency…

“To be honest with you, I haven’t had a real concrete conversation with my agent about this. I wanted it to be, right now, about my rehab and about supporting the guys, being there however I could, I guess more from an emotional standpoint, for the team. I certainly wish I could have been out there. With that being said, I’m sure we’ll talk within the next couple of days about how we’re going to really approach this, the timing of things, I suppose what teams are interested, what teams would maybe like to meet in person. I don’t have a concrete plan at this point. Restricted free agency, it gets a little hairy, it takes time, teams maybe don’t want to tie their money up. I honestly don’t know all the ins and outs of it. Like I said before the season when I didn’t accept an extension, I’m confident in where I’m at. It’s my agent’s job to present whatever he has on his mind and what’s on my plate from that side of things. My job right now is simply to rehab my shoulder, continue to work on my leg strength, which is a huge focus of mine for this summer, and just figure out different way in the weight room or out here, even simple things as ball handling, just trying to improve as a player and as a man.”

ED DAVIS

On why he’s going to spend much of the offseason in Portland…

“I’m coming back to Portland just because went through all that rain, got to enjoy some of the sun. I like it here. I’m renting a spot, so I’m just going to stay here. I like Todd (Forcier) and BK (Ben Kenyon) and those guys, so definitely going to put a lot of work in in the weight room. It’s always good vibes here so I don’t think guys want to get away. Some teams, you want to get away just because you don’t like certain people. It’s not like that here. I enjoyed being here so that’s why I’m going to stick around and do most of my training out here.”

On the realities of keeping a roster with multiple free agents together…

“It’s going to be tricky with all the salary cap stuff going on. I think a lot of the guys who are free agents definitely raised their value. I think everyone did. You never know. I hope all those guys get paid well, I think they will. They deserve it. You just never know with free agency, who they go after and things like that, but I hope everybody comes back, but that’s not really realistic. It doesn’t really work like that in the league. I just tried to enjoy that time yesterday because I’ve been around a little bit and I know how the business side of things work.”

MASON PLUMLEE

On his mindset going into the offseason…

“This summer is big for me, become more of a scoring threat. I think there’s a lot to be added. I look forward, if the opportunity is there, to come back to have some stability from a staff perspective. I would look forward to coming back to a similar situation from one season to the next. I’ve played for three coaches in three years, so I think that would be something I’d look forward to as well… Once you’ve been traded, you never know.”

MAURICE HARKLESS

On being a restricted free agent…

“Free agency is something I haven’t really thought about. I’ve tried not to think about it during the season and we just finished yesterday, so it hasn’t really been on my mind yet. It’s something that we’ll have to think about soon.”

On his first season in Portland…

I loved it. It was by far the most fun season I’ve had. These guys here are great, the organization is great. I really, really enjoyed it and looking forward to seeing what happens this summer.”

GERALD HENDERSON

On his first season in Portland…

“It’s the most fun year I think I’ve had as a pro. We had a great group of guys, high character guys, silly guys and it was a fun year. That’s without even being on the court. On the court, we had a special group. We came together halfway through, really made it a special year all the way until last night when we’re playing against the champions, gave them all we had. Played a tough series, obviously it didn’t end the way that we wanted it to, but it’s a year we’re all proud of.”

His thoughts on entering free agency and what he’s looking for…

This is my second time doing it and it’ll be a little different than the first time. I think getting a taste of what this year and this postseason was like and how much fun, how competitive it is, I think, number one, being on a team that’s a winning team. It’s obviously tough to get on one of the elite elite teams, but that could be a possibility. That could easily be a possibility here. Being on a team that is about winning and that’s a good fit for me.

Al-FAROUQ AMINU

On his first season with the Trail Blazers…

“It was an amazing journey of growth. We grew a lot throughout the season, personally and as a team. It was just fun to be a part of it.”

How he looks back on the season in terms of enjoyment…

The season was great. Any time you have guys that are the same age, it just makes it a lot easier to get along. It’s easy to have relatable points, different things like that. A lot of us are going through similar things in our careers so you get to relate on that note. When it came to comfortably in that sense, it was just unbelievable. And then I think that’s why the chemistry was there as well. Even our vets and the older guys like Chris Kaman, they were a joy to be around as well. From top to bottom, everybody was kind of in that same wavelength of what they were trying to do. It just made it easy to get along.

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