The Trail Blazers, for the first time in nearly two weeks, held practice at the their facility in Tualatin before flying out to Phoenix for Wednesday night’s game against the Suns (tipoff at 6 PM on CSNNW and 620 AM).
Some notes …
· Not a media availability goes by recently in which Wesley Matthews isn’t asked about his shooting. That just comes with the territory when you’re second in the league in three-pointers made (45) and adjusted field goal percentage (69 percent), sixth in points per shot (1.53) and seventh in three-point percentage (51 percent). Trying to come up with different ways of saying “I don’t know why I’m shooting so well” is a problem any player in the league would be happy to have.
Though it won’t last forever. While it’s possible that Matthews, who has always been an above-average three-point shooter, morphed into one of the premier shooters in the league over the course of the offseason, it’s more likely that he’s simply riding a hot streak that will eventually come to an end.
But he’s okay with that. There’s no challenge on the court that Matthews isn’t up for, but even he conceded shooting ten percentage points better than his career average from three on a nightly basis might be unlikely, even if he thinks, as he does, that every shot he takes us going in.
“I know I’m not going to shoot 54, 53 percent from the three or whatever it is every night,” said Matthews. “I’m almost glad that I didn’t do (against New York). I didn’t do it against Milwaukee, we won. I didn’t do it (against New York), we won.”
If the Trail Blazers were to rely on Matthews shooting 50 percent or better from three in order to win games, they wouldn’t be 13-2. It certainly helps when he does, but there has always been a teammate ready to pick up the slack when Matthews has had an “off” night shooting.
And who knows, maybe Matthews keeps his percentage up all season. While he did say he doesn’t expect to shoot over 50 percent all season, he also points out that his predictions aren’t always correct.
Said Matthews: “Hey, I’ve been wrong before.”
· Wednesday night’s game will be the third time in less than a month that between the two teams. The Trail Blazers won the most recent contest 90-89, escaping with a victory only after three last-second tip ins rimmed out at the Moda Center. And of course there was the 104-91 drubbing in Phoenix on Opening Night for one of Portland’s two losses this season.
So while Terry Stotts refused to put too much emphasis on Wednesday night’s game, it seems seems reasonable to think the contest will be a decent gauge of how much the Trail Blazers have improved since that first game of the season.
“Certainly they handled us pretty easily that game, that was a high-scoring game,” said Stotts of the first game against Phoenix. “We snuck one out here at home in a low scoring game. They’ve played well against us, there’s no two ways about that. We have to play hard, play well, stick to our gameplan, all those things that have been important this season.”
Stotts said that, after being the top rated defensive team throughout the preseason, the Opening Night thrashing at the hands of a young, fast Suns team “kind of opened our eyers that it’s not easy.” Since then, Stotts says tmhis team’s transition defense (Phoenix scored 31 fast break points in the opener) and pick and roll coverage has been improved, though his players would take that improvement even a step further.
“We’re a better team than we were the the first two times, definitely a better team than the first time we played them,” said Wesley Matthews. “And then the win that we did get — that was tough — at our place, we’re a better team than we were then. We’re just going to continue to try and get better, improve, do the things that made us successful. But at the same time we’re going to play our game and our game has been pretty good for us so far.”
· Finally, news broke yesterday that eccentric rapper Kanye West was cutting ties with Nike in order to sign a more lucrative deal with Adidas. West had collaborated with Nike on the two iterations of the Air Yeezy, a sneaker that was produced in very limited quantities, and thus, became highly sought-after among sneaker collectors.
Trail Blazers forward Thomas Robinson, a sneaker Connoisseur, is a fan of the Air Yeezy and owns the Yeezy 1 and the two colorways of the Yeezy 2. He said he doesn’t mind the move, though as a Nike-endorsed athlete, the relationship between West and Adidas does pose a problem.
“As long it still looks good, I’m cool,” said Robinson. “I mean, I wouldn’t be able to wear them no more, which sucks, so I wish he’d drop the red ones with Nike.”
The “red ones” Robinson is referring to are the “Red October” colorway of the Air Yeezy 2, which have not hit the market despite rumors they would were set for an October release. But with West leaving Nike for their main competitor, it’s becoming more and more likely that the the all-red version will never released, which is an upsetting prospect for Robinson.
“It’s not happening no more?” questioned Robinson when told the release was in jeopardy. “My heart hurt them. But there’s already some out there because I seen people with them, unless they were knockoffs. If he could just do us that last favor, just drop ’em.”
Robinson has already put in his bid for the “Red Octobers” should they ever come out, and said that maybe it was time to call in some assistance in order to get the shoes on the market.
“We need to get Lebron to ask him to drop ’em,” said Robinson, “then maybe they would do it.”
PORTLAND — The first two games this season between the Mavericks and Trail Blazers, the most recent taking place on Sunday afternoon in Dallas, went to overtime, with the Mavericks ultimately winning both contests. So it would make sense for Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts to mix things up a bit in the third and final regular season meeting.
So in Wednesday night’s game between the two teams in Portland, Stotts opted to start Maurice Harkless in place of Noah Vonleh while extending his rotation to 10 players in the process. And the result? A 109-103 victory in front of a sellout crowd 19,819 of at the Moda Center.
“A really big win for us,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “We did a lot of good things. We certainly had some breakdowns here or there, but I liked our energy, I liked our fight, I liked our resilience bouncing back from last game. Our focus on some of the things we did differently with pick and rolls, we were pretty solid with it. This was certainly a game we needed to have.”
The Trail Blazers are now 37-35 overall and 22-12 at home this season. With the win, the Trail Blazers remain in 6th place in the Western Conference standings. They now trail the Memphis Grizzlies by four games for the 5th seed and are 1.5 games up on both the Mavericks and Jazz, teams tied for 7th at 35-36.
“You could tell both teams were playing for something,” said Damian Lillard. “It got a little chippy, there was a lot of emotions in the game, some swings in the game. It was a game that meant a lot to both teams.”
Portland had seven players finish in double figures, including all five starters. Lillard led the way with 27 points on 9-of-19 shooting from the field, 4-of-9 shooting from three and 5-of-5 shooting from the line to go with six assists, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal in 37 minutes.
Harkless, in his fourth start this season, put up 10 points in the first quarter, with eight of those points coming off dunks, before finishing with 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and a steal in 25 minutes.
“Moe was huge for us, just to start the game on both ends of the floor with his length and his athleticism,” said Lillard. “He was really active. He disturbed a lot of the things they wanted to do early and then he got out and ran and got easy baskets, brought energy to the game.”
CJ McCollum finished with 14 points and four assists while Al-Farouq Aminu put up a double-double of 10 points, 10 rebounds in 36 minutes while drawing the task of defending Dirk Nowitzki.
“(Aminu) was really locked in,” said Stotts. “Obviously he had the responsibility with Dirk and that’s a big responsibility on pick and rolls and post ups and every possession he had to be locked in defensively. His offense was fine, but the importance of what he did defensively was key.”
While the change in the starting lineup help, it might have been the play of reserve big man Ed Davis that ultimately made the difference. The 6-10 center in his sixth season out of North Carolina had one of his best games, at least from a scoring perspective, as a Trail Blazer, finishing with 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 shooting from the free throw line.
“Ed gave us a lot of second chance opportunities,” said Lillard. “He was a monster on the glass and in the paint, he was finishing a lot of stuff. I thought he got fouled on a lot of them and he was just playing through it, he beasted up tonight.”
Davis also added nine rebounds, five on the offensive end, and three steals in 20 minutes.
“Ed, in the first half, his energy, his scoring, his rebounding,” said Stotts. “Ed is pretty solid but the first half he had really was really very impressive.”
The Mavericks got 22 points from former Trail Blazer Wesley Matthews on 6-of-10 shooting from three and 21 points after going 5-of-7 from three Sunday afternoon.
“It’s cool, not as cool because we didn’t win but the fans were awesome again,” said Matthews, who also added five rebounds, two assists and a steal in 41 minutes. “Much love and appreciation and respect for them. Would’ve felt better to get a win though.”
Even with Aminu shadowing him around the court, Nowitzki still managed to finish with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting and nine rebounds in 36 minutes. Rookie center Salah Mejri added a double-double of 14 points, 12 rebounds in a starting role.
Next up, the Trail Blazers hop on a plane bound for Los Angeles to play the second night of a back-to-back on Thursday versus the Clippers. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 pm.
DALLAS — The Trail Blazers had a chance to get to .500 on their current road trip and even the season series versus the Mavericks with roughly 13 seconds to play Sunday afternoon in Dallas. Tied 113-113, Portland had the ball and the last possession with a chance to put the game away, but Damian Lillard’s three with 1.4 seconds to play in regulation missed the mark, sending the game to overtime.
Said Lillard: “We were going to play on one side of the court, so I gave (Deron Williams) a move, had him back up off of me, I stepped away from him, shot a shot that I’m really comfortable shooting and it just didn’t go in.”
Unfortunately for Portland, the same couldn’t be said for most of Dallas’ attempts thereafter, as Dirk Nowitzki and Deron Williams scored the first 11 points of the extra period to lift the home team to a 132-120 victory while securing the tiebreaker versus the Trail Blazers in front of a sellout crowd of 20,351 at American Airlines Center.
Portland is now 36-35 overall and 15-23 on the road this season. Despite the loss, the Trail Blazers remain in sixth place in the Western Conference standings, though their lead over both the Houston Rockets and Mavericks, two teams tied at 35-35, dropped to just a half game. What’s more, they own just a two-game lead over the ninth-place Utah Jazz after dropping seven of their last 10 games.
“We’ve played good teams,” said Lillard. “We shouldn’t feel bad about anything. OKC is a Top 3 team, San Antonio just beat the best team pretty good last night and Dallas is a good team. They’ve got vets, they know how to play. They haven’t played the greatest here, and at some point, you’ve got to turn it around. Tonight they shot the ball really well, so we shouldn’t feel bad about it. It would have been great to at least split the trip, but I think we go home feeling fine (about their chances of making the playoffs).”
The Trail Blazers took it to the Mavericks early in the game, hitting 6-of-12 three-pointers in the first quarter to help take a 36-25 lead into the second. But the Mavericks would find their footing over the next 24 minutes of the Sunday matinee in Dallas, outscoring Portland 65-46 in the second and third quarters to take 90-82 lead into the fourth.
But rather than folding in the last quarter of a four-game road trip, the Trail Blazers got themselves back into the game, hitting six three-pointers between the 10:46 and 5:51 marks of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 102-102. From there on, neither team would lead by more than two points in regulation, though that wouldn’t be the case in overtime, with the Mavericks all but putting the game away before the Trail Blazers managed to score in the extra period. Nowitzki would do most of the damage in the OT, outscoring the Trail Blazers 8-7 by himself to cap the victory.
“We lost a tough game, I thought we competed,” said CJ McCollum. “Besides overtime, we had some good looks, we didn’t make them. They hit shots after a couple possessions, a bunch of threes — I think they shot a really good percentage from three tonight — and we ended up losing. They did what they’re supposed to do on their home court.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who finished with 26 points on 8-of-26 shooting from the field, 4-of-10 shooting from three and 6-of-6 shooting from the free line. He also added eight assists and two rebounds in 44 minutes. CJ McCollum scored 22 points on 9-of-22 shooting and 3-of-8 shooting from three.
Mason Plumlee finished with career highs in both total rebounds with 19 and offensive rebounds with 10 while added 14 points for the double-double in 31 minutes. Allen Crabbe also put up a career high in made three-pointers with six to finish with 24 points in 36 minutes.
“I saw my first two go in so that kind of gave me confidence, I just kept shooting,” said Crabbe, who also grabbed five rebounds off the bench. “I got a lot of confidence from my teammates and the coaching staff. Regardless if I kept missing shots, whenever I came back to the bench they told me to keep shooting the ball. Don’t stop and don’t hesitate, just shoot it. That’s what they needed me to do. I knocked down the first two and I felt good, so I had a good night.”
Al-Farouq Aminu put up 12 points to round out Portland’s double-digit scorers.
The Mavericks were led by a season-high 40 points from Dirk Nowitzki, who also moved into a tie for 15th in NBA history in made three-pointers with 1,682.
“Guarding Dirk in a pick and roll is difficult and it always has been,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “I know what a competitor he is and I know that he is someone who has these types of games. So what he did tonight I’ve seen it a few times.”
Deron Williams handed out a season-high 16 assists while going 11-of-18 from the field for 31 points while former Trail Blazer Wesley Matthews went 5-of-7 from three for 15 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. Reserve center Salah Mejri put up career-highs in rebounds (14) and blocks (six) while scoring 13 in the win.
Dallas shot 55 percent (49-of-89) from the field and 60 percent (15-of-25) from three for the game.
Next up, the Trail Blazers return home to host a rubber match versus the Mavericks at the Moda Center.
“The good news is we get the same team in a couple of day,” said Plumlee. “So it’ll be a really good game, make some adjustments. I think it’ll have a little of a playoff feel to play back-to-back the same team… Looking forward to it.”
Tipoff has been re-scheduled for 7 pm.
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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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 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.
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
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.
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 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.
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.
The “Aurora Borealis” D Lillard 2 released on January 28 at adidas.com and select retailers for $115.
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.
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.
The “Black History Month” D Lillard 2 release in January at adidas.com and select retailers for $105.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The miadidas D Lillard 2 is available at miadidas.com for $160.