After a week of practicing in relative secrecy, the 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers showed the public what they had been working on during training camp at the 2013 Wells Fargo Fan Fest, with the White team defeating the Black team 64-61 in an inter-squad scrimmage.
“I thought we just wanted to finish out the strong week that we had the right way,” said Damian Lillard, who finished with nine points, three rebounds and two assists for the Black team. “I thought everybody competed this whole week. We got better this week. We tightened up all our plays, all of our sets and we got better defensively and I think we wanted to come out and not take steps back and I thought we did a good job tonight.”
White was lead by Thomas Robinson, who was playing for the first time on the Moda Center floor in front of Trail Blazers fans after being acquired via trade this offseason from the Houston Rockets. The 6-9 forward took home MVP honors with a 17-point, 12-rebound, five-assist performance, and while he was satisfied with his Moda Center premier, he said it was the support from the Trail Blazers faithful in attendance that was the highlight.
“I’m more happy that the fans came out and supported us,” said Robinson. “We could have been jumping rope and I think that many people would have showed up to watch us. I heard all summer about the fans and how supportive they are win, lose or draw. I really enjoy that. It makes me feel like you’re home and you’ve really got somebody having your back.”
Robinson started alongside Dee Bost, who finished the night with 15 points and seven assists, Wesley Matthews, Dorell Wright and Meyers Leonard. Victor Claver came off the bench for Black and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
The “White” squad was lead by Will Barton, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the losing effort. Barton had been sidelined with a concussion, but was cleared to play at Fan Fest after passing the NBA-mandated protocols.
“I’m fine, I felt good, said Barton. “Couple days afterward felt like everything was going good, just had to finish some tests up, get my wind back up, start working out and see how it felt under game situation. Doing that I felt good, so translated it to the scrimmage today and I feel like I’m 100 percent.”
But while Barton was feeling better, many of his teammates sat out Fan Fest with various injuries. LaMarcus Aldridge (left quad strain), Mo Williams (right ankle sprain), Earl Watson (right calf contusion) and CJ McCollum (broken left foot) were all sidelined for the event and their availability for Monday’s preseason opener against the Clippers at the Moda Center is yet to be determined.
Even though he wasn’t able to play, Aldridge was satisfied with what he saw from his teammates.
“Played good, played hard. I thought everybody competed, said Aldridge. “I thought (Robinson), he gave the fans a little taste of who he’s going to be this year. Active, a physical guy, crashing the boards, things like that.”
With the Wells Fargo Fan Fest over, the Trail Blazers turn their attention to the Los Angeles Clippers, who’ll they’ll host Monday at 7 PM at the Moda Center. It will be a more intense contest that Sunday’s scrimmage, though the goals will be roughly the same.
“Preseason is still just as much of a learning curve as training camp is,” said Robinson, “the only difference is you’re doing it against other people. That’ll be good to go against somebody else finally. Just keep learning and get ready for later this month when the real thing starts.”
A little over a week ago, Damian Lillard, aka Dame D.O.L.L.A., held his first concert ever, a sold out affair at the Crystal Ballroom that also featured CJ McCollum and Tim Frazier dancing on stage, on his 26th birthday. By all accounts (including my own), the show went off without a hitch.
After getting his first official show under his belt, Lillard took his show on the road last weekend, performing for a packed crowd of high schoolers at the adidas LVL3 event, which was a part of the adidas Uprising AAU tournament held in Las Vegas. Media wasn’t granted access to Lillard’s Portland show, so video of that performance is scarce (though a, new “License To Lillard” episode chronicling the night is in the works), but there are a few clips of Lillard performing this weekend in Vegas, with fellow NBA players such as James Harden and Derrick Rose in attendance in case you’re curious about Dame’s stage presence…
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 24, 2016
— Damian Lillard (@Dame_Lillard) July 23, 2016
Lillard also shared the stage with a few of the players on Team Lillard Elite, the AAU team he sponsors in conjunction with adidas, who were brave enough to test their battling skills in front of a crowd of their peers…
— #4BarFriday (@4BarFriday) July 24, 2016
In addition to the show, Lillard spoke during a panel about his signature shoe, the D Lillard 2, and participated in a number of stations adidas was running in order to keep the large number of teenage boys in attendance from the tournament from doing the kind of things teenage boys do when they get bored…
Just the beginning.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 24, 2016
Join the movement.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 23, 2016
Yesterday was a movie.
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 22, 2016
— adidas Basketball (@adidasHoops) July 21, 2016
Looks like everyone had a great time and Lillard was right in the center of the action, which is good news if you’re a Trail Blazers fan. After all, it’s never a bad thing to have young, talented players rubbing elbows and building relationships with your franchise player.
Comedian/actor/radio show host Jay Mohr was in Portland on Thursday during which he hosted a live edition of Jay Mohr Sports on Rip City Radio 620 AM. Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts, who is still in Las Vegas taking in Summer League, joined the show to discuss a host of NBA topics. You can listen to the entire interview below, though I’ve also transcribed a few of the more interesting answers…
“They’re going to be damn good, that’s for sure. They’ll be a little bit different, they lost three of their big guys so they’ll have to tweak their defense a little bit. One of the keys to their success the last two years was their defense and I think that got overlooked because of how well they scored the ball. They’re going to be a better offensive team, they’re going to be the favorite to win, but you never know until you toss it up.”
On signing free agent guard/forward Evan Turner…
“I’ve read some of the experts about us signing Evan and I’m surprised they don’t see the fit, because Evan is a really good basketball player. He handles the ball, he’s got a high assist ratio, he makes players better. I talked to Brad Stevens about him afterwards, they’re going to miss him in Boston. He’s a versatile defender, he’s unselfish, I think he fits into our culture. The one thing that I think gets overlooked is there was such pressure on Damian and CJ last year to be scorers and playmakers and particularly, the way I rotated the players, one of them was in the game at all times. Well Evan gives us another playmaker to take some of the load off of Damian and CJ, hopefully they’ll get better shots. You can add more playmaking — you look at the Golden State Warriors, how many playmakers they had on the court. They had two, three, four playmakers on the court at one time and that just adds to your effectiveness offensively. And defensively, Evan’s a versatile defender, he can guard two or three positions. Like I said, I think he fits in really well.”
On Damian Lillard tweeting “Hell no” when asked about returning to Oakland to play for the Warriors…
“It was pure Damian. He’s proud to be a Blazer, he loves Portland, he loves the franchise and he’s really embraced the role of being the face of the franchise. I was glad to read that.”
On the baseless speculation that the team is moving to Seattle…
“(Laughs) No. With all due respect to you Jay, and I do have immense respect, but that doesn’t really deserve a response. We’re the Portland Trail Blazers, always have been.”
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…
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.