Every couple of weeks this offseason, we’ll be checking in on how Portland’s players and coaches are staying busy this summer via their social media accounts …
LaMarcus Aldridge was hanging out with comedian Dave Chappelle in Portland the last time we checked in on him. He’s moved on to other locations, but he’s still rubbing elbows …
Here’s Aldridge with Maroon 5 lead singer and “The Voice” judge Adam Levine.
And here’s Aldridge in Las Vegas with Chumlee of the hit reality TV show “Pawn Stars.”
But mostly, LaMarcus is spending time with his sons …
Like most of the players, Damian Lillard is spending some of his offseason traveling, though not without some difficulty …
Nicolas Batum looks to be the busiest Trail Blazer so far this offseason. We already recapped his attending the 70th anniversary of D-Day, but that’s just one of many events Batum has taken in since returning to Europe. He was at the unveiling of a gymnasium which bears his name …
And has spent quite a bit of time at Roland Garros watching the French Open …
And now he’s in Treviso, Italy for the Adidas EuroCamp, which Batum played in before coming to the NBA …
— adidas EuroCamp (@adidasEuroCamp) June 9, 2014
Wesley Matthews has been tending to some choirs at his home in Madison, WI, such as cleaning the pool …
And security …
From the looks of his Instagram account, Robin Lopez has spent most of his time the last few weeks doing one of three things.
There’s RoLo eating …
RoLo visiting locations from famous old movies …
And RoLo hanging with fellow Stanford alums and a former president …
The last time we checked in on Thomas Robinson, he was hanging out with former teammates Markieff and Marcus Morris. He’s still kicking it with his fellow Jayhawks, but a few more of his former teammates have joined in …
I guess there’s no hard feelings regarding the Trail Blazers beating the Rockets in the first round of the 2014 playoffs.
Just a few days after 50 Cent’s now infamous first pitch, Meyers Leonard took to the mound to perform the same duty at a St. Louis Cardinals game.
Fortunately for everyone, Meyers has a much better arm than 50.
CJ McCollum joined Batum in making a trip to Europe, though McCollum went farther east to Greece to catch his brother, Errick, continue his professional career.
But while it has been less than a month since Portland’s season came to a close, many of the players are already back in the gym preparing for the 2014-15 season, which is still roughly four months away …
Even Terry Stotts an his staff are finding areas to improve upon, though they’re getting in their work outside of the gym …
PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers saw both a seven-game homestand and a five-game winning streak come to an end with a 110-103 loss to the Toronto Raptors in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 Thursday night at the Moda Center. What’s more, the win was Toronto’s first in Portland since the 2006-2007 season, ending Portland’s seven-game home winning streak versus the NBA’s lone Canadian squad.
“Toronto is a good team, I think that’s pretty obvious,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “They’re a very good team and there’s a reason why they’re the second-best team or have the second-best record in the East. I thought we were close — obviously the first quarter getting behind (14) — but they shot the ball extremely well.”
With the loss, the Trail Blazers fall short of getting back to .500 for the first time since the second week of November. Portland is now 24-26 overall and 15-11 at home this season. The win moves the Raptors to 34-16 and is their 13th victory in their last 14 games.
While it wasn’t a wire-to-wire victory for the road team, the Trail Blazers’ lone lead came after less than a minute had elapsed in the first quarter. The Raptors would take a 14-point lead by the end of the quarter.
“Our first quarter defense wasn’t even close to being good enough, especially against a playoff team, a really good team like them” said Damian Lillard. “They shot the ball really well and we made a few mistakes that allowed them to get themselves going and start believing. You have to take your hat off to them, they;re a really good team and they brought a real challenge to us. Hopefully the next time we play them we’ll come out and have a better start.”
In a trend that would continue for the majority of the night, every time the Trail Blazers would succeed in cutting into the Raptors’ lead, Toronto, usually led by Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, were always able answer with a few timely baskets or defensive play to keep Portland at bay. Portland had a chance to cut Toronto’s lead to three with 35 seconds to play after a Lillard steal, but CJ McCollum couldn’t get the midrange shot on the ensuing fastbreak to fall.
“It’s a shot I hit nine out of 10, easily,” said McCollum. “Left it a little short. Can’t happen. End of the game, that’s a big possession, open shot, open look. I hit that then it’s a three-point game, 36 second left, don’t need to foul, we can play it out. It’s a good learning experience.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Lillard, who scored just six points on 1-of-7 shooting in the first half before finishing with 27 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and 9-of-10 shooting from the free throw line. His first three-pointer, which didn’t come until the fourth quarter, made him just the third player in NBA history to make at least 125 three-pointers in each of his first four season. Lillard also added 11 assists for his 12th double-double of the season.
McCollum went 8-of-18 from the field and 4-of-6 from three to finish with 21 points, six rebounds and two assists. Allen Crabbe scored 17 points off the bench and Gerald Henderson added 10 to round out Portland’s double-digit scorers. Henderson’s ninth point Thursday night gave him 6,000 points for his career.
Portland forward Maurice Harkless started Thursday’s game in place of Noah Vonleh, who sat out with a sprained left ankle, and finished with two points, two points, two blocks and a steal in 16 minutes.
Toronto’s starting backcourt of Lowry and DeRozan combined for 59 points on 21-of-44 shooting. Jonas Valanciunas put up a double-double of 14 points, 11 rebounds. Portland native Terrence Ross and Cory Joseph each scored 12 points off the bench.
Next up, the Trail Blazers hit the road for the first time in nearly three weeks to take on the Rockets in Houston. Tipoff is scheduled for 2 pm.
The NBA announced the participants Saturday night events at the 2016 All-Star Weekend in Toronto on TNT Thursday night, with Trail Blazers shooting guard CJ McCollum being one of the eight players selected to compete in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge.
Here’s what McCollum had to say about being selected to participate in the Skills Challenge, his chances of winning the event, not being “cool,” the addition of power forwards and centers and what else he’ll be up to in Toronto…
Your thoughts on being invited to participate in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge. You had said you wanted to compete in at least one of the events at All-Star, sounds like someone was listening.
CJ McCollum: “I would have liked to be in the Three-Point Contest too, but I’m definitely thankful for the opportunity to participate in the Skills Challenge. I look forward to trying to bring home another winning trophy like Dame did.”
When did you find out you were selected?
CJ McCollum: “A couple of weeks ago.”
Damian won it twice, I assume he’ll probably give you some pointers. But that’s got to be some pressure too considering he’s going to rib you if you won’t win it.
CJ McCollum: “Nah, no pressure. This is all in good fun, it’s a competitive environment, the juices will be flowing. I’ll definitely get some pointers from him, get a little bit of practice in next week.”
What do you feel like you bring to the Skills Challenge that will put you in a good position to win it?
CJ McCollum: “I’m gonna go hard and try to win. I ain’t going to be cool like a lot of those other guys. Hopefully they continue to try to be cool; I’ll go hard. Get in and out of cuts, try to make crisp passes, knock down the shot and keep it moving.”
You mentioned practice. You going to wait until you get in Toronto or put in some time before that?
CJ McCollum: “I’ll probably practice here next week, get a couple runs in.”
What do you think about the field? They’re letting bigs in this year.
CJ McCollum: “Yeah, I see we got a lot of big men in there. They’re shooting threes now days, they’re becoming more well-rounded. Glad to see them competing in this as well and hopefully a guard brings home the championship, not a big.”
I think a lot of people are picking last year’s winner, Patrick Beverley, or Isaiah Thomas as the favorites. How do you like your chances?
CJ McCollum: “I like my chances. I feel like I’ve got a pretty good chance at winning. Obviously it’s about getting the pass in there, making sure you make the jumpshot and everything else should be easy.”
A lot of guys who come up playing basketball participate in three-point or dunk contests, but have you ever done anything similar to the Skills Challenge?
CJ McCollum: “No, I’ve done three-point competitions before, but never a skills setting like this.”
You mentioned you were planning on going to All-Star Weekend even if you weren’t selected to compete in an event, so what else do you have scheduled for Toronto?
CJ McCollum: “I’ll be at the Players Association meeting on Friday. I have a couple of events with my sponsors, I think I’ll have something with Mountain Dew, a couple NBA Cares events and then I also sit on a panel. And I think I might do a segment for Inside Stuff while I’m there, maybe a community service event as well. But I don’t have my full schedule yet.”
After a practice last week in Tualatin, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, who has been vocal about his desire to be involved at the 2016 All-Star Weekend in Toronto in one way or another, was asked to make the case for why he should be a participant in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge, an All-Star Saturday event featuring an obstacle course that tests dribbling, passing and shooting. McCollum’s response?
“Why should I be in the Skills?” said the 6-3 guard in his third season out of Lehigh. “You’re looking at a guy who plays two positions, for starters. Can pass, can shoot, can score. Should I say anymore?”
Apparently not, as it was announced Thursday at the top of TNT’s weekly edition of “Inside The NBA” that McCollum has been selected along with Sacramento’s DeMarcus Cousins, New Orleans’ Anthony Davis, Golden State’s Draymond Green, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, Boston’s Isaiah Thomas, L.A.’s Jordan Clarkson and Houston’s Patrick Beverley to compete at the 2016 Taco Bell Skills Challenge. From the team’s press release…
Through 50 games this season, McCollum ranks second on the team in both scoring (20.9 ppg) and assists (4.3 apg). He is shooting a team-high 39.1% from beyond the three-point line.
McCollum recorded 35 points (14-28 FG), 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals against Sacramento on Dec. 27, making him the first NBA player to log at least 35 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four steals in a game since Kevin Garnett on Dec. 10, 2004.
Playing in his third NBA season, McCollum is ranked eighth in the NBA with 116 three-point field goals. He’s also scored 20 or more points on 23 different occasions in 2015-16.
McCollum joins his running buddy Damian Lillard as the only Trail Blazers to ever participate in the Skills Challenge, which was added to the All-Star Weekend festivities in 2003. Lillard won the Skills Challenge in 2013 as a part of his successful quest to compete in all five All-Star Weekend events and then defended his title in 2014 along with Utah guard Trey Burke as a part of the short-lived attempt at making the Skills Challenge a team event, so you can be sure Dame is going to have some pointers for CJ. And Lillard will probably never let McCollum hear the end of it if he doesn’t win, so there’s some extra motivation there as well.
The Taco Bell Skills Challenge is scheduled to take place Saturday, February 13 at 5:30 pm Pacific.