Streak Pushes To Eleven With Win Against The Knicks

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers have played in, and ultimately won, numerous harrowing games during the course of their current win streak. And while that wouldn’t necessarily be the case Monday night against the Knicks, the final result was probably closer than the Trail Blazers would have liked.

Not that they weren’t satisfied with a 102-91 victory, their eleventh straight, against a struggling New York team that has lost five straight and eight of their last ten, but after leading by as many as 22 in the first half, head coach Terry Stotts probably would have liked like a nice, relaxing fourth quarter for his 55th birthday. Unfortunately, that would not be the case.

“I was really pleased with the way we set the tone in the first quarter, particularly at the defensive end, and we maintained that throughout the first half,” said Stotts. “I thought that was a great effort. We’re a little dissapointed we let them get back in it, but New York has a lot of talented scorers and three-point shooters and we made a few mistakes.”

The Knicks, lead by 34 points from Carmelo Anthony, stayed just close enough, cutting the lead to seven with 1:47 to play in the fourth quarter, to keep Portland’s starters in the game to preserve the win streak.

“I thought the first half was exceptional in what we did at both ends,” said Stotts. “We gave up 52 in the second half and didn’t win a quarter. They were 0 for 6 from three in the first half and 6 for 9 in the second half. We didn’t win the second half. So the first half no question was better. Learning to play with the lead, it’s difficult in this league. You see teams give up leads a lot.”

Which the Trail Blazers know all too well, inasmuch as they’ve been the team coming back from leads this season, most recently in victories against the Bulls and Warriors. Luckily they’ve been on the good side of those comebacks, but a time while come when those leads are insurmountable, which makes games like Monday’s against weaker competition the perfect chance to practice staving off a beatable opponent.

“We’ve got to get better playing with a lead,” said Wesley Matthews. “We’ve already proven that we can play down, we’ve proved we can play in close games, now we’ve got to get better at playing with a lead, because that’s what San Antonio does, that’s what the Heat do and that’s what OKC does. We’re not comparing ourselves to those teams, but those are the upper-echelon teams and if we want to be in that group, when we get you down, we’ve got to keep you down.”

But it was a wire-to-wire win nonetheless, made even more impressive considering Mo Williams’ absence due to suspension. And the fact that the Trail Blazers are in a position where their biggest complaint is their inability to take a double digit lead and keep it throughout a game is proof of how far they’ve come since finishing last season on a 13-game losing streak.

And really, how upset could they be? After all, their 11-game winning streak is now tied for fourth longest in a single season in franchise history and their 13 victories this month is tied for the most wins in November by a Blazers team. But for a team that has talked a lot recently about being “greedy” during this streak, it’s not entirely surprising to hear the coaches and players push themselves closer to perfect.

“I thought we did a great job controlling the game,” said Damian Lillard. “First half we came out and hit ’em hard, jumped on ’em. That third quarter we kind of had a rough patch where they got some good looks and we had some turnovers and didn’t execute as well as we would have liked to and they kind of made it a game. I felt like, for the most part, we had full control of the game.”

It was Nicolas Batum’s turn to come out on fire Monday night, scoring 23 points while adding seven rebounds, six assists, a block and a steam in 39 minutes. Batum, who joked that he had to be aggressive because Matthews, sitting just a few feet away, missed his first three shots, became just the third player in NBA history to log 200 points, 90 rebounds, 70 assists and 30 three-pointers through a team’s first 15 games.

Lillard picked up the slack in the second half, finishing the night with 23 points, six assists and four rebounds in 36 minutes. After a few rough nights from the field, Lillard finished a very respectable nine of 20.

LaMarcus Aldridge turned in a double double with 18 points and 14 rebounds to go with three assists and two blocks. Aldridge moved into ninth on the franchise all-time list in rebounds with 4,092.

Matthews rounded out the the double digit scoring starters with 17 points and six rebounds, though he shot “just” three of nine from the three, well below his season average of 53 percent. He did, however, get an all-time “shooters bounce,” befitting for a player on a hot streak as Matthews is, by banking in a three-pointer from the corner.

“That’s my first in my life,” said Matthews of the shot. “I thought that was so off. I thought that was going to skid and hit (team owner) Paul Allen.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers head to Phoenix to face the Suns on Wednesday. Tipoff is schedule for 6 PM.

“I think Phoenix is the team that gives us the most trouble right now, regular season and preseason, too. We know it won’t be easy against them but we need this game. We’re going to get this game.”

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

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 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
3 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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