Suns Pound The Paint To Beat Trail Blazers In Season Opener

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

PHOENIX– After being statistically one of the best defense teams during the preseason, the Portland Trail Blazers began the regular season by allowing the Phoenix Suns shoot 52 percent from the field, leading to a 104-91 opening-night loss at US Airways Center.

“Well, the Phoenix Suns outplayed us,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “They were ready from the get-go, they got out and ran. All the things that we’ve been working on, we had a setback today. Transition defense, we were slow reacting to that. Their guards did a good job of penetrating; we gave up too many shots at the rim. We didn’t necessarily shoot the ball well in the first half, but we battled back. We were in a position to win the game with three minutes to go, it was a five-point game. They outplayed us.”

After spending the bulk of training camp focusing on defense, the Suns jumped out to a 30-16 first quarter lead thanks in large part to second-year center Miles Plumlee, who scored 10 of his 18 points in the first quarter while helping the Suns outscore Portland 18-4 in the paint. Phoenix would eventually finish the game with a 52-24 advantage on the paint.

“I thought Bledsoe and Dragic made some tough shots in the paint,” said Stotts. “Miles Plumlee, I would imagine that might have been a career game for him. They passed the ball well then they got to the paint, the finished well when they got there. They made some tough shots but I thought we could have done a better job as well.”

Phoenix shot 60 percent from the field and scored 11 fastbreak points in the first quarter to set an unfortunate precedent.

“I think we let them come out, punch us in the mouth a little bit,” said Robin Lopez, who finished with three points and two rebounds. “They came out as the aggressors. I don’t think we really reacted until some time in the second quarter. By then it was too late. I think they had 30 in the first, something like that, and that’s too many points in a quarter, let alone to start off a game.”

The Trail Blazers would rally at the end of the second quarter thanks to three-straight three-pointers by Damian Lillard to cut Phoenix’s lead to four going into the half, but the Suns would answer with a 12-0 run early in the third to reassert control.

“They made plays. We fought back and got back into it and they had guys that made plays tonight,” said LaMarcus Aldridge. “Bledsoe played great, the big fella down low, Plumlee, played great. I thought they had guys that made plays tonight. We came out a little bit slow and they were home and it’s their opener and they have a bunch of new players, young players who are getting their first opportunity to play, to start. They just had more energy than us. We fought back but it just wasn’t enough.”

Portland would get to within five after a Lillard three-pointer and a Robin Lopez free throw with 3:15 to play, but Phoenix would score the last eight points to come away with a 13-point win.

“I got a little worried there when it got down to five, especially with a young team to see how they react,” said Suns first-year head coach Jeff Hornacek. “But they made a couple nice stops. That is the key for us. When we get stops, we are able to fast break. We had a pretty good transition. I think it was that one play that Eric ended up throwing it all the way down to Goran that really helped to separate at the end. Our guys played defense. I thought they did a great job together playing together.”

Damian Lillard lead all scorers with 32 points on 10-of-20 shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge finished with 28 points, four rebounds and two assists. No other Trail Blazer scored in double figures.

“We need more people that just Damian and LaMarcus scoring, but again, with our emphasis on defense we’re going to have nights where not everybody can score,” said Stotts. “It was deflating that the progress we had made in the preseason wasn’t there tonight.”

Nicolas Batum grabbed 13 rebounds in addition to seven points and four assists. Wesley Matthews finished with nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

Suns guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe combined to score 48 points, while Plumlee and P.J. Tucker added 18 points apiece.

The Trail Blazers now travel to Denver for a Friday night game against the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 PM.

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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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