The Portland Trail Blazers broke a four-game road losing streak Wednesday night in New York with a 94-90 victory against the Knicks at Madison Square Garden.
With the win, the Trail Blazers move to 35-14 on the season and are 16-9 away from the Moda Center this season.
It looked as though the Trail Blazers might pull away late in the game thanks to holding the Knicks to 28 percent shooting in the fourth quarter, but back-to-back three-pointers by J.R. Smith and Tim Hardaway Jr. cut Portland’s lead to 89-87 with 50 seconds to play.
On the ensuing possession, LaMarcus Aldridge hit a turnaround jumper over Tyson Chandler to give the Portland a 91-87 lead. Though he struggled mightily from the field for most of the night, Aldridge said after the game that he never doubted his shot-making ability with the game on the line.
“I had just made like one or two (shots) before that,” said Aldridge. “I knew it. I had the whole game to miss shots so I felt like I was due some makes. Law of averages have to catch up sooner or later, so I just felt like I had made one easy one and one tough one so I felt like I was going to make it.”
“The shot he hit, he’s been doing that all year,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “But it’s a tough shot and Tyson Chandler contested it. He’s been doing that for us all season and that’s why we went to him.”
As he backpedaled after making the shot, Aldridge stared down Madison Square Garden courtside mainstay Spike Lee after the famous director and long time Knicks season ticket holder had been riding him for his five of 17 night from the field.
“He messed with me all night because I hadn’t scored,” said Aldridge. “He was just talking about Tyson Chandler guarding me. And he said … ‘Keep locking him up.’ I made the one shot, I kind of laughed at him. I made the big shot, I just starred at him and he was like, ‘My bad. My bad.’”
Aldridge said that the back and forth with the director of “Do The Right Thing” and “Oldboy” was just an ancillary benefit of playing in the most famous arena in the world.
“Part of being here in The Garden,” said Aldridge, who finished with 15 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and a block. “Definitely that was fun for me.”
While Aldridge would hit the shot that gave the Trail Blazers the cushion they would need to come away with the victory, it was stout team defense that would put Portland in a position to sweep the season series.
“I thought our defense all game was pretty good,” said Stotts. “For us to win a game shooting 38 percent is not an easy thing to do. Carmelo (Anthony) didn’t score in the fourth quarter, Wes (Matthews) I thought did a nice job, (Aldridge) was guarding a perimeter guy most of the night and he was chasing Hardaway off the screens. (Robin Lopez) was protecting the basket and changing shots at the rim. I thought except for a couple of times, we did a good job on their pick-and-rolls.”
The Trail Blazers held the Knicks to 40 percent shooting for the night and 28 percent in the fourth quarter, which was necessary considering Portland made just four of their 17 shots in the final 12 minutes.
“We got the job done on defense and we have to give credit to Wes who did a great job on Carmelo,” said Nicolas Batum. “He didn’t score in the last quarter and got bad percentage shots. It was team defense too, but when you struggle like that, you have to stick together and play together.”
Batum provided much of Portland’s offense with 20 points on nine of 15 shooting while also pulling down ten rebounds to finish the night with a double-double.
“I have to be more aggressive,” said Batum. “The last two weeks I didn’t really score the ball really well, so we try to change that the last three or four games. If we want to win games we have to be aggressive, so I try to do it.”
“I thought Nic played a good all-around game,” said Stotts. “I thought he was a facilitator, he took opportunities when they were there, he took the ball to the basket, took shots that were there. He made a big play for us in a pick and roll play out of a timeout that was a big basket for us.”
Wesley Matthews hit three of his six three-pointers and finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in 36 minutes. Damian Lillard added 12 points and four assists in the winning effort.
Portland was also buoyed by the performance of their bench, which scored 20 combined points one game after being held to just six points in Monday night’s loss to the Wizards. Stotts has tinkered with his rotation infrequently this season, but against the Knicks, he opted to insert Dorell Wright and Meyers Leonard, players who had seen little time over the last month, in place of CJ McCollum and Thomas Robinson.
The Knicks were lead by Carmelo Anthony, who scored a game-high 26 points on 28 shots. J.R. Smith finished with 18 points of the bench while Amar’e Stoudemire and Hardaway Jr. added 15 and 12 points, respectively.
The Trail Blazers now head west to start the second half of the four-game trip in Indianapolis against the Pacers on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled for 4 PM Pacific.
The relationship between Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and NBA Commissioner Adam Silver predates both of their current occupations. When the two first sat down for a interview back in 2010, McCollum had not yet been drafted by the Trail Blazers with the 10th overall pick of the 2012 Draft (though that would happen later that night) and Silver, while already tabbed to take over for outgoing commissioner David Stern, was still pulling duty as deputy commissioner.
Every year since then, McCollum and Silver have met up in New York City after the end of the season to discuss topics pertaining to the NBA and society in general. In 2014, they discussed the situation with the previous Los Angeles Clippers ownership, the age limit, emerging technologies, Silver’s first year as the NBA’s head honcho and their favorite Jay-Z tracks. In 2015, McCollum, armed with a few seasons of experience and a new job at The Players’ Tribune, followed up on some of the questions from the year before regarding the age limit while also bringing up issues such as ads on jerseys, transparency in officiating and head injuries.
And in their fourth annual interview, released on The Players’ Tribune as a part of McCollum’s summer internship with the athlete-owned website, the two discuss how far they’ve come (or in CJ’s case, how much weight he’s lost) since their first meeting in 2012, Silver’s handshakes, whether the NBA would have their All-Star Weekend at “remote locations” like the NFL, whether the league is considering moving the 2017 All-Star Game out of Charlotte, the 2016 NBA Finals and the suspension of Draymond Green and recent efforts to increase diversity in NBA front offices. You can watch an excerpt of the interview in the above video, or read the entire Q&A over at The Players’ Tribune.
Maryland forward Jake Layman took questions from the Portland media via conference call for the first time Friday afternoon since being acquired by the Trail Blazers from the Orlando Magic after he was selected with the 47th pick of the 2016 NBA Draft. The 6-9 wing, who averaged 10.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists in four seasons with the Terrapins, discussed being selected by the Trail Blazers, whether he knew the team was interested in him prior to the draft, what skills he has that are most applicable in the NBA, his defensively strengths and his plans to come to Portland in time for summer league workouts…
What was your initial reaction after being drafted by the Trail Blazers and your impressions of the franchise?
Jake Layman: First off, I’m very excited. It was such a stressful night. I was nervous all night, I didn’t really know what to expect with what was going to happen the way the draft was going last night. To finally hear my name called was just a big sign of relief, I was very excited, especially to be picked up by the Blazers because I’ve watched them play a lot. I think that their style of play fits me very well.
Why did you watch them a lot over the season?
Jake Layman: I think it was really more playoff time when I saw them play.
Where the Blazers on your radar? Did they interview you in Chicago at the combine, have any interaction with the team leading up to the draft?
Jake Layman: I did an interview with them at the combine but they were still in the playoffs, so they didn’t have really anybody there who could interview. That was really it. I didn’t work out for them. But I did know that they were very interested going into the draft, but they had no picks, so I really didn’t think much of it. So when my agent called me to tell me they traded in for the pick, I was excited.
What did you think about Portland’s recent playoff run?
Jake Layman: It was very exciting. Watching them with how young they are, how much talent they have, to be battling out there against some of the best teams in the NBA. I know how excited the fanbase was to see that happen.
What are your most applicable NBA skills right now and how do you see yourself projecting as an NBA player from a position or skill perspective?
Jake Layman: I think for me, my shooting ability, it’s gotten better each year that I was in college. So I think for me, just carrying that into the NBA is going to be huge. And also for me, I think being able to guard multiple spots on the floor is what teams are looking for now. I think that’s something I can do.
Do you know Pat Connaughton at all since you’re from the same area? Did you play against him at all?
Jake Layman: I know him pretty well. We never really played against each other in high school or anything, but just being from the same area. We were part of the Boston Globe all-star team one year, so yeah, we definitely know each other.
Do you know when you’re going to come to Portland, when you might sign and whether you’ll play for the team at summer league?
Jake Layman: Talking to the GM yesterday, I think I’m going to fly out to Portland either July 3rd or 4th and then I’ll be there for the practices leading up to summer league, which starts pretty soon after that. Then I’ll play in summer league. I’m not really sure about signing contracts or anything right now, but for summer league I’ll definitely be there.
What was your conversation like with Neil Olshey?
Jake Layman: He just asked me how I felt. All the emotion going through your head when you get drafted, it was definitely nice to talk to him. Asked me how I’m feeling and if I’m ready to get going. I was very excited to hear from him, I talked to Coach Stotts also.
How would you describe yourself off the court? What’s your personality like? How do you approach the game? Approach life or leadership or being in a locker room.
Jake Layman: I think for me, I’m a little different off the court than I am on the court. I think when it comes to being on the court, I’m definitely pretty intense. I’m always going hard, going crazy on the court. Then off the court, I’m a pretty quiet guy, very laid back, definitely a great locker room guy. I get along with everybody. That’s how I would describe myself.
You said you feel like your defensive versatility is an asset. Could you break down your strengths defensively?
Jake Layman: I think my on-ball defense has definitely gotten better over the years. But I think playing off the ball on defense, being able to come over and help and then block shots from the weakside, it is something that I’m definitely good at.
Do you feel like joining a young team, but one that has already had some success in the playoffs, give you an opportunity that other guys in the draft might not get?
Jake Layman: I think it’s a great chance to be able to come in this next year and help, make an impact on the team, just go in and help whatever way I can, whether it’s scoring, defending or all of those. I think the makeup of this team definitely gives me a chance to go in and make an impact right away.
What’s your hometown of Wrentham like? What was it like growing up there?
Jake Layman: Growing up in Wrentham, I’m one of five boys in my family, so there’s always something to do, always someone to play with. I was big into sports when I was little. My dad played baseball in college, my mom played basketball in college so I was always involved in the youth leagues, whether it was baseball, football or basketball. I think for me, my childhood was definitely run by sports when I was little growing up.
Can you see someone in the NBA who reminds you of yourself or someone who has the same skillset?
Jake Layman: Someone I’m trying to model my game after — I’m not saying I’m him right now, but it’s someone who I definitely think my game over time could be just like his — is Gordon Hayward, plays for the Utah Jazz.
Can you describe waiting to hear your name called last night?
Jake Layman: From the start of the night, you’re going in with the thought of what you’ve been hearing from teams and what your agent’s been telling you. Once the draft starts going, especially last night, it was definitely not what I expected. I was surrounded by a bunch of family and friends, so they were keeping me calm the whole time. I was just hanging in there, staying strong and to finally hear my name called, it was definitely a sigh of relief.
According to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, the Trail Blazers have acquired the No. 47 pick of the 2016 Draft from the Orlando Magic, which they will use to select 6-9 forward Jake Layman out of Maryland…
Portland will select Maryland’s Jake Layman with No. 47, sources tell @TheVertical.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
Source: To get Maryland’s Jake Layman at No. 47, Portland will send Orlando $1.2M and a 2019 second-round pick.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@WojVerticalNBA) June 24, 2016
The Trail Blazers entered Thursday’s draft with no picks, though it always seemed likely they’d purchase a second round pick, as Paul Allen has shown throughout his tenure as owner that he’s willing to spend in order to bring in draft talent. The $1.2 million the Trail Blazers reportedly sent to Orlando, along with a future second round pick, for the 47th pick is significantly less than what some other teams reportedly spent to get picks later in the second round.
Assuming Layman and the Trail Blazers can come to contract terms — second round picks can negotiate their contracts, while salaries for first round picks are dictated by where they’re taken — it seems likely that he would play for the Trail Blazers at the Las Vegas Summer League, which starts in mid-July.
UPDATE: It’s official. From the team’s press release…
“Jake is a high character young man with a skill set we value on both ends of the floor,” said Olshey. “His ability to defend multiple positions and shoot the ball from range will be positive additions to our roster.”
Orlando selected Layman with the 47th overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft. A four-year player out of the University of Maryland, Layman (6-9, 220) posted career averages of 10.2 points (44.5% FG, 36.2% 3PT, 75.9% FT), 4.8 rebounds and 1.1 assists for the Terrapins.
An Honorable Mention All-Big Ten selection his senior year, Layman led Maryland to 114 wins over his four seasons and is one of just 12 players in school history to record 1,400 points (1,436) and 600 rebounds (674). Layman, 22, guided Maryland to its first Sweet Sixteen appearance since 2003 last season, and ranks 18th in school history in points (1,436) and 18th in rebounds (674).