Trail Blazers Beat Warriors To End Preseason On 5-Game Streak

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

OAKLAND — After ending the 2012-13 regular season on a 13-game losing streak, the Portland Trail Blazers will begin their 2013-14 campaign riding a five-game preseason winning streak thanks to defeating the Golden State Warriors 90-74 Thursday night at Oracle Arena.

The Trail Blazers entered the second half down 48-41, but a 22-0 run that started early in the third quarter, which featured lockdown defense from the Blazers and a cottage worth of bricks from the Warriors, allowed Portland to take control of the game.

“I thought we played an exceptional defensive half in the second half, particularly the third quarter,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “We had it marked as 17 consecutive stops, something like that … We rebounded the ball well, we took a lot of pride in our defense and on a night when offense wasn’t very good, we were able to pull away because of our defense.”

Damian Lillard, who was described by the public address announcer as “the pride of Oakland” during pregame warmups, lead the Trail Blazers in scoring with 21 points on 7-of-16 shooting while playing in front of family and friends at Oracle Arena, a place that Lillard said was a ten minute walk from the house he grew up in.

“It’s home, so every time I come here I get a different feeling than any other arena that I play in,” said Lillard. “I know there’s a lot of family members out there, I know there’s a lot of friends I grew up (with), a bunch of familiar faces. It’s an honor for me to be able to come back and play in an NBA game in front of them.”

Lillard performance was quality in it’s own right, but getting the better of the point guard battle against Stephen Curry (17 points on 7-of-22 shooting), made Lillard’s performance that much more impressive.

“He’s a great shooter,” said Lillard of Stephen Curry. “Sometimes he’ll make a shot where you’re right in his face. You might foul him and he’ll still make it but we just wanted to let the percentages win it over. There’s not too many guys on this planet that’s gonna make every shot with you in their face constantly. I’m quick enough to be up into him and stay attached to him. I think I did a good job of that.”

Nicolas Batum turned in one of his most effective rebounding games of his career with 15 boards while helping the Trail Blazers out-rebound Golden State 58-47. Batum, who also spent much of the second half making life miserable on the offensive end for Stephen Curry, scored 10 points, handed out three steals and logged a block while finishing a ridiculous +22 while on the floor.

“I know (Curry) is one of the best point guards in the league, one of the most valuable players in the league, so just try to put some length on him,” said Batum. “We tried to just deny him. He’s one of the better shooters in the game right now, maybe the world, so just tried to deny him, put some length on him and make him drive, make him put the ball on the floor.”

“Nic has the ability to impact a game in a lot of different ways,” said Stotts. “Tonight you saw his rebounding and defense. Obviously he can score, he can pass. One of the things we’ve talked about is, on a given night, it’s going to be one thing, it’s going to be another and embracing that challenge every night, to have an impact on the game but not necessarily knowing how that impact is going to play out. Tonight it was pretty obvious: his rebounding and defense were terrific.”

LaMarcus Aldridge struggled from the field, going 4-of-15, but still managed a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He also added three assists, three blocks and heaped more praise on Joel Freeland, who played 15 minutes off the bench and seems to have to taken hold of the backup big man role in Stotts’ rotation.

“He’s buying into that role and I love it because I feel like great teams have guys who know who they are and they know their role and they want to do it to the best of their ability,” said Aldridge of Freeland. “I feel like him buying into like ‘I’m going to come in and if I get five (minutes) or I get eight or 12, I’m going to play it hard. I’m going to block shots, I’m going to clog the paint, I’m not worried about touches. If I get shots, I’ll take it.’ I feel like that’s what we need to be one of the top teams. I feel like that’s big for us.

The Warriors played without David Lee, who sat out Thursday’s game with a tooth issue. The Trail Blazers were without starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who remained in Portland after experiencing an irregular heartbeat during the team’s practice on Wednesday.

The Trail Blazers now return to Portland before traveling to Phoenix for the regular season opener on October 30.

“We’re not a finished product,” said Stotts. “We still need to maintain a consistency, our offense needs to improve, our turnovers have to go down, but on the whole, you win five in a row and improve in the areas that we needed to improve on going into the season. That’s the positive that I take (from preseason).”

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Layman Looking Forward To ‘Making An Impact’ With The Trail Blazers

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

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…

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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.

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Trail Blazers Acquire Layman From Orlando

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

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…




Layman played four seasons at Maryland, averaging 11.6 points on 50 percent shooting from the field and 40 percent shooting from three, 5.3 rebounds, 1.1 assists and 1.1 steals in 36 games his senior season with the Terrapins. At 6-9 and with a relatively accurate three-point shot, Layman likely enters the NBA as a stretch four, which should come in handy in Terry Stotts’ offense.

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).

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Damian Lillard To Forego 2016 Olympics

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 days ago

According to Shams Charania of The Vertical, Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard will not play for Team USA at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro in order to rest and continue rehabilitating the plantar fasciitis injury that dogged the 6-3 for much of the 2015-16 season. I can confirm this report.

Though Lillard was able to play through the injury after missing seven games in late December, the pain caused by the plantar fasciitis in his left foot never really went away. He received treatment on his foot throughout the season, though the most effective approach to the injury, which causes extreme pain on the bottom of the foot and heel, is rest, which is obviously hard to get when you’re the leader and best player on a team trying to make the postseason. By forgoing the month-long lead up to the Olympics and the Games themselves, Lillard should have the recuperation time he’ll need to go into Portland’s 2016 training camp completely healthy.

Charnania is also reporting that Lillard was hoping for more time to make the decision before being pressed by Team USA for a commitment one way or another. This could very well be true, though if being completely healthy and rested for the start of the 2016-17 NBA season is Lillard’s motivation for declining a Team USA invite, it’s hard to figure how another week or two would change his decision.

Lillard initially declined being a part of the pool that Team USA draws their roster from, though he ultimately relented despite not feeling particularly optimistic about his chances of being named to the Olympic team after being passed over for the FIBA World Cup team in 2014. But between players opting to rest in preparation for the upcoming season and the myriad of concerns regarding the 2016 Games, the number of candidates has dwindled to the point where Lillard would have been a lock to make the Olympic team had he chosen to participate.

But Lillard opting for rest over Rio doesn’t mean you won’t have a Trail Blazer to root for during the Olympics, as Al-Farouq Aminu and the rest of Team Nigeria (a team that also includes former Trail Blazer Ike Diogu and former Oregon Duck Chamberlain Oguchi) have qualified for the 2016 Games after winning AfroBasket 2015 in Tunisia. And CJ McCollum has also been invited to play on the USA Select Team, whose purpose is to help the USA National Team prepare for international events, though players from the Select team have been promoted to the National team, with the most recent example being Mason Plumlee making the 2014 World Cup team.

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