Trail Blazers Drop Consecutive Games For First Time This Season With Loss In New Orleans

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers started a back-to-back road trip Monday night with a 110-108 loss to the Pelicans at New Orleans Arena.

Damian Lillard tied the game at 108-108 on a 27-foot three-pointer with 10 seconds to play. But on the ensuing possession, Pelicans’ guard Tyreke Evans hit a 14-foot fadeaway jumper with 1.2 seconds remaining in regulation to give New Orleans the lead.

Portland would have one last look, with Nicolas Batum finding LaMarcus Aldridge on the baseline, but Anthony Davis, who blocked two of Aldridge’s shots on the night, forced Aldridge into a tough shot that went off the top of the backboard as time expired.

“Had a couple of options,” said Aldridge explain the last play. “Looked at Wes on the back screen. I actually thought Wes was open for a second so I kind of stood there and I guess both of the guys went with Wes then I was open. (Batum) threw it to me. (Davis) is athletic so I tired to pump fake him at first to see if I could get him off the ground. He really didn’t jump, so I just shot it.”

The Trail Blazers have now lost consecutive games for the first time this season.

While the game wasn’t ultimately decided until the final seconds of regulation, the Trail Blazers put themselves in a tough position to win the game in the first half by giving up 40 points in the paint.

“We started out too slow,” said Aldridge of Portland’s first half defense. “We started out letting them be very comfortable in the pick and roll. We were letting the guards get to the basket a little bit too much. We turned it on in the second half but we definitely can’t do that anymore. We’ve got to come out and play with the intensity we had in the third and the fourth (quarters) in the first half.”

The Trail Blazers did a better job of limiting penetration in the second half, but were still never able to take the lead, though they did tie the game multiple times in the fourth quarter.

“I liked the way we defended in the second half even though the numbers don’t show it,” said Stotts. “Thought New Orleans made a lot of midrange jump shots. We did a much better job with points in the paint and limiting transition, second chance points, all those things in the second half.”

Even though they were better in the third and fourth quarters, Portland still allowed an opponent to score over 100 points for the ninth-consecutive game.

“We just can’t rely on our offense,” said Wesley Matthews, who finished with 18 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block in 38 minutes. “Your offense isn’t going to come with you every night. We have to rely on the fact that we can get stops, we’re able to get stops, and let that fuel our offense. We can’t go in (thinking) we’re going to outscore this team, we’re going to outshoot this team. We have to go in (thinking) that this team is going to be a hell of a night for them trying to score on us.”

Aldridge passed Jim Paxson for fifth on the all-time franchise list in points with 10,027. Aldridge is now behind only Clyde Drexler (18,040), Terry Porter (11,330), Cliff Robinson (10,405) and Jerome Kersey (10,067) on the franchise scoring ledger. Aldridge finished with 28 points on 13 of 24 shooting, eight rebounds, three assists and two blocks in 39 minutes while battling Davis on the defensive end for much of the night.

“He’s competitive, I’m competitive,” said Aldridge of the matchup with Davis, who finished with 27 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks. “I definitely wasn’t trying to let him stop me and I don’t think he wanted me to stop him or to score on him, so we definitely battled. I think when you have two good power forwards in one game, you’re always going to battle.”

Lillard played a game-high 41 minutes and finished with 29 points on 10 of 18 shooting. Unfortunately his performance was nullified by the play of Pelicans guards Jrue Holiday (31 points, 13 assists, seven rebounds) and Tyreke Evans (20 points, five rebounds and four assists). Evans in particular was especially effective in the first half, scoring 14 of his 20 points on six of seven shots before the halftime intermission.

“We knew coming in that (Evans) wanted to get into the paint,” said Lillard. “That’s another thing, just knowing personnel and knowing what we’ve got to take away from them. Knowing that he wanted to get to his right hand and get to the rim, we should have did a better job of taking that away. Early on we let him get his confidence up and we finally fixed it a little bit in the second half. By that time, he’s believing. He knocked down a jumper to win the game, so we’ve just got to do a better job.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers fly to Oklahoma City to take on the Western Conference leading Thunder on New Year’s Eve while trying to avoid third third-consecutive loss.

“We’ve got 24 wins, we’ve lost seven times,” said Matthews. “We just dropped two in a row, yes, but by no means is this writing anything off. We’re human, but at the same time, we’re not excepting it. All that 24 and seven is great, but we’re pissed off. We were pissed off coming into this game, we’re pissed off about Miami, we’re pissed off now. The beautiful part is we have no one to be mad at but ourselves. Look in the mirror and get ready to bring it tomorrow.”

Tipoff is scheduled for 5 PM.

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Podcast: The Rip City Report, Finalized Roster Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
2 days ago

Greetings podcast enthusiasts. Between CJ McCollum getting an extension and Moe Harkless signing a new deal, Portland’s roster for the start of the 2016-17 regular season is all but finalized. So it seemed like a good time to hit the studio with Joe Freeman of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com to record yet another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

On this edition, we discuss the near-max extension for McCollum and the four-year, roughly $40 million contract for Harkless, which directions Terry Stotts might go in terms of starting lineups and minutes allocations, the news that both Al-Farouq Aminu and Festus Ezeli will forego playing for Nigeria at the 2016 Summer Olympics, give a quick rundown of the preseason schedule and answer your Twitter-submitted questions.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. Thanks as always for listening.

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VIDEO: McCollum Brothers Talk Tournament, Who’s Mom’s Favorite on ESPN

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

Last weekend, Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum and his older brother, Errick, were guests on ESPN’s SportsCenter to discuss, amongst other things, The Basketball Tournament, which is billed as a “open application, 5-on-5, single-elimination, winner-take-all basketball tournament” in which the winning team takes home $2 million in prize money. Errick’s team, Overseas Elite, won the tournament last year and are in the finals, which airs Tuesday at 4 PM Pacific on ESPN, again this year.

But the tournament wasn’t the only topic of conversation, as any time you get two brothers together, you’re contractually obligated to ask them which is mom’s favorite. One one had, CJ still lives with his mom, so you might assume he’s the got the No. 1 son ranking sewn up, but it sounds like Errick was the much better behaved child and mom’s tend to have long memories, so it sounds like it’s a bit of a tossup.

 

“CJ, he was a good kid,” said Errick, “he just liked to get into things. He was really physical. She couldn’t take him around any other kids or he would, like, get into little altercations with them because he just played too rough.”

Sounds about right.

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Stotts Talks Super Teams And Suits On The Doug Gottlieb Show

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
6 days ago

On Thursday, Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was a guest on The Doug Gottlieb Show on CBS Sports Radio. Over the 15 minute conversation, Stotts discusses LeBron James saying he would have been his pick for 2016 NBA Coach of the Year, Kevin Durant signing as a free agent with the Golden State Warriors, the notion of “super teams” in the NBA, having confidence in your players and his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive.

You can listen to the entire interview here, though I’m transcribed a portion which you can read below…

On LeBron James saying Stotts should have been Coach of the Year:
“To be honest, it felt pretty good. I have a lot of respect obviously for LeBron, what he does and what he’s done in his career, but for him to come out and say that, it made me feel good.”

On Cleveland winning the NBA Finals after being down 3-1 to Golden State:
“Obviously it was historical. A lot of things went into it, but when a team can do that and to win two games on the road being down 3-1, it’s really remarkable. It just put an end to a historical season as it was with Golden State and what they did during the regular season, the way they came back against Oklahoma City and then for Cleveland to do that, it was just remarkable. I thought it was a remarkable season to begin with and it finished that way.”

On Kevin Durant signing with the Warriors:
“My first reaction was he earned the right to be a free agent. I know a lot of thought went into it and it wasn’t a decision that he took lightly. I know he took a lot of criticism for making that decision but I think he earned that right to make whatever decision he felt was best for him. I think it’s going to be interesting with Golden State. Obviously defending them is going to be a challenge because — we talked about versatility — they were already an extremely talented offensive team and he’s going to make them better. They’re going to be a different team than they were last year, they’re not going to have the big guys. When you lose Festus Ezeli, who is on our team now, and Andre Bogut and Maurice Speights, the look of their frontline is going to be different. But I think they could be just as good just because of what they’ll be able to do at the offensive end.”

His thoughts on “super teams” in the NBA:
“You know, I don’t know if it’s good or bad for the league. I’ve just kind of accepted that that’s the way things are. I know people have made comparisons when LeBron went to Miami and that was supposedly the first super team and they won two championships, but it’s not like there was a five year, seven year run dynasty. When you get out on the court, you still have to play the games. Obviously Golden State is going to be very good, but you’ve got to play an 82-game season, you’ve got to go through four series to win a championship. I think the league does thrive on star power, whether it’s star power within a team or having a team be a star. I don’t know, I think the league is doing extremely well, I think it’s extremely popular. I think this is just another story that people are going to be interested in.”

On having confidence in shooters like Allen Crabbe and CJ McCollum:
“I’m a big believer in confidence when shooting. It probably goes back to my freshman year in college when I didn’t know whether to shoot or (laughs) you know the phrase. But anyway, I’m a big believer in confidence and Allen and CJ are two different categories. CJ struggled with injuries his first two years and was trying to get incorporated into a roster that was winning 50 games and never really got into a rhythm. I think shooting is about rhythm and confidence. Same thing for AC, really, is that he did have opportunities to play in his first two years but he was playing behind Wes Matthews and Nic Batum and his opportunities on the court were limited. When you’re looking over your shoulder and trying not to make mistakes and putting pressure on (yourself) to make a shot, it’s difficult. I really give it to CJ and Allen, they were ready for this year and they were prepared for it, the opportunity was going to be there. But I think that a lot of players — and you know, you played — is that if the coach trusts me, I’m going to play better. Whether I trusted them or not their first two years, certainly their opportunity was there and I trusted them with the role that they were going to have.”

On his participation in the Men’s Wearhouse National Suit Drive:
“Every year what I do is I go through the closet and knowing that I’m going to get some suits in the fall, I go through and weed out the older ones. There’s certain ones that I do kind of have a special place in my heart for them, but other than that, I just take some of the older suits and the Men’s Wearhouse has a great program with the suit drive to give away suits to people who can use them. I’m kind of a bigger guy so hopefully there’s some big guys out there who are able to take advantage of them.”

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