Trail Blazers Fall In Fourth Game In Five Nights

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers had a five-game overall winning streak and a five-game road winning streak snapped Wednesday night in Minneapolis with a 120-109 loss to the Timberwolves at the Target Center.

The Trail Blazers looked like a team playing their fourth game in five nights, falling behind by as many as 32 before going into the halftime break trailing 69-43.

“Obviously the first half was terrible,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “Minnesota played terrific. They had everything going in transition. We gave up too much in the first half and dug too deep of a hole. I was pleased with the way we competed in the second half. We came back and made it a game. We cut it to 10 and they made the threes, but the first half was a tough one.”

Nothing the Trail Blazers defensively seemed to bother the Timberwolves, as they shot 59 percent from the field in the first half thanks in large part to going 27 of 34 on points in the paint in the first half.

“We let them get too many easy baskets,” said Damian Lillard. “In the first half I think they had 40 or 50 points in the paint. It wasn’t just them going past us, it was us letting them get out in transition, us not finding guys. They were comfortable doing what they do well and we didn’t take them out of their comfort zone and they scored a bunch of points.”

Portland would make a push to start the second half, cutting the lead to 10 with 3:33 to play in the third quarter. But the Timberwolves would finish the quarter on an 18-8 run to extend the lead to back to 19.

Despite the seemingly insurmountable lead, the Trail Blazers, particularly Lillard, refused to go down quietly. Lillard would score nine points, all on three-pointers, to help Portland cut the lead to five with 46 seconds to play. But Minnesota would close the game out with six-straight free throw makes between Ricky Rubio and Kevin Martin to ice the 11-point victory.

“We got good looks, we had open shots, we made good plays.” said Lillard. “We just didn’t make the shots. When you’re not making shots you’ve got to find a way to get it done on the other end. By the time we started to actually get it done on that end and make some shots, we were digging ourselves out of a hole. That made it that much tougher. We fought back – I think we cut it to five. If we had done a better job in the first half we would have never been in that position. They deserved to win.”

Lillard finished with 36 points, two short of his career-high, on 13 of 24 shooting while adding six assists, six rebounds and three steals in 41 minutes.

Nicolas Batum ended the night with 20 points, six rebounds, three assists and two blocks in the losing effort.

LaMarcus Aldridge struggled from the field but still managed a double double of 15 points and 14 assists to go along with three assists and a steal.

“It was just one of those nights,” said Aldridge of his seven of 22 shooting performance. “Couldn’t throw a rock in a lake if I tried to, if I was standing in the water. It was just one of those nights where my legs weren’t under me and I couldn’t make any shots. Once you go down that path of not making shots, it just motivates you a little.”

Wesley Matthews rounded out Portland’s double-digit scorers with 16 points.

The Timberwolves were led by Kevin Love and Nikola Pekovic, who combined for 59 points and 24 rebounds on 24 of 37 shooting.

“(Love) was looking like George Gervin passing the ball out there,” said Aldridge. “He definitely played great, he led his team tonight.”

With the loss, Portland finishes the four-game trip 3-1, though there was no celebration in the post-game locker room, with some players pointing out that, given the nature of the wins against the Cavaliers and Pistons, the the trip could have easily finished 1-3.

“We’ve got to grow up and continue to play like the hunted,” said Matthews, who described Portland’s record on the trip

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as a “mad” 3-1. “We’ve got to keep playing hungry, we’ve got to know that we’re going to get every team’s best shot. People are getting up to play against us and we’ve got to rise to the challenge. We’ve got to embrace the fact that our record is what it is and not just expect to win every game.”

After four games on the road in five nights, Portland now played their next four at home over the course of nine days, starting with the Pelicans at the Moda Center on Saturday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

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VIDEO: McCollum And Commissioner Silver Have Their Yearly Reunion

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
57 mins ago

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.

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

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
4 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
5 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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