ORLANDO — The Portland Trail Blazers fell to 45-27 on the season, 19-18 away from the Moda Center and 0-3 on their current five-game road trip with a 95-85 loss to the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center Tuesday night.
“It’s difficult to win games when you don’t get the rebounds that you need, you don’t defend the way you should and you don’t make shots the way we’re capable of,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “This is a very, extremely disappointing loss and in fact it was a game we needed to have.”
The win ends Orlando’s nine-game losing streak. At 20-52 on the season, they own the third-worst record in the NBA ahead of only the 76ers and Bucks. The Trail Blazers, playing once again without their starting power forward LaMarcus Aldridge, had one of the best records in the Western Conference against Eastern Conference teams prior to the trip, though that is no longer the case after three-straight losses, two of which were by double-digits to teams with losing records.
Portland shot 37 percent from the field and 27 percent from three while turning the ball over 15 times. Portland, a team ranked second in the NBA in points per game at 107.3, have failed to score at least 100 points in their last three contests.
“They played with more energy,” said Trail Blazers guard Wesley Matthews, who finished with 18 points, three assists and a rebound in 35 minutes. “They rebounded the ball. We scored 85 points. We are a team that scored in the hundreds, so regardless we have to win games. We need to keep playing basketball and play with an urgency.”
Urgency was nowhere to be found for the Trail Blazers in the second quarter, as the Magic used a 16-0 run to take control of the game against a team playing on the second night of a back-to-back. Orlando was able to extend their lead to 14 by the start of the fourth quarter with the Trail Blazers unable to mount any kind of sustained rally. The Magic would push the lead to 17 in the final quarter before coasting to a 10-point victory.
“I don’t think there is anything wrong, I just think we are out of rhythm,” said Damian Lillard. “Everything isn’t flowing as easy. Obviously we do not have (Aldridge), which takes away our biggest inside presence or that balance of being able to go to the block. The shots that we are used to making aren’t going in. Some of our coverages defensively are loose and we are a step slow getting into it. Teams are getting baskets that we shouldn’t be giving up. There are a number of things we need to do better to get a win.”
The Trail Blazers were led by Robin Lopez, who went 9 of 13 from the field and finished with 20 points and 13 rebounds in 40 minutes.
“Robin (Lopez) kept us in the game with all of his put-backs, his rebounds,” said Stotts. “He played almost the whole second half. We’d get the ball to him on rolls, and he gets his offensive rebounds and that’s how he helps us offensively. He played a terrific game. He played his ass off tonight.”
As if losing to one of the worst teams in the NBA wasn’t enough, the Trail Blazers fell to a half game ahead of the Warriors for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. But what’s much, much worse is the Trail Blazers, once considered a sure-fire playoff team, are now just 2.5 games ahead of the Phoenix Suns, a team on the outside looking in as the ninth team in the West.
“I think we are just in a new territory for some guys,” said Lopez. “It is late in the season, and the playoffs haven’t started but essentially the playoffs have started. We need to realize that.”
After losing seven of their last 10 games, the conversation regarding the playoffs in Portland has gone from whether they could secure home court advantage in the first round to whether they’ll simply be able to qualify for the postseason with 10 games to play in the regular season.
“We have to have an urgency,” said Stotts. “We have to defend. We have to do the little things to win games. We have to realize that’s not going to come easily. And that has to be our approach going into every game.”
A postseason birth seemed like a foregone conclusion just a week ago, but three-straight losses and recent wins by the likes of Memphis, Dallas and Phoenix have added another level of pressure to a team trying to stay afloat without their best player.
“It’s a sense of urgency to get wins, as it should be,” said Aldridge, who said after the game that he hopes to play in Portland’s next game versus the Hawks in Atlanta on Thursday. “We’ve definitely let ourselves slide too far and we all want to get wins right now and we understand the magnitude of trying to take care of business right now. So I think everybody knows the importance of winning right now.”
It’s one thing to know that winning is important. It’s entirely another to be able to go out and do it. Portland will try to do just that Thursday in Atlanta. Tipoff is schedule for 4:30 PM.
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).