McCollum Makes First Pro Impact In Win Against Celtics

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 years ago

The Portland Trail Blazers have followed a familiar script recently at the Moda Center. It goes something like this: Trail by double digits to a team from the Eastern Conference with a much worse record than their own by allowing said team to shoot a ridiculous percentage from the field, pull to within singled digits by halftime, draw even closer in the third before pulling away in the fourth for a relatively drama-free victory.

Such was the case Saturday night at the Moda Center, with the Trail Blazers defeating the Boston Celtics, a team on an extended losing streak playing on the second night of a back-to-back, 112-104 in front of a sellout crowd of 20,011.

“Well, it’s always good to get a win,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. You try not to be disappointed about not playing necessarily as well as you wanted to. Offensively, we were good and defensively, we were good when we need to be. But this stretch of playing teams with a lesser record, apparently is tough for us to get up for. But in the end, it was good to get the win.”

The Celtics shot 70 percent from the field in the first quarter, thanks in large part to Boston point guard Avery Bradley scoring 13 points on six of seven shooting in the first 12 minutes of the game, and took a 32-27 lead into the second quarter.

“I think there were some missteps and miscues on the first half,” said Robin Lopez. “That’s something that has kind of been haunting us the past few games. We still need to go back and correct those.”

The Trail Blazers improved in the second quarter on both sides of the ball, outscoring Boston 31-28 while holding the Celtics to 55 percent shooting in the quarter. The combination of improved, if not stellar, defense and better shots resulted in Portland trailing 60-58 going into halftime.

Portland would continue plugging away after the intermission, using a 13-0 run midway through the third quarter to take their first lead, one they would never relinquish, at the 7:33 mark on a Wesley Matthew three-pointer. The Trail Blazers would finish the quarter by taking a 90-86 lead into the fourth and would fight off numerous small runs by the Celtics to eventually come away with an eight-point victory for their 29th win of the season.

Portland is now 8-3 at home when trailing at halftime.

“We need to play better, that’s all it is,” said Wesley Matthews, who finished with 18 points on five of 12 shooting, five rebounds and three assists. “We’re happy we won but we’re not happy in the way we won. We’re happy how we got it eventually but we want to be elite, call ourselves elite, we’ve got to play like it and act like it.”

CJ McCollum, playing in just his second game as a pro, went four of six from the field to finish with 10 points in 14 minutes.

“I felt pretty good,” said McCollum. “I got into a rhythm early. Guys did a good job of moving the ball tonight, put me in a position to score. I told them before the game I was going to be more aggressive. I was just trying to feel out the first game and kind of see where I fit in there, but I’m going to play like I do in practice, I’m going to continue to be aggressive and not only look for my shot but look to kind of get in the lane and create different things.”

The first-year guard out of Lehigh hit his first three shots, including two three-pointers, and finished with a rebound and an assist.

“He was terrific,” said Stotts of McCollum. “He kept us afloat in the first half. He came in aggressive and he looked for his shots. Those two threes, I thought they did a good job of closing out on him and he still focuses and made the shots. It seemed like he was much more comfortable than he was in his first game.”

“I haven’t even displayed my total game yet,” said McCollum. “It’s still coming along. If you guys could see practice you could see a different version of me. But I’m just continuing to work hard and put myself in a position to be successful every night.”

The Trail Blazers got double doubles from both LaMarcus Aldridge (21 points, 13 rebounds, four assists) and Lopez (15 points, 13 rebounds), who also tied a career-high in offensive rebounds with nine.

Nicolas Batum flirted early with what would have been his second-consecutive triple-double but finished the night with 16 points, seven rebounds and seven assists in 37 minutes.

Damian Lillard would finish with 15 points and Mo Williams added 11 off the bench. All told, seven Trail Blazers scored in double figures.

“A lot of times, L.A. will have 30 points, I’ll have 20 points and Wes will have 17 or 18,” said Lillard, “but today it was everybody that contributed to the win. We needed it. We didn’t have our greatest shooting night and we got off to a slow start defensively, so it was important for everybody to put in. If we can have slow nights like tonight and everybody steps up and contributes, it’s going to be big for us down the road.”

Next up, the Trail Blazers host the Cavaliers on Wednesday. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 PM.

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VIDEO: Lillard Cuts Through Crowded Street Market In New Adidas Ad

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
9 hours ago

It’s summer time in Portland (or at least, it’s supposed to be), which means there’s no lack of street fairs, farmers markets, beerfests and art walks to attend. Anyone who frequents such events knows how hard it can be to get from Point A to Point B when there’s thousands of people in between.

But Damian Lillard has you covered. In a new adidas short entitled “Creating Clutch,” the 6-3 point guard out of Weber State traverses a busy street market in China (wearing the “PDX Carpet” colorway of the D Lillard 2, if I’m not mistaken) using an array of moves that you can incorporate into your own crowd-surfing…

Here’s what the folks at adidas have to say about the spot…

In “Creating Clutch,” Portland Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard shows us there is no such thing as downtime if you want to be one of the best clutch players in the NBA. A crowded street market in China during his recent Summer tour became his court, the ultimate opportunity to test his creativity and put his skills to the test.

The spot is one of three released by adidas as a part of the “Here To Create” series, which includes football players chasing rabbits through the Everglades and some kind of soccer/motocross amalgam.

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Podcast: Rip City Report, Post Free Agency Edition

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
10 hours ago

With Portland’s foray into free agency now complete, Joe Freeman, he of The Oregonian/OregonLive.com, and I, Casey Holdahl of ForwardCenter.net/TrailBlazers.com, hit the Moda Center studio to record another edition of the Rip City Report podcast, which you can listen to below…

In this almost all Twitter-submitted questions edition, we discuss the signings of Evan Turner, Festus Ezeli and Meyers Leonard, the decision to match the offer the Brooklyn Nets extended to Allen Crabbe, how the additions and returns could change lineups going forward and the notion that the Trail Blazers need to make a trade. There’s also some hot Pokemon Go and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” talk to start the show, so you might want prepare yourself to fast-forward through the first few minutes.

You can find the Rip City Report on SoundcloudiTunes and Stitcher. And a reminder that the offseason is a great time to leave a review on iTunes!

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Trail Blazers Match Four-Year Offer For Allen Crabbe

Casey Holdahl
by Casey Holdahl
3 days ago

UPDATE: The team has officially announced that they have matched the Nets’ offer sheet to Allen Crabbe, though a “formal announcement” and Crabbe actually signing the contract will not occur until later in the week.

ORIGINAL POST

After finishing up their pursuit of new free agents, the Trail Blazers have wasted little time in turning their attention to the free agents on their own roster. After reportedly signing restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard to a four-year deal, the Trail Blazers, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, have matched the four-year, $75 million offer sheet the Brooklyn Nets tendered to third-year guard/forward Allen Crabbe, ensuring that the former Cal Bear will be back in Portland next season…


As is often the case when it comes to restricted free agents, the Nets offer to Crabbe, who has averaged 7.0 points, 2.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per game through three season, was considerably larger than many assumed the 6-6 wing would receive in an effort to discourage the Trail Blazers from matching. And after the Trail Blazers signed free agent guard/forward Evan Turner to a four-year deal, some assumed that combined with the size of the Nets offer might result in Trail Blazers letting Crabbe walk.

But that would not be the case. Crabbe has been a favorite of the front office and coaching staff since the team acquired former Pac-12 Player of the Year via trade with the Cleveland Cavaliers during the 2012 Draft. And though he played sparingly in his first two seasons, he saw his minutes increase dramatically in 2015-16, as he appeared in 81 games and responded with averages of 10.8 points on 44 percent shooting and 39 percent shooting from three, 2.7 rebounds and 1.2 assists while serving as one of the team’s best perimeter defenders.

There were rumors that outside of the money and years, Crabbe, who has typically come off the bench for the Trail Blazers, was intrigued by the opportunity to start and play a larger role with the Nets. But for his part, Crabbe seemed more than satisfied that he would be returning to Portland…

With Crabbe now signed, forward Maurice Harkless is the last Blazer still available on the free agent market. Like Crabbe, Harkless is a restricted free agent, which gives the Trail Blazers the right to match any offer he receives from another team. It is also possible for the Trail Blazers to sign Harkless even if he doesn’t receive an offer sheet from another team, as they have reportedly did Sunday with restricted free agent power forward Meyers Leonard.

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