The Portland Trail Blazers tied their franchise record for three-pointers made Thursday night with 21 treys versus the Bobcats at the Moda Center. Portland set the record on December 14 against the 76ers in Philadelphia and took only a couple of weeks to tie that record, making them the first team in NBA history to make at least 20 three-pointers twice in an NBA season. It’s a reminder that just because something hasn’t been done before doesn’t necessarily mean that it can’t be done.
It’s well known that Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard has many interests. While practicing and playing basketball is how he spends the vast majority of his time, the 6-3 guard out of Weber State is an aspiring rapper, a pitchman for the likes of adidas, JBL and Spalding and an ambassador for Special Olympics. And now, he can add “cartoon character” to his list of roles, as he, along with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Indiana’s Paul George voiced characters for an upcoming episode of “We Bare Bears” on Cartoon Network…
Some additional information from the folks at Cartoon Network…
… A special episode of the Cartoon Network Original Series We Bare Bears, featuring Paul George, Kyrie Irving and Damian Lillard, premiering Thursday, Feb. 11, at 7 p.m. (ET/PT). The episode, “Charlie Ball,” features characters voiced by the players. The “All-Star” episodes of Teen Titans Go! and We Bare Bears will replay on Cartoon Network throughout NBA All-Star weekend.
Cartoon Network continues its NBA All-Star 2016 celebration with special segments integrated into some of its leading television shows beginning on Thursday, Feb. 11. Through its popular CN Sayin’ app, Cartoon Network will provide kids with an opportunity to send questions via video submissions to their favorite NBA players. Select questions and responses will then be featured within Cartoon Network’s on-air integrations throughout NBA All-Star.
Sports-themed episodes of Cartoon Network series will be available on VOD and TVE. Highlights from the All-Star special episodes of We Bare Bears and Teen Titans Go! will be on Cartoon Network’s YouTube Channel, the Cartoon Network app, CartoonNetwork.com, as well as VOD.
Not being named to the 2016 All-Star Game was certainly disappointing, but being immortalized in an All-Star themed cartoon seems like a decent consolation prize.
Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard was recently listed by Forbes Magazine as one of the top athletes under the age of 30 in terms of marketability, and it’s easy to see why. Between his all-star caliber performance on the court and the interests he has outside of basketball, it’s easy to see why companies like adidas, JBL and State Farm have all aligned themselves with the 25 year old Oakland native.
Spalding, the official provider of basketball for the NBA, is also in the Damian Lillard business, as he, along with Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan, are the faces of a new campaign for the sports equipment company entitled “True Believers” …
Some more information about the campaign from the folks at Spalding…
Amplified by NBA superstars Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and DeMar DeRozan of the Toronto Raptors, who will engage in a special Periscope interview on Feb. 3rd prior to their showdown in Portland on Feb. 4th. The gentlemen will discuss their upcoming match-up and what it means to be a True Believer. The #TrueBelievers rallying cry will also be heard via digital takeovers on NBA.com and BleacherReport.com websites. The multi-platform campaign includes layers of video-storytelling, rich media, events, a robust social media presence and a new content hub on TrueBelievers.Spalding.com featuring the Spalding Nickname Generator.
I’ve heard that Periscope chat is going down sometime after the 5 o’clock hour, but you might want to keep an eye for a tweet from Lillard about specifics. Oh, and the generator came up with “The Firewall” for my nickname, which seems pretty apt.
CJ McCollum had made at least one three-pointer in 34 consecutive games this season before the 6-4 guard out of Lehigh went 0-of-3 from behind the arc in Sunday night’s 96-93 victory versus the Minnesota Timberwolves at the Moda Center. But even though he wasn’t able to add to his tally of 113 triples this season, he did managed to get numerous open looks Sunday night thanks to his ability to create space with his crafty ball handling and hesitations, which are becoming almost as common as McCollum pulling up from three in his third season.
Rarely does a game go by this season in which McCollum doesn’t use some sort of herky-jerky move to get an open look. Whether he’s setting his man up to get an open look from the midrange or exploiting a mismatch to get to the rim, McCollum has shown on an almost nightly basis this season that elite athleticism and blinding speed isn’t always needed to get a good shot.
— NBA (@NBA) February 1, 2016
McCollum pulled off two such moves — a stepback at the free throw line for Portland’s first points of the game and a hesitation crossover to get a long two — Sunday night versus the Timberwolves, continuing a trend that has not gone unnoticed by his teammates or the crowds at the Moda Center during this current seven-game homestand.
“He’s really crafty with the ball, really crafty with his movements and his fakes, his hesitations, all that,” said Damian Lillard of his starting backcourt partner. “Because of how good he is at that kind of stuff, he gets to where he wants to on the floor. Whereas myself, I’m gonna use my quickness and explosiveness and hard crossovers and changing direction. His thing is being really crafty even though he plays a slower game. I think it’s been all season, not just recently.”
CJ scoring off the bounce, per usual. pic.twitter.com/H2AKv9ZOuu
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 1, 2016
“Different teams guards you different ways and you’ve just got to continue to do what you do,” said McCollum. “When I get a midrange switch, try to manipulate the big and try to make something happen. When the guard is on his heels backing up in transition, just attack him.”
What makes McCollum so fun to watch in his third season is you know that, when he starts rocking back and forth with the ball, some sort of trickery is coming. You don’t necessarily know what’s going to look like, but usually, it’s going to result in an open look against all but the most disciplined of defenders.
“He’s got a bag of tricks now,” said Lillard. “We see it in practice, we see it in workouts even. He’ll start doing moves by himself, crazy stuff, and then go into a tough shot. So when we see it in the game it’s like ‘Alright, what’s coming? What you gonna do now?’… They know when he finna go in his bag right quick. It’s always fun to watch.”
McCollum isn’t going out trying to make his would-be defenders look foolish, but if the opportunity affords itself, you can be sure he’s going to take it. His ability to get defenders off balance, both through adept ball handling and accurate long-range shooting, has helped McCollum average 20.7 points per game this season, putting him on the short list of the front-runners vying for the Most Improved Player award this season. If he’s able to put a defender on skates from time to time or head fake an opponent into leaving his feet before finishing with an easy midrange jumper, the chances of McCollum winning MIP and the Trail Blazers making an unexpected postseason appearance at the end of the season improve exponentially.
“I have fun,” said McCollum. “That’s the game, you’ve got to have fun. I’ve worked on a lot of different things, ball handling and tightening things up and just continuing to have those moments where you utilize some things you worked on over the course of your life, the floaters, being able to manipulate a guy, make him go left and then move right and he’s still left. Just continue to make plays.”