Damian Lillard gets hot, so do the Trail Blazers in second-half blowout of Lakers

Damian Lillard gets hot, so do the Trail Blazers in second-half blowout of Lakers

Editor's Note: For the latest on the travel update situation for the team and tonight's Blazers/Cavs game jump to the bottom of this story.

LOS ANGELES -- D'Angelo Russell and the Los Angeles Lakers learned a valuable lesson about the Trail Blazers on Tuesday night at Staples Center: Don't poke the bear.

Russell, the second-year guard for the Lakers, incited Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard with elbows that led to some nose-to-nose words in the third quarter, resulting in a stunning awakening for the All-Star guard and an about face for the Portland team that led to a rousing 108-87 victory over the Lakers. 

"He poked the bear, and you see what happened the rest of the game,'' Lillard said.

At the time of the exchange, Lillard was 1-for-11 with two points. After double-technicals were assessed to Lillard and Russell, Lillard scored 11 consecutive points and the Blazers turned a 60-59 deficit into a runaway victory, their 10th consecutive over the Lakers. 

Lillard finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists on 7-of-21 shooting and said his confrontation with Russell "absolutely" inspired him.

"Since last game he has been doing little slick elbows,'' Lillard said of Russell. "And I play the game clean.  I’m from Oakland, I don’t get with that extra stuff. Nobody can do just what they want with me.''

Lillard said the nagging elbows escalated in the third when he felt Russell took a cheap shot after blocking Lillard's shot. As Lillard returned from going out of bounds in the aftermath of the shot, he said Russell elbowed him in the back. 

"I was walking to my spot and I felt like he went out of his way to get that elbow back in there again,'' Lillard said.

That's when the two came nose-to-nose.

"I told him: 'That aint going to fly,’'' Lillard said. "I wasn’t interested in anything else that was said after that.''

Lillard, who missed his first eight shots and 10 of his first 11, hit a three-pointer with 8:20 left in the third to give the Blazers a 62-60 lead and start his string of 11 consecutive points. By the time the third quarter smoke cleared, the Blazers had outscored Los Angeles 23-12, turning a 57-55 halftime deficit into a 78-69 lead. 

Lillard's teammates just smiled and shook their head when recounting the Lillard exchange.

"Don't poke the bear,'' Maurice Harkless said.

Added CJ McCollum: "Yeah, that wasn't smart on his part. That wasn't smart.''

Russell finished with 9 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists on 4-of-14 shooting. But his biggest statistic might be the elbows that poked the Blazers' bear.

"I don’t know what made him feel like that was going to be accepted or like I wouldn’t take exception,'' Lillard said. "I took it as a challenge. I was struggling shooting the ball and I was getting good looks and maybe he felt it was because of him, or whatever, but there’s levels. I got a little more aggressive and the team got more aggressive and we pulled it off.'' 

Once again, the Blazers were led by the torrid shooting of McCollum, who continued his scoring spree with 25 points on 10-of-18 shooting. It was the sixth consecutive game of scoring 25 or more points, tying McCollum with Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge for the franchise record.  Harkless added 14 points and three blocks and Al-Farouq Aminu had eight points and a season-high 15 rebounds. 

Portland (17-23) remained in a tie with Sacramento (16-22) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, while improving its road record to 7-15. The Blazers and Miami have played the most road games in the NBA. The Lakers (15-27) saw their two-game winning streak snapped.

The Lakers were dreadful in the second half. Portland outscored Los Angeles 53-30 as the Lakers shot 12-of-41 (29.3 percent). Russell went 0-for-7 from three-point range and Nick Young 2-of-9, both of the guards hoisting jumpers without a conscience. 

The Blazers were within 57-55 at half after Amiu hit a three-pointer with 32.9 seconds left, and had to feel good about their standing after the Lakers led by as many as eight and were hot from the three-point line, where they made 7-of-12. 

Next up: Cleveland at Blazers, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday (KGW/ESPN)

TRAVEL UPDATE: 

Podcast:

2017 Draft Profile: Oregon forward Jordan Bell

2017 Draft Profile: Oregon forward Jordan Bell

Jordan Bell

Oregon Junior

Age: 22

Height: 6'9"

Weight: 227

Wingspan: 6'11 ¾"

Season Averages: 11.0 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists  

Fun Fact: Bell is the all-time leading shot-blocker in Oregon basketball history with 221 career blocks.
 

***For even more information on Jordan Bell check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: UNC small forward Justin Jackson

2017 Draft Profile: UNC small forward Justin Jackson

Justin Jackson

North Carolina Junior SF

Age: 22

Height: 6'8"

Weight: 193

Wingspan: 6'11"

Season Averages: 18.4 points, 4.7 rebounds and 2.8 assists

Fun Fact: According to goheels.com, if Jackson wasn't playing basketball he would like to try and master ping pong.
 

***For even more information on Justin Jackson check out the Draft Profile video above.

Bringing some 'dog' to the Blazers: Jordan Bell says he would be a good fit in Portland

Bringing some 'dog' to the Blazers: Jordan Bell says he would be a good fit in Portland

Playing last season in Eugene, Jordan Bell was able to catch just enough Trail Blazers games to know that he would be a good fit for Portland should they select him in Thursday’s NBA draft.

“I think I fit very well,’’ the Ducks’ forward said. “Obviously, the (Blazers’) bigs weren’t as tough this year, in my opinion, so I think I could bring that dog to this team. Be the tough guy on defense ... ancoring the defense.’’

Bell, who on Monday worked out for the Blazers, said he thinks he will be drafted anywhere from 18th to 31st. He said he knows that Indiana and Atlanta have shown interest, and if he could choose a dream scenario, he would be picked by one of the Los Angeles teams (his hometown) or the Blazers.

The Blazers own the 15th, 20th and 26th picks.

“That would be the best,’’ Bell said of the prospects of Portland selecting him. “I like the rain, the weather and the people around here are some of the nicest I’ve met. ‘’

Bell said Thursday was his 12th and final workout with NBA teams, and he rated his Blazers’ workout among his best. He competed against North Carolina wing Justin Jackson, Cal forward Ivan Rabb, Kansas State forward Wesley Iwundu and international 7-footer Isaiah Hartenstein.

“I didn’t shoot it as well as I wanted to, but playing, it’s probably one of my best performances,’’ Bell said. “Just the way I played – matchups, the way I defended on the ball, switching, off the ball, the energy I played with … I just played within  myself.’’

Bell’s stock seems to be on the rise as Thursday’s draft nears, as he has gone from a mid-second round projection to as high as a late-first rounder in some mocks.

He boasts that his resume is unique in that it is straight-forward and no frills: He is a versatile defender, comfortable guarding anyone from a point guard to a center, and he will arrive to a team willing to do whatever it takes to win.

“I get more of a thrill blocking a shot than making a shot,’’ Bell said.

He said his approach and his style of play is molded largely by Golden State star Draymond Green.

“All my life people have said they don’t know what position I am, they don’t know what I do well ,’’ Bell said. “Same thing with (Draymond Green): you don’t know what position he is … 6-7, can guard 1 through 5 , a real defensive force, offensively whatever the team needs to win, finding shooters, understanding his role, knowing his personnel around him.’’

Bell, who is listed at 6-foot-9 and 224 pounds, said he has been working on the NBA corner three, but said he doesn’t expect to play outside of his talents after averaging 10.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks as a junior for the Ducks, when he was named the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year.

“I think a lot of people coming out of college were top scorer – averaging 20 and then they have to adapt to a role,’’ Bell said. “Me, exactly what I did in college is exactly what teams are going to ask me to do. They are not going to ask me to stop shooting the ball, because I already don’t shoot the ball. They are just going to ask me to keep defending, blocking shots and playing within myself.’’

2017 Draft Profile: Cal PF Ivan Rabb

2017 Draft Profile: Cal PF Ivan Rabb

Ivan Rabb

Cal Sophomore PF/C  

Age: 20

Height: 6'10"

Weight: 215

Wingspan: 7'1 ½"

Season Averages: 14.0 points, 10.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists

Fun Fact: Growing up Rabb lived right across the street from Trail Blazers’ star Damian Lillard in their Oakland neighborhood.  Rabb talked about Lillard at the NBA Combine in May and told CSNNW, 'I’ve been knowing him for a time and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten to know him a little more.'

 

***For even more information on Ivan Rabb check out the Draft Profile video above.

Blazers bring in the big guns days before the Draft

Blazers bring in the big guns days before the Draft

It's NBA Draft week! And the Trail Blazers are flexing their muscles three days before the Draft by bringing in some high flyers: Justin Jackson, Jordan Bell and Ivan Rabb.

Jackson, who played on the National Champion North Carolina Tar Heels, won the ACC Player of the Year Award, leading UNC with 18.3 points and 4.7 rebounds per game. He is a projected top-20 pick. 

Former Duck Jordan Bell is at Monday's workout, as well. His Draft stock has been climbing since the NBA Combine where he registered the fastest shuttle run time in Combine history. The PAC-12 Defensive Player of the Year, Bell averaged 10.9 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.3 blocks per game as a junior. He is a projected late first-round to early second round pick. 

Rabb, an early entrant into this year's Draft, has a special connection to Blazers Damian Lillard. The 6'10" forward grew up across the street from the Blazers point guard and went to hometown UC Berkeley where he averaged 14 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. 

Isaiah Hartenstein, who played for Zalgiris Kaunas in Lithuania but was born in Eugene, Oregon, also provides some intrigue into Monday's list of pre-draft workout attendees. 

Here's the Draft profiles of each:

 

2017 Draft Profile: Zalgiris International C/PF Isaiah Hartenstein

2017 Draft Profile: Zalgiris International C/PF Isaiah Hartenstein

Isaiah Hartenstein

Zalgiris International C/PF

Age: 19

Height: 7'0"

Weight: 225

Wingspan: 7'2 ¼"

Season Averages: 1.0 point, 0.8 rebounds and 0.2 assists in five games played while averaging 3.2 minutes per contest  

Fun Fact: Isaiah Hartenstein was born in Eugene where his father Flo was a stand-out basketball player for the Oregon Ducks.  Isaiah spent the first 11 years of his life in Eugene before his family moved to Germany for Flo’s professional career.
 

***For even more information on Isaiah Hartenstein check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: Duke SG Luke Kennard

2017 Draft Profile: Duke SG Luke Kennard

Luke Kennard

Duke Sophomore SG

Age: 20

Height: 6'6"

Weight: 202

Wingspan: 6'5 ¼"

Season Averages: 19.5 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.5 assists

Fun Fact: In addition to Kennard being a big time scorer on the basketball court, he was also one of the top high school quarterbacks in the state of Ohio.

 

***For even more information on Luke Kennard check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: UCLA center Ike Anigbogu

2017 Draft Profile: UCLA center Ike Anigbogu

Ike Anigbogu

UCLA Freshman Center 

Age: 18

Height: 6'10"

Wingspan: 7'6 ¼"

Weight: 230

Season Averages: 4.7 points, 4.0 rebounds and 0.2 assists

Interesting Fact: Anigbogu played less than 400 minutes at the college level.

 

***For even more information on Ike Anigbogu check out the Draft Profile video above.

2017 Draft Profile: Texas center Jarrett Allen

2017 Draft Profile: Texas center Jarrett Allen

Jarrett Allen

Texas Freshman Center 

Age: 19

Height: 6'11"

Weight: 224

Wingspan: 7'5 ¼"

Season Averages: 13.4 points, 8.4 rebounds and 0.8 assists  

Fun Fact: Allen’s game has been compared to that of Pistons big man Andre Drummond.

***For even more information on Jarrett Allen check out the Draft Profile video above.