Harkless: Blazers face 'must win' in Game 3 against Warriors

Harkless: Blazers face 'must win' in Game 3 against Warriors

OAKLAND, Calif. – As much as they tried to tell themselves it was only one game, and that the margin of defeat didn’t matter, the Trail Blazers in the aftermath of Wednesday’s Game 2 blowout at Golden State knew they had put themselves in a precarious position.

Saturday’s Game 3 in Portland?

“It’s a must win game, for sure,’’ Maurice Harkless said. “We have to get that game. If we want a chance to win the series, we have to win Game 3.’’

As if playing perhaps the best team ever assembled wasn’t daunting enough, NBA history shows that in seven-game playoff series, teams that have gone up 2-0 have won nearly 94 percent of the time (262-18). 

“We’ve got to get this one,’’ Damian Lillard said of Game 3. “You don’t want to go home and drop this one and then, you know, even if you do win Game 4 you’re coming back here looking at elimination.’’

At the forefront of the Blazers’ preparation figures to be how to stop JaVale McGee from impacting the game so emphatically in his short spurts, while also bracing for what the law of averages says will be a breakout game from the struggling Klay Thompson.

McGee has hurt the Blazers with his rebounding and dunks off lobs – both of which seem to come at pivotal times that sway momentum back in the Warriors’ favor. In Game 2 he had 15 points and five rebounds in 13 minutes, hitting all seven of his shots.

His effectiveness has highlighted the Blazers’ inexperience and lack of depth at the center position. With centers Jusuf Nurkic, Ed Davis and Festus Ezeli injured, the Blazers have turned to Noah Vonleh and Meyers Leonard, who have been overwhelmed, and Al-Farouq Aminu, who has been physically overmatched.

 “We didn’t communicate the switches well, but it’s a challenge,’’ coach Terry Stotts said of McGee’s effectiveness. “When you have a guy like Steph or Klay coming off (a screen) you’ve got to get up and guard them and not let the big get behind you … we didn’t obviously cover it the way we wanted to.’’

If McGee’s impact has been unexpected, so too was the Warriors’ ease with Game 2 considering they played without Kevin Durant (calf), Shaun Livingston (finger, hand) and Matt Barnes (ankle).

What’s more, the Warriors enjoy the comforts of a two-game lead despite erratic performances from both Thompson and Curry, neither of which has been near the top of their game.

Thompson on Wednesday continued his series funk, going 6-for-17 with six turnovers. He is now 12-for-33 in the series with eight turnovers while Curry is 15-of-37 in the series with nine turnovers.

Still, with the exception of a second-quarter flurry by the Blazers, Game 2 was never close. Most of the Blazers starters watched for the final 10 minutes from the bench.

“That’s why it’s a series – points don’t carry over,’’ Harkless said. “Doesn’t matter how much we lost by – one or 50 – next game we start 0-0.’’

That will come Saturday in Portland, in a game the Blazers have already amplified to a must-win.

“That’s not pressure,’’ Harkless said of the must-win proclamation. “It’s basketball.’’

Trail Blazers look to force a Game 5 vs. Warriors

Trail Blazers look to force a Game 5 vs. Warriors

The Portland Trail Blazers look to avoid getting swept by the Golden State Warriors on Monday night. Game 4 tips off at 7:30pm from the Moda Center.

It was on Saturday night, when the Warriors came from being down by as many as 17 points to take a 3-0 lead in the series with a 119-113 win over Portland.  The Trail Blazers were unable to close out the game despite shooting 43.3% as a team and with CJ McCollum scoring 32 points and Damian Lillard adding 31 points.

Allen Crabbe (left foot) and McCollum (right ankle sprain) are both listed as probable for Game 4 on the Trail Blazers injury report.   However, after making his return in Game 3 on Saturday night, Jusuf Nurkic  (right leg) is now listed as out for Monday’s game.

Nurkic played just 17 minutes while being reinserted into the starting lineup.  It was clear that his leg that he had fractured back on March 28th was still giving him some problems.  Nurkic went 1-of-3 from the field and pulled down 11 rebounds while dishing out four assists in his limited time on the floor.

Warriors’ Kevin Durant (left calf strain) is still questionable for Game 4. 

Golden State will also, once again, be without its head coach, Steve Kerr, who missed Game 3 on Saturday night.  The Warriors announced on Sunday that Mike Brown will again serve as acting head coach replacing Kerr.  Kerr is dealing with excruciating pain after his back surgery.

Check out CSN for a special hour-long playoff edition of Rip City Live starting at 6:00pm.   

And if you can’t get to a TV, you can check out The Scoop Pregame Show streaming live on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW.




Quick Links:

Warriors overhaul Trail Blazers in fourth quarter, take 3-0 series lead

It wasn’t a Trail Blazer win, but it was a chance to see the Nurkic effect

Stotts: Nurkic’s presence “spoke a lot to who he is and what kind of teammate he is”


 

Video:    Turner: Mentality heading into Game 4 doesn’t change

Video:    Nurkic: We’re going to see who’s got pride

Video:    Dwight Jaynes: Blazers coming face to face with reality

Video:    Lillard: We weren’t disciplined enough to close out the game

 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Television: KGW, 7:30pm

CSN Programming:  Rip City Live (6:00pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/CSNNW

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Stotts: Nurkic's presence "spoke a lot to who he is and what kind of teammate he is"

Stotts: Nurkic's presence "spoke a lot to who he is and what kind of teammate he is"

Terry Stotts did not hesitate Sunday afternoon to rule Jusuf Nurkic out of Monday night's Game 4 of the Portland-Golden State series in Moda Center.

"No," he said when asked whether Nurkic would play. "He's out."

Why?

"Just, more than anything, he didn’t do any further damage but there was soreness, tenderness and it just wouldn’t be wise to have him play through that," said the Portland coach.

Stotts had plenty of good things to say about Nurkic and the decision to play Saturday night against the Warriors.

"I was really pleased that he (played)" Stotts said. "He had a really positive impact on the game with his passing and his presence and his rebounding. He takes up some space and I thought he gave his teammates a lot of confidence.

"It was a really good effort. He’s a big part of our team. Not only a good effort for these playoffs and this team but, I think, moving forward.  It spoke a lot to who he is and what kind of teammate he is."

 

It wasn't a Trail Blazer win, but it was a chance to see the Nurkic Effect

It wasn't a Trail Blazer win, but it was a chance to see the Nurkic Effect

For quite a while Saturday night during the interminable telethon that NBA playoff games have become, it appeared that the Trail Blazers had found the right formula to beat the Golden State Warriors.

Jusuf Nurkic was back, if but a shell of his usual self. The Trail Blazers seem to take inspiration from his return to the lineup, even though he was dragging a broken leg up and down the court. But it wasn't just the inspiration. Nurkic got his team off to a great start with just his presence. The Portland pick-and-roll offense was suddenly potent again, with Nurkic planting a brickwall of a pick and then rolling down the lane toward the basket. There was either an open three or a pass to Nurkic -- and he'd find the open man with his usual knack for such things.

It was nice while it lasted -- he had 11 rebounds and four assists -- and the Nurkic Effect lasted much longer than the 16 and a half minutes he spent on the court. There was an obvious lift. The Blazers played gallantly until the inevitable Warrior surge, about midway through the third quarter. At that point, the Blazers were hanging on for dear life -- trying to get an open shot for Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum against a defense that was willing to allow open shots for anyone but them.

Moda Center was loud and proud most of the night but the tale of this playoff series was never a mystery. The Blazers lost for the third time and there's a fourth one headed their way Monday night. This Golden State team is too much for them and probably too much for anyone else in the league.

But for just under 17 Nurkic minutes Saturday night there was a glimpse of the future, a snapshot of things to come.

Nurkic makes this team better. Much better, even in the condition he was Saturday.

He confessed to a lot of pain after the game and I think it would be unwise to put him through all of that again Monday. I don't think it was a mistake to play him in this game because I trust Portland's medical staff to know what's best for him and the franchise. He got a taste of the playoffs and his teammates found a rallying point. He was pretty much the last card the Blazers had left to play in the series.

Throughout the last few weeks none of us knew exactly what kind of shape he was in. There was hope that when he came back he would be near 100 percent. As it turned out, he was nowhere close ("I'm not the same guy," he said). And for just 15 or 16 minutes a game, I don't think it's worth doing it again. He tried it and it was what it was -- a fun time for us if not for him. He showed the kind of impact he can have when he's right and tried his best to help his squad win one game.

The mission of getting him on the floor was accomplished, if not the part about winning a game. But at this point, it's all about being healthy for next season.

And all about the dreams of what a franchise center can do for this team.

Warriors overhaul Trail Blazers in fourth quarter, take 3-0 series lead

Warriors overhaul Trail Blazers in fourth quarter, take 3-0 series lead

Jusuf Nurkic finally played Saturday night... and it seemed to give the Portland Trail Blazers a little spark. For a while, that spark turned into a raging fire as the Blazers jumped to leads as high as 16 points over the Golden State Warriors. But in the end, the Warriors doused that fire with solid fourth-quarter defense and timely shooting.

The end result was a 119-113 win that pushed Golden State into a 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series that continues Monday night in Moda Center. CJ McCollum led the Trail Blazers with 32 points and Damian Lillard added 31. Steph Curry had 34 for the Warriors.

The lead seesawed throughout the fourth quarter as two seemingly tired teams traded punches. Portland's shooting percentage, over .500 most of the night, dipped and the Warriors' rose.

The Trail Blazers came out on fire – and the crowd was deep into it when Portland had  an 11-3 lead as the Warriors called a timeout with 9:11 to go in the first quarter. Portland opened the game by hitting its first five shots from the field.

Nurkic, who received a thunderous ovation when introduced with the starting lineup, scored his first basket 2:26 into the game on a bank shot in the lane over Zaza Pachulia.

He left the floor at the 7:06 mark of the quarter and played about five minutes per quarter. He finished with two points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 17 minutes.

The Warriors withstood Portland’s opening salvo and crawled to within four points late in the quarter but the Trail Blazers held a 37-30 lead ater the first quarter behind Lillard’s 15 points, fueled by 3-for-4 shooting from three-point range.

Portland shot 57.7 percent from the field in the opening period and held Golden State to 38.5 percent. But the Blazers had seven turnovers over the first 12 minutes while the Warriors had but one.

In the second quarter Portland stretched the lead as high as 16 as Steph Curry and Klay Thompson struggled from the field for the Warriors.

Lillard and McCollum were the backbone of the Portland offense in the first half, combining for 39 points. The Blazers led 67-54 at halftime on the strength of 53 percent shooting. Portland also held a 29-14 rebound edge at halftime.

The lead ballooned to 16 again in the third but then the Warriors made one of their patented runs and closed to within 82-78 when the Blazers called for a timeout with 3:29 left in the third. Golden State turned up its defense and Portland had trouble getting open shots all of a sudden. By the end of the quarter the Blazers were clinging to an 88-87 lead.

Podcast:

 

 

 

Home cooking, Nurkic's return fueling Trail Blazers

Home cooking, Nurkic's return fueling Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors tipped off at 7:30pm on Saturday night for Game 3 of their first round series.

Kevin Durant (left calf strain), Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain and hand contusion) and Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain) are all still out for Game 3.

But for Portland, Jusuf Nurkic (left leg) made his return after missing nine games.

Midway through the first quarter, Portland jumped out to a 14-9 lead behind CJ McCollum’s quick eight points.

To end the first quarter, the Trail Blazers shot 56% from the floor as a team, while the Warriors shot 40%.

Portland held a 37-30 lead over the Warriors after one quarter.

Damian Lillard led all scorers in the first quarter with 15 points on 6-of-10 shooting.

The Trail Blazers hot shooting continued into the second quarter.  To end the first half, Portland is shooting 53.3%.  Golden State is shooting 42.2% as a team.

Nurkic ended the first half with two points, four rebounds, and two assists.  The Blazer big man played just nine minuets in the first half.

At halftime, the Trail Blazers are up 67-54. 

 


Top performers of the first half:

Trail Blazers

Points:
  Damian Lillard, 22

Rebounds:  Al-Farouq Aminu, 8

Assist: three players tied with 2 assists


 


Warriors

Points:  Steph Curry, 15

Rebounds:   David West, 4

Assist:  Patrick McCaw and Andre Iguodala, 3

 


Following tonight’s game, you can check out an all-new Talkin’ Ball live on CSN.  And if you can’t get to a TV, you can catch The Scoop Postgame show presented by Toyota of Portland on Broadway streaming live at Facebook.com/CSNNW on your phone, tablet, or computer.

Jusuf Nurkić makes his return in Game 3, will start

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Jusuf Nurkić makes his return in Game 3, will start

From doubtful to starting! The Bosnian Beast is back!

The Trail Blazers announced Nurkić will play in Game 3 vs. the Golden State Warriors at the Moda Center Saturday night. 

Nurkic fractured fibula in his right leg on March 28th and was expected to miss at least two weeks before he was re-assessed.

Before the series, Nurkić told reporters, "if it was up to me I'd play right now."

He entered Game 1 "questionable" before being ruled out an hour before the game. Nurkić ruled himself out for Game 2 the day before the game. For Game 3, Nurkić was upgraded to "doubtful," which in layman's terms means there's a 75% chance he would not play. However, when he entered the arena Saturday night, signs began pointing towards him playing. 

After a near half hour warm-up, Nurkić left the court and moments later was declared active. 

The Blazers went 14-5 with Nurkic in the starting lineup. In 20 games in Portland, he averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.9 blocks in 29 minutes a game. He suffered his injury in the March 28 game against Denver, and played 32 minutes the next game against Houston, when he had 19 points and 11 rebounds and played to the buzzer.

 

Game 3: Can home court propel Blazers to elusive win over Warriors?

Game 3: Can home court propel Blazers to elusive win over Warriors?

Game 3 of the Portland Trail Blazers and Golden State Warriors series continues at 7:30pm on Saturday night in Portland.  The Trail Blazers are down 2-0 after getting manhandled in Game 2 on Wednesday night, 110-81.  As a team, Portland shot 33.3% from the field and just 20.6% from three-point range for the game.  It was Maurice Harkless to lead the way in scoring for the Blazers with 15 points.  The Warriors ended up shooting 44% as a team for the game.

Portland has lost the first two games of the series by an average of 20.5 points.

Damian Lillard told the media on Friday, “It’s not over ‘til it’s over… We still believe we can beat them.”

Friday afternoon, the Trail Blazers upgraded Jusuf Nurkic (right leg) to ‘doubtful’ for Saturday’s Game 3.

Portland had listed Nurkic as 'doubtful' on the injury report last Friday for Game 1, as well, before listing the Blazer big man as 'out' for Game 2 on Wednesday night.

Nurkic has not played a game since March 28th.  He has missed a total of nine games; seven in the regular season and the first two games of the series vs. the Warriors.  It was on March 28th that Nurkic suffered a non-displaced fracture in his right leg.

CJ McCollum (right ankle) and Allen Crabbe (left foot) are both listed as 'probable' for Game 3.

The Warriors have listed Matt Barnes (right ankle/foot sprain) as questionable, while Kevin Durant (left calf strain) and Shaun Livingston (right index finger sprain and hand contusion) are questionable as well.  Kevon Looney (left hip strain) is out for Game 3.

Check out CSN with a special hour-long playoff edition of Rip City Live starting at 6:00pm.   

And if you can’t get to a TV, you can check out The Scoop Pregame Show streaming live on your mobile phone, tablet, or computer at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW.




Quick Links:

Harkless: Blazers face ‘must win’ in Game 3 against Warriors

The Trail Blazers are all over the place when assessing Nurkic’s playing status

Bleak? Trail Blazers say series with Warriors hasn’t started yet

 

 

Video:    McCollum: Overcoming being counted out, have success

Video:    Turner: Why Blazers remain confident heading into Game 3

Video:    Lillard: We still believe we can beat ‘em, don’t get it twisted

Video:    Talkin’ Ball: What did the Blazers do well in Game 2?
 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Television: KGW, 7:30pm

CSN Programming:  Rip City Live (6:00pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 6:30pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/CSNNW

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Bleak? Trail Blazers say series with Warriors hasn't started yet

Bleak? Trail Blazers say series with Warriors hasn't started yet

Like so many times before, the outlook is bleak today for the Trail Blazers, this time facing an 0-2 hole as they head into Saturday’s Game 3 against Golden State.

But inside the Blazers, they view life with a different lens.

Much like they were last season when they faced an 0-2 deficit to the Clippers in the first round, and much like this winter, when they were 11 games under .500 and three games out of a playoff spot, this team has shown a penchant for postponing their funeral.

So while the rest of the basketball world plans their tidy demise in four games to the mighty Warriors, the Blazers remained bold, if not brash, in their hope.

“We still believe we can beat them – don’t get it twisted,’’ captain Damian Lillard said. “They won the first two games, we competed well in the first, a blowout in the second, but after the game, scores don’t carry over.

“We feel like we matchup well … we feel like we can beat them.’’

Amid the flurry of clichés trumpeted after Friday’s practice – “a series doesn’t start until someone wins a road game” and “it’s never over until it’s over” – none carried more weight than the body of work in the last two seasons by the core of this team.

“I mean, look at the way our season went,’’ Maurice Harkless said, noting the Blazers 24-35 record entering March. “We rallied and found a way to make the playoffs. Right now, it’s similar: Our backs are against the wall and we have to find a way to rally and make it a series.’’

CJ McCollum said he figures the stubborn fight of the Blazers comes from the backgrounds of their roster. Both he and Lillard went to small schools after being unheralded coming out of high school. Harkless was traded to Portland by Orlando for virtually nothing. Allen Crabbe was a second-round pick. And players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Shabazz Napier have nearly played for as many teams as they have years of NBA service.

“Being counted out, it takes a certain determination, a certain mindset to overcome and have success,’’ McCollum said.

A mindset is one thing. Having enough talent and the ability to execute against the NBA’s best team is another.

The refrain from many of the Blazers players was the 110-81 Game 2 loss – which came with Golden State star Kevin Durant sidelined – meant nothing. Yet, those same players were quick to point out their competitive Game 1 loss, when the score was tied heading into the fourth quarter.

“We have to compete for a full game – I don’t think we’ve done that yet,’’ Harkless said. “We’ve had quarters, we’ve had halves, but we haven’t put together a full game. Game 3 we have to put a full game together.’’

Portland in last season’s playoffs lost the first two at Golden State then won Game 3 in Portland. This season, Portland finished the season with eight wins in a row at home before a loss to New Orleans in the season finale. Golden State this season won both games in Portland, although Evan Turner had a chance to win the second meeting with a three pointer that was off.

The Blazers on Friday “upgraded” center Jusuf Nurkic from out to doubtful for Game 3, which is a step forward but still a regression from the questionable designation he was given for Game 1.

Nurkic or not, Lillard says this is not the time to plan vacations.

“Had we given up after the second game last year (to the Clippers) and come into Game 3 with our heads down, and maybe it doesn’t even matter … maybe we go home in the first round,’’ Lillard said. “It just goes to show that you just never know.’’

The Trail Blazers are all over the place when assessing Nurkic's playing status

The Trail Blazers are all over the place when assessing Nurkic's playing status

Apparently there have been some real ups and downs with Jusuf Nurkic's healing process. Excuse me, but I'm kidding. I doubt if that non-displaced fracture is as volatile as the team's injury reports make it sound.

In case you haven't noticed, the Trail Blazers are about to play Game 3 of their first-round series against the Golden State Warriors and Nurkic's status has been different on each pre-game injury report. And it hasn't even trended entirely in one direction.

Prior to Game 1 of the series, his status was listed as "questionable" -- and in NBA parlance the Trail Blazers say that means a 50-50 chance that he would play. Before Game 2 he was declared "out " -- as in no chance of playing. And now for Game 3 in Moda Center Saturday night, he's been "upgraded to doubtful" -- which is supposed to mean the chance is 75 percent that he won't play, but obviously a 25 percent chance he will. "Probable," by the way, means there's a 75 percent chance he would play.

Interesting. And also quite intriguing that the only game he was listed as "out" was the game in which he spoke to reporters the day before the game and declared himself out -- saying he wasn't yet ready to play. Friday he wasn't made available to the media. Hmm. Maybe they've decided not to let him give any more updates.

I must say I'm a little puzzled by the differing distinctions if these reports are actually based on a day-to-day assessment of the condition of his injury. So a week ago there was a better chance he'd play than there is now? And just a couple of days ago there was no chance he could play? Now, there's a small chance, they say. That's quite a healing pattern.

Either that's a pretty fragile situation with his leg or someone is just playing games with the injury report. Even then, it would seem to make more sense merely to list him as "questionable" prior to every game -- leaving the Warriors in doubt about his status until an hour or so before each game.

If anyone asks me about his status, by the way, I now have a one-word answer:

"Whatever."