Jusuf Nurkic practices with Trail Blazers, will play Wednesday against Jazz

Jusuf Nurkic practices with Trail Blazers, will play Wednesday against Jazz

Fresh off his first practice with the Trail Blazers on Tuesday, newly acquired center Jusuf Nurkic will make his debut Wednesday at Utah, coach Terry Stotts said.

Stotts ran the 7-footer through 4-on-4 drills during practice to introduce the team’s plays, and said he liked what he saw.

“Very skilled young guy. Nice touch around the basket, good feel for the game,’’ Stotts said. “And, he needs to get in better shape.’’

Nurkic, who was acquired from Denver for a 2017 first round pick and Mason Plumlee, fell out of the Nuggets rotation in the past month. In the last 17 games, he did not play in five and had five others where he played less than eight minutes. Only twice in the last month has he played more than 20 minutes.

This season he is averaging 8.0 points, 5.8 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 18 minutes a game, but he says he is capable of more.

“I’m able to do a lot more stuff,’’ Nurkic said. “(Denver) kind of hold me down. I wish them good luck. I’m here to show the coach I can work hard. I’m going to be in gym all day and work, and be patient.’’

CJ McCollum said he studied film on Nurkic and likes his ability to post-up with his back to the basket – a facet the Blazers haven’t had since LaMarcus Aldridge left in 2014 – as well as his ability to contest shots on defense.

“It was good to see him get up and down. He’s very skilled,’’ McCollum said. “He can move. He’s strong as an ox. I look forward to seeing him play.’’

McCollum said it will likely take time for Nurkic to become acclimated to the Blazers’ plays and players, but both said it should help Nurkic that the All-Star break starts on Thursday, allowing more time for film study.

“Obviously, it will be a process,’’ McCollum said. “It’s not going to look perfect overnight, but I think he will help us right away.’’

Nurkic repeatedly said he is “all about winning” and that he will do whatever Stotts asks when it comes to his role. He also said he is excited to play with All-Star level guards like Damian Lillard and McCollum, noting that he has never played with such a high-caliber backcourt.

“First time in my life I get to play with those kind of guards,’’ Nurkic said. “I can’t wait.’’

His first chance will be Wednesday at Utah against a Jazz team that is 34-22 and a half-game out of fourth in the West and features one of the premier defensive centers in the NBA in Rudy Gobert.

Down the road, though, Nurkic said he hopes his stay in Portland will be long term. He is under contract through next season.

“I think it’s the perfect place for me,’’ Nurkic said.  “They need me; I need them.’’

Next up: Blazers at Utah, 6 p.m. Wednesday (KGW).

Behind Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers take care of Denver, move into sole possession of 8th

Behind Jusuf Nurkic, Trail Blazers take care of Denver, move into sole possession of 8th

The player who turned around the Trail Blazers season might have just sealed their postseason fate.

Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired in a trade with Denver 19 games ago, had a career-high 33 points to go along with 16 rebounds, leading the Trail Blazers to a 122-113 win over the Nuggets that put the Blazers in sole possession of  the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with eight games left.

Nurkic leading up to the game downplayed the matchup against his former teammates, but quickly it became apparent this wasn’t an ordinary game for the Bosnian.

Playing with aggression and emotion, Nurkic dunked with abandon, repeatedly urged the crowd to get louder, and cheered his teammates on wildly as the Blazers broke the tie with the Nuggets for eighth.

The sellout Moda Center crowd serenaded Nurkic in the fourth quarter with chants of “JU-SUF NUR-KIC” and he received a standing ovation when he was substituted out of the game with 22 seconds left.

"I was really happy for him,'' Coach Terry Stotts said. "I know how it is any time you face a former team, that carries a little added significance for that player. And this is probably the most important game he has played in the NBA -- playoff implications, all that. So obviously a big game for him, probably biggest in his career. Really happy the way it turned out for him.''

Plumlee, meanwhile, missed all four of his shots and finished with two rebounds and three assists in 16 minutes, his play as anonymous as his entrance in the first quarter, when the Blazers public address announcer failed to mention his name.

 

As much as Nurkic was the star, and a major subplot to the game, Blazers guard CJ McCollum was just as impactful. He scored 37 points on 15-of-24 shooting and carried the Blazers in the second quarter, when he scored 16 points.

Portland (36-38) won its fourth straight and is now 12-3 in March. In essence, the Blazers have a two-game edge over Denver (35-39) for the final playoff spot because they won the season-series over the Nuggets 3-1. Portland has six of its final eight games at home while Denver played six of its final eight on the road.

Jameer Nelson led Denver with 23 points and Nikola Jokic, the player whose emergence this season pushed Nurkic to the wayside, had 17 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

Denver lost its shooting touch in the third quarter, closing the quarter making 4 of its final 16 shots, and the Blazers took advantage, turning a 77-76 lead into a 95-85 advantage heading into the fourth.

Denver was within 109-103 with 5:07 left, but Al-Farouq Aminu (15 points) scored four in a row and Denver never threatened again.

The Blazers led 66-64 at halftime in a fast-paced, hot-shooting game. Portland made its move midway through the second quarter with a 10-0 run that gave them a 56-52 lead. The spurt included a Nurkic dunk, Nurkic post up on Plumlee and three-pointers from McCollum and Lillard.

The first half featured 12 ties and five lead changes, with Denver holding as much as a seven point lead and Portland no lead larger than four.

Nurkic was engaged and electric from the opening tip. He scored the Blazers’ first points off an offensive rebound and had six of the team’s first nine and nine of the first 18. He repeatedly asked the crowd to make more noise, and when he rested on the bench, he was often the first up to cheer his teammates.

Next up: Houston at Blazers, Thursday 7:30 p.m. (TNT)

Nurkic leading the charge vs. former team, Blazers and Nuggets battling on CSN

Nurkic leading the charge vs. former team, Blazers and Nuggets battling on CSN

The Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets tipped off at 7:00pm in front of a rowdy Moda Center crowd on Tuesday night.  With the Blazers and Nuggets battling for the eighth and final playoff spot a lot is on the line in Portland.

This is the first time and only time this season Blazer big man Jusuf Nurkic will face is former team.  Nurkic scored six of the Blazers’ first nine points to start the game.

Midway through the first quarter, the Blazers and Nuggets were all tied up at 20 apiece.

To end the first quarter, the Nuggets took a 35-32 lead after shooting 61.9% from the field as a team.  The Trail Blazers ended the first quarter shooting 50%.

Nurkic finished the first quarter with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

Former Trail Blazer, Mason Plumlee, who was traded for Nurkic before this year’s trade deadline, is coming off the bench for the Nuggets.  In 10 minutes of action in the first half, Plumlee scored zero points and had two assists.

Portland is shooting 52.9% as a team in the first half.  Denver is shooting 54.5% from the floor.

Nikola Jokic leads the way for Denver at the half with 11 points and five rebounds.

At the break, the Trail Blazers are up 66-64. 

 


Top performers of the first half:

Trail Blazers

Points:
  Jusuf Nurkic, 21

Rebounds:  Jusuf Nurkic, 8

Assist:  Damian Lillard, 6 

 


Nuggets

Points:  Nikola Jokic, 11

Rebounds:  Kenneth Faried, 9

Assist:  Nikola Jokic, 5


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.

The wait is over: Blazers and Nuggets showdown on CSN at 7:00pm

The wait is over: Blazers and Nuggets showdown on CSN at 7:00pm

Playoff implications are on the line when the Portland Trail Blazers (35-38) and the Denver Nuggets (35-38) tip-off at 7:00 PM on Tuesday night, televised on CSN.  The Blazers and Nuggets hold the same overall record with Portland currently holding the tiebreaker, a 2-1 lead in the season series.  

A Denver win though would even that series and possibly open the door for the Nuggets to claim the tiebreaker advantage by finishing with a better division record than the Trail Blazers.  A Portland win would give them some breathing room in their chase for the 8th and final spot in the Western Conference Playoffs.

It was on Sunday night these two teams became tied in the standings, when the Blazers earned a victory on the road and the Nuggets lost at home.

Portland cruised to a 97-81 win over the Lakers on Sunday.  The Trail Blazers took care of business shooting 40.4% from the floor and 42.9% from three-point range.  Damian Lillard scored 14 of his 22 points in the third quarter to ignite the Blazers in the second half.  Allen Crabbe added 18 points off the bench.

As for the Nuggets, Denver could not muster enough offense against the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday.  For the game, the Nuggets shot 37.9% from the field.  Denver as a team, made just 6-of-25 three-point attempts in the 115-90 loss.  Former Trail Blazer Mason Plumlee led the way for Denver off the bench with 16 points.

The Nuggets and Pelicans still have to face each other two more times in this final stretch of the regular season.

Tuesday’s game marks the return of Plumlee to Portland and the matchup of Jusuf Nurkic facing his former team on his new home court.  The Blazers traded Plumlee to Denver back on February 12th for Nurkic and a first-round pick.

In 45 games with Denver this season, Nurkic averaged nearly 17 minutes per game, but now the 22-year-old has been getting an opportunity and making the most of it.  Nurkic is averaging 12 points and 10.3 rebounds per game in his last 10 games, while averaging nearly 28 minutes per game.

In the Blazers and Nuggets last meeting on December 15th, Denver took it to Portland beating the Blazers, 132-120.  Lillard finished with a double-double in the losing effort.  The 26-year-old had 40 points and 10 assists in the road loss.

We will help set the stage for Tuesday’s showdown between the Blazers and Nuggets with an all-new Rip City Live starting at 6:00pm on CSN.   

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 6:00pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW.




Quick Links:

Trail Blazers beat Lakers, assume “driver’s seat” in playoff race

Leading the Blazers: A look at how, and who, has steered team to Tuesday’s showdown

Date circled on calendar since his trace, Mason Plumlee returns to Portland

 

Video:   Jason Quick: Blazers pretty good at taking this one game at a time

Video:   Talkin’ Ball: Nuggets loss allows Blazers to slide into eighth place

Video:   Lillard: Crabbe has been huge for us

Video:   1080 The FAN: Blazers can’t let off the gas

 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Moda Center, Portland OR

Television: CSN, 7:00pm

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

Live streaming: Watch an authenticated stream of the game at CSNNW.com/BlazersStream or on the NBC Sports App! Plus the Scoop Pregame Show streams at 6:00pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/CSNNW

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

Date circled on calendar since his trade, Mason Plumlee returns to Portland

Date circled on calendar since his trade, Mason Plumlee returns to Portland

Back in Portland on Monday evening for the first time since he was traded, Mason Plumlee felt like he was on a whirlwind reunion schedule.

 “Only here 48 hours,’’ Plumlee said over the phone while directing a friend through Portland streets.  “There’s a lot going on.’’

The biggest event, of course, comes Tuesday evening, when Plumlee’s Denver Nuggets face his old team, the Trail Blazers, in a game that will go a long way to determining the Western Conference’s final playoff team.

“Big game. There are plenty of storylines with the trade, the tie breaker, the playoffs,’’ Plumlee said. “There’s only one spot left up for grabs, and in my mind, that’s what tomorrow is all about.’’

The Blazers (35-38) and Denver (35-38) are tied with nine games remaining, and a win by the Blazers would clinch any tie-breaking scenario, essentially creating a two-game lead with eight left.

It has been a game on Plumlee’s radar ever since he was traded by the Blazers on Feb. 12 for Jusuf Nurkic and a first-round pick.

“As soon as I was traded, I looked at the remaining schedule to see when we were going to Portland,’’ Plumlee said. “And even back then when I was traded, we were the two teams in contention, and I remember saying ‘That’s going to be a big game.’ And sure enough …’’

In Denver, Plumlee has started eight of 18 games and is averaging 9.6 points, 7.0 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 24.3 minutes. In Portland, Plumlee started all 54 games and averaged 11.1 points, 8.0 rebounds and 4.0 assists in 28 minutes.

“I’ve come off the bench more than I’ve started, and I’m given the ball sometimes to make decisions,’’ Plumlee said. “They like what I did in Portland and are trying to integrate me into what they are doing.’’

He said he is happy in Denver, and has come to the realization that today’s NBA is more about moving parts than stability.

“To me, it has been another step in the journey,’’ Plumlee said. “And it comes with just understanding the league has changed. There’s not going to be a Dirk Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant or Nick Collison. Very few players get to spend time in one city. It’s just not how it goes.’’

He said he has casually followed what has happened with the Blazers since he left, which includes an 11-3 record in March, and he said their spurt doesn’t surprise him.

“It’s about the time last year when we turned it around,’’ Plumlee said. “We had a slow start last year too … I don’t know what the reason is, but it doesn’t surprise me.’’

 He said he caught the end of the Blazers’ victory Sunday against the Lakers, because it came after his Nuggets were upset by New Orleans at home, enabling the Blazers to move into the tie.

He then packed for Portland, which will be the first city on a five-game trip for the Nuggets, who end the season with seven of their final nine on the road. When he left Portland in February, he was able to get out of his lease, and put his belongings in storage, so he figures it will be his last time in Portland until next season.

So Monday night was a night for reunions and old faces, but only for a night.

“Tomorrow is big. It’s not just one game, it’s for the head-to-head, so it’s bigger than one game,’’ Plumlee said. “Everybody has an understanding of what’s at stake.’’

Next up: Denver at Blazers, 7 p.m. Tuesday (CSN).

Leading the Blazers: A look at how, and who, has steered team to Tuesday's showdown

Leading the Blazers: A look at how, and who, has steered team to Tuesday's showdown

As a Trail Blazers season has turned from infuriating to intriguing with an inspired run out of the All-Star Break, two figures have navigated the team’s quest for the playoffs.

Coach Terry Stotts and captain Damian Lillard have led the Blazers into Tuesday’s showdown with Denver (7 p.m., CSN) with tactics befitting of their personality – Stotts more measured and subtle; Lillard more blunt and direct – with the contrasts in styles seemingly balancing the Blazers in the challenging waters of the season’s stretch run.

During the Blazers’ 11-3 march through March, Stotts has continually pushed the right buttons. Off the court, he delivered a key speech at a Phoenix breakfast, and at calculated times, he has shifted practices from game preparation to team building.

On the court, Stotts has stuck with Noah Vonleh in the starting lineup, a move that is reaping benefits such as a career-high 14 rebounds on Sunday, and he has

beautifully integrated newly acquired Jusuf Nurkic into the flow offense, with Nurkic becoming a force both literally and spiritually for the team.

Meanwhile, Lillard has stacked powerful performance upon powerful performance, living up to a brash promise to his team that he would “man up” when the Blazers reconvened from the All-Star Break.

“I’m a man of my word,’’ Lillard said.

At the nadir of their season, the Blazers on March 2 were 11-games under .500 and in 10th place in the West, three games behind Denver, and the debate in Rip City was whether chasing a high lottery pick was more beneficial than chasing the Nuggets.

On Sunday night, after their blowout victory over the Lakers, the Blazers were in control of their own destiny, and as they boarded their flight home, it was with words from their two leaders echoing in their ears.

“Our work,’’ Lillard said, “is just getting started.’’

Added Stotts: “We haven’t accomplished anything.’’

**

On March 12, a weary and emotionally spent Blazers team gathered for breakfast in their downtown Phoenix hotel when Stotts delivered a subtle, but powerful message.

The night before, the team suffered one of its most gutting defeats, a last-second dagger by Washington’s Markieff Morris that completed the Wizards’ comeback from a 21-point halftime deficit. Adding insult to the ignominy of the defeat: Replays clearly showed Morris stepped out of bounds while making his move to set up the winning shot, a fact the Blazers vehemently protested on the court, and later in postgame interviews.

An added twist of the dagger came later in the night, when the team had to board a 2 ½ hour flight to Phoenix for the start of a five-game trip.

The best of times, it seemed, were not ahead.

But the next morning, when the Blazers met to go over that night’s game plan against Phoenix over eggs and orange juice, any frustration and angst from the night before was quickly eliminated when Stotts addressed the team.

According to Meyers Leonard, Stotts quickly eliminated any sense of the team feeling sorry for themselves over the blown call by turning the attention from the referees to themselves. Much of the loss, Stotts told them, was on the team for losing a 21-point lead. The team, Stotts said, had to become smarter with their decisions.

“We talked about the two truths of that game: the blown call, and us being unable to hold a lead,’’ Leonard said an hour before tipoff against the Suns. “And we always talk about controlling what we can control, and that lead was something we could control, so ultimately, it was on us.’’

It was, in a sense, a flushing of the toxins associated with the Washington loss, and the bitterness of the blown call.

“After Coach talked to us, and got us thinking that way -- that it was about us, and not the refs -- I really felt like we moved on from it,’’ Leonard said. “We became focused on what was ahead of us, not on what had happened to us.’’

That night, the Blazers beat the Suns, starting what would be a season-changing 4-1 trip that concluded with impressive wins at San Antonio, Atlanta and Miami.

Stotts on Sunday downplayed his breakfast sermon.

“Honestly, I don’t remember what I said,’’ Stotts said. “I’m not one to dwell on too much, but I’m sure we were talking about the loss and preparing for Phoenix.’’

It was vintage Stotts: always in the moment, always deflecting praise, always even-keeled, yet always calculated.

“That’s part of coaching, no matter when it is in the season,’’ Stotts said. “You gauge your team and what needs to be said, what needs to be done at whatever part of the season, whether you’ve won three in a row or lost four in a row and are coming off a good win or a bad loss.’’

**

When the Trail Blazers entered the All-Star Break, they carried with them a vow from Lillard, their leader.

“You have two options: Run from it … or man up,’’ Lillard said in the Utah locker room after the Jazz manhandled the Blazers to lower their record to 23-33, two games behind Denver. “I’m going to come back and man up. Period. That’s what has to happen.’’

With the help of a week off to rest his body and heal his heart, Lillard has made good on his vow, playing some of his most inspired basketball of his accomplished career. Since the All-Star Break, Lillard is averaging 30 points, 5.7 assists and 4.8 rebounds while shooting 49 percent from the field and 43 percent from three-point range.

What’s more is how Lillard is amassing those numbers. He has been electric in the first quarter, averaging 12.3 points in the opening stanza during the team’s crucial five-game trip, continually leading Stotts to point out that Lillard is “shouldering the responsibility” and “leading the charge.”

When teammate Maurice Harkless tried to explain the Blazers’ late season turnaround on Sunday, he started down a path of clichés and generalizations before stopping himself.

“And Dame has been great,’’ Harkless said. “I don’t know what he has been averaging over this stretch, but he has been great.’’

**

Lillard and Stotts haven’t done it alone.

CJ McCollum has been a picture of offensive artistry, and Al-Farouq Aminu a symbol of defensive toughness. Vonleh has graduated from project to productive, and Allen Crabbe has had moments when he has rescued the team with his shooting.

Up and down the roster there have been contributions, which might be another subtle nod to how Stotts has managed the season.

He has worked to keep the team both fresh physically and engaged mentally, whether they are streaking or slumping.

Last week, he turned a Friday practice into a shooting competition, inviting a playful and carefree air into the tension of a playoff race. The next day, he cut the team’s shootaround short, allowing the team to head home early.

“Days like that help build camaraderie,’’ Stotts said of the shooting practice.

Part of that decision is based on recommendations from the team’s Health & Performance staff, which among other things monitors players’ weight, heart rate, hydration, and sleep patterns on a daily basis to paint a picture of how the players’ bodies are holding up.

McCollum, for one, tipped his hat to Stotts for the Friday practice and abbreviated shootaround before the Minnesota game, for playing a role in his 32-point performance against the Timberwolves.

“It was one of those ‘Terry Specials,’’’ McCollum said of the Friday practice. “He does a great job mixing up the practice schedules and trusting our Health & Performance staff. If they say rest, he gives us rest, and I commend him for that.’’

**

On Tuesday, the biggest game of the season to date will tipoff at the Moda Center, and again Stotts and Lillard figure to be at the forefront of what has already been a memorable season series with the Nuggets.

In the first meeting, Portland came back from nine points down with about 90 seconds left to beat the Nuggets 115-113 in overtime in the season’s third game. Lillard was the hero, hitting the game-winning basket off a floater in the lane with 0.3 seconds left.

In the second meeting, in November, Denver built a 17-point first half lead, prompting the normally stoic Stotts to deliver what Mason Plumlee would call “a speech for the ages” at halftime. Evan Turner recalled that Stotts’ cowlick was “flying around” and his face became red during the speech, which worked, as the Blazers outscored Denver 36-15 in the third quarter in what would turn out to be a 112-105 victory.

Now, with Denver and Portland tied with nine games remaining, and the final playoff berth in the West hanging in the balance, the stage has never been bigger, and the words of the Blazers leaders never more important.

“I told the team we put ourselves in good position,’’ Stotts said after Sunday’s game. “But the hardest work is ahead of us.’’

Added Lillard: “This is where our work really begins.’’

Next up: Denver at Blazers, 7 p.m. Tuesday (CSN)

Trail Blazers beat Lakers, assume 'driver's seat' in playoff race

Trail Blazers beat Lakers, assume 'driver's seat' in playoff race

LOS ANGELES – It took 51 days, but the Trail Blazers have finally regained possession of a playoff position.

Behind 22 points from Damian Lillard and some hot shooting from Allen Crabbe, the Blazers beat the Lakers 97-81 on Sunday at the Staples Center to move into a tie with Denver for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with nine games remaining.

Denver, which lost 115-90 to New Orleans earlier in the day, plays at Portland on Tuesday at the Moda Center (7 p.m., CSN). Portland leads the season series 2-1, but can clinch the tie-breaker over Denver even if it loses Tuesday by virtue of winning one of its remaining four division games or having Denver lose one of its three remaining division games.

Seven of the Blazers’ final nine games are at home while seven of the Nuggets final nine games are on the road.

“We know if we can string a few games together at this point, we can be in the driver’s seat,’’ Lillard said before the game. “That’s a great position to be in.’’

Denver has held the eighth spot since Feb. 3, when Portland lost at home to Dallas to fall to 22-29 and Denver beat Milwaukee to improve to 22-27.

The Blazers have caught fire in March, improving to 11-3 in the month, with much of the surge being sparked by center Jusuf Nurkic, who was acquired in a February 12 trade with Denver for Mason Plumlee.

On Sunday, Portland struggled early against the last-place Lakers, but a third-quarter surge, led by Lillard’s 14 points, pushed a 51-46 lead to 77-56 entering the fourth quarter.

It was the Blazers’ 12th consecutive victory over the Lakers, a franchise record.

While Portland was misfiring early, Crabbe rescued them. He made six of his first 10 shots, including three three-pointers. He finished with 18 points and six rebounds, keeping the Blazers afloat long enough for Lillard to heat up and take them home

Noah Vonleh set a career high with 14 rebounds and Al-Farouq Aminu had nine points and 10 rebounds off the bench.

D’Angelo Russell led the Lakers (21-52) with 22 points while leading scorer Jordan Clarkson had an off night, making only 4-of-16 shots for 10 points.

Next up: Denver at Blazers, 7 p.m. Tuesday (CSN).

Podcast:

A low-scoring affair at Staples Center, Blazers lead Lakers at half

A low-scoring affair at Staples Center, Blazers lead Lakers at half

The Portland Trail Blazers are looking for its third straight victory as the Blazers tipped off against the LA Lakers at 6:30pm on Sunday night.

Portland took care of business on Saturday night vs. Minnesota after beating the Timberwolves, 112-100; the Trail Blazers look to keep the momentum going at the Staples Center.

Midway through the first quarter, the Blazers took an 11-8 lead with CJ McCollum scoring six of those first 11 points for Portland.

It was a low scoring first quarter though.  To end the first, the Trail Blazers shot 32% as a team, while the Lakers shot 33.3% from the floor.

Neither team scored in the last 2:41 of the first quarter.

After one quarter, Portland held a 22-17 lead.

The Trail Blazers started the second quarter on a 7-0 run.  The Lakers had missed nine straight games to start the second quarter that dated back to the last two minutes of the first quarter.

Allen Crabbe gave the Blazers a nice lift off the bench.  Crabbe with 10 points in the first half.

With the first half coming to an end, Portland shot 32.6% as a team.  The Lakers shot 33.3% from the floor in the first half.

At halftime, the Trail Blazers are up 40-32.

Portland is 7-6 this season on second nights of back-to-backs. 

 


Top performers of the first half:

Trail Blazers

Points:
  Allen Crabbe, 10

Rebounds:  Noah Vonleh, 11

Assist:  CJ McCollum, 3

 


Lakers

Points:  D'Angelo Russell, 8

Rebounds:  Julius Randle, 6

Assist:  Jordan Clarkson, 5


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.

Trail Blazers look to sweep season series against Lakers

Trail Blazers look to sweep season series against Lakers

The Portland Trail Blazers (34-38) will be looking for its third straight win Portland faces the Los Angeles Lakers (21-51) on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The Blazers are playing in the second leg of a back-to-back on Sunday night after beating the Minnesota Timberwolves, 112-110 on Saturday.  CJ McCollum led the way with 32 points on an efficient 11-for-13 shooting from the field.  Damian Lillard added 21 points in the win.  Portland was clicking on offense vs. the Timberwolves.  As a team, the Blazers shot 62.5% from the floor and 50% from three-point range.

The Lakers beat the Timberwolves in their most recent game as well.  LA got a 130-119 overtime win over Minnesota on Friday night at Staples Center.  Jordan Clarkson scored 35 points after hitting 8-of-10 from long distance.  The Lakers went 14-for-23 from deep to shoot a sizzling 60.9% as a a team from the three-point line.

The Lakers are now 13-22 at home this season.

This will be the fourth and final meeting of the season between the Blazers and Lakers.  Portland holds a 3-0 series lead.  The most recent meeting came on January 25th with Portland beating LA, 105-98.

We will help set the stage for Sunday’s game with an all-new Rip City Live starting at 5:30pm only on CSN.   

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 5:30pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW.




Quick Links:

CJ McCollum feasts on Minnesota again, leading Blazers to another win

 

Video:   Jason Quick: No one has the floater down like CJ does

Video:   Lillard: CJ’s got a knack for scoring, robbed of 40

Video:   Talkin’ Ball: Is CJ fueled by teams that passed him in the draft?

Video:   Highlight: CJ leads Blazers over Minnesota

 

 

Game Details:

Where:  Staples Center, Los Angeles CA

Television: KGW, 6:30pm

CSN Programming:  Rip City Live (5:30pm), Talkin' Ball  (Immediately after the Blazers postgame show)

Live streaming: The Scoop Pregame Show streams at 5:30pm at Facebook.com/CSNNW. The Scoop Postgame Show will stream immediately after the game at Facebook.com/CSNNW

Radio: Rip City Radio 620

CJ McCollum feasts on Minnesota again, leading Blazers to another win

CJ McCollum feasts on Minnesota again, leading Blazers to another win

The best news for the Trail Blazers as they head down the stretch of their playoff chase?

CJ McCollum will have two more meetings against Minnesota.

McCollum on Saturday had another dominant performance against Minnesota, as he followed up a 43-point performance in January with a 32-point performance to lead the Trail Blazers to a 112-100 victory.

Of the Blazers’ remaining 10 games, two are against the Timberwolves, a team this season which McCollum has made 27-of-38 field goal attempts and is averaging 37.5 points. On Saturday, he made 11-of-13 shots, which came on the heels of his career-high 43-point night on Jan. 1 in Minneapolis, when Portland came back from a 14-point deficit to win.

On Saturday, McCollum scored his 32 points in 29 minutes, leading with 7:13 in the fourth quarter and the Blazers ahead 105-81.

"Very impressive,'' coach Terry Stotts said.  "He really had it going and he scored in a variety of ways – getting to rim, jump shots  ... he had an outstanding game.''

McCollum wasn’t the only one with the hot hand. Portland shot a season-best 62.5 percent and was so comfortably ahead that Damian Lillard and Jusuf Nurkic didn’t have to play in the fourth quarter.

The win moved Portland (34-38) to within one game of Denver (35-37) for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference as both teams are streaking toward the finish line. Portland is 10-3 in March and 11-5 since the All-Star Break. Denver has won seven of 10 and next plays Sunday at home against New Orleans before heading to Portland for a Tuesday matchup with the Blazers.

Minnesota (28-44) has lost six in a row and seven of the last eight to fall out of the playoff race. They were coming off an overtime loss the night before in Los Angeles to the Lakers, during which they lost a 15-point lead, the 19th time they lost a game this season after leading by double-figures, the most in the NBA.

About the only bad news for the Blazers was Lillard having his consecutive games streak of 25-points or more snapped at eight, the third longest in franchise history. Lillard scored 21 on 8-of-13 shooting and added eight assists and six rebounds in 29 minutes.

The Blazers were in control by halftime, 60-46, thanks to a strong close. The Timberwolves trailed by 12 in the second quarter, but got within 44-41 before the Blazers went on a 12-1 run that was keyed by three-points from McCollum and Lillard and back-to-back fast break finishes from Al-Farouq Aminu. Jusuf Nurkic put the finishing touches on the half by rebounding his own miss and scoring with 2.2 seconds left.

The Blazers, who have had trouble protecting big leads at times this season, went for the jugular in the third, when they finished the quarter by scoring on seven of their final eight possessions to take a comfortable 94-74 lead heading into the fourth.

"I thought this was one of better games as far as building lead and holding lead,'' Stotts said, noting he was able to keep all his starters under 30 minutes. "It's good to have those.''

Minnesota would get as close as 99-81, but Portland closed the deal behind reserves Allen Crabbe (10 points) and Evan Turner (eight points) to improve to 19-15 at the Moda Center.

Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota with 20 points, Karl-Anthony Towns added 16 and Ricky Rubio had 16 points and four assists. Nurkic had 14 points, nine rebounds and four assists for Portland, which is 11-6 since he joined the team.

Next up: Blazers at Lakers, 6:30 p.m. Sunday (KGW)