February 27, 2018, 4:40 pm
OPPONENT: Sacramento Kings
RECORD: 18-49 (3-7 last 10 games, 10-22 on road)
MEASUREABLES: 101.3 offensive rating (30th), 110.0 defensive rating (29th), -8.7 net rating (29th)
WHEN, WHERE, HOW TO WATCH: 10:00 EST, Moda Center (Portland), NBC Sports Northwest/NBC Sports Bay Area
The most striking takeaway from the Portland Trail Blazers’ 118-100 victory over the Sacramento Kings on February 9 was the dominance of Damian Lillard. A week before playing in his third All-Star Game, Lillard scored 50 points on 16-of-26 shooting in just 29 minutes, sitting out the entire fourth quarter of his team’s second road win in as many nights. Well, sort of. Terry Stotts actually sent Lillard to the scorer’s table when the Kings cut their deficit to 13 points on a 3-pointer by Buddy Hield with 4:46 remaining on the game clock. Fortunately, Shabazz Napier drained a three of his own shortly thereafter, ending Lillard’s night for good before he was forced to play crunch-time hero.
That was hardly the only time the Blazers’ grasp on victory was tenuous. After leading 62-52 at halftime, Portland’s lead was just 75-74 when Zach Randolph scored with 4:25 left in the third quarter, extending Sacramento’s mini run to 10-2. Lillard came to the rescue from there, of course, scoring 15 of the Blazers’ final 17 points of the third quarter to give his team a 92-74 advantage heading into the final stanza.
Any road win in the NBA is a feat in its own right, and extenuating circumstances of a back-to-back partially explain Portland’s struggle to put one of the league’s worst teams away. Those “struggles” are all relative, too; basketball is a game of runs, and the Blazers slowed the Kings’ before Lillard went on a bigger one of his own, essentially ending the game before it was over.
For fans who have grown accustomed to Portland playing to its level of competition, though, that game was typically frustrating for its majority. The same can obviously be said for this team’s frantic comeback against the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night. The common denominator between those two games, other than Lillard forcefully burgeoning his All-NBA case? The Blazers, in the thick of one of the most competitive playoff races in NBA history, won both games.
Now 34-26 and winner of three straight, Portland sits at sixth place in the Western Conference, tied with the fifth-place and surging New Orleans Pelicans in the standings but just two games ahead of the ninth-place Los Angeles Clippers. None of the six teams fighting for the West’s bottom four playoff spots can afford losing imminently-winnable games, and Tuesday’s at Moda Center against Sacramento certainly counts as such for the Blazers.
Chief to avoiding that letdown is guarding the 3-point line. Led by underrated rookie wing Bogdan Bogdanovic and sharpshooter Buddy Hield, the Kings are shooting 40.7 percent on 27.0 3-point attempts per game in their last five outings. Even lottery-pick point guard De’Aaron Fox, billed as a non-shooter coming into his rookie year, has gotten in on the act of late, connecting on three of his four long-range tries in Monday night’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Another potential deciding factor: The availability of Zach Randolph. Coach Dave Joerger and front-office management began strategically resting veterans months ago, with the hope of accelerating the development of young players while increasing the chance of lottery-ball luck. Randolph didn’t play on Monday, ceding his starting spot to sophomore Skal Labissiere, who was recently recalled from the G-League. Al-Farouq Aminu and Zach Collins won’t have any trouble banging with the lithe, contact-averse Labissiere. But Randolph? Z-Bo isn’t the player he once was, but still has enough physical oomph left to keep a bad team competitive – especially given his recent proficiency from beyond the arc.
This is another game Portland should win. Even better than just a victory, though, would be the Blazers getting a comfortable one without needing another virtuoso performance from Lillard.
September 14, 2019, 7:27 pmGiannis AntetokounmpoPF, Milwaukee Bucks
In a recent fan question session Bucks' GM Jon Horst hinted towards signing Giannis Antetokounmpo to a supermax extension when eligible.
Horst mentioned that he cannot technically discuss an extension until he is eligible, but said Antetokounmpo will be a Buck for a long time. The Greek Freak will be eligible next summer and is all but sure to get a supermax extension.
Source: Fox Sports Wisconsin on Twitter
September 14, 2019, 2:53 pmTacko FallC, Boston Celtics
Tacko Fall (mild knee sprain) is expected to miss one week after a collision in workouts.
With training camp two weeks away, Fall should be ready to roll by then. He is currently on an Exhibit 10 contract, battling for the final roster spot with Javonte Green (partially guaranteed) and Kaiser Gates (Exhibit 10). Fall is an intriguing talent at 7'7" but is not expected to be fantasy relevant in his first season even if he does make the team with the Celtics already carrying four center eligible players on guaranteed contracts.
Source: Jared Weiss on Twitter
September 14, 2019, 12:14 pmNicolas BatumSG, Charlotte Hornets
According to Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer, Nicolas Batum and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist have been informed that, "The agenda is youth and development."
The article adds that both players will have a chance to compete for minutes but the Hornets' top priority will be to develop their younger players which bodes well for Dwayne Bacon, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, P.J. Washington and Willy Hernangomez. Miles was already putting up near top-100 value to close the season at around 25 minutes per game while the rest of the players could all produce fantasy value if given the minutes so they should at least be put on the watch list to see how the preseason plays out.
Source: Charlotte Observer
September 14, 2019, 10:26 amBogdan BogdanovicSG, Sacramento Kings
Bogdan Bogdanovic finished with 32 points on 10-of-17 shooting and drained seven triples as Serbia topped Czech Republic 90-81 to finish in 5th place.
Bogdanovic also added four rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block and was certainly one of the most impressive players in the tournament. Although he has the talent to be a successful full-time starter, the 27-year old will likely be relegated to a similar 25-27 minute, off-the-bench role he played last season with Buddy Hield, Harrison Barnes and newly added Trevor Ariza also on the wings. Nikola Jokic also did his usual thing this game with seven points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. Boban Marjanovic and Nemanja Bejlica were not really involved in this one, playing only two and eight minutes, respectively.
September 14, 2019, 7:40 amDonovan MitchellSG, Utah Jazz
Donovan Mitchell scored 16 points with 10 assists as US beat Poland 87-74 on Saturday to finish seventh place in the tournament.
Mitchell was an efficient 5-of-6 from the field and 4-of-4 from downtown but the bigger story of course was USA's disappointing showing as this was only the second time that they finished outside the top-3 in the FIBA World Cup since 1978. Kemba Walker (neck), Jayson Tatum (ankle) and Marcus Smart (hand/quad/calf) all sat out the final game as they now have two weeks to rest before the start of training camp.
September 13, 2019, 12:54 pmEvan FournierSF, Orlando Magic
Evan Fournier scored 16 points to lead France in their semifinal loss to Argentina by the score of 80-66.
This was a really poor showing all around in an elimination game by the French team. Fournier scored an inefficient 16 and was joined by Frank Ntilikina's 16 as two of just three French players in double figures.
September 13, 2019, 12:51 pmRudy GobertC, Utah Jazz
Rudy Gobert was invisible in France's loss to Argentina in the semifinals of the FIBA World Cup, scoring just three points and pulling down 11 rebounds in 29 minutes.
This just wasn't enough from Gobert, who couldn't impose his will against a weaker Argentina squad on paper. Joining him in the "forgot there was a game" club was Nicolas Batum, who consistently finds a way to do nothing in heavy minutes. Batum's line in this one was a paltry three points (1-of-6 shooting), five boards, one assist and a block.
September 13, 2019, 12:42 pmPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills was the star for Australia, scoring 34 points and hitting four triples against Spain, but Australia fell in double overtime 95-88.
Mills did as much as he could but he just didn't get enough help from his supporting cast. Joe Ingles couldn't find the basket and only had four points (to go along with 10 rebounds and seven assists). With that off night of shooting from Ingles, the Aussies needed someone like Matthew Dellavedova (six points) or Aron Baynes (six points) to step up.
September 13, 2019, 12:39 pmRicky RubioPG, Phoenix Suns
Ricky Rubio approached a triple-double in the semi-final win over Australia with 19 points, seven boards and 12 assists in 38 minutes.
It was another big line for Rubio in the semis, who has been a stalwart for this Spanish run to the finals. He was inefficient from the field (6-of-19) but ran the offense well and should be a factor again in the final game.
September 13, 2019, 12:35 pmMarc GasolC, Toronto Raptors
Marc Gasol carried Spain to the FIBA World Cup Final in a double-OT win over Australia, finishing with 33 points, six rebounds and four assists.
Gasol had a great outing to lift Spain here and they should have a great shot at winning the title against Argentina. We'll see how this high workload summer affects him going into the new season.