• The end is essentially inevitable now. After three games that told slightly different versions of the same story, it’s hard to believe anyone – let alone a majority of basketball followers – thought it could possibly come later for the Portland Trail Blazers.

    The New Orleans Pelicans beat the Blazers 119-102 on Thursday night, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in the teams’ first-round series with an utterly dominant two-way performance from the opening tip. Nikola Mirotic scored a team-high 30 points on 12-of-15 from the field and 4-of-6 from beyond the arc, keeping his red-hot right hand aflame while flashing a refined, versatile post game and underrated athleticism. Anthony Davis was the best player on the floor, though, dominating Portland on both ends en route to 30 points, 11 rebounds, three steals and two blocks on 11-of-18 shooting – numbers that somehow understate his unique influence across 94 feet. Jrue Holiday and Rajon Rondo combined for 32 points, 18 assists and five steals, thoroughly out-dueling their more-heralded backcourt counterparts for a third consecutive game.

    The Blazers’ play can be summed up in one depressingly head-scratching sequence just after halftime. Following a quick 5-0 run by Portland, which trailed 64-45 at intermission, and subsequent timeout by Alvin Gentry, Damian Lillard randomly lost his handle while preparing to round a screen on the right wing, leading to an uncontested dunk by Holiday. Lillard turned the ball over again less than a minute later, when he tried to thread a lazy bounce pass between the swarming arms and active hands of Holiday and Davis. Jusuf Nurkic had the ball ripped from his paws by Mirotic on Portland’s next possession, and Lillard dribbled off his foot out of bounds while probing a coming double-team the next time his team had the ball. Al-Farouq Aminu, easily the Blazers’ best player on Thursday with 21 points (8-15 FGs), eight rebounds and two steals, got too ambitious off the bounce on the ensuing trip that direction, giving Davis another steal – and the Blazers their fifth turnover in two-and-a half minutes.

    So much for a second-half comeback.

    Lillard went 5-of-14 from the field for 20 points, his worst shooting night of the postseason. He had just two assists despite New Orleans continuing to force the ball out of his hands, and committed eight turnovers all by his lonesome. Worse, Lillard, big-game hero since his rookie year, was timid and hesitant with his team’s back against the wall.

    “He’s a competitor and he wants to play better,” Terry Stotts said, “but you have to compliment New Orleans’ defense. They have a gameplan, and they’ve really stuck to it and executed it well so far.”

    The Pelicans scored 35 points off of Portland’s 24 total turnovers. The Blazers were outscored 18-0 in fast break points and 30-12 in the paint during the first half, an imminently losing combination of ineptitude in a vacuum. Portland’s bench, surprisingly effective in the first two games of this series, didn’t score a single point until there were 44 seconds left on the third-quarter clock. The Pelicans shot 80.6 percent from the restricted area, comfortably higher than LeBron Jamesleague-leading regular-season mark. Before Gentry pulled his starters with 7:05 remaining, New Orleans had an offensive rating of 127.6 and a defensive rating of 91.4, good for a net of +36.2 points per 100 possession.

    The worst part about all of this for Portland? It wasn’t even necessarily surprising given what transpired at Moda Center earlier in this series, back in the world when its hosts were considered favorites.

    The Blazers had no defensive answer for Davis again, no matter where he was on the floor or who was guarding him. Aminu got the assignment early, a departure from Games 1 and 2, but that left Nurkic chasing Mirotic, who scored 14 points in the first quarter. When Stotts shifted those assignments back after halftime, allowing Moe Harkless and Aminu to switch Holiday-Davis pick-and-rolls, the Pelicans found answers – one of which was as easy as it was jaw-dropping.

    McCollum was better in Game 3; he finished with 22 points on 9-of-16 shooting. But he hardly affected the game elsewhere like Rondo, let alone Holiday, and the same can be said for Lillard. When Portland’s backcourt is so objectively outplayed, there’s just no way for this team to win a playoff series – especially when the opponent is led by a player like Davis, wreaking relentless havoc in an attack that’s taking his talents to new, unforeseen heights.

    Even if there’s more than one game left in Portland’s season, anyone being objective knows it will be over soon. The Pelicans, as currently constructed, with Holiday playing at his ferocious peak and executing on both sides of the ball with consistent precision, are a really, really bad matchup for the Blazers.

    “They whooped our ass,” McCollum told The Oregonian.

    And based on everything we’ve seen in the first three games of this series, rightfully so.

Fantasy News

  • Luke Kornet
    PF-C, Chicago Bulls

    Luke Kornet has inked a deal with the Chicago Bulls for two years worth $4.5 million according to Shams Charania of The Athletic.

    Kornet is another stretch big that will fit into the Bulls' system similar to how Lauri Markkanen does. He is a 36-percent shooter from beyond the arc in his career and shoots at will, so he should be a nice role player for an improved Bulls team.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Josh Magette
    G, Orlando Magic

    The Orlando Magic have signed Josh Magette to a two-way contract according to Chris Haynes of Yahoo.

    Magette was last seen in the NBA two seasons ago with the Atlanta Hawks. After a strong showing in Summer League, Magette will have an opportunity to compete for a roster spot as an additional PG. He doesn't figure to hold any fantasy value if he is to make the squad.

    Source: Chris Haynes on Twitter

  • Frank Kaminsky
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    The Suns have officially signed Frank Kaminsky to a two-year, $10 million deal.

    Kaminsky officially joins the young roster that GM James Jones and the Suns are building. He will have some competition backing up Dario Saric as the team is also planning to sign Cheick Diallo. Kaminsky will have some stand-alone value as a deep threat but he doesn't provide much value beyond shooting.

    Source: Gina Mizell on Twitter

  • Stanton Kidd
    PF, Utah Jazz

    The Jazz have signed Stanton Kidd and William Howard.

    Kidd and Howard both participated in Summer League for the Jazz organization and impressed the team enough to be signed to fill out their roster. There is no guarantee that either will make the roster as it is unclear if their contracts are guaranteed. Kidd, 27, most recently played in Turkey while Howard, 25, most recently played in France.

    Source: Eric Woodyard on Twitter

  • Cheick Diallo
    PF, Phoenix Suns

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Suns have signed Cheick Diallo to a two-year contract.

    Diallo has shown flashes in the NBA through his first three seasons with the Pelicans, Unfortunately, he has yet to see the opportunity needed to provide fantasy value as he has yet to surpass 14.0MPG in any season. The Suns could provide an avenue for Diallo to get more playing time off the bench similar to what we saw from Richaun Holmes last season. This is a terrific landing spot for the young big man.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Chris Paul
    PG, Oklahoma City Thunder

    According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, there are many around the league that believe that Chris Paul will start the season with the Thunder.

    The Thunder have been very busy this offseason as they have been able to inhale draft picks in return for All-Stars Russell Westbrook and Paul George. It was rumored that they would attempt to shop Paul to see if they could acquire even more assets. The team will look to have Paul mentor this team (specifically second-year player Shai-Gilgeous Alexander) as the market for Paul is not robust due to the $124M he is owed over the next three seasons. From a fantasy perspective, Paul may eat into SGA's overall value but they both will provide value come draft time.

    Source: Adrian Wojnarowski on Twitter

  • Christian Wood
    PF, Detroit Pistons

    According to Shams Charania, the Pistons have claimed Christian Wood off of waivers.

    Wood will join a Pistons team that is led by Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond in the frontcourt. However, he will be able to compete for bench minutes with fellow bigs Markieff Morris and Thon Maker. The Pistons also drafted Sekou Doumbouya who is unlikely to contribute this season as he is only 18 years old.

    Source: Shams Charania on Twitter

  • Reggie Bullock
    SG-SF, New York Knicks

    Newly signed wing Reggie Bullock (back) underwent successful surgery for a cervical disc herniation on Wednesday.

    Bullock signed a two-year contract with the Knicks a day before undergoing a special surgery in New York. The Knicks will update the media regarding Bullock's timetable around the start of training camp. With the rotation unknown and the lack of knowledge regarding his timetable, Bullock is best left undrafted in standard leagues.

    Source: Knicks PR on Twitter

  • Tyler Lydon
    PF, Sacramento Kings

    Tyler Lydon has officially signed with the Kings.

    Lydon was a 2017 first-round pick of the Nuggets but failed to show value in his time in Denver. The Kings will take a chance on Lydon who has only played 96 minutes in his first two seasons. For now, he can be ignored from a fantasy perspective.

    Source: Sean Cunningham on Twitter

  • Julian Washburn
    SF, Golden State Warriors

    The Warriors have waived Julian Washburn.

    Washburn was acquired in the Andre Iguodala trade. Last season he appeared in 18 games with the Grizzlies, making three starts, while averaging 2.2 points, 2.3 rebounds and 0.7 steals in 14.1 minutes per night. Expect him to land in some team's training camp.

    Source: Warriors PR on Twitter