February 10, 2018, 12:51 am
Barely more than a week after C.J. McCollum made history by scoring 50 points in three quarters of play, Damian Lillard tried his best to outdo his backcourt partner. The lack of a late-game collapse, thankfully, is the only thing that prevented him from doing it.
The Portland Trail Blazers beat the Sacramento Kings 118-100 on Friday night, earning their second victory in just over a day in the wake of a winless three-game road trip. Lillard, of course, was the story for Portland, scoring 50 points, dishing six assists and swiping three steals in only 29 minutes of play. He shot 16-of-26 from the field, 8-of-13 from 3-point range and 10-of-10 from the free throw line. For awhile, however, it seemed as if one of the best efforts of Lillard’s career would be wasted.
The Blazers were listless on defense in the first half. On far too many occasions did the Kings’ smalls crease the paint after using ball screens, taking full advantage of Portland’s guards trailing a step or two behind the play – whether they were scoring themselves or creating opportunities for others with misses at the rim or kick-outs to the perimeter. Bogdan Bogdanovic was especially effective in ball-screen action. His length and patience as a playmaker belies his NBA experience, and is a forceful reminder of his starring career in Europe before coming stateside. Bogdanovic had 10 points in the first quarter alone.
Fortunately for Portland, though, it was able to take a 33-31 leading heading into the second quarter despite a lack of assertiveness defensively. Why? The singular dominance of Lillard and scorching hot team-wide 3-point shooting. The Blazers’ franchise player scored 14 points in the opening stanza, hitting three of his team’s six triples. Maurice Harkless and Al-Farouq Aminu accounted for two of those remaining three long-range jumpers, including one where the former found the latter with a cross-court bullet to the corner. When Harkless and Aminu are making floor plays like guards, Portland is extra tough to deal with offensively.
That goes double for when Lillard has it going. After needing 22 shots to score 18 points against the Charlotte Hornets on Thursday night, the Blazers’ All-Star scored 28 points on 11 shots in the first half alone, less than 24 hours later. Lillard scored from everywhere, but did most of his damage from beyond the arc. Case in point: His two pull-up 3-pointers from just inside Sacramento’s new halfcourt logo.
Dame from the lion logo pic.twitter.com/RnRT607j4l
— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 10, 2018
Despite surrendering a whopping 32 points in the paint, including 10 points to both Willie Cauley-Stein and Kosta Koufos, and eight offensive rebounds, the Blazers went into intermission with a 10-point lead. The halftime box score was both a testament to Lillard’s dominance and the lack of support from his teammates: Harkless, in his third consecutive start, was Portland’s second-leading scorer in the first half with seven points.
Lillard picked up the second half where he off the first. He scored the Blazers’ first five points of the third quarter, via a quick catch-and-shoot triple from the right wing and an uncontested layup after splitting a high ball screen. When Lillard briefly went quiet, however, the Kings took advantage, going on a 10-2 run midway through the third quarter to cut Portland’s once-comfortable lead to 75-74. The home team’s momentum only lasted so long, though. Lillard made sure of that.
He scored 15 of the Blazers’ points in an 17-0 run that spanned the last four minutes and 13 seconds of the third quarter. Lillard didn’t just do it on offense, either. He followed up a layup past Zach Randolph to stymie a Sacramento run by ripping the ball from De’Aaron Fox on a drive, then found C.J. McCollum for an easy score of his own on the ensuing possession. After torching the Kings’ bigs again and again on the perimeter, Lillard got to 50 points by the end of the third quarter with a contested 3-pointer that was emblematic of the shot-making show he put on Friday night.
— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) February 10, 2018
Suddenly up 92-74 heading into the fourth quarter, Lillard, on the bench, finally got some help from his teammates – one in particular, actually.
As the Kings threatened with triple after triple, closing to 101-88 with six minutes and 15 seconds remaining, Harkless responded like he did one night earlier. First was a backdoor, and-1 layup off a dime from Jusuf Nurkic. Next was a confident catch-and-shoot triple from the left wing, followed by a soaring defensive rebound. Once Lillard, still waiting at the scorer’s table, was set to come back in 3:44 left on the game clock, Portland was up 110-94 – an advantage that made Terry Stotts feel confident about ending his star’s night early.
The Blazers weren’t very good on Friday night. The Kings faced little resistance offensively until the fourth quarter, both at the point of attack on the perimeter and in the physical throes of the paint. If process really matters more than results, Stotts probably isn’t happy leaving Sacramento.
But when the result is Lillard lighting the scoreboard aflame in a double-digit road win, on the second half of a back-to-back, who really cares about the process?
August 24, 2019, 10:27 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma (sore left ankle) will not take part in the FIBA World Cup as Team USA announces its final roster.
Kuzma sat out Team USA's final tuneup against Australia on Saturday as Marc Stein reports that he is flying back to Los Angeles to get treatment. We should still expect him to be ready for training and congrats to Mason Plumlee for making the team as many speculated that he would be the final cut.
Source: Marc Stein on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:58 amKemba WalkerPG, Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker scored 22 points on 7-of-15 shooting with four rebounds with two assists as USA Basketball had it's 78-game winning streak in tournament and exhibition games snapped on Saturday.
Walker continues to assert himself as the team's best player but USA losing to Australia was the much bigger story in this one. Harrison Barnes also played well as he chipped in 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting to go with six rebounds. USA will take on Canada on Monday in their last exhibition before taking on the Czech Republic in the first official match of the tournament on September 1.
August 24, 2019, 8:44 amDerrick WhitePG, San Antonio Spurs
Derrick White left Saturday’s game after tripping and hitting his head on the floor.
White left without help but there is no word yet on whether he is dealing with a concussion. He finished with eight points, hitting 6-of-7 three throws in nine minutes with another update sure to come. The third-year guard put up top-125 per-game value, playing 25.8 minutes in his second season. Even with the return of Dejounte Murray, White should still be worth a roster spot in most standard leagues.
Source: Jeff Garcia on Twitter
August 24, 2019, 8:42 amMarcus SmartPG, Boston Celtics
Marcus Smart, sidelined for almost three weeks with calf tightness, returned to action on Saturday as USA lost to Australia in their exhibition.
Smart only played nine minutes in this one but still managed to score 7 points with three assists days after being named one of the team’s co-captains. Coming off an NBA All-Defensive First Team selection, he produced top-100 per game fantasy value as it seems he may have finally fixed his shot after shooting under 40 percent from the field in his first four seasons. He also produced a career-high in both steals and triples with 1.8 and 1.6 respectively as his career seems to be on the up and up.
August 24, 2019, 8:39 amPatty MillsPG, San Antonio Spurs
Patty Mills went off in the fourth quarter and finished with 30 points as Australia beat USA 98-94.
Although it was only an exhibition, it was still a huge moment for Mills and the Australian team in front of a huge crowd as they handed the US team their first loss since 2006. Mills was serenaded with MVP chants as Joe Ingles also played well with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and seven assists while Andrew Bogut came off the bench for 16 points, nine rebounds and four assists in 20 minutes, shooting 7-of-8 from the field.
August 24, 2019, 12:37 amKyle KuzmaPF, Los Angeles Lakers
Kyle Kuzma is out for Team USA's tuneup up game vs. Australia with a sore left ankle.
Kuzma is being held out of this one for precautionary reasons. There's clearly no need for USA Basketball to risk him further injuring the sore ankle. This does not sound like a serious injury and should not affect his fantasy ADP on draft day.
Source: USA Basketball on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 6:02 pmDwight HowardC, Memphis Grizzlies
Dwight Howard has agreed with the Grizzlies on a buyout, and will sign a non-guaranteed contract with the Lakers.
The Lakers are giving Howard an opportunity to be fantasy relevant. When given minutes, Dwight can produce double-doubles with the best of them, but he has been changing teams for years now. He will be worth a gamble at the end of your draft if camp with the Lakers goes well, but this is a non-guaranteed deal, and he only played nine games last season.
Source: Shams Charania on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 2:18 pmMarcus DerricksonPF, Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks signed Marcus Derrickson to an Exhibit 10 contract on Friday.
It looks like Derrickson will be a G-League option for the Hawks, so there's nothing to see here. At one point he was competing for the last roster spot on the team. We don't need to keep of track of every computer-generated player.
Source: Chris Vivlamore on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 11:01 amMarreese SpeightsC, Free Agent
Marreese Speights will work out for the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday according to Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype.
Speights spent last year playing in China and will attempt his NBA comeback with the Lakers. who are in desperate need of an additional center. He is among three centers the Lakers are looking into, the others being Dwight Howard and Joakim Noah. Of those three, Speights unquestionably has the best floor spacing ability, which would be his strongest bet to eke out those other two for the job.
Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter
August 23, 2019, 10:15 amTrevor BookerPF, International
Trevor Booker has worked out for the Nuggets and has workouts planned with the Bucks and Clippers, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsHype.
Booker was out of the NBA in 2018-19, spending the season in China after he didn't get any offers in free agency. He did return to the US to undergo a procedure on his foot but is apparently fully recovered. The last time we saw Booker he split 68 games between the Nets, Sixers and Pacers in 2017-18. If he does make a successful comeback he'll have no fantasy relevance.
Source: Alex Kennedy on Twitter