James Harden, Damian Lillard named NBA Players of Week

The NBA announced today that Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden has been named the Eastern Conference Player of the Week and Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard named Western Conference Player of the Week for games played from Monday, Feb. 15, through Sunday, Feb. 21.

The honor is Harden’s second as a Net and the 26th Player of the Week award of his career.

Harden led Brooklyn to a perfect 4-0 week, registering averages of 31.8 points on 55.0 percent shooting from the field, 48.6 percent shooting from 3-point range and 80.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line, 9.0 rebounds, 10.8 assists and 1.3 steals in 37.4 minutes per game. He notched four double-doubles (tied for the most in the Eastern Conference for the week), including one triple-double, and ranked second in the East in assists per game, sixth in points per game and was one of just two players in the East to average 30.0 or more points and 10.0 or more assists. Harden began the week by recording his fifth triple-double as a Net (tied for the second-most in franchise history) with 29 points, 13 rebounds and 14 assists in 35 minutes in a 136-125 victory at Sacramento on Feb. 15. He followed up that performance by tallying 38 points (his most as a Net), seven rebounds and 11 assists in 37 minutes on Feb. 16 at Phoenix, as Brooklyn erased a 24-point deficit, capped by Harden’s go-ahead 3-pointer with 31.4 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, to earn a 128-124 victory over the Suns. Harden totaled 23 points, five rebounds and 11 assists in 38 minutes in a 109-98 road win over the L.A. Lakers on Feb. 18, and rounded out the week by posting 37 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists in 41 minutes in a road victory over the L.A. Clippers on Feb. 21. The four straight wins propelled Brooklyn to a 5-0 record on its West Coast trip, representing the longest undefeated road trip in franchise history. Brooklyn is 13-5 in games Harden has appeared in this season and is currently a half-game back of Philadelphia for first place in the East.

Harden is one of 27 players in franchise history to earn Player of the Week honors and one of two this season, joining Kevin Durant, who captured the award on Jan. 18. Harden is the first Net to earn Player of the Week honors twice in the same season since Brook Lopez in the 2014-15 season.

In his 12th NBA season, Harden has appeared in 26 games this season, including 18 with Brooklyn. In those 18 games as a Net, he’s registered averages of 24.9 points on 50.2 percent shooting from the field, 41.0 percent shooting from 3-point range and 87.8 percent shooting from the free-throw line, 8.3 rebounds, a league-leading 11.4 assists and 1.2 steals in 38.4 minutes per contest.

The Trail Blazers, who have won six of their last seven games, went 2-1 on the week with Lillard posting averages of 36.3 points (43.4% FG, 40.4% 3-PT, 94.7% FT), 5.7 rebounds, 12.7 assists and 1.33 steals. He led the league in scoring for the week and ranked second in assists.

This marks the second time this season and 11th time in his career that Lillard has been named the NBA Western Conference Player of the Week. His 11 Player of the Week honors are the most in franchise history (Drexler – 10).

Lillard began the week with 31 points (12-25 FG, 5-14 3-PT, 2-3 FT), seven rebounds and 10 assists at Oklahoma City on February 16. Portland trailed the Thunder by five points with 4:48 remaining in the fourth quarter before closing the game on an 18-2 run that featured Lillard making four three-pointers and assisting on two others. On February 17 in New Orleans, Lillard scored 43 points (14-28 FG, 7-16 3-PT, 8-8 FT) while matching his career high of 16 assists. With 16.5 seconds remaining, Lillard completed a three-point play on a driving layup to deliver a 126-124 Trail Blazers victory. He closed the week with 35 points, six rebounds and 12 assists against Washington on February 20. Lillard has recorded at least 30 points, 10 assists and five three-pointers in each of his last four games, which ties his own mark for the longest such streak in NBA history.

For the season, Lillard is averaging 30.0 points (44.5% FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 93.5% FT), 4.5 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.07 steals. He leads the NBA in 30-point games (18), ranks third in scoring and is tied for eighth in assists.

Pacers win in Portland for first time in 14 years

Finally.

Via the Indianapolis Star:

A long streak ended as the Indiana Pacers won in Portland for the first time in 14 years on Thursday.

They led by 25 in the first half and withstood a 3-point assault from the Trail Blazers (7-5) to improve 2-1 on this trip at Moda Center, 111-87.

Malcolm Brogdon (25 points, 7 assists, 3 steals) opened strong and never wilted. Myles Turner (11 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks), Domantas Sabonis (23 points, 15 rebounds, 5 assists), Justin Holiday (11 points) and Edmond Sumner (7 points, 2 steals) did their part as starters, too.

Records like this are interesting in a few ways. For one, the main people who would notice such a thing are pretty much only the fans of the two teams. Another is, since teams have mostly different players on them every few seasons or so, there’s no particular grudge being built up if the two teams don’t have a traditional rivalry on top of it. But something like this does make for great bulletin board material, especially for the team that has historically been on the losing side.

Congrats to the Pacers here.

Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic suffers broken wrist

“As if falling 111-87 to the Indiana Pacers in the second game of a back-to-back wasn’t bad enough, the Trail Blazers also lost Jusuf Nurkic to a broken right wrist suffered in the third quarter of Thursday night’s contest at the Moda Center.

“Obviously it’s very disappointing for (Nurkic) and for us,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “He had a long road back from his other injury, he had a rough start of the season, looked like he was getting back on track. Obviously this is a big setback both for him and for us.” …

Nurkic suffering another serious injury roughly six months after returning from a compound fracture in his left leg, an injury sustained in March of 2019, feels especially cruel. Factor in losing his grandmother to COVID-19 while the Trail Blazers were in the Orlando bubble and other unspecified personal issues he’s been dealing with this season and one comes away feeling especially disappointed for the fun-loving Bosnian.”

NBA.com/blazers

Blazers center Zach Collins undergoes ankle surgery

Portland Trail Blazers forward/center Zach Collins underwent revision ankle surgery today to repair a left medial malleolus stress fracture, it was announced by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Collins previously underwent ankle surgery on September 1.

Injuries limited Collins to just 11 games played last season. That was due to a shoulder injury.

Collins is out indefinitely and his status will be updated accordingly.

Trail Blazers temporarily close practice facility after three positive COVID tests

Neil Olshey, President of Basketball Operations for the Portland Trail Blazers, issued the following statement today: “Over the past four days, we have had three positive COVID test results within our organization. Out of an abundance of caution, having completed contact tracing, we are closing our practice facility today for deep cleaning while we run confirmatory tests.”

This doesn’t necessarily mean players or coaches have it. It could be anyone in the organization who is presumably around the team or the practice facility. But the team is clearly doing the right thing and focusing on safety.

Trail Blazers re-sign Carmelo Anthony

The Portland Trail Blazers have re-signed forward Carmelo Anthony, it was announced today by president of basketball operations Neil Olshey.

Anthony, 36, averaged 15.4 points (43.0 FG, 38.5% 3-PT, 84.5% FT), 6.3 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 32.8 minutes in 58 games (all starts) with the Trail Blazers during the 2019-20 season. After signing with Portland last November, Anthony was named the Western Conference Player of the Week on Dec. 2 and at the season’s end was honored by the Trail Blazers with the Maurice Lucas Award, recognizing his contributions on the court and in the community.

Per the Oregonian, “this upcoming season, however, Anthony will find a much more crowded situation at both forward positions. Portland has traded for small forward Robert Covington, re-signed small forward Rodney Hood, who missed most of last season with an Achilles injury, and brought in small forward/guard Derrick Jones Jr. from Miami.”

Among all-time NBA leaders, Anthony ranks 15th in points (26,446), 19th in field goals (9,473), 35th in minutes (40,030) and 40th in three-pointers (1,449). He is one of 12 players in NBA history with at least 26,000 points, 7,000 rebounds and 3,200 assists.

A 17-year NBA veteran, Anthony holds career NBA averages of 23.6 points (44.8% FG, 34.9% 3-PT, 81.2% FT), 6.5 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.01 steals in 1,122 games (1,114 starts) with Denver, New York, Oklahoma City, Houston and Portland. Anthony is a 10-time NBA All-Star, a six-time All-NBA honoree and a four-time Olympic medal winner (three gold, one bronze). Originally selected by the Denver Nuggets with the third overall pick of the 2003 NBA Draft, Anthony attended Syracuse University where he won the 2003 NCAA Championship as a freshman.

Trail Blazers sign Harry Giles

The Portland Trail Blazers signed free agent forward/center Harry Giles today.

It is reportedly a one-year deal.

The 6-foot-11, 240 pound 22-year-old played for the Sacramento Kings in the 2019-20 season, and averaged 6.9 points (55.4% FG, 77.6% FT), 4.1 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 14.5 minutes in 46 games (17 starts). He scored in double figures 15 times during the season, including a game in August against the Orlando Magic where he produced 23 points and eight rebounds in 20 minutes.

In two NBA seasons, both with the Kings, Giles has a career average of 7.0 points (52.4% FG, 68.6% FT), 3.9 rebounds, 1.4 assists and 14.3 minutes in 104 games (17 starts).

Originally drafted out of Duke by the Trail Blazers with the 20th pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, Giles’ draft rights were included in a draft-night trade to the Kings for the draft rights to Zach Collins.

He will wear No. 10 for the Trail Blazers.

Trail Blazers sign second round draft pick CJ Elleby

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed rookie guard/forward CJ Elleby.

The Trail Blazers selected Elleby (6-6, 200) with the 46th overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft.

Elleby, 20, joins the Trail Blazers after spending two years at Washington State, where he averaged 16.6 points (41.3% FG, 36.7% 3-PT, 74.9% FT), 7.5 rebounds, 2.4 assists, 1.39 steals and 32.1 minutes in 64 games (60 starts). Elleby was the third-fastest player in Washington State history to score 1,000 career points and is the first player to be drafted from the school since 2011.

An All-Pac-12 First Team selection as a sophomore in 2019-20, Elleby averaged 18.4 points (39.6% FG, 33.9% 3-PT, 82.3% FT), 7.8 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.75 steals and 0.81 blocks during his second collegiate campaign. He ranked fourth in the Pac-12 in scoring, seventh in rebounding and first in steals while becoming the first player in Washington State history to lead the team in scoring, rebounding, steals and blocks in a single season.

Elleby will wear No. 16 for the Trail Blazers.

Trail Blazers sign Derrick Jones Jr., who played for Heat last season

The Portland Trail Blazers have signed free agent forward Derrick Jones Jr.

“Derrick’s elite athleticism, defensive versatility and ability to rebound on both ends of the floor enable him to make an immediate impact in multiple areas of need,” said Olshey.

Per multiple reports, Jones’ contract is for two years, $19 million.

According to the Oregonian, “the deal likely was made by using the Blazers’ mid-level exception, which starts at $9.258 million in the first year.”

Jones, 23, averaged 8.5 points (52.7% FG, 28.0% 3-PT, 77.2% FT), 3.9 rebounds, 1.1 assists, 0.98 steals and 23.3 minutes in 59 games (16 starts) for the Miami Heat during the 2019-20 season. He averaged career highs in points, assists, steals and minutes last season and ranked third on the Heat in deflections. Jones shot 67.7% on two-point field goal attempts in 2019-20, good for the ninth-highest in the NBA among players with at least 100 attempts.

For his career, Jones (6-6, 210) owns averages of 6.7 points (51.1% FG, 28.2% 3-PT, 69.0% FT), 3.5 rebounds, 0.7 assists 0.71 steals and 19.4 minutes in 171 games (46 starts) with Phoenix and Miami.

A four-year NBA veteran, Jones signed with Phoenix in 2016 after going undrafted out of UNLV in the 2016 NBA Draft.

Jones will wear No. 55 for the Trail Blazers.

Trail Blazers re-sign Rodney Hood

The Portland Trail Blazers have re-signed guard/forward Rodney Hood.

Per multiple reports, it’s a two-year, partially-guaranteed deal for $21 million.

“Rodney played a critical role in our run to the Western Conference Finals in 2018-19 and was off to a great start last year prior to his season being cut short due to injury,” said Olshey. “Now fully healthy we expect him to make an immediate impact and are pleased he chose to stay in Portland.”

Per the Oregonian, “Hood earlier this week reportedly declined the $6 million option on the final year of his contract. Given that he is coming off of an Achilles injury that ended his season last December, many speculated that Hood had an agreement in place with Portland to return on a more lucrative deal.”

Hood, 28, averaged 11.0 points (50.6% FG, 49.3% 3-PT, 77.8% FT), 3.4 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 29.5 minutes in 21 games (all starts) for the Trail Blazers last season before suffering a torn left Achilles tendon on Dec. 6, 2019. At the time of his injury, Hood ranked third in the NBA in three-point field goal percentage and was shooting career-best marks from the field and from the three-point line.

Originally acquired by the Trail Blazers in a trade with Cleveland on Feb. 4, 2019, Hood was a key figure in Portland’s run to the 2019 Western Conference Finals. He was Portland’s third-leading scorer against Denver in the Western Conference Semifinals, averaging 14.7 points per game while shooting 57.6% from the field and 50.0% from the three-point line during the seven-game series.

In six NBA seasons with Utah, Cleveland and Portland, Hood holds career averages of 12.5 points (42.6% FG, 37.2% 3-PT, 83.9%FT), 2.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 27.3 minutes.

Hood was originally selected by Utah with the 23rd overall pick in the first round of the 2014 NBA Draft out of Duke.