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Wow! Just like that! From the outhouse to the penthouse! The West is Wild and tonight is a perfect example of what we’re in for this season.
With two straight losses to start the road trip and games looming in Milwaukee and Golden State things were looking admittedly hairy. As unnecessary as it may be, I found myself digging thru the standings this morning projecting how bad things could get if this trip continued to go south.
Bang, just like that we win, the Warriors lose and Portland sits atop the Western Conference controlling our own destiny to the one seed and home court throughout the Western Conference playoffs.
Today was everything you could ever ask from this team wrapped into one effort. Portland jumped on Washington early and didn’t let up. The Blazers led by 7 headed into the 2nd, 21 at the half and 27 late in the 3rd.
Lillard played at an MVP level. CJ showed why he’s knocking on the door of his first All-Star appearance. Nurk added a near triple double.
As exciting as it is being atop the West, let’s pump the breaks a bit here. Sure, it’s a great start but let’s take a rain check on the premature celebration. No need to start saving seats on Broadway Street quite yet. 3 wins separate the 1 and 12 seed. True story.
Next up New York Wednesday night. MSG is Lillard’s second home. I expect him to swing thru Sway in the Morning, hit us with a freestyle, then proceed to hang another 40 on the hapless Knickerbockers.
#TrailBlazers #RipCity #Dame4
Lillard: 40pts
CJ: 25pts
Nurk: 13pts 14reb
Leonard: 0blks 0ast 0stl

Portland, who’s play is circling the drain of late, comes into this contest starting the road trip on a two game slide. Not only have the Blazers been losing, but they’re not even competitive.
Coming of two routs at the hands of the surging Lakers and Baby Wolves, Portland is desperate for a win. With road games looming in Milwaukee and Oakland, the importance of this rematch with Washington is sky high. The simple reality is that the Blazers can’t afford to lose to this game.
Friday night in Minnesota the wheels came off. Lillard struggled, going 5 of 18 from the field. The team struggled as well, shooting a dismal 8 of 29 from long range. Combine that with 18 turnovers and you’ve a good old fashion butt kicking. Let’s call it what it is. Portland was taken behind the woodshed.
Tonight is an opportunity to take the first step in salvaging this road trip. Find a way to beat Washington. Go win at Madison Square Garden. Then nut up and split the two in Milwaukee and Oakland. That would salvage a 3-3 trip before heading home to play the Clippers.
Tonight is a big one. A gut check and test to this teams competitive spirit. #Trailblazers #RipCity #Dame4

As the great Bill Belichick says, “We’re on to Cincinnati”.

Time to put on that GM cap. Deal or No deal is back! CJ McCollum for Andrew Wiggins. Straight up. I say absolutely not. My eyes, my gut and most importantly Jimmy Butler have told me Andrew Wiggins lacks the fire to compete at the highest level. Give me CJ. You can keep Wiggins. He’s pancake soft. Let’s gooooooooo! #Trailblazers #RipCity #LillardIsKing #Dame4

Honestly, this is just silly. The notion that Carmelo can help the Portland Trailblazers is obscene. Thinking about Carmelo and his gut in a Trailblazers uniform made me puke in mouth a few minutes ago. Not lying. Popeyes Chicken.
When is the last time he’s made a positive contribution to an NBA team? Denver? And even that’s debatable. That was over a decade ago? He’s been run from every team he’s ever played for. He couldn’t last 10 games in Houston. I mean, wow.
I can’t find one reason to bring him in. He can’t play D. He’s a black hole on O. He’s fat. He’s lazy. He’s selfish. He’s old. Did I mention he’s fat?
What a joke. What’s scary is GM Neil Olshey and the Blazers have been very quiet about him. They also desperately wanted him when he was getting run out of New York.
What a debacle that was. Carmelo leaving New York was messy. The Knicks all but moved his locker to the rear bathroom stall.
How much perimeter defense does a Dame, CJ and Melo line up being? Correct. Zero.
Melo is a three and D guy who can’t shoot 3s and doesn’t play defense.
I’ll leave you with this, I’d rather sign Raymond Felton.
#Trailblazers #RioCity #Dame4 #LillardIsKing

Well, tonight was the King James show. He moved into 5th all time on the NBA league scoring list tonight, passing fellow Laker great Wilt Chamberlain.
It was all King James and all LA for the majority of the 48 minutes. Portland took a lead into the second quarter but LeBron wasn't allowing the Lakers to lose tonight. He's that good. When he hangs 44pts, 10reb and 9ast a flat Portland team isn't going to win on his home floor.
Tonight was one of those nights. I thought Portland played ok. We simply didn't have enough. If we're being completely honest, I thought LA was the more physical and motivated team and it showed on both ends of the court.
Statistically nothing glaring. Portland in the box score kept pace with LA. That's life in the NBA. Sometime a decent effort just isn't enough to win on the road. This is exactly why protecting home court and cleaning up on the bottom half of the East is so important.
It's not time panic. I'd consider this more a gentle reminder of the harsh reality that we're a piece away. Call it what you want, but something is missing. Are we good enough to have home court and win a series? Absolutely. But to compete at the highest level, we're a piece away.
One last note. And I'm not talking statistics. I'm talking impact. I'm talking what your eyes tell you when you watch this team play. What happened to Nurk fever? What happened to that Bosnian Beast that stepped off the plane from Denver almost two years ago and immediately took over games? Where is that guy? His statistics may be close, but he's not the same player.
Next up a tough one Friday in Minnesota. The Wolves always play us well at home. Need a W. Friday is a big one. (FOLLOW @fireneilolshey on twitter. He’s a great read.) NOTABLE STATS:
Lillard: 31pts 11ast 8reb
Nurk: 21pts 14pts 4blk
Leonard: 0blk
Curry: Left with knee injury

The Lakers aren’t contenders. Not even close. This Lakers team is poorly constructed and Magic is a fraud in the front office.
Let’s start with Magic drafting Lonzo Ball over Tatum. Ball is a bust. Lakers fans won’t admit it, buts clear as day. He’s over his skis and it shows, both on and off the court.
Look at this roster. If you ask me, it’s poorly constructed. Magic’s vision lacks direction. The pieces don’t fit. Their young players are immature. The veterans role players are known cancers (I.E. Rondo and Stevenson). You’ve got 2 ball dominant point guards who can’t shoot. How will they contribute in crunch time when LeBron has the ball in his hands? When he drives to dish they aren’t threats. Defenses will collapse on James and give Rondo or Ball empty gym jumpers all day.
Ingram, although raw and talented, I don’t consider a spot up shooter. Lance Stevenson can’t shoot. McGee doesn’t spread the floor. Chandler is laughably washed up. Kuzma is even shooting the triple at under 30%. Hart may be the only guy who can consistently stroke a 3 on that roster. They need shooters, and badly.
If I’m Magic I’m looking for a guy like Korver. Call Cleveland. Offer them an expiring contract for Korver. Get some guys who can stretch the floor. We all know how James plays in the playoffs. It’s full steam ahead to the rack for easy buckets and kick out 3s. Without shooters this simply won’t work. He’s won with guys like Ray Allen. Mike Miller. James Jones. Kyle Korver. Trained snipers. Proven assassins.
Of course everyone is to too busy stroking Magic and LeBron to realize how flawed this roster is. Watch them play. They struggle. What they do have is LeBron and a lot of guys on expiring contracts. This gives them at least the flexibility to mold a capable roster. We all know what the King is capable of. I don’t doubt he’ll win in LA, I just don’t see it happening with this roster as is. Rondo? Chandler? Lance? What’s next? Melo? Felton? JR? #Trailblazers #RipCity

CJ McCollum has been named the Western Conference Player of the Week. During that stretch CJ averaged 25.7ppg, shot over 50% from the field and the Trailblazers went a perfect 3-0. Can we make this man an All-Star please. Enough is enough. This is the year. Let’s send our backcourt to the 2019 All-Star. It’s time. #RipCity #TrailBlazers #Dame4

Honestly, I can't get past how many Celtics fans were in the building. Who are they? Where are they from? Sadly, most aren't from Boston. They're Oregonians. Makes me sick.
I'm grabbing a slice pre game and this guy in line next to me is wearing a Kryrie jersey. I compliment it while asking if it's authentic, knowing it's fake. He glosses over the lack of authenticity and says he's at his first NBA game. I say, great that's fantastic. I ask if he's from Boston. He says no, Albany. I go, oh nice Albany New York? He goes, No Oregon. I ask if he's got roots in Boston. He says no. I ask him if he's been to Boston. He says no.
How a grown man that can't find Boston on a map ends up at the Moda in a Kyrie jersey is staggering. Laughable really. You think there are grown men from Boston with no connection to Portland waltzing thru the concourse of the TD Garden with Lillard jerseys on? No chance. They’d be blackballed by society. That's why Boston raises banners and we don't. They collectively bleed their teams at a level unfathomable to most Blazers fans.
Don't get me wrong. We've got a great fanbase. The Moda is a fantastic environment. But the second you think the Moda is as tough a place to play the TD Garden in Boston you're fooling yourself.
Either way, Portland closed a quality team tonight. They jumped on them early and hung on. Sure, Boston has issues. Chemistry problems with Kyrie. Getting Hayward comfortable on the court. But they’re talented, athletic and deep. Beating them is big deal. Portland deserves credit.
Here's what worries me. I feel like Portland cares more. Let's be honest. It's November. Most quality teams aren't motivated yet. It's a long year. Good teams know that. I love that the Blazers are salty. That's exactly what I want. So I can't complain. But I will say this. I'm very curious to see how we look when the rest of the league starts playing with urgency. Time will tell. For now, all you can do is handle what's in front of you.
We sit at 10-3, first in the division, and second in the West. Good things are happening. Next up the Lakers Wednesday in LA. #RipCity #TrailBlazers #Dame4
Leonard: 2TO 0blks 0ast

Watching this game what was rushing thru my mind for 48 minutes was how special Damian Lillard is. I'm not talking about his physical talents. I'm talking about his mental make up.
Think about it. When is the last time you walked out of the Moda Center saying, 'well, Lillard was a no show.' Not kidding you, I don't remember a game he's mailed it in. Sure, he’s had off nights shooting the basketball. Sure, this team gets snake bit at times. But Lillard always shows and plays hard. He's always engaged.
There are very few stars in this league you can say that about. Harden mails it in all the time. LeBron doesn't lock in until February. Kyrie, well, he plays hard about 6-12 minutes a game. Most guys take nights off. Mailing it in is almost an accepted part of the game (don’t tell that to Carmelo Anthony). Lillard doesn't. He plays every night. And when he plays he plays hard.
Tonight Portland moved to 9-3 and have the look of a team charging to home court in the playoffs. You may say, who cares, it didn't help us last year. Let me tell you, home court matters. It matters a lot. This isn't last years team. And I promise you this roster will be tweaked before the playoffs start. Big things are brewing in Portland. The party is just starting. Buckle up. 2018-19 have all the earmarks of a special season.
Let's also keep in mind the Blazers are making this early noise minus the services of Maurice Harkless, our X-Factor and starting 3. Mo is a big piece. Let's just hope my gut is wrong and he's able to get his knee healthy and contribute to the team down the stretch. I've got a terrible feeling his left knee is worse that the team is letting on. It's lingered too long. I don't feel good about it. I’m not a doctor tho. Let’s just hope the team is being overly cautious.
Big night Sunday against Boston in what looks like a real heat check for the Blazers. Boston is a great test. Be safe this weekend. Make good choices. RCN will see you Sunday. #Trailblazers #RipCity #Dame4 #LillardIsKing
Meyers Leonard: 0 steals

RCN always gives credit where credit is due. RCN is also never shy when it comes to tipping its cap to a mind boggling and heroic (lack there of) statistical run. With that being said, it’s time to extend an olive branch to our big fella.
RCN would like to formally congratulate Meyers Leonard (who ironically blocked RCN on social media) on blocking his first shot since the 2016-17 regular season. Unfortunately in sports all streaks come to an end. However, when one streak dies, another one is born. Professionally, I'm happy for the Meyers. As a 7'1" center he was due to have a ball accidentally hit his hand on the way to the rim. Personally, well, I'll admit it. The block is devastating. Let's just say I was planning to take this statistical run for a historic ride of my own. RCN was plotting to go deep. Uncharted waters. We'll leave it at this.. I was willing to lose followers. #Trailblazers #RipCity #DNPCoachesDecision

Psychology is a big thing in sports. When I promise a Blazers victory, most of the time my reasoning is psychological as opposed to what roster has better talent. Who’s going to show? What team will arrive hungry? Who’s got more to play for? Not what team is better. In the regular season of the NBA the better team doesn’t always win.
I'm always fascinated to see when and why a team decides to show up emotional or show up flat. Often times undisciplined teams will lose focus when they hit a lull in the schedule. Whether it's coming off of a big win, or over looking a game with one circled closely on the horizon. Either scenario can lead to what we call a trap game.
Tonight we've got both. Portland is coming off a big victory against what was the 8-1 Bucks. Locking horns with the biggest star in the East and revenging two very tough closely contested losses last season. Next up Sunday night is a showdown with another All-NBA point guard and who many consider the class of the East in the Celtics. You're telling me Lillard doesn't have a game with Kyrie circled? Believe me when I say he does.
That leaves tonight. A Thursday night snoozer with the new look Clippers. Yes, they bring in talent. What they don't bring in is star power. You look up and down that roster and what you see is good, not great.
Games like this are hairy. If Portland is checked out Los Angeles will run them out of the building. Patrick Beverly will be ready. He always is. Tobias Harris is one of the most underrated talents in the game. They throw 2 quality scorers at you in Gallonari and Lou Williams.
What the Clippers lack in star power they make for in grit and toughness. I'm telling you if Portland is flat and not engaged LA will punch this Blazers team in the mouth and take their lunch money.
I'm very curious to see what Portland team shows up. All year they've been focused and have brought great energy. Tonight is a true test of desire. Let’s see how hungry the Blazers are. #TrailBlazers #RipCity #Dame4 #LillardIsKing

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