2019-20 Re-Run: Portland Trail Blazers v Charlotte Hornets

PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 13: Devonte' Graham #4 of the Charlotte Hornets loses the ball against Anthony Tolliver #43 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter during their game at Moda Center on January 13, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images)
PORTLAND, OREGON - JANUARY 13: Devonte' Graham #4 of the Charlotte Hornets loses the ball against Anthony Tolliver #43 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the fourth quarter during their game at Moda Center on January 13, 2020 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images) /

Watch with me as I break down some of the Portland Trail Blazers’ most compelling games this year. Get on League Pass or scour your D-V-R and follow along.

With the 2019-20 NBA campaign expected to resume on July 31st, it’s the perfect time to look back at the Portland Trail Blazers season. This exercise will aid our collective knowledge and understanding of the team as they aim to finish out their schedule and make the playoffs.

Game 1 (Late Lillard Layup): Portland v Dallas (10/27/19)

Game 2 (Sixty Squandered): Portland v Brooklyn (11/8/19)

Game 3 (Melo Magic): Portland v Toronto (1/7/20)

Without further ado, time to watch the 4th game on the list, which is their 41st game of the year, at home against the Charlotte Hornets. Game recommendation by Stevie Cozens.

2nd Quarter Analysis: Blazers Dominate Hornets 37-20

11:02 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Carmelo Anthony shows excellent patience and craftiness on the block, using the threat of his baseline fade-away to make a smart up-and-under move for an easy two.

9:40 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Anthony Tolliver executes the hedge-and-recover on the pick-and-roll to perfection, cutting off P.J. Washington’s drive and forcing the miss.

9:20 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Anfernee Simons loses track of Terry Rozier on the perimeter, which leads to an open three-point attempt. Simons, Anthony, and Gary Trent Jr. all ball watch and fail to box out Malik Monk, the only Charlotte player in the paint, who gets the Hornets a second shot opportunity.

9:00 left in 2nd (offensive possession): C.J. McCollum starts the quarter very aggressively with Damian Lillard on the bench. He puts a filthy cross-over on Miles Bridges and hits a 19 footer.

8:50 left in 2nd (defensive possession): The Blazers benefit from the stagnant offense by Charlotte. This Hornets possession consisted of three passes and a contested three without the ball ever getting inside the arc.

8:36 left in 2nd (offensive possession): McCollum misses a pull-up three with 20 seconds left on the shot clock. He reminds me of Kyrie Irving at times, with aggressive spells typically leading to isolation jump-shots. While his shot-making is a great skill, he hasn’t developed the ability to use that threat to make his teammates better.

8:12 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Another post up bucket for Anthony. He just backs Bridges under the basket. Post up play is an inefficient option in today’s game, but if a team allows a player 5 or 6 dribbles without sending any help, it changes the percentages a bit.

7:43 left in 2nd (offensive possession): The Blazers clear-out the right side of the floor for Anthony to attack. Again, Charlotte sends zero help on a face-up drive, and Melo gets to the rim.

7:22 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Kent Bazemore recognizes Jaylen Hoard is fronting the post, which opens up a lob opportunity for Charlotte. Bazemore anticipates the pass, leaving his man in the corner to get the deflection.

7:14 left in 2nd (offensive possession): McCollum takes another quick shot, this time knocking down a three after Terry Rozier was unable to navigate an Anthony screen. C.J. can hit pull-ups going either direction but seems to prefer pulling-up going left.

6:25 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Anthony uses his veteran savvy to draw a foul on Washington with a pump fake. That’s two times now Melo has drawn the rookie off his feet and created something positive.

5:45 left in 2nd (offensive possession): McCollum with lightning-quick between the legs dribble in transition to get to the hoop and score. That seems to be a go-to move of his in the open court.

5:10 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Kent Bazemore drops too far in the paint and gives up an open three to Devonte Graham (who misses). Over-helping off of a 37 percent three-point shooter is not the best of ideas.

4:58 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Lillard attacks in semi-transition and gets Bazemore a wide-open three. Getting into the paint before the opposition center stations himself near the basket typically yields positive results.

4:35 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Trent Jr. steps into a deep three with confidence off the assist from Lillard. I can sense he’s starting to find his footing and playing with more swagger.

4:07 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Hassan Whiteside tries a dribble-handoff with Lillard, but Nicholas Batum denies the action. Whiteside is late to secure his dribble and gets picked. To make matters worse, he intentionally shoves Zeller on the fast break to concede a needless free throw.

3:18 left in 2nd (offensive possession): Whiteside catches a pass from Trent Jr. on the short roll and opts for a 13-foot push shot. Bazemore is spotted-up wide open on the left-wing.

3:05 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Bazemore, in the least subtle way imaginable, pushes Rozier in the corner to cause him to lose his balance. Charlotte is in the bonus. Those are the things that make coaches pull their hair out.

1:12 left in 2nd (defensive possession): Bazemore and Lillard don’t effectively communicate a switch and leave Graham wide open at the top of the key. This time Graham drills it.

0:12 left in 2nd (defensive possession): McCollum is forced to help when his man, Marvin Williams, sets a back screen. C.J. recovers beautifully to contest the three-point attempt from Williams. That’s the effort required on a possession-by-possession basis to be a strong defensive player in this league.

3rd Quarter Analysis: Hornets Respond 43-29

12:00 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Bazemore, as gifted as he is as a defensive player, is often too active for his own good. He runs around like a chicken with his head cut off, missing a lunging steal attempt, then not recovering to the right man and allowing an open three for Rozier.

11:22 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Whiteside posts up and dribbles the ball off his knee. After the turnover, he gets cross-matched with Washington and allows a catch and shoot three with only a meager contest.

10:33 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Bazemore catches the ball in the left corner with the Hornets in mid-rotation. This is subtle, but he waits a split second after receiving the ball before he attempts his drive. That brief time allows Cody Zeller to get into proper position to cut off the paint, and Kent, with no driving lane, bobbles the ball and commits a turnover.

10:12 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Lillard and Whiteside run pick-and-roll, and Zeller hard hedges the action. Typically you want your big to short roll (not rolling all the way to the basket, stopping short to open up a pocket pass) against that coverage. But Whiteside doesn’t, and Lillard is forced to pick up his dribble with nowhere to go. The other advantage gained by the offense against the hard hedge is the fact that the screener (Whiteside) should have his man on the top-side. Lillard passes it and asks for it right back, thinking he can throw the lob to Whiteside. By the time Dame gets it back, Hassan has given up that advantage by sauntering under the basket, making the lob impossible. The Blazers end up settling for a contested mid-ranger, all because Whiteside failed to recognize how he should short roll and then decided to quit giving effort. You can see Dame is frustrated with him when he can’t make the entry pass.

9:53 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Bazemore and McCollum switch a dribble hand-off with Rozier and Graham perfectly, but Graham hits a tough contested shot. Those are the shots that start falling when you let a team get on a run. 12-0 start to the period for Charlotte.

8:57 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Bazemore gets stuck on a screen and forces Whiteside into a 1-on-2 situation. Hassan jumps on a shot fake from Graham, which opens up the pass to Zeller for the slam. I know I am picking on Bazemore and Whiteside a lot in this game, but to be fair, they have been the cause of a lot of the Blazers issues.

8:42 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Again, the Blazers failed to short roll on a hard hedge, but this time, instead of Whiteside, it’s Anthony as the screener. When the defense concedes a 4-on-3, you have to take it. Too often, the Blazers don’t capitalize on the attention Lillard draws.

8:24 left in 3rd (defensive possession): You can see Melo’s lack of foot speed on this possession, with Washington, who isn’t particularly quick, blowing by him off the dribble. Anthony doesn’t show good fundamentals with his closeout either, changing directions by turning around and momentarily losing sight of the ball.

7:55 left in 3rd (defensive possession): The Blazers poorly handle another pick-and-roll with Graham, this time allowing a wide-open three off the dribble. Whiteside never takes a step out of the paint, and McCollum is unable to get around the screen.

7:42 left in 3rd (offensive possession): C.J. has been hot all night, this time hitting a 22-foot step-back going left.

6:36 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Anthony recognizes the action Charlotte goes to here, with a screen-the-screener set that is designed to get Washington a three at the top of the key. Melo lazily asks for a switch instead of helping-and-recovering. Washington gets the open look and cans it.

5:22 left in 3rd (defensive possession): McCollum strips Rozier on a mid-range shot attempt and then runs the floor and converts a transition floater on the other end.

4:22 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Whiteside leaves Willy Hernangomez’s body, despite Dwayne Bacon not going anywhere, and allows him to catch the ball in space about 12 feet from the rim.

4:00 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Whiteside again rolls all the way to the rim after the Hornets hard hedge on Lillard. Dame is able to maintain his dribble and connect the long pass to Whiteside between three defenders. Keeping the dribble and maneuvering around the hedge was something Lillard worked hard on after the series loss against New Orleans in 2018.

2:55 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Whiteside falls for another pump fake, this time by Hernangomez, who proceeds to miss the easy push shot. These wild block attempts by Hassan on mid-range shots are clear stat-padding habits that hurt the team.

2:38 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Anthony Tolliver doesn’t commit enough to hard hedging the screen. The goal of the hard hedge is to force the ball-handler, Graham, towards half-court. By forcing the ball away from the basket, that typically affords the defender the time to recover to his initial assignment. Graham, without having to go backward, finds a passing lane to hit Hernangomez on the roll for the easy two.

1:20 left in 3rd (defensive possession): Graham hits another off-the-dribble three with the Blazer big, Tolliver, anchored in the paint and out of the picture.

1:08 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Lillard dupes the refs into an and-1 foul. The replay shows the hand-check came well before the gather—bad call.

0:54 left in 3rd (defensive possession): I know Portland wants to play the conservative, drop-back scheme, but when a player like Graham gets hot, you have to mix it up to keep him uncomfortable. Allowing a quality three-point shooter who is in a rhythm to get wide-open-three after wide-open-three is a losing strategy.

0:04 left in 3rd (offensive possession): Lillard hits a jump-shot from half court at the buzzer to give the Blazers the lead going into the 4th. It’s a huge momentum changer. And you read that right – – I said jump-shot – – he used his natural form from literally half-court.

Final 3 minutes: Game in the Balance

2:25 left in 4th (offensive possession): Terry Stotts gives Tolliver an extended run at the center spot in the 4th. McCollum and Tolliver run pick-and-pop, and Zeller, who hard hedges the action, isn’t able to recover to Tolliver in time.

1:58 left in 4th (defensive possession): Bazemore makes a great play pressuring the ball and forcing the turnover. But he immediately coughs the ball back up when his pass is too far ahead of Tolliver running in transition.

1:32 left in 4th (defensive possession): Anthony does an excellent job of helping on the pick-and-roll action and bodies up Zeller to force the miss.

0:55 left in 4th (defensive possession): The Blazers do a good job switching the weave set and ultimately contesting the three-point shot, but Lillard fails to box out Batum, which leads to a second chance opportunity for the Hornets. Rozier bails out the Blazers by throwing a horrible, floating, cross-court pass that Melo intercepts.

0:28 left in 4th (offensive possession): Lillard shows good recognition knowing the Hornets have a small lineup on the floor with minimal shot-blocking. He beats Batum going left and hits a tough layup high off the glass as Marvin Williams comes late to try and block it.

0:17 left in 4th (defensive possession): The Hornets run a nice A-T-O play to get Graham a look at three on the right-wing. Bazemore, guarding Graham, opts to shoot the gap instead of sticking to the body. Graham fades to get space and knocks it down. The Blazers, up five heading into the possession, should be in no threes defense, which should include switching these actions.

0:08 left in 4th (offensive possession): Lillard gets the rebound on his own missed free throw and gets shoved out of bounds by Graham, no call. The Hornets get it back down a single possession and a chance to tie.

0:06 left in 4th (defensive possession): The Blazers execute the no threes defense this possession. Graham drives and is unsure what he wants to do. He gets into the paint, but the Blazers don’t help, so instead of taking the wide-open layup, he tries to dribble it back out and take a desperation heave at the buzzer. Portland wins, 115-112.

Other Notes:

James Barrego, the head coach for Charlotte, puts an unhealthy quantity of gel in his hair.

Willy Hernangomez is a very good offensive center. It’s his defense that has limited his minutes/role. He put a nasty fake-spin on Tolliver with 1:45 left in the 3rd. He finished with 14 points on 7 of 8 shooting.

Jusuf Nurkic with the fashion statement of the night: An all gold suit, gold chain, gold-trimmed sneakers, and a white t-shirt. The t-shirt also happened to have a cat picture at the bottom.

7:45 left in 1st (offensive possession): Whiteside attempts a three with 13 on the shot clock. He is somehow 4 of 7 this season, but just 8 for 25 for his career. He’s also a career 60 percent free-throw shooter, which is an indicator he doesn’t have the greatest touch.

Anthony Tolliver provided the Blazers with energetic minutes off the bench in the 4th. He finished with 16 points and 11 rebounds in just 21 minutes.

Stotts ran a nice set play to start the game to get C.J. a good look. The play appears to be an isolation for Melo, but that is a decoy, with Whiteside simultaneously setting a screen for McCollum off the ball and Anthony acting as the facilitator.

Rozier, despite his reliable 3-and D capability, lacks all the other skills you would want from a guard. He struggles to finish at the rim and is a limited passer.

Nicolas Batum, the former Blazer, received a warm reception from the Portland fans.

Next. The Portland Trail Blazers final roster spot: 4 options that could take them over the top. dark