Say this for the Blazers: they never quit. In the final seconds of their season-ending 99-93 loss to the Grizzlies, they kept playing the fouling game to try and cut the deficit. But despite a huge scoring night from C.J. McCollum off the bench, it wasn’t enough to stop the Mike Conley-less Grizzlies from advancing to a second-round matchup with the Warriors.
Playing without Mike Conley (who was shown a few times on the TNT broadcast, and I would not wish on anyone what’s going on with his fractured face), Memphis turned in a solid, balanced effort that included the resurrection of Courtney Lee (20 points) and a big night from Marc Gasol (26 points and 14 rebounds).
And 38-year-old Vince Carter did this:
Even with Conley’s injury, the Grizzlies were always going to have the upper hand in this series. The Blazers haven’t been the same at either end of the floor since losing Wesley Matthews for the season in March. Arron Afflalo has struggled stepping into a starting role, and there isn’t much else on the wings. They were depending on huge series from LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard, and Lillard in particular came up short, shooting just over 40 percent from the field and an atrocious 16.1 percent from three-point range.
McCollum was one of the few bright spots for the Blazers on Wednesday, putting up 33 points and showing legitimate promise as a piece of Portland’s core moving forward. What the rest of that core will look like remains to be seen, and now the big question begins in earnest: has Aldridge played his final game with the Blazers?
In the meantime, we get Warriors-Grizzlies, hopefully with a healthy Conley.
Zion Williamson has right knee soreness, won’t play final preseason game
It’s the preseason, and so teams are trying to be extra cautious with their stars. That will apparently be the case this week as No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson has reportedly not traveled with his New Orlean Pelicans for the final preseason game of the year against the New York Knicks.
Williamson has apparently strained his right knee, and his not heading to New York with the team isn’t looking like it’s just for rest as the regular season approaches. Williamson may actually have a bit of soreness working against him right now, which is the last thing any NBA fans want to hear right now.
Roster update: Zion Williamson is listed as out with right knee soreness for the team’s final preseason game against the Knicks
Hopefully this is nothing serious and the season can get off to a thrilling start. It certainly looks to be headed in that direction based off of how Williamson has performed already in preseason action.
New Orleans kicks off the regular season on Oct. 22 against the defending champion Toronto Raptors in Ontario.
Michael Jordan opens first of 2 medical clinics in Charlotte
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — An emotional Michael Jordan unveiled the first of two medical clinics he and his family funded in Charlotte, North Carolina that will provide care to underprivileged members of the community.
The six-time NBA champion and Hornets owner was on hand Thursday for the grand opening of the $7 million Novant Health Michael Jordan Family Medical Clinic. Tears streamed down Jordan’s cheeks as he said, “this is a very emotional thing for me to be able to give back to a community that has supported me over the years.”
“I can only do this in gratitude… I can never repay what you’ve actually given to me, but this is a start.” – Michael Jordan, Hornets Chairman & Owner https://t.co/xzsOCvpMPK
This season, his sixth, is going to be the season where Andrew Wiggins looks and plays like he loves the game. His steadily-declining shooting percentages are going to rocket back up. He’s going to break out as an elite player who should have gone No. 1, and not just a guy who gets empty-calorie points.
“Everyone is counting pockets. Some people are mad about [it], some people are happy for you,” Wiggins told ESPN. “That’s how the world goes, especially when you’ve got something they don’t have or do something they don’t do. That’s how the world goes.
“Even when I averaged almost 24 points and got the max deal, people were still saying stuff,” he added. “Look at max players and some max players don’t average as much, but it is what it is. I’m just trying to get right, get back on track.”
If you just shrugged your shoulders, join the rest of the league.
Most Timberwolves fans have moved on from counting Wiggins as the second star to help out Karl-Anthony Towns. Most front office people on other teams have moved on as well, as evidenced by Wiggins’ nonexistent trade value (sources around the league say Minnesota has tested the market only to find no team that wants that contract unless the Timberwolves throw in sweeteners).
But the last time he was coaching, Nick Nurse was overseeing a dominant defense deep in the playoffs. It must be a dramatic adjustment going to preseason intensity and sans Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
Nurse might also be trying to motivate Hollis-Jefferson and Johnson, who have the tools to be more effective.
This aren’t new issue for these forwards, though. They were available so cheap for a reason.