Welcome to the first regular season edition of the Moda Center Food Review. On Wednesday, we went with a classic.
Killer Burger, 100 level across from Blazers team store
It was opening night and thus, we had to return to what I feel has been the crown jewel of the Moda Center food offerings for the past years.
Killer Burger offers, at least in the eye of this humble reviewer, the best value at the Moda Center. 11.50 for a 1/3 pound burger with fires has to be the best thing.
And I’ve been saying this for the past few weeks since we started the food reviews.
It seems like people are starting to get hip to that notion and I won’t take credit. Or at least not too much.
What was amazing about this game’s trip to Killer Burger was the wait. It was amazing as far as “wow there are really a lot of people that love these burgers,” but not so amazing to have to wait for over 30 minutes in line for my beloved Blazer Burger, a Moda Center-only offering from the franchise.
The serrano peppers, the onions, bbq sauce, the house sauce, the bacon and the cheese have formed the greatest Moda Center creation this side of Portland’s starting five.
Everything about this burger is amazing and as someone who has a preference for spicy food, the Blazer burger is right up my alley.
Guest eater and friend of the blog, ESPN Insider Kevin Pelton ordered the peanut-butter burger. The peanut butter burger isn’t for me but I am a witness to Pelton’s dedication to the burger as he’s gotten it many times.
The beautiful thing about the Killer Burger menu is it can satisfy the tastes of almost anyone, except for you vegans and vegetarians out there.
(I promise to look at some alternative options as the season progresses.)
But Killer Burger once again proved that as far as the Moda Center’s food is concerned, it is bae.
And as of right now, I’m pretty certain that Killer Burger only has one location.
This has to change.
Can you imagine if someone is trying to get a Killer Burger in the playoffs and will have to just call it quits after waiting for almost an hour?
I’m not saying it was that bad tonight, but I do fear for the future of Killer Burger. But it’s that good and you’ll have to earn yours with time.
This was game one and by far the longest I had to wait for a burger. Pelton attests waits that were similar in the playoffs but this was impressive.
It is a testament to the product Killer Burger provides but it could also be a reflection of how far the separation is between them and the rest of the arena food.
It’s still the best, but you’re going to have to make a lot more effort to get it this season.
Killer Burger is a number one spot for me, but I’m curious to check out more of the options the Moda Center has to see where you can go where maybe there isn’t such a big line.]]>
Oklahoma City Thunder, 0-0, 4-time defending Northwest Division champions
Projected starting line-up: Russell Westbrook, Andre Roberson, Perry Jones III, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams.
Injuries: Kevin Durant (foot), Reggie Jackson (ankle), Jeremy Lamb (back), Mitch McGary (foot), Anthony Morrow (knee), Grant Jerrett (ankle) all out Wednesday vs. Portland.
Key departure(s): Thabo Sefolosha, 3-year $12 million from the Atlanta Hawks. Derek Fisher, head coach of the New York Knicks, Hasheem Thabeet, Migos.
Key addition (s): Anthony Morrow, Sebastian Telfair (remember him?)
In many ways, this is the beginning of another, perhaps third act in the Thunder’s journey with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook as the stars.
Durant is injured, out for at least a month more with a troublesome Jones fracture in his foot. Westbrook will be carrying more of the load offensively, although it will be hard, if not impossible, to replicate the one-man show Durant put on last year without Westbrook. But Westbrook is coming off a dominating playoffs and could show he’s ready to put a team on his back.
The Thunder will likely be as dangerous as he makes them with his ability to get his shot and give Thunder players easy looks.
But there is also a youth movement going on in Oklahoma City.
Out is the often-maligned Kendrick Perkins in favor of the younger, stronger and more athletic Steven Adams at center. Adams already plays like an old vet, getting in sneaky elbows and ticking off just about every big man he plays against.
Unfortunately, unlike the Blazers, I didn’t watch any preseason film of the Thunder.
It doesn’t take a scientist or long analysis to tell that the Thunder are extremely shorthanded in the opener without two of their top three scorers last year in Durant and guard Reggie Jackson.
The Blazers have been working on their defense all camp and have attested to be better on that end. They won’t get many better chances to try and shut down an offense.
The Thunder are very good but they are very limited without Durant or Jackson. Ibaka usually takes advantage of open shots created by the Thunder’s creators and Westbrook is very important to his game.
The addition of Adams to the line-ups at the very least gives the Thunder another problem for the Blazers and other teams to think about in their starting line-up. Without Durant, they need to create some kind extra problems to manufacture points and defend.
Adams will help them do both better, already a good post defender who showed he was ready in the Spurs series against Tim Duncan. And you can ask the Blazers how helpful it is for an offense to have a big, athletic body rolling to the rim.
Perkins can still play and if put into a specific role and he can still effectively defend in the post. Don’t be surprised to see Adams or Perkins checking Aldridge tonight and Perkins has actually defended Aldridge really well over the years. Basketball is weird.
The rest of the guys around Westbrook, Ibaka and Adams on Wednesday, could either be very bad or completely unprepared. The jury is certainly still out on Perry Jones who has proven inconsistent. Andre Robersson shot 15 percent. 15! That’s almost as bad as Will Barton his rookie season from three. Roberson is a bigger guard at 6-7 and 210 pounds, but if he doesn’t make any shots it could be a long night for Westbrook with little space.
If Jeremy Lamb doesn’t make meaningful strides to stay on the court, it could be a long season trying to replace Thabo Sefolosha on the wing.
Above all, the Thunder need to get healthy before they can realistically accomplish the goals many envision for them after sitting atop the Western Conference for nearly half a decade.
The Thunder are shorthanded but their starting line-up is young and athletic.
As odd as it sounds after two years of the Blazers having the league’s lowest scoring bench, Portland’s bench should be able to take advantage of a skeleton crew on the Thunder bench.
It will also be interesting to see how Scott Brooks manages the minutes of Westbrook and Ibaka with another marquee match-up tomorrow in Los Angeles against the Clippers.]]>
I posted this picture of this a few minutes ago after the Blazers practice at the Moda Center and apparently it needs some more explanation.
Each Blazers player was given one of these hammers in their locker by the organization, a combination of coaches and front office personnel came up with the idea.
According to Wesley Matthews, who was so kind as to let us take a picture, the hammers are a reminder to “keep grinding, stay on our worst behavior.”
Some players had theirs out while some still had them in their box.
Some of you hardcore NBA heads might see some similarity between the hammer and Jacob Riis Stonecutter’s Creedo, which is something of a mantra for the San Antonio Spurs. It has even spawned the name for a Spurs blog, Pounding The Rock.
To recap, the hammer for each player is just a physical manifestation of the “COMPETE” mantra the Blazers have on their gear, all over their locker room and practice facility.
So on top of it being everywhere for the Blazers, now each player has an individual reminder of the team’s goal.]]>
The Portland Trail Blazers have reportedly decided not to pick up the 4th year option according to Adrian Wojnarowski of Yahoo! Sports, resident scoop god of the interwebs.
The writing had been on the wall for weeks about Robinson, so let’s talk about some of those writings.
On Saturday, following their final preseason game, the Portland Trail Blazers waived guards Diante Garrett and Darius Morris to set the roster at 15 players.
The 15 players left all have guaranteed contracts and it was going to take something special for Portland to open up a roster spot for them. The Blazers won their final game of the preseason on Friday against the Los Angeles Clippers and neither Morris or Garrett got into the game while everybody else on the roster played, save for LaMarcus Aldridge.
With the release of Morris and Garrett, which was inevitable, it brings about an interesting thing about Portland’s roster moving forward and it’s lack of a traditional third point guard. CJ McCollum and Will Barton have both played the point, with McCollum getting a much larger share of the minutes to close the preseason. It appears the second year man will have the duties as the team’s emergency point guard.
13 of the 15 Blazers on the roster were on last year’s team with the exception of free agent signings Chris Kaman and Steve Blake. Portland takes on the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday at the Moda Center. Another date to keep track of is October 31. The Blazers have until that day to pick up the rookie scale options for CJ McCollum, Thomas Robinson and Meyers Leonard.]]>
Ed. note: It was a big prep football night and I watched the game on recording, since it was actually on NBATV. This is a round-up of reports from L.A. as well as my own thoughts from tonight’s game.
The Portland Trail Blazers won their preseason finale on Friday over the Los Angeles Clippers 99-89 at the Staples Center.
They did so in impressive fashion without LaMarcus Aldridge, although the Clippers were also without their leading bench scorer Jamal Crawford.
But still, the Blazers finished the season on a much higher note than the one they struck on Wednesday night when they lost to the lowly Lakers. Against a much better opponent that was close to full strength (and actually an NBA team), almost all involved brought their A-game.
And while their were great offensive performances, Stotts told Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com he was most proud of their defense.
“I liked our defense the most,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “To limit their transition points, to limit their attempts at the rim, their points in the paint, they made some jump shots but we rebounded the ball well. I thought defensively we were as solid as we’ve been all preseason.”
The Clippers has one of the league’s best transition attacks, although they still looked like they were figuring things out for much of Friday’s affair. A lot of the credit should go to the Blazers. As you can glean from the box score, five bench players played significantly more than the rest of the bench.
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian broke down Portland’s rotation.
Joel Freeland, who was in a three-way battle with Meyers Leonard and Thomas Robinson for a rotation spot at power forward/center, was the first big off the bench. And CJ McCollum, who has been in a head-to-head fight with Will Barton for backup minutes in the backcourt, was the first guard off the bench. Leonard and Dorell Wright also played extensively throughout the first three quarters, when Stotts used 10 players.
All the while, Barton and Robinson did not play until late in the game, remaining on the bench until the final six minutes of the fourth quarter.
It appears that Freeland and McCollum have earned rotation spots.
Stotts’ decision to play 10 guys is interesting and also inline with what he said on media day that he wanted to play 9-10 guys on opening night. Aldridge will obviously be back.
If Freeland really has won the job as the 4th big man off the bench, it’s not by much. Meyers Leonard shot 40 percent from 3 in the preseason, making 6 of his 15 attempts. And if Portland is down in the 4th quarter and can’t score, Leonard presents unique option for Terry Stotts.
Freeland is more of a dirty work player and may compliment Portland’s offensively skilled bigs better. But in the short time Leonard shared the floor with Kaman, they also looked good together. Kaman’s passing gave Portland’s cutters and shooters great looks, including Leonard.
Leonard also told Holdahl he still needs to prove himself defensively.
“Certainly more aggressive and confident on offense shooting the ball, moving the ball, making plays,” said Leonard of his play this preseason. “The defensive end and my rebounding is definitely where I need to still gain trust in the coaches and the rest of the players. I thought I did alright throughout the preseason, definitely more aggressive, but have to continue to mature defensively.”
Even when Clippers were running him off the three-point line, Leonard was making the right plays finishing with 14 points and 7 rebounds in 24 minutes.
Damian Lillard did Damian Lillard things, scoring 21 points, hitting devastating threes and attacking the rim, in 24 minutes of play.
No reports have indicated that Stotts has made an official rotation decision.
He probably won’t tip his cap before opening night in against a Western Conference title favorite.
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard has become no stranger to the limelight in the last few months. And on Thursday night, the nation was given another chance to see Lillard on the screen with his appearance on TBS’ “Conan” show hosted by late night host Conan O’Brien.
Here’s Lillard’s entrance via @cjzero on twitter.
Lillard also did a #4BarFridayRap on the Conan show.
In addition to his entrance, the Blazers also produced a time lapse video of Lillard’s visit to the Conan studios.
Hat-tip to Casey Holdahl.
In addition to his rapping and his dancing, Lillard also talked about a little basketball. I’ll bet you didn’t know why Lillard rarely celebrates on big shots, which he spills to Conan during his interview.
The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Los Angeles Lakers 94-86 in Ontario, California on Wednesday night. The Blazers rested all of their starters except Damian Lillard, who had already missed two preseason games due to a foot injury.
The Lakers outworked the Blazers most of the night on the boards, ending the night with a +6 rebounding advantage including a 10-6 advantage in offensive rebounds.
Portland started the game with a line-up I’m fairly certain we haven’t seen in the preseason with Lillard playing with Allen Crabbe, Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson and Chris Kaman. Kaman, who was playing with stitches in the back of his head after being accidentally bitten by Denver’s Timofey Mozgov.
The Blazers got off to a hot start with Kaman doing a little of everything from scoring in the post, finding cutters and blocking shots. They had a 14-8 lead in the first six minutes but it didn’t last too much longer as they would score a mere 4 points in the final 6:16 of the quarter.
Lillard was credited with 5 turnovers, but he was far from the only Blazer to struggle turning the ball over. Will Barton also had 4 turnover and Allen Crabbe and Victor Claver (illegal screen calls) each had a pair.
The Blazers may be able to look at some individual performances from tonight with positivity. Meyers Leonard continues to show the new found confidence in his three-point shot that he and Portland’s staff have been talking about. Leonard scored 13 points, 4 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists, making 3-of-4 on threes in over 28 minutes.
Along with Leonard’s night shooting the ball, CJ McCollum scored 17 points without making a single three-pointer. He was 7-of-13 from the field and had a floater going seemingly all night long.
But while there can be positives seen in the performance, these Lakers they played tonight are not exactly world beaters. And “not exactly world beaters” is a pretty kind way to describe the Lakers who could be even worse than last year’s depressing season. Their roster still is not settled and the fact that they’ve mostly played poorly likely plays into the desire of their players.
But if Portland’s bench players truly want to make meaningful strides, they’ve got to be able to show they can actually beat other second units.
Then again, the Blazers will probably live with losing when their opponent goes 19-of-36 (52.8 percent) on midrange jumpers. The Lakers took 36 midrange jumpers. 36! Just because I was curious, the Wizards led the league last season with an average of 27 midrange jumpers per game. So, this was a tad bit ridiculous shooting by the Lakers tonight, too. The Lakers only allowed 19 shots at the rim total. It’d be interesting to see how many came from turnovers.
The Blazers had plenty of positives in the performances of McCollum and Leonard. Allen Crabbe really showed that he can move with guys on defense and while Barton struggled taking care of the ball, he did draw 6 foul shots.
Portland Trail Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge was tied in voting with Blake Griffin of the Los Angeles Clippers for the league’s best power forward in the annual NBA general managers survey.
The NBA released the results of their annual general managers survey which asks the league’s decision makers questions from picking the NBA champs or which current player would be the best coach.
Aldridge and Griffin were also tied in the voting last year, but in 4th place. Tim Duncan won last year’s voting but in this year’s edition of the survey, Duncan was considered a center.
Anthony Davis was third behind Aldridge and Griffin in the power forward voting and is probably the most likely to leapfrog the two with Kevin Love taking on a less-featured role in Cleveland with LeBron James and Kyrie Irving.
As far as other Blazers who were included on the list, it should be no surprise that Damian Lillard received votes for consideration of the league’s best point guard.
The designation went to Clippers guard Chris Paul who took home 71 percent of the votes among the GM’s surveyed while Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook was voted second. 2014 NBA Champion Tony Parker came in third place with Golden State’s Steph Curry, Lillard and Chicago’s Derrick Rose each getting votes.
Lillard was not on the ballot last year.
Other Blazers Survey Notes
The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets 93-75 on Tuesday night in Boulder, Colorado for their third win of the preseason.
LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in 37 minutes of play while Damian Lillard scored 18 points to go with 8 rebounds and 6 assists.
We could not see the game and only could listen to Wheels and Tone call the game. And thanks to Tone, listeners could hear that Chris Kaman got some teeth to the back of his head in a collision with a Nuggets player. Joe Freeman of the Oregonian reports that Kaman had a laceration that required 3 stitches on his head.
Sounds like #Blazers Chris Kaman was given three stitches on his head. I guess an opposing player chomped on his head with teeth.
— Joe Freeman (@BlazerFreeman) October 22, 2014
Sounds like a plot out of “Exploring Kaman”.
Freeman also reports that CJ McCollum was given the back-up point guard minutes left in the absence of Steve Blake, who will miss the rest of the exhibition season with an illness.
McCollum’s shot was off all night — he went 0 for 4 from the field — so he wasn’t able to create for himself, and he finished scoreless in 14 minutes. But even though it wasn’t anywhere near the standout outing McCollum had the last time he filled as a point guard — in a win over the Clippers at the Moda Center — Stotts said he remains confident with McCollum playing point.
“I thought he tried to make the right plays,” Stotts said. “He didn’t make his shots, but I’m not concerned about that.”
Aldridge told Casey Holdahl of TrailBlazers.com he’s starting to get a rhythm.
“I started out feeling good and then as the game went on toward the second half, I started to feel the altitude,” said Aldridge. “My legs got tired a little bit, too. It’s still preseason, that’s why I wanted to do it here. If you can push yourself to play through the fatigue here, then when I get back down to the regular elevation, I’ll be good to go. It felt good. I started out great, I kind of faded at the end but I thought guys pushed themselves tonight.”
“I got into a little rhythm,” said Aldridge. “I started knowing when my shot was going to come. When I see two or three shots go in, I feel like the basket is pretty big. Those guys are good defenders but I was in one of those rhythms.”
As far as finding clues into the rotation, I’m going to err on the side of caution without reading too much into the line-up decisions this evening. Stotts said that the time for decisions would come after the trip and last season he did not tip his cap about Freeland making the rotation until the last game of the preseason.
Joel Freeland was the second big man off the bench after Chris Kaman for the second preseason game in a row after going in early against Maccabi Haifa. He brings a tough, defensive-minded presences off the bench, which really does separate him from the rest of the team’s reserve bigs.
With the Blazers likely not extending their starters at all tomorrow night against the Lakers, it could be the last opportunity for Portland’s other reserves–your Meyers Leonard’s and Thomas Robinson’s–to get one last long look before the finale against the Clippers on Friday.