Bruce Ely

Blazers Get In A Workout While Showing Unity At 2016 Fan Fest

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- The fans in Rip City got to see their 2016-17 Portland Trail Blazers in action for the first time Sunday night at the annual Fan Fest at the Moda Center, with the 13,952 in attendance being treated to an intra-squad scrimmage that went to sudden death before the Black team defeated the White team 50-48.

“It was entertaining more than anything else,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “It was competitive, it was good to see them shoot the ball well.”

The scrimmage was tied at 46-46 at the end of four six-minute, running clock quarters, which prompted a one minute overtime period. But with both teams scoring just one two-point field goal at the end of that short overtime, the scrimmage moved to a sudden death period, in which Mason Plumlee hit a baseline midrange jumper to tilt the scales for the Black team.

“Nice pass, good shot, happy to hit it,” said Plumlee, who finished with nine points, seven rebounds and an assist, of his scrimmage-winner.

Though Plumlee had the final say, it was Damian Lillard whose performance earned Portland’s starting point guard Fan Fest MVP honors. As a part of the White team, Lillard came out dialed in from deep early in the scrimmage, going 3-of-4 from three for 11 first-quarter points. The 6-3 guard entering his fifth season out of Weber State would finish with 20 points on 6-of-8 shooting from three, two assists and a rebound in the losing effort.

“It was fun and solid at the same time, “ said Lillard. “Sometimes these events can get out of control with bad plays and just wild stuff. I thought we did a pretty good job of sticking to running our sets, being aggressive when it was necessary, true to our defensive principles, digging and helping. Obviously not at the level that it was going to be at in a real game, but we didn’t get out of control. We were sharp for the most part.

Pat Connaughton finished with 16 points on 7-of-13 shooting and five rebounds for the White team while Shabazz Napier went for 13 points and two assists for the Black team. CJ McCollum added nine points for Black and Allen Crabbe pitched in six points and four assists.

Prior to the start of the scrimmage, the entire team huddle together in a circle during the singing of the National Anthem as a show of solidarity, an act which the team says they’ll continue come the start of preseason.

“We wanted to show a brotherhood amongst our team,” explained Lillard. “We came up with it as a group. What everybody believed, first of all, and what everybody was comfortable with, we was gonna do it as a group. That was the conclusion we came to.”

“It’s just showing that we’re together,” said Plumlee. “Us as a team, we all support each other. We all come from a different situation but yet we’re very close. We just wanted to show that, so that’s what that was. We hope that people in society can have the same relationships that we have on our team. We’re a very close team and we’re proud of that.”

With Fan Fest over, the team now turns their attention to their preseason schedule, which begins Monday night versus the Utah Jazz at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 pm on CSNNW and 620 AM.

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