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Posts Tagged ‘Dwight Howard’

travisIf back-to-back games are the killer of an NBA schedule, than the Portland Trail Blazers are deadman walking. It’s bad enough to drop a game in always tough Utah. But now you have to come home against a rested Los Angeles Clippers? Brutal anyway you look at it.

“I think the back-to-back thing is by far the most overblown excuse in the NBA,” Jeff Van Gundy, who now calls action for ESPN said once.  “Why should games on consecutive nights be a problem? Because the other team’s more rested? That’s no excuse.”

Portland’s about ready to find out if he’s right. Next up Zach Randolph and the Clips – yes, the same Clips who recently worked out Darius Miles on Tuesday. Hmmm….Either way, it’s been one of those weeks for the Blazers.

Not only have they lost two-straight games – first to Orlando and then Utah – but it’s the way in which they’ve suffered those defeats.

One was a heartbreaker. The other, a head scratcher. How does Brandon Roy go for two-straight 30-plus games, resulting both in losses? How can LaMarcus Aldridge produce two of his more impressive outings of the season and Portland not come away with wins to show for them? How does the bench go from having four guys (Rudy Fernandez, Travis Outlaw, Joel Przybilla and Sergio Rodriguez) all score in double-figures to barely mustering 19 points as a group?

It’s not an excuse. It’s an unsolved mystery.

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On Monday, I launched into a quick flashback about Greg Oden and Dwight Howard – the whole “Greg as Dwight” angle. Appreciate those who chimed in with some thoughts by the way…..really good stuff.

Took the story and ran with it….was interested in delving deeper into comparing their rookie seasons, complete with thoughts from Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith. The end result was “The Oden and Howard Debate” currently running over at HOOPSWORLD.

pic via: esmas

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howardGreg Oden as Dwight Howard: Nate McMillan went there before.Will he go there again?

After spending the past three summers with Howard on Team USA, McMillan knows Dwight’s game intimately. But can Oden transform himself into that kind of player?

Last year when Orlando rolled into town, McMillan said he (and the organization) envisioned Oden being Dwight Howard-like once healthy and back on the court. The size. The body. It was easy at that time to see the comparison. But now I’m not so sure McMillan ventures that theory. Maybe he does.

I’m sure at least one writer will go there with the Magic rolling into the Rose Garden on Tuesday night.

So is it farfetched?

Let’s forget how Dwight can run the floor, while Oden is pulling the plow right now. He’s kind of a plodder. I’m starting to think that’s just Oden’s style. You know, kind of like how Sam Perkins – “Big Smooth” himself who played for the Mavericks, Lakers, Sonics and Pacers – always looked like he was half-asleep.

Instead, let’s take a look at Howard’s numbers from his first year in the league to see if Oden can get there…..

In 2004-05, Howard started all 82 games for Orlando. He finished the season averaging 12 points, 10 rebounds, 1.7 blocks and 32.6 minutes per game. Howard also finished third in Rookie of the Year balloting behind Charlotte’s Omeka Okafor and Chicago’s Ben Gordon.

So far this season, Oden has appeared in 16 games and is averaging 7.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.6 blocks and roughly 22 minutes per game. Where is he among the leagues top rookies? First? Second? Is he even the best rookie on the Blazers, let alone the league?

For a rookie season comparison, the numbers between Dwight and Greg aren’t that drastically different. Now whether Oden can follow in Howard’s impressive footsteps and accomplish similar feats that Dwight has achieved in his brief career remains to be seen.

pic via: orthopreneur

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brandon1But try to understand, try to understand

Try, try, try to understand

He’s a magic man, mama

He’s a magic man….

 

I highly doubt Brandon Roy has “Heart” shuffling on his I-Pod playlist, but after Portland grabbed their first road win of the season against the Orlando Magic, Roy is easily the “Magic Man”. After waving his wand against Houston and Minnesota at home, Roy played his most complete game of the season on Monday night with 27 points – a new season high. Presto.

Hopefully the back-spasms he suffered at the end of the game will be gone come Wednesday in Miami.

As for Monday night, Portland came out aggressive and finished strong. How many times can we say that this season?

While you ponder that one, let’s go inside and outside the box score for the rest of the goods….

– Steve Blake finished with 20 points and went 2-3 from outside the arc. Blake needed this one, perhaps even more than Portland needed a road victory. And it’s not that he scored from all spots on the floor, yet it’s how many of those points came from the charity stripe where Blake went 10-11. That stat line screams one thing – aggressiveness.

Travis Outlaw continued to show his worth by moving to the second unit three games ago. He had 20 points and had it going from outside early and often (3-5). You knew this was coming. Once he found a comfort zone back where he belonged it was only a matter of time before the real Outlaw re-appeared. And that’s a boost about his all-around game, just not his scoring touch.  Thanks to Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez, Portland outscored Orlando’s bench 20-2 to open the game. The Blazers finished with 40 points off the pine.

– I’m in no way advising Jerryd Bayless’ agent Jeff Schwartz to issue an distasteful edict against Nate McMillan and demand a trade, but it’s certainly helped Sergio Rodriguez’s minutes. After averaging 9.2 minutes per game the first five games of the season, Sergio has logged roughly 12 and 16 minutes respectively the past two games since making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Here’s the thing though – for every one of Sergio’s sweet jump-step buckets down the lane, there’s a pass into the third row that tends to void his in-game success. This just in: consistency counts. His play in the fourth quarter proved that.

– Portland only had 5 turnovers  (2 in the first half) versus the Magic’s 14….9 steals versus Orland’s 3….scored a season-high 36 points in the first quarter….and shot an impressive 52.9 % from three-point land for the game.  James Jones is smiling somewhere.

– You knew Dwight Howard was going to get his. Same goes for Hedo Turkoglu. But the fact that Portland played strapping defense – and created fouls – against Rashard Lewis, Mickael Pietrus and Keith Bogans says volumes about Roy and Outlaw – Rudy and Nicolas Batum grasping Nate McMillan’s bigger picture: a defensive mindset.

– Play of the Game: Rudy’s three-pointer at the end of the first quarter was pretty smooth. So was Roy’s bobbled-shot against Boguns down the lane in the fourth quarter. But this one goes to Channing Frye for going toe-to-toe against Turkoglu with seconds remaining before the half. After a hard foul on Howard in the paint, Hedo shoved Roy in the back and Frye wasn’t a having it. Words were exchanged. More shoving commenced. Double-technical fouls were issued. But score one for Frye and Portland for finally muscling-up. It’s about time.

pic via: usatoday

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