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Posts Tagged ‘LaMarcus Aldridge’

Trail Blazers Knicks Basketball

Remember earlier in the season when Portland’s intensity level was often in question? Well, the Blazers pretty much killed that theory within twelve minutes on Tuesday.

On a night when Portland desperately needed to show a division rival like the Utah Jazz how legit they are, the Blazers accomplished that and then some. They started aggressive, were active and efficient – essentially providing a glimpse of how good this team really is.

The Blazers 39 points in the first quarter was the most in the opening period this season and tied a team mark for the most in any quarter.

Intense. Exactly how Portland wants to play with the playoffs approaching.

And it went a little something like this….

10:53: Brandon Roy jumper

10:29: LaMarcus Aldridge alley-oop

10:01: Steve Blake three-pointer

9:03: LaMarcus Aldridge lay-up

8:24: Brandon Roy three-pointer

8:13: Steve Blake three-pointer

7:20: Brandon Roy fade away jumper

6:46: LaMarcus Aldridge jump shot

6:24 Brandon Roy dunk

5:49: Brandon Roy lay-up

5:03 Nicolas Batum dunk

4:47: LaMarcus Aldridge freethrows (2-2)

4:13: Greg Oden freethrows (1-2)

3:59: Brandon Roy jump shot

3:33: LaMarcus Aldridge freethrows (2-2)

1:42: Greg Oden freethrows (2-2)

1:02: Greg Oden dunk

0:05: Sergio Rodriguez three-pointer

Three quarters later, Portland finished off Utah with a 125-104 win – their third straight victory of 20 plus points.

Who would have thought Portland would be sitting a game and a half back of the number two spot out West? Crazy.

Now if the Blazers can only show up on the upcoming road trip to Oklahoma City, Houston, Memphis and San Antonio.

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The Latest: Oh, how the shameless plugs pile up….let me count the ways.

Plenty of Western Conference playoff talk go on over at HOOPSWORLD, and guess who has received those assignments?

 And finally….while the Phoenix Suns are quickly fading in the postseason picture behind Dallas, questions about the offseason are already taking place.

Will Grant Hill return? Will Alvin Gentry be back?

After speaking to both guys, it’s clear they want their journey in Phoenix to last.

 pic via: washington post

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roy41It was one of those love-hate moments. For the past few months, I’ve been barking about the Portland Trail Blazers being devoid of physical emotion and toughness. The Blazers were forced to bark back on Monday night.

I loved seeing Portland take a stand against the Los Angeles Lakers – a series that is constantly chippy. I loved seeing Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Travis Outlaw display some much needed chutzpah in the final seconds of the third quarter.

I just hated to see it come at the expense of Rudy Fernandez laying under the basket in pain and clutching his chest after taking a hard foul from Lakers Trevor Ariza. It was a scary time. You never want to see that happen to any player – a guy carted off on a stretcher with his neck and body stabilized.

It’s that time of season. Games will be physical from here on out.   

Roy said it best after the game (via HOOPSWORLD’s “Courtside Blog”). The foul was one thing. Ariza “bucking” (talking trash) was the final straw. That’s what got Roy and everyone else on the Blazers sidelines heated.

No need to see a fight. But I’ll take the Blazers getting fired up any day.

I’ve seen this happen before. So has Channing Frye – who was in the thick of the pushing and shoving between the Blazers and Lakers.  Sure he thought back to New York just as I did.

Back in December 2006, Frye was with New York when the Knicks and Denver Nuggets “brawled” at Madison Square Garden. The Knicks took exception to the Nuggets running up the score in a blowout when then-Knick Mardy Collins grabbed J.R. Smith around the neck on an open layup.

Soon players were shoving, posing, throwing punches and both benches got involved in the end. Frye was one of 10 players tossed, while avoiding a suspension. Seven others weren’t so fortunate.

It was a nasty incident. Didn’t have to go there. But it happens.

I’ll never forget watching from the pressbox at MSG as Carmelo Anthony threw a haymaker at Jared Jeffries only to backpedal all the way down to the other end of the court to hide behind his teammates.

A real tough guy.

Luckily, cooler heads prevailed at the Rose Garden on Monday night.

Here’s the footage….getting fired up versus getting into a fight:

pic via: bleacher report

 

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raef

There is always a method to the madness – even when it comes down to compiling a top 10 list about an injured veteran center on the mend in Iowa. Heck, even Raef LaFrentz would probably admit he’s never been at the center of Portland’s world as much as he is right now.

Actually, the story idea – running today thanks in large part to fellow HOOPSWORLD writer Jason Fleming’s insight – came about pretty easily. It helps having fans and fellow writers tell us – two guys based in Portland – how the Blazers need to move LaFrentz’s contract.

They even took it a step further saying the Blazers should pull the trigger on the Amar’e Stoudemire trade proposal. I went there yesterday. And I don’t want to go back today….but I will.

What is amusing is the feedback we are getting on this “10 Reasons To Keep LaFrentz’s Contract” piece. If you have time, check out the comment section from the story. Love those who take time to comment. They truly make the debate lively. But I also love how funny it gets – not in a ‘ha-ha’ way, but more of a ‘are you friggin serious’ way – when people say Portland is stupid for not trading for Amar’e or not moving LaFrentz’s contract.

That’s along the comedy lines of David Letterman’s interview with Joaquin Phoenix last night.

Classic.

Now, I’m not typically a betting man, but I would bet a bag of Funyuns those same folks who say Portland is stupid for not trading LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless and Raef’s contract to the Suns reside outside the greater Portland metro area and even the state of Oregon.

Am I wrong here?

If so I would love to hear from you….

pic via: o-live

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KOSZYKÓWKA NBA SPURS SUNS

What do Amar’e Stoudemire, Major League Baseball and a heavyweight championship fight all have in common? None are coming to Portland, so can we just get back to basketball please.

I get it. The trade deadline is upon us and we are bound to hear anything and everything over the next couple of days. But let’s just leave it at this: keeping Raef LeFrentz’s $12.7 million expiring contract is far better for the Blazers than making a move simply for the sake of change.

So after the mass emails from fans, other writers and needy editors I received today about this rumors…..here is the straight dope:

I have no doubt that Phoenix offered a package for Stoudemire, involving LaMarcus Aldridge, Jerryd Bayless, and LeFrentz’s expiring contract. If I learned anything from Ken Berger – formerly of Newsday, who reported the story over at CBSSports.com – from when we both covered the New York Knicks, it is this:

The guy can work a story and his sources are legit. Portland signing off on the deal however is not.

It’s surprising Phoenix didn’t ask for Brandon Roy in return too.

Good lord.

GM’s talk all the time. They talk shop all the time. Heck, some even text trade ideas to each other. ‘Tis the season.

And just as Portland isn’t buying this deal, neither do I believe that this whole talk got started on Portland’s end. Aldridge is the second best player on the team. Bayless is a kid many in the organization see as a future point guard for Portland. As for LeFrentz, that contract isn’t going anywhere until this summer once it has expired.

To be honest, I’m not sure Stoudemire is on his way out of Phoenix just yet. Not Chicago, not Miami and certainly not Portland. If anything, the Suns are putting him on ice.

So let’s everyone cool down from this rumor.

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The Latest: Since I won’t be making the trip to the All-Star Game this weekend, I knocked out a quick story on someone who will be – adidas.

Let me explain. If you haven’t heard, adidas constructed the jerseys that will be worn at the All-Star Game on Sunday and the product is pretty insane. Spoke with an adidas rep yesterday, who endured sleepless nights the past two years to help get this high-tech uniform done.

I will let the story tell the story….”The Perfect Fit At All-Star”….via HOOPSWORLD of course.

And of course, here is the poster child for the product. None other than Superman himself….

pic via: nba noise

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la2Two years ago when LaMarcus Aldridge was snubbed from the Rookie-Sophomore All-Star game in Las Vegas he used it as motivation towards the second half of his rookie season and leading into the summer. It paid off.

He made the trip to New Orleans last year as a sophomore. So does this mean Aldridge will be an All-Star for the West next year?

Motivation is the key.

Okay, so his numbers are just below career-highs he posted last season. And he is buried behind the fan favorites, leaving him to receive the eleventh most votes at his position out West.

That’s what prompted my talk with Kevin Pritchard, asking if Aldridge will ever be an All-Star knowing who he is running up against. I’m more inclined – not to debate that stance – but take it a few steps further and wonder when his time will come?

Look who Aldridge finished behind in voting: Tim Duncan, Amar’e Stoudemire, Carmelo Anthony, Dirk Nowitzki, Ron Artest and Pau Gasol. I get that. Those are some impressive names.

But from there down the door is wide open: Bruce Bowen, Shane Battier, Josh Howard and Luis Scola. Aldridge finished behind them all.

I get the first six. I don’t get the other four.

Bowen – while a defensive stud – has seen his minutes slip, along with his production. Battier and Howard have been injury prone much of the season, and Scola is solid but not to the point where he is better than Aldridge in the post or on the perimeter.

Nevertheless, it’s going to take a big year from Aldridge – whenever that is – for him to represent the West at an All-Star game.

pic via: espn

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aldridgeI wasn’t buying it then and I’m not buying it now. Just last week a local sportswriter in Portland refuted the fact LaMarcus Aldridge is as good as he really is. I’m sure that writer changed his tune after Portland beat Detroit on Wednesday night thanks to Aldridge.

Yes, Travis Outlaw flexed bigger than his 6’9, 207 pound frame displays with regained confidence and shooting touch late in the fourth quarter. Yes, rookie Jerryd Bayless howled at the moon and for one night maybe showed he could see minutes once Brandon Roy eventually returns.

But without Aldridge, the Blazers bandwagon might be a little lighter today. Sure it took him 21 shots to get his 26 points – essentially mirroring Detroit’s Tayshaun Prince (13 for 21, 26 points) – but you have to pick your poison.

Do you want an Aldridge – who took a nasty shot to the ear in the win – outing like he had against the Pistons? Or do you want the LaMarcus who looked lost against New Orleans last week when he made a whole five shots in 18 attempts?

He may not be “the man” – we know who owns that title in Portland. Folks may not obsess over him the way they do Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez and Bayless. You know who you are. But we all know who runs the floor and finishes better than anyone on the Blazers. And we all know that if Portland is going to get where they want to go that L.A. will have to help get them there.

Sorry, but right now LaMarcus Aldridge is that good.

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Shameless Plug:  That’s not the outing I thought Allen Iverson was going to have. He finished with 14 points. Thought for sure he’d put up more than 19 shots too, especially after he had Steve Blake and Sergio Rodriguez matched-up against him.

Think Detroit missed the boat there.

But come playoff time you just know the Pistons will be clicking on all cylinders. As I found out, the whole “Detroit and Iverson won’t be able to adjust to each other” argument simply doesn’t hold weight. You can read more about that today over at HOOPSWORLD.

pic via: o-live.com

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teamDoc Rivers sat in his office in the visitor’s locker room at the Rose Garden staring at the sheet of paper. It was hard to tell if he couldn’t believe the black ink popping off the page or if he was trying to memorize it. Either way, Doc wasn’t happy.

Rivers was quick to credit a Brandon Roy-less Portland after the Blazers beat his struggling Celtics team of late. But Doc still couldn’t get over a call the refs blew (or called brilliantly depending on the team you represent) right before the half on Tuesday night.

I detailed the 10.3 seconds remaining right before the half here after the game courtesy of HOOPSWORLD’s “Courtside Blog.” Tough break Doc.

Here’s the thing: Had that call gone against Boston; had the Celtics scored with six men on the court; had Boston been on the receiving end of that bucket, Portland would shut down like another snow storm hit the city.

Bedlam.

No, that’s not how the Blazers beat the Celtics. But let’s be real.

Portland showed up to play while Boston arrived and failed at playing their typical brand head games Kevin Garnett style. The Beantown jawing in early December when the Celtics manhandled the Blazers may have worked then, but Greg Oden – and particularly LaMarcus Aldridge – weren’t having it in Rip City with or without Brandon Roy. And in this case it was “without” Brandon Roy.

A huge win – the last of 2008. 

What a way to go out.

(Portland’s “six-on-the-floor” :48 seconds into the highlight.)

pic via: si.com

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Trail Blazers Suns BasketballCompared to Brandon Roy’s historical night, Travis Outlaw will be back page news come Friday morning. But he should at least get a sidebar mention in the win over Phoenix on national television.

As Roy stood with the game ball under his arm after finishing with a career-high 52 points, Outlaw slowly slipped into the tunnel towards the Blazers locker room. Portland sure needed this one. But Outlaw needed it even more.

He hasn’t been himself lately, even before the sore tailbone which has hampered Travis since Utah. Heck, even the trade rumors probably took their toll. No newsflash here: last year’s “Mr. 4th Quarter” has been – shall we say – a bit M.I. A.

On Thursday night though, Outlaw inched back towards outstanding. Not only did he provide the only scoring spark (14 points) in the second unit, but he remained aggressive throughout (6 rebounds). Then there was “the play.”

Outlaws ability to battle Jason Richardson for a rebound with 12.2 seconds left and Portland up by three points could have been the play of the game. Blazers ball. After fourth quarter collapses to Orlando and the Los Angeles Clippers last week, it certainly was the Blazers saving grace.

Portland has shown they can beat the dregs of the league like Sacramento. The way the Blazers make noise in the NBA though is by beating upper echelon teams like the Suns. Okay, so it’s not those Phoenix Suns, but nevertheless a difficult match-up coming off three days rest against a young team like Portland who has endured some growing pains of late.

Luckily along with Roy, Steve Blake (22 points and 10 assists) and LaMarcus Aldridge (16 points on 8 for 12), Travis Outlaw came to play.

pic via: daylife

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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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jerryThere have already been four head coaches fired eight weeks into the regular season. No wonder the unemployment rate is soaring in this country. But there is one guy who seems to always have job security: Gerald Eugene Sloan.

“I know how volatile this business is,” Jerry Sloan said recently. “I just think how lucky I’ve been to be here for so long.”

You win, you stay.

It’s that simple and Sloan – despite a couple losing seasons in his 21 years coaching in the NBA – perhaps knows that better than any coach in this league. You don’t become the first coach in league history to reach 1,000 wins with one team by throwing junk against the wall and hope that it sticks.

There has to be a commitment to what you believe in and how you carry that message out.

It’s no wonder Nate McMillan considers Sloan a blueprint for his coaching style. Right now McMillan has coached in 641 games, posting 306 wins and 335 losses. Okay, so he doesn’t have John Stockton and Karl Malone. But he does have Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge….and that Greg Oden fella. Only 694 more wins for McMillan as head coach of the Blazers and he’ll join Sloan in a distinguished class.

Then again, Sloan will probably have another 1000 wins under his belt by then.

Can Portland rebound on Thursday night at Utah? Or will the heartbreak from Hedo Turkoglu hang over their heads?

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Shameless plug time: We – and when I say we, I mean HOOPSWORLD – rolled out a new feature series this season called “Life As A Rookie”. Jerryd Bayless shared his story last week, and this week it’s Courtney Lee of the Orlando Magic. I got with Lee on Tuesday night and it’s easy to see why he’s a natural fit in Orlando….

In other “shameless plug” news…..

For you boxing purists and history buffs, the Northwest Examiner is running a feature I wrote on former heavy weight champion Jack Dempsey, who in the mid-1930’s stepped off a passenger train in Portland to fight four guys in one night at Multnomah Stadium.

The story is available in PDF (sorry, but that’s how the NWE rolls) and begins on page 13.

pic via: drunkenboozer

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