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Posts Tagged ‘Nicolas Batum’

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.

—————

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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er

The last place I thought I’d find myself on St. Patrick’s Day morning was the emergency room. Guess that’s what I get for not wearing green – or drinking enough liquids before and during working out at the gym: a little dehydration.

So after some dizzy spells, nausea, a little vomiting, almost passing out, a quick bumpy ride in the ambulance to the hospital, I found myself being pumped full of fluids during about two hours worth of steady contemplation.

My first thought – should have drank more water. Brilliant.

Second thought – hope I don’t worry my pregnant wife of seven months and two year old daughter too much.

Every thought while trying to get some rest went a little something like this:

Wonder if my brother Patrick is waiting for me to call him back to wish him a happy birthday…..

Will Greg Oden (who is now listed as a “game time decision”) play Wednesday at his homecoming in Indiana?

It’s freezing in here….

This is seriously cutting into my research time on a story I’m attempting to write for a sports magazine in Seattle…..

How much is that ambulance ride going to cost me exactly?

Do the beat writers in New Jersey ever get exhausted by the small Asian media horde that follows Nets forward Yi Jianlian from town to town?

Do I still have to paint my daughters bedroom pink today?

Should I even bother asking if I can move to a room with a TV….

When should I call to arrange an interview with that one pro wrestling icon….

Will I see Nicolas Batum have another career night the rest of this season….

Can a brother get some Jell-O?

Now I know what Rudy Fernandez felt like – minus the bruised right chest, right hip-pointer, staying the night in the hospital, and visits from Sergio Rodriguez….

Wonder what my dad thought about when he was in and out of hospitals when he was sick with cancer….

Wish I had a book…

Do I still need to meet those three deadlines I have waiting for me at HOOPSWORLD this week?

Can I leave now?

I am blessed with the best wife in the world.

pic via: wikipedia

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Off The Wall

83010322JJ006_PORTLAND_TRAIOn a night when Terry Porter’s number 30 was raised to the Rose Garden rafters and Brandon Roy nearly continued his 30-plus consecutive scoring streak, Nicolas Batum decided to show-up and join the party.

The 19-year-old from Lisieux, France – who has struggled of late after a brilliant start to the season – finished with 12 points, 8 rebounds, 1 steal and went 2 for 5 from beyond the arc in roughly 24 minutes.

Nicolas needed that game. Every rookie slumps at some point in the season. Maybe this was his slump buster.

It was Batum’s best game since November 28 against New Orleans when he finished with 12 points in 20 minutes. His outings that followed have been a combination of nondescript (Boston and Los Angeles Clippers) and scoreless (5 of the last 8 games) performance. It became glaringly clear Nicolas had run smackdab into a rookie wall.

On Tuesday night Batum ran right through that wall thanks to a regained stroke and his trademark defense. Thanks to Nicolas, the Blazers bench actually snapped out of their mini-funk with with all seven members in the second unit scoring in Portland’s 32-point win over the Sacramento Kings. 

pic via: daylife

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Jazz Trail Blazers BasketballMartell Webster will be back before too long, and with him returns a number of questions. But one trumps the rest:

Who gets the minutes at small forward?

I got into this a little bit today at HOOPSWORLD touching on the changes Portland will go through once Martell is ready to play – which doesn’t seem too far away from the sound of it. Basically there are four factors involving how the Blazers will adjust to Webster’s return….

The Nicolas Batum Factor: This kid can play and we’ve all seen how his game has changed from summer league to now during the regular season. I’ll be the first to admit, Batum didn’t show me much in Las Vegas. But these last sixteen games (and counting), Batum is easily the “feel good story” of the Blazers season thus far and I am constantly in awe at what he can do on both ends of the floor. I’ll spare you the highlight reel discussion about his ability to get into the paint, play defense, run the floor, shoot the three and simply scrap for a loose ball. It doesn’t matter how Nate McMillan does it. He just has to find time for this kid to play. Will that mean continuing to start?  

The Channing Frye Factor: No one is going to confuse Channing with having a power game in the paint. Even at 6-11, that’s not his style. Never has been. Hitting a fifteen foot jumper each time out is. He plays the pick-and-pop perfectly and it’s no wonder assistant coach Monty Williams told me Frye is one of the best shooting big men in the game today. Channing’s extending that range to include the deep three and it came to life against Miami on Wednesday (2-3). Yes, Frye’s rebounding and pure aggressiveness needs to improve, but it’s hard to complain when he’s hitting that outside shot. He’ll simply have to learn to produce the same (or more) with less time.

The Travis Outlaw Factor: Outlaw isn’t a starter and that’s not a bad thing. He is at home in the second unit, and while the small forward spot has his name written all over it, watching him play the four should be an adventure. That appears McMillan’s plan. Listed at 6-9 and a generous 207 lbs., Travis isn’t going to muscle anyone around and his defense is suspect. But with his length and energy, he’ll give guys fits. We saw it last year in some cases – against Denver’s Kenyon Martin comes to mind – and we will see how revisiting Travis at power forward works out. The minutes will be there.

The Nate McMillan Factor: Nate’s going to play the match-up game in juggling Webster, Batum, Outlaw and Frye. Without naming names, he’s already said as much. He’s done that so far this year with rotating Batum and Outlaw out for each other – although Travis has received more run than Nicolas. Just like anything else this season though – adjusting to life without Martell and even Greg Oden for six games for example – McMillan’s planning to work with what he has. Right now, he has a whole lot of guys he could plug in at various spots at any given time and that will only increase once Webster gets back. Not a bad problem for any coach to have.

pic via: daylife

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blakeThat was a close one.

Portland played phenomenal to open the game. They put it away late. But somewhere in-between Greg Oden registering his first two points in the NBA in the first quarter and Rudy Fernandez’s spinning-jumper in the lane in the fourth, the Blazers nearly tanked it.

Thankfully a Steve Blake corner-three and career-high 25 points for Fernandez saved another road win.

This winning on the road thing is starting to become a habit.

Let’s jump inside – and outside – the boxscore….

-Three points in roughly 16 minutes is nothing to write home about for Greg Oden. Here’s what is though: that he played injury free. That’s what’s most important right now. He looked awkward on offense. He intimidated on defense. But Oden fit perfectly into the second unit, and once he gets his legs under and timing back, the second unit is going make some folks around the Association take notice – unless they haven’t already with Rudy Fernandez and Travis Outlaw putting in work.

Brandon Roy (back) may have been gimpy heading into the game, but you never would have thought so watching him play. Seeing Roy (22 points) and Dwyane Wade (36 points) go head-to-head in stretches would have made Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier blush. It was blow for blow. Might have to call that one a draw.

LaMarcus Aldridge tends to get lost in the Roy-Oden-Rudy shadow but he shined on Wednesday night. You may never see a more hard-earned and aggressive 14 points and 7 rebounds in your life. Blake hit the three. Roy was Roy. Rudy was amazing (again). But Aldridge’s effort shouldn’t go unnoticed as the player of the game against Miami for another strong showing. He punched the clock.

Joel Pryzbilla was solid. Along with Aldridge, Joel cleaned up the glass early and helped get easy points in the paint in the first. He finished with 7 points and 10 rebounds. Very solid. But here’s what’s most impressive: he played just under 22 minutes and didn’t commit a single foul….a single foul.

-What can we say about Rudy Fernandez that ESPN’s Jon Barry didn’t repeat over and over and over during the nationally televised game. For 48 minutes, Barry raved about Fernandez to no end, leaving viewers to recite the “this guy is fearless” mantra until Barry calls another Blazers game this season. Now the middle-Barry brother knows what Portland has already come to know about Rudy in this short season.

Play Of The Game: Honorable mention goes out to Nicolas Batum for his block on Wade in the first quarter. Kid never gave-up on the play. Sergio Rodriguez’s lob to Rudy for a dunk in the fourth quarter also gets a nod. Yet it was Rudy’s spin move and jumper in the lane with 44.9 seconds left that put Portland up 98-92 and gave Rudy 23 points that was the play of the game. Steve Blake may have an argument, but this was Rudy’s night.

pic via: nba.com

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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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