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Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Fernandez’

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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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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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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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NBA/Mike D’Antoni knows how talented both Sergio Rodriguez and Rudy Fernandez are. The New York Knicks head coach – formerly of the Phoenix Suns– helped draft and subsequently trade both Sergio and Rudy to Portland at different times of his tenure in Phoenix.

The Suns selected Sergio as the 27th overall pick in 2006 before trading him for cash considerations that same day. A year later, Phoenix snagged Fernandez in the first round (24th overall) only to turn around days later and trade him along with James Jones for cash considerations.

On Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden, D’Antoni might have been calling for a couple draft day do-overs.

A good hour after the “Rudy-Rudy-Rudy” chants faded from the Garden and a first quarter that saw Portland shoot an abysmal 29%, Fernandez slowly shook-off a case of the “clanks.” He hit his first two shots of the game – both from beyond the arc – only to miss his next three attempts.

Clank.

Rudy hasn’t delved into too many funks this season. And he didn’t stay that way for long. You just had a feeling he was going to get it going on a big stage like New York with a large Spanish contingent on hand. His two enormous three-pointers early in the fourth quarter contributed to a 14-0 Blazers run, which in essence salvaged another Portland win – their fifth-straight. Very impressive final numbers for Rudy: 18 points, 5-11 from the field, 4-8 from three 4-4 from the line in roughly 21 minutes.

More chants.

Let’s not forget Sergio’s role in Portland overcoming a Knicks 10 point lead. Setting up Rudy is one thing, but getting into the lane and hitting a stop-and-pop off the glass over Tim Thomas late in the fourth was nothing short of smooth. That is unless you count Rodriguez’s step-back three minutes later. He put together a solid yet non-flashy game: 5 points, 5 rebounds, 1 steal and 0 turnovers in 19 minutes.

Win.

In the end though, victory over New York didn’t come easy for Portland. There probably isn’t a scrappier eight player team in the NBA than the Knicks right now. They just wore down. For the Blazers, they need to get a good night sleep with Washington up on Wednesday. The Wizards won in New Jersey by 20 points and now both Washington and Portland prepare for a little back-to-back action after a quick flight to D.C. 

Can the Blazers make it 7-6 on the road?

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Okay, so Portland didn’t make it on the short list of the NBA’s “Biggest Surprises In November” (a rundown story that ran yesterday on HOOPSWORLD). But with their winning ways, Brandon Roy’s wow factor and the typical cliche’ of an all-around nightly team effort, they are worthy of an honorable mention….

pic via: daylife

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travisoutlaw3Brandon Roy doesn’t have many off nights, but on Wednesday night against the Miami Heat there was no need for him to be on. The bench put the game on their broad shoulders.

Roy went 2 for 11 and finished with 8 points as the Blazers won easily. Yet when Portland’s second unit – aptly dubbed the “white unit” – continues their impressive play on the season, the Blazers become more than the “Brandon Roy Saves The Day Show.”

They become one of the best benches in the league. Perhaps even thee best.

According to the stat kings over at 82.games.com, the Blazers boast one of the best scoring second-strings in the NBA. They are pitching in a combined 37.5 points per game, third best in that category behind the Minnesota Timberwolves (39.2 ppg) and the Los Angeles Lakers (38.5 ppg). But scoring isn’t everything. Portland’s bench also ranks among the top in rebounds (third, 17.3 rpg), assists (fourth, 8.4 apg), (third, 3.7) and blocks (fifth, 2.3 bpg).

Another win only adds to those numbers, with a combined 49 points, 24 rebounds, 19 assists, 2 steals, and 5 blocks from the reserves in the victory. Not bad for one night of work, huh? When Channing Frye (17 points) shows off his range, Travis Outlaw (15 points) shows last year was no fluke, Sergio Rodriguez (11 assists) shares the ball, Joel Przybilla (9 rebounds) bangs the boards and Rudy Fernandez – well, he’s Rudy Fernandez (13 points) for crying out loud – it’s no wonder the “white unit” runs red hot against the rest of the league.

Enjoy the night off Brandon. 

Chris Paul and the rest of the New Orleans Hornets await you after some turkey, stuffing and giving thanks.

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Speaking of bench guys, I grabbed time with Francisco Garcia of the Kings when Sacramento was in town on Monday and basically he’s dying to get out on the court for the first time this season. He’s shooting for this weekend. In keeping with the job demands of covering the entire league, here’s the skinny on Garcia…. 

pic via: o-live

 

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Kings Trail Blazers BasketballRudy Fernandez had to play defense the minute he got off the plane in Portland this past summer. That’s what happens when you have a couple hundred people waiting to go one-one-one with you.

Let’s see what Rudy can do in a zone.

It’s tough to really gauge how good Fernandez can be this season with the Blazers at 6-4. Are we seeing his best? Or is there still more to come? A couple more months will reveal a lot, that’s for sure – the guys will know Rudy’s game more and he’ll know theirs. Don’t get me wrong. He’s been nothing short of amazing thus far. But hard pressed to critique his game, it is clear his defense needs some work.

A story on “Rudy’s Big Adjustment” is running today over at HOOPSWORLD….defense is the topic at hand. You just know that side of the game is something Rudy is anxious to improve. And he will.

Even still, passing marks (even on defense) fill his resume ten games into the season:

Scoring: At 13.6 points per game, Fernandez has been solid in the second unit. Now you just wonder if he’ll get any starts this season. Grade: A+

Shooting: On a team full of jump shooters, Fernandez has been a breath of fresh air. He’s easily replaced James Jones in dialing it in from deep (44%). He ranks second in the league in three-pointers made (24) and sixth in three-pointers attempts (54). He gets a little trigger-happy from down there at times (Minnesota at home where he was 3-7; and at Miami, 3-8), but Rudy’s efficiency puts your mind at ease. He knows when to hold them and knows when to load them. His mid-range has been solid too (45%) but it’s that release from beyond the arc that has the entire league taking notice. Grade: A

Passing: Rudy’s been a little less “Pistol” Pete Maravich than we saw in the preseason. He’s averaging two assists per game. Maybe he’s just finding a comfort zone. Again, that’s a part of his game that could show in another month or two when familiarity spreads. Right now, he’s keeping it simple. Perhaps that’s best. No need to force it. Grade: B+

Steals: The guy is active. This much we know. After a made bucket it’s not uncommon for Rudy to lurk, ready to catch someone sleeping inbounding the ball. This is a tough one to grade though. You can tell Rudy wants to cheat the passing lane, but he also doesn’t want to get beat defensively. It’s a Catch-22. He’s averaging a steal a game in roughly 28 minutes play. Look for this number to jump in the coming weeks. Grade: B

Free-Throws: 94% – ranks first on the team. Enough said. Grade: A+

Turnovers: You have to ask yourself: is the guy being sloppy or is he trying to make something happen? At 1.40 turnovers per game – third highest on the team (Brandon Roy leads with 2.20) – Rudy is trying to make something happen. Can’t fault him there. Grade: B

Defense: Knowing Rudy has to cope with how physical the league is and Nate wanting him to “stand down” instead of “hopping around” defense is an area he’s still been decent in. Sure, he’s been beaten on some assignments and needs to set harder screens. But Rudy is also not afraid to take a charge. That is always a good thing. Still, there’s room for improvement. Grade: B-

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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