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Posts Tagged ‘Sergio Rodriguez’

jerryd_490_080719Just when you thought Portland’s point guard rotation was back to normal with Steve Blake returning to the floor, along comes a Brian Skinner pick.

When the Los Angeles Clippers big man put a body on Blake with about five minutes left before half, a yelp and cringe by Blake said it all. Not sure what hurt more – Blake’s right shoulder or the two air balls he launched during his ten minute stint.

Actually, I’m wondering what he was doing out there in the first place. Obviously it was his call to play, but it was Nate McMillan’s decision to start him. Would Blake have re-injured his shoulder if he came off the bench? Perhaps.

But right now, the tag team of Sergio Rodriguez and Jerryd Bayless are self sufficient enough to hold down the fort for a few more games. If McMillan is going to put faith in his two backup point guards, it might as well be during this stretch.

Take Sergio for example. Rodriguez passed up a wide-open three early to find Joel Przybilla all alone under the basket, and his over-the-head-no-look-pass to Greg Oden two quarters later was about as sick as a dish comes. A little stylin’ and profilin’. He played smart. Maybe Sergio’s numbers aren’t going to blow you away (7 points and 5 assists in roughly 17 minutes), but combined with Bayless’ performance the two are holding down the point.

Chances are Jerryd started the game thinking he’d be lucky to even sniff the court. But as we all know about the NBA, injuries and opportunities go hand-in-hand. Much like Sergio, his final stat line isn’t All-Star worthy either (5 points and 6 assists in just over 22 minutes), but the fact is the two point guards only combined for two turnovers, and that is solid.

Very solid.

And while so much is made of Bayless’ aggressiveness and his barking after a bucket, what about his on-court chemistry with Oden? It seems at least once a game, the two rookies are in sync with an alleyoop or quick dish for a dunk. They have good chemistry together.

It’s nice to see both Sergio and Jerryd taking some ownership at the point.

In other words, take your time Steve. Take your time.

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Shameless Plug: Couple more weeks to go to the trade deadline is officially upon us. So as we wait to see what takes place in Portland, teams like Cleveland prepare for another postseason run.

But will they make a move?  I caught up with Cavs head coach Mike Brown last week – along with Ben Wallace – and was curious what the approach is when names float around in the rumors, as they are prone to do this time of the season.

The story is running in full over at HOOPSWORLD.

pic via: nba.com

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sergeSergio Rodriguez apparently is a wanted man….again. For the second time in three weeks, Rodriguez has been the topic of conversation with at least one New York Knicks beat writer who believes the Knicks should take a look at the Portland Trail Blazers reserve point guard.

More on that blog blurb here from good friend Alan Hahn at Newsday. It’s a quick ploy, but a ploy none the less from over the weekend.

It raises the question again: if Rodriguez is eventually moved, does Portland get a point guard in return knowing Jerryd Bayless is waiting in the wings?

Besides, the Knicks had their chance at rebuilding their backcourt back in June at the NBA Draft. Back then, Eric Gordon – who is now starting for the Los Angeles Clippers – was on the board when New York opted for Danilo Gallinari – he of injured reserve fame – instead with the 6th overall pick.

Once again, the Knicks missed the boat.

Gordon is quietly having a nice season for the Clips. Caught up with him last weekend to talk about adjusting to the NBA and where his game is at right now. The feature on Gordon – “The Rise of Eric Gordon” – is running now over at HOOPSWORLD.

Quick take on Gordon: the kid just gets it. He knows his role. He’s not one of these rookies who feels the need to take on the world like some young guards in this league.

Gordon just goes about his business.

What the Knicks would give for him right now….

pic via: elmundo

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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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stephonThe drama never stops at Madison Square Garden. It was that way when I covered the New York Knicks for three seasons and it’s that way right now. That’s the thing. It’s not worse with Stephon Marbury’s antics, insubordination and house arrest. It’s simply the same.

No buy out yet. Just bye-bye.

Even 3000 miles away from Manhattan, I know one thing is for certain: the Knicks locker room is a better place without Marbury in it.

So while the Knicks deal with the typical distractions, Portland looks to make it five-straight wins and their second consecutive win on a five game roadie. But believe it or not, all the talk coming out of New York isn’t necessarily Knicks-centric and all about Starbury. There is some Blazers banter making its way down Broadway…..

First Knicks General Manager Donnie Walsh voiced his concern for Greg Oden over the weekend.

“I’m a little worried about Oden,” Walsh told the New York Daily News. “He’s young and these young guys come in, but their bodies are not ready for the NBA, and they do get hurt. I think with real young players, they’re not ready for the NBA. All of a sudden they’re playing at our speed and our tempo against men. It seems that even if they don’t get hit, they start breaking down a little bit.”

Then on Monday, Alan Hahn of Newsday – who writes the paramount blog on the Knicks beat by the way – gave the rumor mill a fresh spin making a ploy for a couple Blazers.

“They (the Knicks) have a pretty good test Tuesday against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Garden. Keep an eye on Travis Outlaw…think he might fit in the (Mike) D’Antoni system if the Blazers ever would consider moving him. Sergio Rodriguez is looking for a change of scenery as well….Hmmm.”

Who would the Knicks offer in return with Outlaw and/or Sergio likely expendable? With the Knicks failing to sign forward David Lee to a contract extension back in October, his future in New York appears tentative at best according to two sources familiar with the situation.

pic via: newsday

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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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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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