Full Court Press

The big story this morning: Golden State's Stephen Jackson and Acie Law were traded to Charlotte for Vladimir Radmanovich and Raja Bell. The timing is ideal for the Blazers, who beat Charlotte on Saturday (Dave's game recap here) and are set to play the Warriors on Friday.  In his last four games against the Blazers, Jackson put up 20/8/8, 20/4/6, 24/5/2 & 29/9/1. The Warriors went 4-0 in those games.

If you spent the weekend taking off-balance jumpers and missed the news, Travis Outlaw suffered a stress fracture in his left foot and is expected out for a lengthy period of time.  Full details here.

A Blazers-themed art show from artist Anna Fidler is running on weekends for the next month or so here in Portland.  Too cool. I'll be there. Full details here.  A short snippet...

The Game, a new series of vibrant basketball scenes inspired by the Portland Trail Blazers, highlights artist Anna Fidler at her creative peak. Driven by her passion for basketball, she has assembled large-scale, labor-intensive works rendered in glittery mica-enriched acrylic washes and deftly applied pastels, colored pencils and airbrush.

Click through for the rest!

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

Some quick hitters...

And around the internet we go...

In case you missed this last week, the Blazers topped ESPN's "Future Power Rankings."

On paper, no other team possesses as bright a future as the Portland Trail Blazers. It all starts with the players. Nobody, not even Oklahoma City, can match the stable of young talent the Blazers have built.Brandon Roy is already a superstar, and joining him are potential stars like LaMarcus Aldridge (24), Greg Oden (21, even if he looks more like 51), Nicolas Batum (20) and Martell Webster (22). That doesn't even count the other assets the Blazers have that could eventually pan out, such as talented second-year benchwarmer Jerryd Bayless and a veritable farm team in Europe that includes Joel Freeland, Petteri Koponen and Victor Claver.
Mike Barrett blogs from the road...

Watching this team warm up before this game, you could tell this team was dragging. This was the fourth game in five nights, which is always worse than just a simple back-to-back scenario. Joel Przybilla told me his legs felt like they were filled with lead, and that he was fighting a cold. Jerryd Bayless, who twisted his ankle walking off the court before the game, told me he didn't think he'd play. Nothing felt very good

....

As for the void left by the loss of Outlaw, I would think what we saw at the end of this game is what we'll see more of- Rudy Fernandez. It'll take a combination of players to step up, but my guess is that we'll see Rudy get more minutes, and a much larger role late in games, where Outlaw usually plays. We'll also see more of Juwan Howard, and will probably even see some time given to rookie Dante Cunningham.    

Jason Quick on Brandon Roy and Joe Johnson...

But what makes this matchup even more special is the striking similarities between the two, on and off the court. Both players discovered those parallels during a bus ride in Phoenix last February after the All-Star Game when, fittingly, they were the only participants who didn't leave with an entourage or head to an after-party. 

"After the game, everyone leaves with their entourage," Roy recalled. "And I'm the only dude leaving the game on the bus. Literally. Like, there's some assistants and some kids, and then me in the back. 

"And then he walks on," Roy said of Johnson.    

Bill Simmons did a promotional Q and A with Ian Ruder in advance of his Thursday book tour (more on this tomorrow).

The Blazer fans are crazy. They're like the crazy dude at the bar who's just so irrational you don't want to get into a full argument with them because you might get a beer bottle smashed into your head. It's because they're on the team, so it's like they're arguing about their kids almost. 

I picked the Blazers to go 41-41 this year and it wasn't like I had an axe to grind against them. It was just every year there's one team that there are high expectations for and then they start slow and (have a) big spiral. They just seemed like a logical pick for that spot. 

Blazer fans went ballistic. They became really, really super, super crazy upset about it. (Saying stuff like,) "You're crazy! You're the biggest idiot! Don't come here for your book tour!" 
It's like whoa settle down! I just picked you to go 41-41, it's not like I built a Brandon Roy voodoo doll or something. 

That's the passion that makes it great.     

An interesting observation from Coup over at Rip City Project regarding the Bobcats game...

It was a little more concerning that Portland only scored 26 points in the paint, most of which could be credited to Roy and Oden. Oden being in foul trouble most of the night didn't help, but from 5:48 in the third, when Portland was up 12, until the end of the period, the Blazers attempted seven jumpers, one layup (a Miller attempt blocked) and one Aldridge hook shot. At the end of that stretch, the Blazers were only up four. Coincidence?

Dwight Jaynes on Travis Outlaw...

I don't think this one has a huge impact on the Trail Blazers' wins and losses this season. Yes, Outlaw is a proven off-the-bench scorer who has made big shots. But he's not improved much on the defensive end and isn't a particularly energetic rebounder. In the long run, this should mean more minutes for Webster, Rudy Fernandez and even Juwan Howard - which is a good thing.

Sheed from BustaBucket.com on Travis Outlaw...

It's not an attack, it's just the truth. Whenever Outlaw plays within himself, he's a great contributor. But shooting 1 for 9 or 2 for 13 from the field is devastating against good teams. Bad missed shots are like turnovers. I hope Travis heals quickly, but my internal jury is still out on whether it's good or bad losing him in the rotation.

I may end up being totally wrong about this, and in some ways I hope I am. It could be, "you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone." 

Stu Holdren of Oregon Sports Live on Travis Outlaw...

This loss stings for the Blazers, but ultimately I think they will be able to compensate for Outlaw's (and Batum's) injury. This is precisely why teams should stockpile talent and ignore potential logjams and the conflicts that these could provide.  Since the core of Roy, Aldridge and Greg Oden is still in tact, I'm confident that they'll still be able to take care of business as usual.

Kevin Pelton breaks down Brandon Jennings' 55 point night.

If we define 50 percent as replacement-level True Shooting Percentage, we can see which player contributed the most points above the expectation of a replacement-level player using the same number of possessions. A replacement player would be expected to score about 38 points on Jennings' possessions, so he contributed a little more than 17 points (17.5, to be exact). That ranks 44th out of those 160 modern 50-point games, which is pretty impressive.

The best of these games by this measure, by the way? Naturally, it's Kobe Bryant's 81-point outing against Toronto in January 2006 (+26.2), but four other players are close; Dana Barros, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone and Glen Rice were all +23 or better.

El Blog Ilusorio de Rudy Fernandez writes...

But sadly, in our recent Charlotte match, two of my bench-mates fell victim to the injury. Travis Outlaw suffered a broken foot bone while busting a routine move. And in a manner most bizarre, Jerryd Bayless tripped over a hump in a hallway carpet and nearly killed himself!

His bello ws of pain filled the coliseum, and I had to assist him to assistance. (This was no easy matter; Jerryd is a most dense 200 pounds (195 without his cologne). How to explain such a sad conjunction of misfortunes in Charlotte?

An entertaining new feature from Joe Freeman, a video mailbag where he takes questions.  Hilarious that the first question is, "Fire Nate?"

runyon from Trail Post wasn't exactly impressed by the Charlotte game...

It's scary how bad we're playing right now and winning. I almost want the Blazers to lose just in order to wake up and come back to their senses. They are cruising against these bad teams. On the flip side, the criticism "they are cruising" is something that you can only say about good teams. The only story from this game was Travis' injury, and you can see those thoughts in the last post. (Basic gist: Travis has improved, and our lack of depth from Batum's injury makes this sting.) When the only highlight of the game is LaMarcus Aldridge getting elbowed in the back of the head, you're not really playing a gem.    

jetcity at Blazerstrail.com is happy...

I don't mean to sound like the growing pains are already over.  They aren't.  There's still going to be duds from Oden, and there's still going to be stretches where Miller and Roy grind the gears trying to play the same role.  Still, we've seen that Portland can be a better team this year when they click.  We've seen more than flashes of potential from Greg Oden, who is one contested game away from a true monster statistical performance if he can continue his improvement at avoiding stupid fouls.  And, we're seeing this in week 3.  It stands to reason that Portland can have this honed by April.  Go ahead and smile.

Drop anything I missed in the comments. And be sure to Frequent the FanShots.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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