Snips and clips from the Hornets camp, plus:
New Orleans Hornets snap two-game losing streak with 97-78 win over Portland Trail Blazers
by Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times-Picayune
The New Orleans Hornets snapped a two-game losing streak with a 97-78 win over the Portland Trail Blazers here Friday night in the Rose Garden.
Five Hornets players scored in double figures, including a team-high 19 off the bench from Willie Green.
New Orleans held Portland to 13 points in the fourth quarter, after limiting the Blazers to 15 in the second and 17 in the third. * * *
posted by West Coast Hornet to Hornets Report message board
I was wrong about t his game. Nicely done by the Hornets.
Sean Marks went out with an injury. I guess the Blazers brought him in because Oden and Pryz are out with injuries???
And it looks like their local media has really turned on Oden.
posted by Rohan to At the Hive (SBN) game thread
Just a fanastic job on the glass by the Hornets:
86% defensive, 34% offensive
by Jim Eichenhofer, Big Easy Buzz Blog (official site)
* * *
Hornets MVP: With five players tallying 14 points or more, there were several candidates, but let's go with Trevor Ariza. The 6-foot-8 small forward was excellent on the defensive end, while also compiling one of his best offensive games as a Hornet. He finished with a season-high 18 points, including a much-needed 14 in the first half after New Orleans had fallen behind quickly against hot-shooting Portland.
Hornets Sixth Man of the Game: Given the opponent and the situation, this was Willie Green's most valuable performance of the season. Green was a clutch shot-maker all game, netting 19 points on 6-for-11 shooting. * * *
"They came out and hit shots," Green said of the Blazers' 33-point first quarter. "We were right in their faces. We wanted to keep the same defense (the rest of the game) and keep the pressure up." * * *
(5) * * * MAIN BEAT REPORT * * *
New Orleans Hornets Get Back to Defense in 97-78 Win Over Portland Trail Blazers
by Jimmy Smith, New Orleans Times Picayune
* * *
It happened again Friday night in the Rose Garden as the Portland Trail Blazers sent 6 foot 8 forward Nicolas Batum out to shadow Paul — normal operating procedure for the Blazers — and West saw four hands in his face each time he touched the ball.
Yet the Hornets were able to overcome those obstacles, thanks to the pick-up efforts of Trevor Ariza (16 points) and Willie Green — with a game-high 19 points — as New Orleans beat the Trail Blazers 97-78, snapping a two-game losing streak while winning for the third straight time on Portland's home floor.
It's obvious that if teams are going to double West (he finished with 14 points), and crowd Paul with larger defenders (Paul finished with 16 and 13 assists), others are going to have to take up the slack on the offensive end.
That's what happened Friday. * * *
by Rohan, At the Hive (SBN)
* * *
It's kind of stunning that the Portland Trail Blazers finished with 78 points tonight. Through one quarter, they out-executed us in nearly every facet of the game (save rebounding). They set good screens, moved the ball into open looks, and forced turnover after turnover. After one, Portland sat at an offensive efficiency of 1.50 points per possession. Thankfully, it was all downhill from there. In quarters two through four, the Blazers' output was nearly halved- 0.76 points per possession. And as great as it was to see the Hornets lock down defensively, it felt like the Blazers' offense was equally culpable for the the team's downfall.
For the second straight meeting, we saw a slow, slow game. By my hand count, possession figures by quarter went thusly: 23, 21, 20, 19. The Hornets' offensive efficiency by quarter thus went: 1.13, 1.33, 1.05, 1.16 (game average 1.18, season average 1.06) and defensive efficiency: 1.43, 0.71, 0.85, 0.68 (game average 0.95, season average 1.01). While there were a surprising number of transition opportunities for each team, the game was largely played in the half-court. * * *
(7) * * * Ha, ha, nice writing! * * *
by Ryan Schwan, Hornets 247 (TrueHoop)
The Hornets got back to their winning ways tonight as they delivered a nutshot to the MASH unit masquerading as the Portland Trailblazers. Oh wait, that was Brandon Roy delivering the nutshot to teammate Rudy Fernandez midway through the game while going for a loose ball. It looked pretty ugly.
Regardless, that play was the rest of the game in microcosm. Sean Marks went down with an ankle sprain, Rudy went out with his "pelvic bone contusion" and Wesley Matthews missed some time after cracking his head on his own teammates knee. Sheesh. The result was a 97-78 blowout over the Blazers. * * *
For the first time all season, a Hornets game was probably decided entirely on the glass as the Hornets out-rebounded the desperately undersized Blazers 48 to 27. * * *
by James Grayson, Swarm and Sting (Fansided)
* * *
- I know I usually start of with individual performances, but I think I might go with a team based dot-point first. After letting up 33 in the first quarter the Hornets held the Blazers to the following quarter totals, 15, 17 and 13 (that's right they only scored 30 in the entire second half). This defense played out of their minds in the first 10 games then came back down to earth against Utah. I think the true measure of this defensive play lies somewhere in the middle, but it's none the less refreshing to watch the Hornets play some D.
- Willie Green played out of his mind tonight. He still frustrates me when he completely ignores team-mates but when his jumper is falling I can't really argue. His defense on Roy was solid as well but it's the way he came out in the second quarter that really changed the game. Willie finished with 19 points on 11 shots, shot 2-4 from three and had a lone steal.
- A plus-minus of 24 (+). This would be Christopher Emmanuel Paul. He really played well tonight controlling both ends of the floor. It's a real pleasure to not only watch, but listen to him play. If anything if you close your eyes and ignore the commentators all you hear is Paul barking non stop. * * *
- Tell me the times that Trevor Ariza scores 18 points and we lose, go on tell me because tonight he played the game we demand from him every night. His shooting touch appeared decent but it was his agressivness to get to the free-throw line that made his game that much better. He was active on the boards (7 rebounds) and his effort was twenty times better than in the Utah game. * * *
by John Reid, New Orleans Times Picayune
After ending a two-game losing streak with Friday night's victory against the Portland Trail Blazers, the New Orleans Hornets are only one-game behind the San Antonio Spurs for the Western Conference lead.
The Hornets (12-3), who also trail the second-place Los Angeles Lakers (13-3) by a half-game, play host to the Spurs at 2 p.m Sunday at the New Orleans Arena.
The Spurs (13-2) had their 12-game winning streak snapped by the Dallas Mavericks 103-94 Friday night but they remain with the league's best record. The Lakers had their five-game winning streak end with a 102-96 loss to the Utah Jazz Friday night. * * *
1. Coach Monty is good stuff. He has this team playing some D...
2. Another win or two and we'll be back at the top of the Western Conference.
3. This was an eas y one. Hornets outrebounded you guys, wanted it more, and won big in the end.
Seeing that Blazers Edge traffic is up approximately 50% since the piece first ran in August 2009 and bearing in mind that not everybody reads the blog during the off season, I figured I'd re-run my two part bio of Joel Przybilla in the BE sidebar during the Wednesday and Thursday of this past uneventful week. It's a timely topic and plenty of people hadn't seen it yet, I reckoned.
Unfortunately, the code is in the Blazers Edge Story Editor and I'm locked out of everything but FanPosts and FanShots after my grave trespass of having taken the initiative to launch a late-starting Gameday Open Thread back in the day... My request to be "opened up" so that I could recover and repost the story went unanswered.
So a couple of links dumped on you now will have to suffice. If you haven't seen the Pryzbilla story yet, you may want to have a look at it when you get the time:
PRZYBILLA: PART ONE (August 16, 2009)
PRZYBILLA: PART TWO (August 17, 2009)
* * *
There has been a ton of hoopty-doopty lately about the forthcoming free agency of oft-injured Blazer Center Greg Oden. Having played only 82 games in four years in a Portland uniform, Oden is still seen by many as some sort of transcendent championship piece.
Dwight Jaynes, the self-proclaimed "Godfather" of hyperbole-flogging talk radio, has gone so far as to make the ludicrous claim that "Nobody now seems to want to admit it, but for [the 21 games he played last season], Oden was Portland's best player. Period."
Now I own a big barnyard shovel and know how to use it — trust me, Dwight's giving it a workout lately. I decided that instead of using it to shovel, I'll used it to dig up a few stats for y'all... it's time to compare this incarnation of Portland's pseudo-transcendent 4 year big man with the last.
I give you a year-by-year comparison of the Trailblazer careers of Sam Bowie and Greg Oden:
Bowie's totals have been calculated by weighting for games played per season — they are not a simple average of the four years.
What do we learn?
A. Portland got almost 50% more games out of the draft lottery debacle that was Sam Bowie than they did out of the draft lottery debacle that is Greg Oden.
B. In the games that he did play, Bowie was able to stay on the floor better than Oden, giving the team more than half a game of playing time instead of less than half a game of playing time. In other words: Bowie gave the team starter minutes, Oden gave the team backup minutes.
C. While Oden's numbers per 36 minutes are slightly better than those of Bowie for points and rebounds, the difference is slight — nothing to write home to mama about or to sink your franchise over. In absolute terms, Bowie gave the Blazers more production each game he played than did Oden.
D. Oden is not the world renowned all time tremendous defensive terror in the paint that he is made out to be — Bowie handily topped him in blocked shots per game and per 36 minutes of play.
E. Neither Sam Bowie nor Greg Oden were at any point the "best player" on their respective teams.
Look, there might be a scenario in which keeping Greg Oden around for a couple years to see what happens and to accumulate some value for the player in a possible trade makes sense. As has been often noted, the trade of Sam Bowie to the New Jersey Nets brought Buck Williams to Portland, and that was a very important addition indeed. It's pretty clear by now that Greg Oden ain't gonna bring a title, but keeping Oden and subsequently trading Oden might help.
But listen: you get to this goal by letting Oden go as an Unrestricted Free Agent and then signing him to a fair market value 2 or 3 year deal in competition with every other team — not by allowing him to sign an inflated $8.8 Million, 1 year Qualifying Offer and then watching him walk as a UFA after the rehab season.
And if you are able to win the bidding competition for his services, you do NOT plan on Greg Oden giving you starter minutes during those years. In Year 1, if he gets back at all, you consider yourself lucky. In Year 2, the Vegas over/under on games played until the next serious injury is about 50 and the over/under on minutes played in those games about 25. Year 3 would be a pure and simple lottery ticket — a game based on chance that should be played for entertainment only, not for investment purposes.
To mortgage the franchise, to lose Joel Przybilla, to sabotage the team's future on an overcompensated rehab contract just to HOPEFULLY get get back the raw Greg Oden? Only to see that same player walk away after that year as an Unrestricted Free Agent?!?
That's crazy talk!!!
* * *
The Turkish League basketball season has begun for former NBA gunslinger Allen Iverson, star acquisition of Besiktas Cola Turka of Istanbul.
Iverson, playing on a 2 year, $4 Million contract, scored a nifty 2 points in his league debut as Besiktas fell to defending league champions Fenerbahce Ulker in Ankara by a score of 74-67 on Sunday.
Iverson went 0-for-3 in the 1st Quarter before exiting the game with less than a minute remaining in the period. A.I. was fired up and ready to go in the 3rd Quarter, and he singlehandedly put the champs on the ropes with his massive 2-point offensive onslaught late in that frame.
Thereafter, Iverson returned to the bench, where he sat for the duration of the game.
Iverson has become a fan favorite according to Ismail Senol, announcer for NTV Spor, broadcaster of Besiktas Cola Turka's games.
"The thing is, we're not a tall country and a 6-footer doing those things on the court, it inspires many," Senol recently declared. (Yes, this is a real quote! —td)
According to some sensation-mongers of the mainstream media, Iverson's foray into Turkish basketball has been necessitated by financial difficulties. Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Kate Fagan, dispatched by her paper to Turkey to witness Iverson Mania firsthand, notes that the volume scorer "is broke — by all accounts except his own." Fagan's crackpot theory was echoed by the notorious Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com.
At the Oct. 29 news conference at which he announced his signing, The Son of Besiktas Cola Turka emphatically denied that filthy lucre played any part in his decision to leave the NBA:
"It's not a problem, it's not a problem — money," Iverson declared. "Obviously if it was about money, I would jump out there and say, 'You want me to come off the bench? How much money are you paying?' It wouldn't be a big deal. It's not about money or anything like that."
Taking Iverson at his word — which I like to do with this gentleman since he has been so reliable and trustworthy in the past — one is left wondering what it IS about if not about cash. There must be SOME reason, yes?
Perhaps Allen Iverson REALLY REALLY likes Turkish food? Çiğ köfte is really hard to find in America, after all. And once you get a hankerin' for acili ezme or zeytinyagli dolma or a steaming hot portion of kuzu güveç, there really is no substitute...
Or maybe the reason isn't epicurean at all... Could it be that Number 4 has given his heart to an Istanbul sweetie he met over the internet? Maybe he has taken a pay cut to play in a 3200 seat gym just to be near his beloved. I hope NBA-TV gets away from that whole unseemly basketball-for-money scenario and does a little research into what could well be a heartwarming holiday tale of loyalty and love that will appeal to Americans of all ages.
Perhaps A.I. is an ancient history buff that looks to spend more time pursuing his archeological interests at the walls of the ancient city of Troy? Or perhaps as a renowned biblical scholar, Iverson hopes to make a pilgrimage to climb Mount Ararat to be closer to god? These things are quite possible as alternative explanations for the Philly gunner's sojourn to the Near East.
Then again, is it possible Iverson has a beef with Greeks or Armenians and helping to promote Turkish basketball is a twisted way of bolstering an Anti-Greek or Anti-Armenian cause? That sounds a little strange, perhaps — maybe there is some sort of weird secret society that is pulling the strings to use The Franchise Player as a geopolitical pawn.
Or could it be that Iverson is positioning himself for a career after basketball as an intelligence analyst for the CIA and feels that cultural immersion is the only effective way to develop language fluency? That might just be it...
Oh, my god, I've just figured it out... This is horrible...
Is it not possible that this Turkish episode is all the result of a tragic misunderstanding — that A.I. thought Besiktas Cola Turka was sort of like Foster Farms and that the proposal made to him in heavily-accented English called for him to make $4 Million for endorsing turkey products rather than playing professional basketball in Turkey? This theory would go far in explaining the shocked countenance of the noted family values advocate and philanthropist as he was forcibly led through a swarming throng outside the airport by what appear to be burly security officers...
Maybe A.I. now has to play or pay — pay by serving time in a Turkish prison for breach of contract?!?! Good lord, if this is true, we need to help him!!!
I will continue to research the profound mystery of why A.I. REALLY went to Turkey, second only in importance to O.J.'s ongoing quest to find "the real killer." More news of the dramatic activities of the Turkish scoring sensation will follow as information becomes available.
While we're on the subject of scoring Point Guards... David Stern probably smiled like a cheshire cat and chortled festively when he learned that a player from his league had crossed over into the mainstream gossip pages in an incident which did not include illegal drugs, firearms, pitbulls, or crashing vehicles into fire hydrants. Nothing but a lady pyramid...
"You just can't buy coverage like this for the NBA!" The Commish would probably have gleefully declared if he had actually made a statement instead of me just making this crap up. He might also have provocatively added, "Of course, he has a mistress — he's really, really French!"
Tony the Tiger Parker is officially splitsville with fifth generation Texan actress Eva Longoria Parker, she of the hit ABC television series Desperate Housewives. Simply EVERYBODY is talking about it!
According to gossip site TMZ.com and repeated ad nauseum in the echo chamber of the internets, the divine Ms. Longoria Parker found out that her really, really French husband had been swapping numerous randy text messages with the non-super famous hottie non-actress estranged wife of Oregon State University alum and former teammate Brent Barry.
Also according to TMZ, Ms. Longoria Parker was so distraught that she immediately ran off to California to file for divorce, with her attorney checking the box on the divorce papers indicating that Ms. Longoria Parker would be seeking spousal support. In response, Mr. Parker filed divorce papers of his own in Texas on Friday, Nov. 19, thereby complicating the split and ensuring copious fodder for America's gossip industry for the next several months.
All this begs the question: just how disproportionately much money are these NBA guys getting paid anyway? Eva Longoria Parker reportedly makes $200,000 per episode working on Desperate Housewives, a show now in its 7th season of production. Her salary ranks Longoria Parker as the 7th highest compensated television performer.
That she is seeking spousal support from him is probably indicative that our athletic entertainers are excessively compensated, eh?
Pity the poor Multi-Billionaire...
After several years under the NBA salary cap, Paul Allen's Portland Trail Blazers are over the limit again, currently showing $73.9 Million in player contracts for the 2010-11 NBA season — 7th highest in the NBA. Big money deals for Roy, LMA, and Camby will do that to ya.
But don't cry for Daddy Warbucks too much... Trust me when I say that you ticket-buying fans are absolutely doing more than your share in helping the 17th richest man in America foot the bill. According to the 2010 annual survey of NBA c osts the Chicago firm Team Marketing Research, the Blazers currently have the second highest average price of a seat in the NBA's Western Conference, trailing only the World Champion Los Angeles Lakers.
Not only is Portland's $63.05 weighted average general ticket price the 5th highest in the entire NBA (behind only the urban goliaths of Los Angeles, New York, Boston, and Chicago — but ahead of Canadian urban goliath Toronto), the Rose Garden also holds the dubious distinction of having the most expensive soda pop and hotdogs in the entire league, according to the same Team Marketing Research report.
In all, the Chicago research firm estimates that the Trail Blazers provide the 6th most expensive fan experience in the NBA, taking into account such factors as tickets, parking, food, and concession stand merchandise. It's more expensive to attend a game in Portland than it is to see Eastern Conference power Orlando or to watch Lebron James lose again in Miami.
Big city prices are being paid by so-called "small market" fans of the red-and-black team... They pack the house but still worry when they go to sleep at night that the Big Bad Billionaire might have Mayflower move his lucrative Rose Garden to Seattle... Hey, no worries: 122 straight sellouts, baby... Cha-ching!!!
You're getting screwed, ticket buyers! By way of comparison the small market, shallow pockets Utah Jazz — despite showing more than $3 Million more in salary cost than Portland — have an average ticket pice of only $41.47, not to mention lower prices for soda, hotdogs, and parking.
Want to see prices for another comparable team? The Oklahoma City Pseudosonics, playing in a basketball only "small market" before sell out crowds, have an average ticket price of just $45.99 and a market basket of prices making a Thunder game the 9th least expensive fan experience in the NBA.
Now tell me again what an extraordinarily selfless benefactor and friend of the common folk The Octopus is, will ya?
* * *
Brandon Roy is back
Nice, I suppose, but where's Joel?
Christmas comes slowly
Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...
New black Rip City sweater vests and the Comedy Mikes are flogging the goods...
Rice: "This jersey makes my Brutus haircut look good!"
MB: "Brutus? I thought it was a Caesar..."
Rice: "No, it's a Brutus. Brutus had more hair."
MB: "Oh, you're just making the name up, I thought it was really the name of a haircut."
Now Rice has haircuts on the brain. It's a blown call by the officials on a Sean Marks block...
"Oh, Kenny Maurer, I don't know about that. The fans deserve to get on Kenny and his Fonzie haircut."
MB: "We understand Wesley Matthews will be back tonight..."
Rice: "Wesley Matthews is on the bench, I can see him down there and he's talking — that's good."
MB: "That's how they did the concussion tests when you were young..."
Rice (imitating a coach): "What's your mother's name? Mom??? Close enough, you're in!"
Rice likes ugly orange striped suits...
Rice: "Would you say that's a Head Coach's jacket Monty is wearing?"
MB: "It is."
Rice: "I didn't see him wearing anything that nice as an Assistant."
MB: "What are you saying?"
Rice: "He's making more money."
Blazers' record is now 8-7, Hornets are 12-3.
1. This is the day we were long promised the return of our Vanilla Gorilla, but the flu bug intervened. Grrrrrr. After a slow start, the Blazers found the range while the visitors were sloppy. Brandon (8 minutes, 8 points) looked as explosive as ever and dropped a couple treys from the sky on the Hornets' heads. Sean Marks dished an assist, hit a midrange J, and blocked a shot in limited minutes — Joel who? Ha ha. Blazers had 10 assists on 13 makes and lead after 1: PDX 33, NOH 26.
2. Portland's bench players opened up the period on the floor. They moved without the ball well and whipped the ball around the perimeter without much luck breaking down the Hornets' tenacious D. Then Wesley drove the lane and crashed, hitting the back of his head and laying out on the floor like it was concussion city. Not good. Since Rudy was already in the game, Roy came in to replace Matthews. Portland's torrid 68% 1st Quarter shooting vanished. Powered by the first 10 points of a 12-0 run New Orleans took the lead at the 3:28 mark and stretched it. Hornets hit at the horn to close up with a 6 point lead: NOH 54, PDX 48. A 15 point quarter for the Blazers, second worst scoring period of the season, I think.
Halftime Entertainment: The Queers "Like A Parasite" Live in Italy (Mild lyrics advisory for an adjectival F)
3. Portland was running way behind in rebounds all game long, which certainly didn't help the cause. A couple stops by Portland and points in the paint on the other end cut the New Orleans lead to 1 at the 8:00 mark. Blazers played tough D for a change and the Hornets turned the ball over on back-to-back airballs at the 24 second clock buzzer. With a 4th foul whistled on Camby, Sean Marks returned to continue his best game to date as a Trail Blazer, coming up with a tough block and nicely hitting a soft shot under the rim. Marks is waiting for your apology, Ben. Unfortunately just inside the 4 minute mark Marks rolled his ankle and it was small ball time for Nate...
Rudy was also among the night's injury parade, having suffered a bruised pelvic bone. Copious off-color joke possibilities about swinging Spaniards deferred due to site rules. With the Hornets stretching their lead to double-digits at the 2:00 mark, it was clear that this Blazers team looks like a run of the mill .500 NBA team. In the Western Conference, that means it's time to start planning on who they get in the draft lottery. Portland's last field goal in the Failure Third came at the 5:19 mark. At the close of the 3rd Quarter it was NOH 75, PDX 65, and you could stick a fork in this pig...
4. At the start of the 4th Quarter it suddenly occurred to me: the Blazers have a perfectly balanced team... They can't frickin' run, they can't frickin' shoot, they can't frickin' play defense, and they can't frickin' rebound. (Did you like that joke? Just remember: it's only the truth that hurts.) Portland did go on a little run inside of 9:00, cutting the lead to 7. But with a flatfooted offense predicated upon jumpshooting, executed by a crew that can't hit jumpshots, the inevitable was inevitable.
The Hornets outhustled the Blazers all night long, snaring every rebound and cashing in second-chance points and stretched things out. I don't mind Portland losing, but I do hate rebounding incompetence and the lack of competitive intensity — two hallmarks of the Blazers on this ugly night. Portland was slow, lazy, inept — just about unwatchable.
A season-low 13 points in the 4th, for a pathetic 30 in the entire second half, 45 in the last 3 quarters. Hornets 97, Portland 78.
Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?
And here's what the mess looks like in the form of graphs... CLICK THE LINK slowly and see... Here are the animals that I see in the clouds:
A. Tale of two games: One-and-a-half quarters where the Blazers took the thing seriously and played well, followed by two-and-a-half quarters where they stunk it up like a pet store dumpster...
B. Monty played a very pretty 10-man rotation, featuring a full unit change. The Hornet second teams held their own with Portland during both of their shifts. Willie Green's 19 points on 7-for-10 shooting in just under 29 minutes off the bench were key for the Hornets.
C. Don't read more than you should into LMA's abysmal -20 in plus/minus — he was on the floor pretty much the whole game and it was a 20 point loss...
D. It has been widely remarked that Nic Batum failed miserably, with zero rebounds. This is true. On the positive side, he did have 3 steals. Putting him out on the perimeter to play defense means that somebody else is gonna have to man up on the boards. Better to kick Marcus Camby in the butt in this regard for his feeble 5 rebounds, and to cross our collective fingers for Joel's speedy return.
E. Best game of his Blazer career for Sean Marks. With Camby's foul trouble, he stood to play major minutes and performed ably in the 10 minutes he was on the floor before twisting his ankle, scoring 6 points and snagging 2 boards.
F. Is it just me, or is this team a lot more fun to watch without Brandon Roy on the floor? He scored 27, played like the Brandon of old, and it was the single most hopeless and excruciating game of the season. Coincidence?
There will be another game before the next edition of TBJ is up...
For the complete run of TBJ videos from this week, see the previous edition of The View.
The Basketball Jones is a NBA blog and video/audio podcast, written and recorded five times a week by J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Jason Doyle and Matt Osten. Assume that there will be a couple Not Suitable For Work words used in any given episode.
Photo Credits: Pryzbilla: Courtesy Mike Barrett. Iverson: Ibrahim Usta, Associated Press. Lady Pyramid: Heisted from an ongoing Adidas advertising campaign. Paul Allen: Don Ryan, Associated Press. All images heavily tweaked in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.