16. Tea is for Trail Blazers: The View from Newark

Snips and clips from the Nets camp, plus:


  • Interview with Jeff Kramer of Storyteller's Contracts website
  • Haiku Game Review
  • Fried Rice
  • Blazers/Nets Recap
  • Popcorn Machine
  • The Basketball Jones



Nets Respond With Comeback Win Over Blazers

by NetsDaily, Nets Daily (SBN)

Less than 24 hours after a poor effort in Philadelphia, the Nets answered Avery Johnson's challenge with a 98-96 win over the Blazers at the Prudential Center.

The game went back and forth in the first half, but the Blazers ended the second quarter on a 12-3 run and led by eight at the break. They went up 12 early in the third, but the Nets came back to take the lead early in the fourth, and the game was tight from then on. Devin Harris put his team ahead 92-89 with a three with 1:12 left and the Nets got enough stops and free throws down the stretch to hold on for the win. * * *



Not That Impressive

posted by femdig to Nets Daily comments

We are 6-11. Not that impressive.
Brook Lopez played 30 minutes and had 4 total rebounds.

When we get some consistency and start playing well in several games back-to-back, I'll start to get excited. *  *  *



Practice Pays

posted by Anthony Perez to Nets Daily reader comments

I love in the post game interview with Harris, Czar asked him if it paid off to have that morning shootaround where they practiced late game execution in case they had a close game tonight.

Czar said, "Looks like that worked out, huh?"

Harris: "Maybe, but I allowed 2 three pointers I'm gonna hear about tomorrow."



Hot-Shooting Nets Knock Off Trail Blazers 98-96

by Colin Stephenson, Newark Star-Ledger

Avery Johnson needed to do something to get his team's attention after its ugly loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Saturday night. So the coach shook things up when he called for a morning shootaround Sunday.

It turned out to be a brilliant decision.

Devin Harris scored 25 points and had eight assists and the Nets shot 52.5 percent from the floor as they found a way to knock off a tough Portland Trail Blazers team, 98-96 Sunday night before 11,448 raucous fans inside the Prudential Center. * * *



Individual Comments

posted by Lamak to RealGM Nets message board

Murphy looked good, but there really is no minutes for him in the rotation.

Favors is ready to start or get significant minutes, but Humphries is just too dominant right now.

Lopez with 13 points on 4-8 shooting, not dominant.

Harris had a great game.

Farmar was Farmar.

Outlaw sucked.

Morrow shows a lot of promise regarding expansion of his game.



Harris, Nets Respond After Difficult Loss to Sink Blazers

by Kyle Scudilla, From Russia With Dunk (Fansided)

After last night's disappointing loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, Avery Johnson called for a team shootaround this morning, a rarity for a squad in the midst of a back-to-back. The Nets' coach wanted more attentiveness and focus out of his team, and he got it in a big way Sunday night. Trailing by as many as 12 points in the second half, the Nets outplayed the Trail Blazers down the stretch for a 98-96 win in Newark. * * *

How the game was won: Aggressive and cohesive are not words that anyone would have used to describe the Nets last night, but they fit the performance of Johnson's bunch against Portland. It all started with the playmaking of Harris, who was the focal point of the Nets' offensive push. Johnson has said that he thinks the team's defense has played well down the stretch of games and it's the offense that needs to step up for the Nets to win more of the many close games in which they've been involved. Harris attacked the basket all night and set the tone for the Nets in crunch time. Prior to the aforementioned 3-pointer, he put great touch on a lob over the head of LaMarcus Aldridge to find Kris Humphries down low for a tie-breaking score. * * *



Nets 98, Blazers 96, and It Shouldn't Have Been That Close

by Devin Kharpertian, Nets Are Scorching (TrueHoop)

So that's what it looks like when the Nets close a game out!

The final minute of this game was fantastic. Devin Harris hit a huge 3 with just under a minute left, Travis Outlaw forced a Brandon Roy turnover, the Nets defense forced Andre Miller to shoot a 3 (Andre Miller does not shoot 3′s)...

There were a lot of positives all around in this game. Devin Harris had another all-star game, finishing with 25 points, eight assists, and scoring efficiently. Anthony Morrow hit three threes, Kris Humphries was a defensive beast, and the Nets combined to shoot 53% from the floor, 50% from behind the arc, and make it to the line 35 times (making 83% from the charity stripe). * * *

I know that I might come off as overly critical — for goodness sake, the Nets haven't been able to close any games recently and came away with a close win against an above-.500 team. That's true, and that's awesome. This was a great win. The reason I'm being critical is not because I think they played poorly, but because of how great they looked in those spurts. They can do better. The Nets were the more talented team on the floor last night, and there's no doubt about that in my mind. The Blazers had three guys who really contributed (Roy, Aldridge, and Matthews), while the Nets had a balanced effort and solid contributions up and down the roster. But it's these little things - grabbing rebounds and reversing the turnover differential — that turned a potentially huge blowout into a nailbiter down to the wire. * * *



Chapter 17: Nets beat Blazers 98-96

by Adam Callahan, Whoop De Damn Do (Bloguin)

After a terrible performance against the Sixers, the Nets responded beautifully against the Blazers tonight. Both teams were trading baskets for most of the first half until the Blazers went on a run to end the second quarter. At one point in the third, the Blazers had a lead up to 12 points, but the Nets didn't go away and had a run of their own before taking the lead in the fourth. Some Portland mental lapses and clutch free throw shooting sealed the deal for the Nets down the stretch en route to their 6th victory of the season. * * *

  • LaMarcus Aldridge scored 20 points, but did so while going 6-17 from the field. I'll take that any day.
  • Wes Matthews had a great game, he had 25 points (6 garbage points at the end of the game) and showed some real nice touch from beyond the arch. He hit five triples and seems to be shaping into a very nice player or Nate McMillan's squad.
  • The Nets didn't have an answer for Brandon Roy in early in the game, but began to double team him and made life so much easier for themselves on the defensive end. Roy only scored 5 in the fourth and the Blazers didn't really have an answer for the Nets' double teams on their star wingman. * * *



Rapid Reaction: Nets 98, Blazers 96

by Mike Mazzeo, ESPN New York New Jersey Nets Blog

WHAT IT MEANS: Just 17 games into the 2010-11 season, the Nets have amassed half as many victories as they did a season ago. And their latest win was clearly their best. The Nets snapped a two-game losing skid with an impressive comeback victory over the upstart Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday night at the Prudential Center.... New Jersey (6-11) shot a season-best 52.5 percent from the field and connected on 29-of-35 attempts from the free throw line. * * *

SENDING A MESSAGE: Johnson did, making his players get up early and head over to the team's practice facility in East Rutherford for a shootaround Sunday morning. That's what happens when you're outscored 36-20 in the fourth quarter of a 102-86 drubbing at the hands of the Philadelphia 76ers — a 3-13 team that had gotten in at 3 a.m. and was playing its fourth game in five nights — on Saturday night. The Nets allowed the Sixers to shoot 15-for-19 from the field during the final period. And Johnson doesn't want it to become the norm.

"I just wanted them to know that mediocrity is not anything we should be satisfied with. We know we're a rebuilding team. We know we're not an elite team, but we've got to give ourselves a better chance to win every night," Johnson said. * * *



Surprise Workout Pays Off for Nets with Win over Blazers

by Fred Kerber, New York Post

Next, five-mile desert hikes with full backpacks.

If getting them up early to attend a morning shootaround in a back-to-back situation can produce the kind of results the Nets got last night, a 98-96 victory over the Blazers in Newark, they can probably expect all sorts of wonderful tactics from coach Avery Johnson.

"As much as we love morning shootarounds on back-to-backs, let's not make it a permanent thing," said Devin Harris (25 points, eight assists), one of a long list of heroes (line forms to the right) who helped the Nets — and Johnson — erase the bitter taste from Saturday's 102-86 flop in Philadelphia.

"They [the coaches] kind of questioned our effort a little bit in that fourth quarter so we understood he wanted to get that message across," Harris said. "I think we got that point." * * *


The Bottom Line:

1. Nice gritty win for our Nets following an ugly loss...

2. This was a back-to-back game, but our guys managed to dig deep and pull out the win. Coach Avery Johnson kicking a little tail definitely helped.

3. Hey Blazers — want Outlaw back? You can have him. He managed to hit a couple key free throws, but that doesn't change the tune.




Talkin' Contracts with CBA Savant Jeff Kramer


Well howdy hi, Mr. Storyteller! So what 's your name, where do you live, and how did you become a fan of the Trail Blazers of Portland? What's your day job?

My name is Jeff Kramer. I go by either my first name or my last. Some of my best friends have called me "Kramer" for decades, even before Seinfeld made it cool.

I became a Blazer fan in the early 80's when my family moved to Oregon the summer before my junior year in high school. It took me a year or two to warm up to the Blazers, because I still held a bit of a grudge against them for beating my favorite player, Dr. J, in the 1977 Finals.  But by the time the 1982-83 season started, I was rooting hard for Jim, Mychal, Calvin, and the rest of the team.

I moved away from Oregon in 1987 after graduating from college, spending 17 years in Southern California and 5-1/2 years in Las Vegas before moving back to the Portland area earlier this year. I'm living in Wilsonville now and am loving the return to the rain and the green.

I'm a pastor by trade — however, I resigned my position in Las Vegas awhile ago to deal with some personal issues (and, no, I didn't have an inappropriate relationship or embezzle funds).  One of the reasons I moved back to the NW was to follow up on some possible opportunities to get back into full-time ministry.  So, for the time being, I'm working as a bookkeeper until that future opportunity presents itself.

You are widely known, not just among Blazer fans, but nationally, as an expert on player salaries and the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement as the proprietor and editor of the Storyteller's Contracts website — a site which lists player-by-player and team-by-team contract information in fine detail. How did this interest emerge for you? What is the history of your website: when and how did it come into being?

I started posting on Internet Blazer boards about a decade ago, with great enthusiasm (after all, I was living in Southern California and was hungry for anything Blazer-oriented), and immediately began to suggest possible trades for Portland to make. The reply to most of these ideas, unfortunately, was "that's not possible under CBA rules." So, I began to scour the web for information that would allow me to suggest realistic trades.

The rules for trades I found in Larry Coon's FAQ, but the only salary sites I could find were the RealGM Trade Checker (which had values instead of $ amounts) and sites with mistakes and missing information. So I started my own spreadsheet of player salaries to keep track for myself. After a while, I got requests from others on the boards where I was posting to email copies of the spreadsheets to them and eventually it just became easier to create my own website where the spreadsheets would be available for all to see.  It's gone through a couple of versions, but has been in its current form for about 2 years.

It seems like whenever a new contract is signed in the NBA, press releases do not reveal the terms of the agreement. How do you go about discovering the exact dollar amounts of these deals? Do you have personal contacts in the league office or is there some other mechanism for finding out this information?

Some of it is guesswork based on information found on the web. In other cases, well, let's just say I have my ways...

The current NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement expires on June 30, 2011, and the owners are giving every indication that they will lock out the players' union as a mechanism for forcing substantial changes in the next CBA. David Stern has blustered and postured about possible franchise contraction and massive reductions in the players' share of league income. These sort of suggestions have dominated the media. Have you heard any other more subtle suggestions on how the owners might seek to modify the structure of the next CBA?


When the topic of a possible lockout started to be discussed in earnest about a year ago, my intuition told me that the NBA owners were going to look at the NHL lockout of 1994-95 as an example of what is possible — long term gain with short term cost. After all, NHL Commish Gary Bettman used to work for the NBA. As negotiations have gone on, my intuition seems to be right — the owners at the very least are looking for major reductions in player salary and are even arguing for a hard cap. Unfortunately, I think that there will be some loss of games next season — meaning either a shortened season or the loss of NBA basketball for an entire year.

I have no direct links or sources to anyone in the know about the negotiations, but I would guess that when the dust settles, the new CBA will still have a soft cap. However, I do believe that a couple of the current exceptions will be reduced or eliminated. I don't think there will be any contraction but I do think there will be some sort of revenue sharing among franchises in an attempt to level the playing field.  I also believe that there will be a reduction in all player salaries, like what happened to NHL salaries after their lockout.

Finally, I harken back to the first year under the current NBA CBA, when teams got amnesty for one player in terms of counting against the luxury tax threshold. This time, I believe there will be a one-time availability for teams to buyout player contracts at a fraction of their remaining value — paying off two-thirds or three-quarters or the like. But again, these are just my guesses.

Almost every team in the NBA is once again over the salary cap, with many into luxury tax land. Yet at the same time, NBA owners contend that the are losing money hand over fist. To what do you attribute this discrepancy between NBA owners' actions and their pleas of poverty? Is there some structural aspect of the Collective Bargaining Agreement which drives player prices to objectively unsustainable levels? Is there any substantive change to the CBA which you feel would immediately reduce this sort of pressure on player prices?

There's no way to extensively answer this question in anything short of a research paper, so my answer is going to have to be extremely simplistic and ultimately incomplete. But in a nutshell, I think that to be competitive, NBA franchises eventually have to spend money. Rudy Gay can only be on a rookie scale contract for four years, then it takes a huge extension to keep him. Teams are always looking for bargains, but to keep the arenas filled, you need to spend money. It's easy to say that the owners shouldn't be spending money they don't have, but I can understand their motivation for doing so — if you don't spend money, you'll probably have a less-talented team which will probably mean fewer wins and ultimately fewer fans, which only increases the problem.

Right now, teams like the Knicks and that team in purple and gold have revenue streams that allow them to bring in more than twice as much money as the Grizzlies or the Pacers. That's a problem. There are probably two solutions. The first is to reduce the largest expense that all teams have — player salaries. If you do this, you reduce the losses among the lower revenue teams and maybe make a few of them profitable again. Of course, this also increases the yearly profit of the high revenue teams. The second solution is the better one in my opinion — revenue sharing among owners. It appears, based on some things I've read, that this is finally being discussed seriously as part of the new CBA negotiations, and I think that when the compromises between the league and the union are finally resolved, we'll see some revenue sharing.

If you were an NBA owner and were looking to change one aspect of the current CBA to make ownership of your franchise more economical, what would it be?

I'd want to reduce the impact of bad contracts. Putting partial guarantees on the back end of long-term contracts (say 50% the last 2 years of a 4 to 5 year deal or of the last year of a 3 year deal) would seem to protect teams from having to be in the unpleasant position of having to pay a player the full $15 million that was agreed to when injury or some other unforeseen factor came into play.

As many people already know, for the Portland Trail Blazers to retain the right to match all offers for the services of injured Center Greg Oden, they must advance him a CBA-specified Qualifying Offer of approximately $8.8 Million for the 2011-2012 season. This offer must be made by June 30, 2011 — which is also the date that the current CBA expires. How is this going to work? Is it possible that an offer will be made which puts the franchise into an untenable financial position under terms of the future new CBA? Or is it possible that the offer made will be waved away as part of the new CBA?

Most of what I've read assumes that restricted free agency will not change much, if at all, under the new CBA. Owners like it and it doesn't seem to be on the player's list of most desired changes. Assuming that the 2011-12 season isn't eliminated completely due to a lockout, I would guess that if the Blazers make the qualifying offer, they would retain the right under the new CBA to match an offer sheet that another team wanted to give to Greg or that the Blazers would themselves come to an agreement with Oden about a multi-year contract.

The twist — the uncharted territory — would come if the entire 2011-12 season is lost. In this case, the new CBA might declare Oden to still be a restricted free agent going into the first season of the new CBA or it might declare him an unrestricted free agent (saying that the year of his Restricted Free Agency was lost in the lockout). I could see it going either way and would honestly put the odds at 50/50 for each scenario.

You're intimately familiar with NBA player contracts through your website and thus can be expected to have a pretty darned good grasp on player prices. Now admittedly there's really no comparable benchmark to cite with regard to Greg Oden's value — since Andrew Bynum, the most obvious parallel in terms of age, size, and injury history signed his extension prior to his most recent bout of knee injuries. That said: what do you think Greg Oden is worth in the open market? Do you have a sense of the general order of magnitude of offers that could be expected for an Unrestricted Free Agent Oden, assuming no significant changes to the structure of the NBA Collective Bargaining Agreement?

If Oden were to see the dropoff in performance that, say, Grant Hill did after his extensive time lost to injury (who went from a 25 PPG player in 2000 to the 12-14 PPG player he's been the last 5 years), he's probably worth $5-7 million a year. If he were to nearly recover his ability to perform pre-surgeries, he's probably worth Bynum-level money of $13-16 million a year (just less than the max possible). Of course, as your question suggests, that's based on current player contract levels under the current CBA. It's also a reflection of the simple fact that big men are paid more, on average.


If you were Rich Cho's right hand man, how would you advise him to play the Oden extension? What would be the risks and rewards of the approach which you advocate?

I'd first of all advise that the team wait to make a determination on a Qualifying Offer until the very last day possible (June 30th). There's no reason to make a decision before then, and that gives the organization 7 months to evaluate.

Secondly, if it appears that Oden will be able to play even at close to half of his previously anticipated level, I'd absolutely advise making the Qualifying Offer. After all, unless Oden takes the offer on the day it is given (highly, highly unlikely, in my opinion), the team will almost certainly have the right to withdraw it unilaterally once a new CBA is agreed upon, just as they do now. It gives the team a fall-back position — a one year contract if nothing else — and the flexibility to either match an offer sheet or negotiate a longer-term contract for themselves, based on their evaluation of his prospects after he's spent extended time rehabbing, if they decide that they want to keep him. If they don't, there should still be a time to withdraw the offer. Making the qualifying offer simply keeps the maximum number of options open.  

The rewards of such an approach come if Oden is able to play at even a healthy fraction of what the organization has hoped for him these past few years. The team would hold the strongest position in retaining his services long-term, both with the ability to match an offer sheet as well as the the ability to sign him outright.

The risks of such an approach come if Oden is unable to play at an NBA level after signing a new deal. Especially if there is no lockout (not likely in my mind but still possible) and negotiations for a new contract begin immediately in July — the team could be put in a position to either sign him or match an offer sheet before the end of his rehabilitation process.

What about Nicolas Batum? With all the hullabaloo about Greg Oden and Brandon Roy, it has gone unremarked that Batum will be due an extension at the end of this season. What's your sense on his market value as a Restricted Free Agent? Do you expect Portland will sign him to an extension with Nic without allowing him to test his toe in the free agent pond — and if so, for how much? How is this going to change the shape of the franchise, given the big money deals for Roy, LMA, and Camby already on the books?

If Batum continues to play at his current level, he could easily see an Outlaw-sized offer (5 years, $35 million) from another team if he hits the free agent market. If he continues to improve, he could be the recipient of an even larger offer.

Assuming that the option is available for the Blazers to make an offer to extend Batum next summer, I think they'll do everything reasonable to do so. If the structure of player contracts doesn't change much under the new CBA, that would probably mean $6-8 million per year for 3 or 4 years.

I don't see Portland retaining Camby or Miller beyond their current contracts that expire after the 2011-12 season. Part of the need for clearing their salaries off the books would be to make room for a Batum extension that would begin in 2012-13.

In view of what you've seen of Wesley Matthews — did the Blazers overpay for him or is he making something approximating market value for a wing player of his age and skill set?

Matthews was signed for two purposes, in my view. The first was to be a replacement for Brandon as a starting SG when Roy is down with injuries — as he has been every year of his NBA career. In this capacity, Matthews has been fantastic and perhaps exceeded expectations as a scorer. The second purpose was to be an impact SG/SF off the bench. In this capacity, Matthews has probably not yet reached expectations. So, time will tell if he's able to truly be as effective as he needs to be off the bench in order to "earn" his contract.

But even ignoring factors such as his defensive abilities and his age, which both point in his favor, his statistics throughout the first 14 games would seem to validate the MLE-level contract that he received. Twelve points per game, nearly 3 rebounds per game and 1.4 assists per game in 25 average minutes is right on par with, or even slightly above, other wing players who have signed similar contracts in the last couple of years: Artest, Ariza, Korver, Reddick, and even Childress. Again, he needs to prove he can contribute off the bench as well as in a starter's position, but for right now, I would absolutely say that he's on his way to "earning" his contract.

I've recently heard conflicting things about Andre Miller's third contract year with the Blazers... I thought it was a team option for the third year, but have heard recently that it's a player option. Do you know the answer to this? If it's a team option, do you think the Blazers will bring Andre back or will they go another direction? And if it's a player option, do you think Andre will return or does he figure to make more money or play in a more amenable offensive system elsewhere?

It's neither, as there is no exercisable option in his contract. He's under contract for 2011-12, although the $7.8 million is fully unguaranteed if he's waived before 6/30/11.  My sense is that the Blazers would be willing to trade him if they could get either the Point Guard Of The Future in return or another star-level player as part of a larger trade, but that they'll retain him (that is, not cut him before the 6/30/11 deadline) if they can't.

One interesting note about the structure of his contract — Miller can be dealt on or near draft day to a team that is possibly concerned about the amount of guaranteed salary they are carrying into the lockout.  CBA rules prohibit such a trade for players with either a team option or a player option in their contract unless the option is exercised for the following year. This could make his contract appealing next June, as a team could send sizeable salary to Portland in a trade then cut Miller before the deadline to take the cap savings.

I don't think that, to Portland, the unguaranteed amount is a significant factor. If he's not traded, I think he'll be retained. But that could be a factor to another team, making him a valuable trade commodity come June.  


Do you think the Blazers had a viable option to what they wound up paying Brandon Roy, or did the logic of the situation inevitably require that they advance him some close approximation to max years/max money? What are the specific concessions that the Blazers won in the 5th year of Brandon's deal — I've heard that it is not fully guaranteed, is that right?

I think the Blazers knew that their only hope towards winning a championship in the near future was to either keep Roy or trade him for comparable value. I'm not aware of what trade options were available at the time, but he wasn't going to take an extension for less than the max, so I believe they "rolled the dice," hoping that his health would be good enough for him to continue to play 65-70 games a year in the regular season and all or nearly all of any post-season games. I don't blame them for taking that stance.

Brandon's last year has an Early Termination Option, meaning that he can opt out and become a free agent in the summer of 2014 if he files the appropriate paperwork with the league before the deadline (which is assumed to be June 30, 2014). It is also partially guaranteed for 75% of its $19.3 million unless any one of certain performance incentives are achieved between now and then, which would fully guarantee the final 25%. Essentially, any one of six things has to happen for the contract to become fully guaranteed.  Rather than list them all, I'll direct you to the coverage by Ben Golliver of the specifics in this article he wrote back in August 2009.

How would you rate Kevin Pritchard as a general manager? What do you think was his greatest blunder?

When Pritchard took over as GM, the Blazers were nearing the end of a season in which they won 32 games.  Three years later, he was fired after the team had won 50 games. That's a successful tenure, in my opinion.

I think that Kevin was guilty of overvaluing Portland's young players which led to some poor decisions regarding possible trades. I think that his performance in regards to the draft was overall very good with occasions of excellence, such as obtaining Batum on draft day 2008 and getting two of the top three or four players in the 2007 draft.

I was part of a meet and greet with Pritchard in October of 2008, which Ben covered for BlazersEdge. I asked Kevin a lot of questions during the two hours he gave to us fans, and liked most of his answers. I was disheartened by his answers to my questions regarding leadership and team-building, however. In the end, I think I'd rate him low on those categories. By way of comparison, I was more impressed with Rich Cho's answers to those type of questions at the recent meet and greet with him.

His greatest blunder? Whether intentional or not, he seemed to disassociate himself from his superiors and his peers. That's my opinion today. In the end, he might always be known as the GM who took Oden over Durant, but that book isn't closed yet.


*   *   *








Big empty building

"Drawing better," Barrett says

Looks more like Memphis





Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...


Rice suddenly the unbiased observer of an uncalled foul on Camby against Lopez:

Rice: "He almost reached in too much there — I might have called a foul."

MB: "Would you?"

Rice: "But as you say, I would make a bad ref."


Rice is REALLY enthusiastic about Roy's game and New Jersey's decision to overplay him on defense:

"Damon can get it to anybody he wants to — uh, Brandon, not Damon... He can get it to six different guys and the Blazers only have four other ones out there."


Tonight's player of the game card features LaMarcus Aldridge:

Rice: "And well it should be... He hails from Dallas."

MB: "You're saying that Dallas ties in somehow to New Jersey? Like Head Coach Avery Johnson used to be the coach at Dallas?"

Rice: "Yeah, right."


Game 16.

Blazers 96 at Nets 98.

November 28, 2010.

Blazers' record is now 8-8, the Nets are 6-11.

1. Big guys opened the scoring on both ends, and things played out evenly, 10-10. Then a quick 2nd foul was called on Marcus Camby away from the ball at the 6:39 mark. With Joel being home with the flu and Sean Marks out with a sprained ankle, the undersized Blazers were up the creek. LMA checking Brook Lopez?!? Uht-oh. Rice: "This is dangerous right now for the Blazers, you know they're going to go to Brook Lopez right away to try to get something on Aldridge." Lopez scored. Then Brandon fouled Lopez for two more points. Yikes. Brandon stole and went coast-to-coast and then Lopez hit a long J. Fortunately, Humphries and Lopez had to recharge their batteries and the Nets weren't smart enough or disciplined enough to stick with the program of pounding it inside. The Blazers managed a little parade to the foul line of their own. The second team hustled and the Blazers went on a 10-0 run and finished the quarter with a little lead. PDX 26, NJN 23.

2. With LMA out with 2 fouls, Luke Babbitt saw his initial first half action of the season. Blazers are 1-7 whenever Babbitt has entered a game on the season. Troy Murphy was playing for the first time for the Nets. Both teams looked like they were being economical and recycling unused components through a coordinated expansion of garbage time. The Blazers are shallow. The Nets are just bad. Which crew is worse today? I'll get back to you on that. You tell 'em, Rice: "New Jersey — I just can't get over how bad their defense is and the Blazers aren't taking advantage of it." Blazers hustled for offensive boards and the Nets gave copious turnovers, which kept them in it given their consistently, ummmm, challenged shotmaking capacity. Blazers finished on a 12-3 run and Portland went to the locker room with a nice lead. PDX 52, NJN 44, Brandon Roy team high with 15 points.

Halftime entertainment: Beatnik Termites "Ode to Suzie and Joey"

3. Don't look now, Blazer fans, but Roy, Miller, and Sweet Wesley seem to be starting to coexist on the floor. Roy just needs to get it through his head that he is not now, nor will he ever be a Point Guard. Blazers started to stretch it early in the third, opening up a double-digit lead. Rice used the word "possible dagger" on a Blazer miss at the 8:30 mark of the 3rd Quarter, demonstrating some sort of misunderstanding of the term and inadvertently marking the turning of the tide. At 7:11 Camby got flagged for his 4th personal on a (blown) razor close block/charge call and had to leave. Momentum was fully in the Nets' favor. Nets were shooting 56%, Blazers 46% — but the visitors were up by 5. Still, Portland was ice cold with Roy and Camby on the bench and the Nets were smelling it. New Jersey tied the thing up just inside the 4:30 mark, on a 14-2 Nets run. LMA picked up his 4th personal at the 2:58 mark, so it was Camby and his 4 fouls coming back. The crafty Andre Miller grew broad shoulders, scoring 8 in the quarter to get Portland back on track. Blazers got a little lucky and led at the close, PDX 78, NJN 73. Blazers had 17 more shots than the Nets through three.

4. Coffee is for closers, the Blazers like tea (outscored a combined 81-50 in the final period of the last two games). Leading after 1, 2, and 3 quarters, the Blazers needed a strong finish to snag the win. The Blazers fired blanks during their first three possessions; the Nets did not — and it was a 2 point New Jersey lead after less than 2 minutes of play. Do they say "HWGA" in textspeak? Mark me down as one of those who does NOT lust for DevIn Harris in a Portland uniform. Blazers went cold, once again. Only New Jersey's chronic incompetence kept the chronically incompetent Portland in the game. Seemingly intent on exceeding the 4th Quarter of the Hornets debacle, Portland scored two points in the first 5-1/2 minutes. Put on the kettle, Blazers in the house... Portland finally went back to the paint, but they were matched by the Nets' jumpshooters. It was tied going into crunchtime, 87-87.

Coming out of a 20, Travis went ISO with Brandon and missed a trey; on the other end Travis picked Brandon but kicked it out of bounds. Blazers missed a shot, Lopez hit, and it was an 89-87 Net lead with 1:43 on the clock. Wesley tied it up turning toe corner off a pick, hitting from the foul line. DevIn Harris hit a 3, Brandon obligingly turned it over, and it was Nets +3 and the ball with 1 minute remaining. Harris drove the lane and missed, Blazers rebounded and after futzing around for 8 second called time out with 39.3 on the clock. Rice predicted a quick 2 point attempt. Roy ISO and after an enormous waste of time it was an Andre Miller airball winding up looking like a pass to LMA. Aldridge was fouled and split a pair. Nets rebounded and called time. Rice spent fully 30 seconds whining about a time out, but it would have been NJ ball out of bounds if it wasn't. Duh. 

After the foul-to-give, Blazers got jobbed on a foul call when Matthews got all ball but was whistled anyway when the grossly overpaid stringbean Travis Outlaw went sprawling to the moon. Outlaw hit two, making it a 4 point game with 20 seconds to play, Portland using its final timeout to advance the ball. Miller missed a try for a quick two in the paint when the ball rimmed out. Nets rebounded, were fouled, and there ya go. Wesley dropped a couple 3s to tweak the score, but it was never in doubt at the end. NEW JERSEY NETS 98, PORTLAND TEA SIPPERS 96.

Nate's sedate postgame theme tonight: "You gotta make stops." Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz. 


Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?


Well, time to see this 4th Quarter belly flop with a colorful visual aid... CLICK THE LINK to see the swell pictures...

Here's what I see:

A. In my mind this was a one-sided Blazer game through three quarters. In actuality, there was a bit of back and forth throughout the game. The Blazers were, in short, equally as good as the New Jersey Nets at home on a back-to-back coming off a mind-blowingly ugly loss to Philly. Talk about backhanded compliments, eh?

B. Nets had three good runs: one in the 2nd Quarter powered by their bench, one each in the 3rd and 4th Quarters powered by their starters. Devin Harris came up big for them with 17 points in the second half alone, winding up showing a very impressive +21 in plus/minus.

C. Luke Babbit was -5 in plus/minus in just under 3 minutes of play. I think the team is 1-8 this year when he makes an appearance on the floor. That's off the top of my head, but I think it's right.

D. Wesley Matthews' two garbage time treys punched him up to a team-high 25 points for the night on 9-for-14 shooting. He was 5-for-6 from beyond the arc. If he could put up those numbers every night, the world would be a happier place.

E. This was a really embarrassing loss for the Blazers. That Nets team sucks.


Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?


Here's Monday's show...

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: Jeff Kramer: Courtesy Jeff Kramer. David Stern: Matt Sayles, Associated Press. Rich Cho: Courtesy Jeff Kramer. Brandon Roy: Don Ryan, Associated Press. All images heavily tweaked in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.

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