Snips and clips from the Washington camp, plus:
- Interview of Ben Golliver of CBSSports.com
- Haiku Game Review
- Fried Rice
- Blazers/Wizards Recap
- Popcorn Machine
- The Basketball Jones
by Sean Fagan, Bullets Forever (SBN)
A win is a win is a win. The Wizards scrapped and scrapped and then scrapped some more. After running nothing that resembled an offensive set in the first half, they locked it down and pulled away late.
It wasn't pretty, but few wins this year are going to aesthetically pleasing. For tonight I'll take it. * * *
by PennSkinsFan, DC Pro Sports Report (Fansided)
The Washington Wizards snapped a 4 game losing streak, improving to 6-3 at home in the Phone Booth, taking down the Portland Trailblazers 83-79. The Wizards turned in one of their best defensive performances, holding the Blazers to under 80 points. The Wiz defense also held the Blazers to a 33.3 shooting percentage.
While John Wall struggled a bit in his return, Gilbert Arenas fueled a 13-2 Wizards run as he dropped in 15 points from the bench. That 13-2 run put the Wizards back in the lead. John Wall scored 12 points and a career low 2 assists. Wall shot 3 for 13 from the field and was 0-2 from three point range. Arenas replaced Wall with four minutes left in the quarter and nailed a 20-foot and later added a fast-break layup to fueled the Wizards resurgence. * * *
posted by TheBigThree to RealGM Wizards message board
Until the very end of the 4th quarter, Blatche played some really great defense on Aldridge.
Interesting that the teams essentially swapped positions after half time. In the first half, we couldn't hit a shot, but we got lots of second chance opportunities while Portland hit their shots but got out rebounded. In the second half this was the exact opposite.
posted by TGW to RealGM Wizards message board
If we had a power forward (ahem Love) that could rebound, this team would be pretty good. A lot of these defensive possessions would be one-and-done if we could grab defensive boards. Loved Javale's energy tonight, but I would love if he could just 2 more defensive boards a game.
posted by dlts20 to RealGM Wizards message board
You already know what Im going to talk about. I just dont get why Kirk has to start over Gil. Kirk is the perfect backup PG. Look at our starting lineup tonight. We dont have 1 consistent scorer on the floor. Our 2 most money scorers are Gil & NY and Flip wants to bring both off the bench. We have to depend on guys like Wall or McGee or Kirk or Gee or Dray to score for us? Just start Gil. It makes so much more sense. I also think its becoming clearer that Gil & Wall "can" play together like I said. Wall just needs to get his timing back & Gil just needs his J to start falling again.
The thing Im most upset about is the sked. We are going out West right now. If youve followed the Wiz then you know Gil always finds his rhythm out West. You going to put him on the bench against a running team like the Suns who has Nash or either Gil's boy Richardson to guard him? He always goes off in situations like that. Then going back home to LA to play the Lakers? Thats 2 places he dropped 54 & 60pts and we bring him off the bench. No PG the Lakers have can guard a motivated Gil and Kobe is too big to guard him. * * *
Gil can do things like Lebron did the other night as far as having a 20pt quarter. Kirk isnt capable of that. Why Flip? Ive said all along that its going to take a Hinrich injury for him to be put in his proper role and I dont want to wish injuries on anyone but thats just how dumb Flip is right now. It makes no sense. Gil starting with Kirk & NY on the bench is just the perfect mix. Our team would look night & day with that group but maybe Flip is just tanking it or something. If youre going to tank, it would help to build up Gil's stock in the process though.
posted by DMVieGeeND to RealGM Wizards message board
Great game by the Wiz. Great D too. They played with high energy, and played great interior D.
I was impressed with Blatche tonight. He has gotten bashed A LOT this season and it has been warranted, but tonight, he played good defense. He obviously isn't in the best shape physically, but today, he didn't just let his defender waltz by him like in other games. He stayed in front of his man the best he could and bodied them. His shot selection was solid too. Very good game from AB.
I was VERY impressed with McGee. He NEVER takes plays off and blocks shots like a mad-man. He will only get better too. As he gets stronger and adds post moves to his offensive repertoire, he can become an all-star.
Wizards Play With Fire But Beat Trailblazers 83-79
by Sean Fagan, Bullets Forever (SBN)
If the Washington Wizards had a recipe for victory, it would look a little something like this:
Mix one part coming out listless in the first half;
Add a furious third quarter comeback;
Throw in a pinch of desperately holding on in the fourth quarter.
As a recipe, it could use some work. I'm sure that many of us are the bachelor diet, the one in which we cook the same thing night after night because we can't be bothered to open up a cookbook or think of something new. The food sustains us, and occasionally makes us happy, but sometimes you just want to break out of the rut and try something different.
Wizards victories are a lot like those aforementioned bachelor's dinners. The team allow the game to dictated to them throughout the first half, only to stiffen up in the second and mount a comeback. Sometimes the recipe is a disaster, like in Toronto where the Wizards dug themselves too deep a hole. Tonight the recipe was a success, though I wouldn't mind changing it up a bit in Phoenix. * * *
by Goerge Panagakos, Washington Wizards Examiner
After a trouncing in Toronto, Washington returned to form at home -- at least on the defensive end. The Wizards shot only 41.7% from the field last night at the Verizon Center, in a low scoring 83-79 homecourt victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Gilbert Arenas led Washington off the bench, which seemed rather strange at the start of the game but concluded with some classic Gil passes (team high 6 assists) and a crucial third quarter run which put the Wizards in control. * * *
The game came to a head with 1:52 left in the fourth quarter, when Wes Matthews -- who was limited to only 5 points last night despite an average surpassing 24 over his the last three games -- gave in to a frustration technical. Arenas knocked down the penalty free throw, then JaVale McGee (13 points, 10 rebounds, 5 blocks) knocked in a pair of traditional free throws of his own on the resulting Wizards possession. With a 77-69 lead, Washington cruised in the final minute and change, as Portland struggled from the field and settled for poor shots against an anchored Wizards interior.
The Wizards are now 3-0 against Western Conference teams this season, but they have a tough West Coast swing ahead of them. * * *
by Michael Lee, Washington Post
* * *
Playing his second game since returning from a bruised left knee injury, Wall was back in the starting lineup and Gilbert Arenas moved to the bench for the first time in nine games. But Wall looked nothing like the electrifying playmaker he had proven to be early in his career, struggling with his shot and failing to get an assist until the third quarter. Late in the game, Coach Flip Saunders had to pull aside Wall to ask, "Are you okay?"
With their rookie engine sputtering, the Wizards trudged through a dreadful game against the Portland Trail Blazers until they figured out another way to win in an 83-79 victory. * * *
"It was frustrating at times, just trying to find my rhythm," Wall said after he finished with just 10 points on 3-for-13 shooting with a season-low two assists. "Main thing is, I was struggling but my teammates did a great job...helping us get a win."
The Bottom Line:
1. After 9 losses in a row on the road, it's good to get one at home.
2. Not pretty but effective. The Wizards shut down the Blazers' scoring threats and nobody stepped up to fill the void.
3. John Wall wasn't quite right coming back after his knee injury, but no matter.
4. Our Wizards have promise but are short a couple pieces...
Adventures in Blogging
I was born in Portland and raised in Beaverton. My father was a high school basketball player and big time fan, and he wound up attending Michigan State University at the same time as Magic Johnson, so that only deepened his love for the game. I played both basketball and soccer throughout my childhood, although I focused on soccer in high school. I played intramural hoops throughout high school and college, but ... yes, it's true ... two knee surgeries later, my hoops career has been deemed over. I'm an OCD competitor — Scrabble, Chess, etc. — and I think basketball, with five to a side, is the major professional sport most like a board game.
I understand that you went to school back in Baltimore at Johns Hopkins University. Isn't that a strange place for an Oregon kid to go to school? How did that come about?
My parents blessed me with the opportunity to apply to a number of colleges and, after visiting the various campuses, Hopkins seemed like the best fit. At the time, I was looking for an urban university with strong history/politics/international relations schools on the east coast. Hopkins runs a number of national academic development programs for (and studies of) kids, so that's how my family first became aware of it.
Did you plan on going into sportswriting from the beginning, or did you have other journalistic or literary aspirations?
Not really. I graduated with a degree in writing (not journalism or English), which is somewhat unusual. Hopkins' Writing Seminars is a multi-discipline program, so I was taking classes in poetry, non-fiction, fiction, you name it. For my senior thesis, I did the most cliche thing ever, writing 140 pages of a memoir and then never finishing it. After college, I wanted to do international service and was accepted into the Peace Corps. I have a heart condition that wound up preventing me from serving.
I always enjoyed writing and reading but did far more of the latter than the former when it came to sports. The 2007 draft really brought me to sportswriting, as a side hobby to a full-time job. Like the other 346,342,403 online writers out there, it was a nice outlet, therapy, distraction, whatever you want to call it. It's just snowballed from there.
I would like to write a book at some point, but I'm kind of hedging my bets on that by biding my time, waiting to see if books go completely out of style so I don't have to do all that work.
You don't need introduction as one of the two "guys" behind the force of nature that is Blazers Edge. One thing that people might want to know is how you first became associated with Dave Deckard and his blog. What's the story there?
Dave is an institution. There's no great mystery. I enjoyed reading about the Blazers and found his work. I found him shortly after I found Henry Abbott's pre-ESPN TrueHoop.
I guess I was motivated by attending a number of Blazers games in 2005 and 2006 and finding the stands so empty with so little real life discussion of the team happening. Growing up in Portland and being a kid in the Rip City era, that was kind of depressing.
A couple times at the Rose Garden stand out and I've told one of these before to an OPB reporter, but whatever. First, I had an entire section to myself during a really, really ugly Blazers/Knicks game. It was an ugly in a good way game, at the time, not an ugly in the bad way. The kind of game where you talk yourself into thinking below-average players have a chance at becoming good "if only they do X, Y, and Z." The problem was that there wasn't anyone at the game to engage in the talking, besides a friend I had to coerce to accompany me.
About a year later I was at another game and found myself surrounded with Blazers employees, who were passionately defending the play of a certain backup point guard who will remain nameless. It was one of those "punch yourself in the face" moments because the analysis and evaluation was just off. So I guess that helped set me on a quest for better ideas. That sounds kind of pretentious and ridiculous reading it back now, sorry.
It seems as though you and Dave complement each other well. Dave tends to be upbeat, into the process of analysis and discussion, something of a toastmaster for a diverse community of fans; you've got more of an edge, more strongly expressed opinions, and your writing obviously hails more from the classical journalist tradition rather than from new media per se. I trust you feel that's a fair enough assessment. My question is this: do you ever feel as though your opinions as a fan affect the way you perform your duties as a journalist? Is it hard to maintain a line of division between commentary and news reportage — or is this a false concept in this era of instant publication and rapid reader feedback?
I don't think in those cliches — "opinions as a fan" or "duties as a journalist" — they are really inside-the-box conceits. I have "opinions" — everyone has opinions — and I have a subject to write fairly and interestingly about, and I'm held to daily accountability from those subjects and a very, very large audience.
Of course there's a line between commentary and news reporting, and I think we take tons of steps to keep that line clear. It's been an evolving process, and we're a lot better at it than we used to be. We provide full transcripts so it's from the horse's mouth, for one. More importantly, we do tons of behind-the-scenes research, probably 60% of the time I spend on BE is writing/reading and 40% is talking, networking, fact-checking, discussing the merits of stories and angles with Dave, etc. and most of that stuff never sees the light of day.
If you look at the quantity of stuff we put out, you realize that's a huge chuck of time spent in an effort to get things right. We incorporate all sorts of different viewpoints on the site, whether we agree with them or not. We also treat the site as a living record and try to correct previous mistakes, or clarify preview points, as new information arises.
The cheapest accusation that can be made against a writer is "bias." What isn't biased in this world? I'm comfortable with our track record to allow each reader to judge our work for himself or herself. I try to inform and entertain, make sure I'm treating people fairly and maintain a high ethical standard. I try to answer every email inquiry, especially those concerning philosophical issues, and also try to respond to Facebook message and many tweets. We did the bat phone for awhile before Twitter put it out of business. Accessibility is a major, major part of getting things right consistently, and I think we are very accessible.
Is there any particular story or commentary you've published on Blazers Edge that causes you to slap your head and wish you could take a mulligan? Or is such introspective worry counterproductive?
Stories and commentaries are totally different in my opinion.
In terms of missing on a story, we take every care not to miss on facts. It still happens occasionally. Nothing makes someone in our position feel worse than missing a fact, no matter how small. I'm sure any writer with a conscience would tell you that. It literally gives me nightmares and keeps me up at night. Even something like saying a player had 10 rebounds and he had 11 has caused me to jolt awake and go running to the computer. I know a lot of self-editing writers that feel that way.
As for commentaries or opinions, I don't believe in regrets. I'm the type of person that if I get down about something, I dwell on it. Instead, I try to focus on what's next, which isn't too difficult because I am either writing about basketball or watching basketball or talking about basketball basically around the clock 6-7 days a week.
No one wants to be wrong, especially on a big issue or hot topic. But one major development over the last few years is the commoditization of opinion in internet coverage. That comes with its own pros and cons, which is a different discussion entirely, but it's lowered the threshold for outrageous opinions. People are wrong more often, and there's a smaller price to pay for everyone else that's putting opinions out there.
All in all, I think we are pretty restrained most of the time. I am a big fan of incorporating hyperbole, though, and I realize that can really blur the line for readers. I like it because it opens up the language and thought field. Anyway, missing on an opinion is just part of the writing game. Obviously, miss too often and people will stop reading. But no one has a perfect track record, and missing can be humorous, too. Look at my pre-draft evaluation of Landry Fields compared to his performance this season, for example. It's pretty funny. Charge it to the game.
If you dwell on missing, it will affect your ability to write confidently, which is a much greater risk.
Prior to the now-infamous June 2007 NBA draft, in which Greg Oden was selected over Kevin Durant by the Blazers, you were doing a little website called the "Draft Kevin Durant Blog." You later claimed, perhaps with a tongue in cheek, that your site was dedicated to those "independent spirits willing to cast off the intellectual shackles ('big men win championships') thrust upon them by the talking heads at ESPN." To what extent was this web venture an earnest attempt to build fan support for the selection of Durant with the first pick overall in that draft? At what point did it become clear to you that Portland was going another direction despite your efforts?
I was 90%+ sure that Portland would take Oden the minute I started the blog on draft lottery night. It was more an experiment to see what could happen and a fun project to follow the spontaneous madness. I had an opinion and I wanted to fully explore it. It was a really, really exciting time.
My opinion was serious but the presentation was almost entirely tongue-in-cheek, which some people understood and some people didn't. I was obviously disappointed (but not surprised) when Oden was ultimately drafted, but I certainly wouldn't have tried to take the credit if it had gone the other way, and I make a point of not writing often on that decision and site except when prompted by other media members in interviews or articles.
Kevin Pritchard was extremely complimentary about Kevin Durant after working him out for the Blazers, saying that he was going to be an "assassin" in this league. Do you think that, left to his own devices, Kevin Pritchard would have taken Durant over Oden? Have you ever whispered that question in his ear off the record?
That's not the kind of question that can be answered without taking into account the entire context in which the decision was made — owner, executives, coach, players, etc. In theory, depending on all of those factors, I think both players were talented enough that any NBA executive, including KP, could have made a theoretical argument for either.
Like I say, I try hard not to bring up Oden/Durant with anyone.
Last year's firing of Assistant GM Tom Penn and then General Manager Kevin Pritchard came as a shock to most Blazer fans, with the pair seeming to have done an excellent job in turning around the fortunes of the bottom-dwelling franchise. Nobody has officially said a word as to why Paul Allen decided to push these two off the pier, but there have been a number of theories circulated. What do you feel triggered Paul Allen to make this move?
I think it was the result of a combination of factors: a series of philosophical and personality differences over an extended period of time between Kevin Pritchard and the chain of command above him, coupled with emotional disappointment at a lack of progress in the playoffs from his superiors and a general sense of unrealistic expectations and urgency.
You and Kevin Pritchard both live in Lake Oswego these days, right? Have you seen him around town lately? Why hasn't another NBA team come calling for him yet?
That's like saying Paul Allen and Kevin Pelton both live in Seattle, when Allen has more Yachts than KP2 has cats. Very soon after the decision to fire Pritchard was made, it began circulating that he was planning to take a year off. Hard to blame him. The pictures we posted during the run-up to the firing showed Pritchard's emotional exhaustion. He will be back.
Speaking of Kevin Pelton, you pal around with that advanced statistics guru, doing a periodic audio webcast with him called The Dontonio Wingcast. You've read every book and seen every stats site about the NBA, no doubt. Which advanced statistics do you think are most useful in determining a given player's effectiveness? Which advanced statistics would you advise a person to follow closely when assessing NBA players?
I like the top-down stats. Warp, PER, offensive/defensive rating. I think before using any stat, you should watch as much basketball as possible. Max out your memory on a player's tools before you go to the numbers. I work on this every game. That's why a lot of my random game notes over the past few years have been about shootaround habits and the like. Using stats to look at a player whose game you're not totally familiar with can be really misleading. (Duh.)
This goes for draft prospects too. It's one reason why we only include players that worked out in Portland on our annual draft prospect board.
By the way, I'm stealing this whole approach from scouts. But you knew that already.
* * *
First half was easy
Round ball goes through the round hole
Then another FAIL
Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...
MB mutters something about waffles going to commercial and Ricey gives us what might be his off-the-wall random comment of the year...
"Alonzo Gee likes waffles!"
It seems that Rice has taken to wearing 3D glasses and taking for himself the name of Wizards Small Forward Alonzo Gee... The names of others he still has trouble with...
MB: "Tonight's Kia Player of the Game — Rudolfo Fernandez."
Rice: "What, did he change his name, too?"
MB: "No, he's always been Rudolfo."
Rice is digging his new life as Alonzo Gee...
"Since changing my name I've taken a different outlook on life... I may go into rap also."
Blazers 79 at Wizards 83.
December 3, 2010.
Blazers' record is now 8-11, the Wizards are 6-12.
1. Wizards: Lots of rebounds, crappy shooting, 7 turnovers. Blazers: hit some shots on an 11-0 run for the lead. Camby's starting run was 2:53 and it was Sean Marks time... Camby is dinged, pass it on... The big news was the return of Joel Przybilla. Rejoicing throughout the Northwest — welcome back, big guy... PDX 24, WAS 18.
2. Joel drew a charge less than 90 seconds in. Big smile for the bench. Blazers bounced passed to Joel in traffic for a turnover. Ummmmm, anybody? DON'T BOUNCE PASS TO BIGS IN TRAFFIC!!! That was a turnover and a breakaway 2 for Washington... Pryzzy got a dunk. Mills with a steal and a coast-to-coast lay in, with the lazy Whizz not making the slightest pretense of caring... The Blazer lead went to double digits at 8:30 when Brandon hit a jumper and the Blazers more or less maintained throughout. LMA played Center after Pryzzy left. PDX 46, WAS 34.
Halftime Entertainment: Boris the Sprinker "(She Digs My) New Wave Records" live (2007?)
3. Blazers played the first four minutes of the third period poorly, scoring a total of zero points. Fortunately, the crappy Wizards managed just 4 points in the same length of time. LMA picked up his 4th personal with 7:41 remaining in the quarter, away from the ball at that. Momentum shifted. Patty Mills made a couple double minus pathetic TOs, followed by a lame Roy TO. It was a 1 point Blazer lead coming down to the 2 minute mark; at 1:22 the Whizz took control. Yep, this Blazer team could be one of the Eastern Conference bottom feeders this season, very easily — Nets beat 'em, Sixers beat 'em, Wizards were playing them even. Przzy had a big put back bucket (that's 20% of the team's offense in the 3rd) and he put Arenas on the floor cutting to the rim, which ultimately saved no points but was still plenty entertaining. Blazers finished with a NEW WORST QUARTER OF THE SEASON, shooting 5-of-21 with 6 turnovers, scoring a total of TEN POINTS. The remarkable badness of this Blazer team never ceases to amaze. WAS 57, PDX 56.
4. At the first scheduled timeout it was tied 61 each, with Portland turning the ball over repeatedly. Still, with LMA back on the floor and Pryz getting a little run, it seemed like the Blazers had survived the worst of it. Could they put together a relatively less sucktacular quarter than the lowly Wizards? Hmmm, that's a different question, not so sure about that. At the 6 minute mark, the Blazers had racked up a total of 18 points in the 2nd half. Think about that: 18 minutes, 18 points — a 48 point per game pace (or a 42 point per game pace if you know math like Zach Randolph).
Andre Miller was carrying what semblance of a Portland offense there was, getting to the line for 6 straight free throws and knocking them down. But the Whizz hit a 3 to take a 1 point lead and then capped Andre on the other end, capturing the initiative for good at the 4:30 mark.
Whattaya say? The wheels came off the wagon again. Innumerable Blazer turnovers, an inability to hit any shot from any distance (13 straight misses at one point — 18 of 19 shots). The Blazers have managed on one road trip to make three of the worst teams in the NBA look competent — we should take pride in that. Nate went small ball at the end, which was once again about all he could do. Once it looked like the game was lost, fluidity on the offensive end was restored. The Blazers got it to 5 points with about 35 seconds left, but it was once again too little, too late. WASHINGTON WIZARDS 83, PORTLAND DUNG SHOVELERS 79.
Never the speediest guy, Pryzzy's wheel is clearly still visibly dinged. Fortunately or unfortunately, Portland's traditional and typical offense is so slow and plodding that he fits right in. The notion of Pryz anchoring a hypothetical run-oriented second unit might prove to be problematic, however. Joel's extensive slow-motion skill set remains: setting big picks, jumping in and taking tough charges, boxing out and grabbing rebounds, putting misses back in the hole.
Still, this season is going to be one of recovery for Pryz, it seems — he's at least half a step slower than full speed, and his ability to contribute help defense is thus impaired. Hopefully there's a little defensive rust that will come flaking off as he reacclimates to the speed of the game. Both Camby (11 minutes, 0 points, 3 rebounds) and Sean Marks (16 minutes, 2 points, 2 rebounds) were on the floor for less time at Center than Joel (20 minutes, 4 points, 7 rebounds).All in all, it was a straight B performance for Joel in his return.
Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?
Sorry for the delay, the Popcorn Machine server came unplugged last night or they ran our of high saturated fat palm oil pseudo-butter substance or something, so I gave up and went in the other room and watched a few episodes of South Park with Heidicat...
Anyway, all is right with the cyberworld again... Give THIS LINK a little click to see the swell charts of the not-so-swell game....
A. Quoting former New York Yankees catcher Yogi Berra, this one was "like deja vu all over again." Crap team on the road, then the better part of three quarters of Blazer dominance, then a whoopsie scoring drought and first thing you know Portland is picking another loss out of the copious gaps in their teeth.
B. The first FAIL came with a 13-2 run that started about midway through the 3rd Quarter. The drought started with the starting 5 on the floor and continued through the insertion of subs Pryz, Mills, and Batum.
C. The decisive failure was a 10-0 run in the 4th Quarter. Blazers on the floor then: LMA, Roy, Matthews, Przybilla, and a mixture of Andre Miller and Nic Batum. Putting it into context though, this list included the only guys that had any ability to score whatsoever in the 4th Quarter.
D. LMA was team-hgh with 8 points in the 4th Quarter. It has been a long time since Blazer fans have heard that sentence.
E. The Blazers took the lead with an 11-0 run in the 1st Quarter which exactly coincided with the insertion of Sean Marks for Marcus Camby. Coincidence, I'm sure, but interesting nonetheless.
F. Przybilla was team low with a minus-12 in plus/minus, followed by Roy at minus -9.
Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?
This is actually the highlights of the Thursday night 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: Ben Golliver: Courtesy Ben Golliver. Old Blazers Edge Logo: Heisted from Wallpaper made by Welcome to Loud City blog. Savior Kevin Durant: Heisted from the Draft Kevin Durant Blog by Ben Golliver. All images heavily tweaked in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.