Full Court Press

Best three game winning streak of the year? Best three game winning streak of the year! The positivity this week, especially compared to last week, is downright mesmerizing. Let's jump right in. Here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge this weekend...

Hornets Game Recap | Thunder Game Recap | Playoff Seeds Explained

It's been a wild ride for Blazersedge this past week. If you missed some of the appearances...

Fox 12 Feature | KGW 8 Interview | Bald Faced Truth Radio Dave on the MSP | Ben on the MSP

That last link is basically just Antonio Harvey yelling at full volume so........ yeah.

I guess this officially marks the moment that we've jumped the shark.

* Thinks for a minute *

OK, time to totally sell out.  Who wants to buy a t shirt with my face on it? What about a paperweight version of Dave's cat avatar? To celebrate all this coverage we won't be posting much this week as we've rented a Hummer and will be touring Interstate 5, music blasting and elementary school basketball cards in hand.  Party on wheels.  Highway Patrol: Catch us if you can.  (You should see the groupies Dave pulls.)

Click through to go around the Blazers blogosphere for an in-depth national take on KP, the push for 50 wins, a whole lot of love for the Blazers' recent play, the latest news on executives finding their names floated for Portland's front office positions, power rankings, playoff seeding projections and a lot more.

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

NBA.com's David Aldridge takes up the Penn Pritchard in full...

Almost certainly the agenda eminated, directly or indirectly, from the top of Allen's Vulcan Sports and Entertainment group, based out of Seattle and not Portland, which has direct oversight over both the Blazers and the NFL's Seahawks, which Allen also owns.Those are the only people that seem to have a problem with Pritchard; those at or below his level on the Blazers' food chain like him plenty. (Trust me. I checked.) If you judge a man by his friends and associates, well, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich swears by Pritchard. So do others who've worked with Pritchard in his other stops around the league, both as a player and in management.

Because I don't have direct evidence, merely a suspicion, naming names would be inappropriate at this time. But I know one of Allen's closest confidantes has sought to get his hands on the basketball side of Allen's many businesses on a permanent basis for some time, and has been buzzing around both the Blazers and the Seahawks, waiting for an opening. A former Blazers employee who knows what's really going on guarantees to me that this guy is involved in the anti-Pritchard crusade.

BustaBucket.com torches the Portland Trail Blazers for increasing ticket prices...

This is definitely about money, but it's not only about money. It's about respect for the fan.

See, when the Blazers got us as season ticket holders they got what should be their ideal customer. They got passionate, committed, middle class men in their 20's. We encourage other people to buy season tickets, we buy apparel and bumper stickers and merchandise, we adorn our cars and cubicles with Blazer memorabilia, we run a dedicated blog for fans. We have made the Blazers a part of our life. If you were starting a company could you think of a better possible customer? They can think of a better customer and unfortunately it's not us, it's corporate sponsorships who buy seats and use them as a tax write off.

I know this because they've told me. They aggressively court businesses to buy luxury suites and season tickets in the lower level. What better way to impress clients and reward customers than with a trip to a Blazer game? They get a fun night out, the business gets a tax write off, and the Blazers get to increase those ticket prices and cash those checks, while pushing the real fans to the rafters or out of the arena all together.

Jason Quick on the Blazers' emphasis on limiting turnovers. Nate McMillan sounds like he's reading straight from a Dean Oliver book..

So McMillan and Demopoulos will keep harping turnovers as the season's final 10 games are played. McMillan says his framework to success is bases on three principles: Control the boards, win the free throw line and take care of the ball.

"You do those three things and you are going to have a chance to win the game,'' McMillan said. "If you shoot more free throws it shows you are the aggressor. If you control the boards and you are not giving up second opportunities, you are going to have more possessions. And if you are not turning over the ball, that's going to equal opportunities.''    

John Canzano on Paul Allen's press release...

Without those flimsy three paragraphs Allen would have to answer questions. He'd have to give Pritchard a guaranteed future or acknowledge what we all already know -- that the Blazers general manager is a dead-man walking. 

"Painful to see a friend in that spot," one Blazers front-office executive said. A second offered that Pritchard should stop moping, channel the theories of "The Secret" and start projecting confidence, "You know, I believe what you put out comes back around to you." And before Allen arrived at the arena a Blazers spokesperson was dispatched to inform reporters that the Blazers owner would have no further statement.     

Dwight Jaynes prefers this year's team to last year's...

Quite frankly, this is a better team than what Portland had last year. And it's possibly even a better team right now than what Blazer fans expected this season because Camby's experience may make them better than what Greg Oden would have provided had he stayed healthy. I say "may" because I don't quite buy that but it's possible for people to believe it.

Brian T. Smith profiles Juwan Howard...

"Sometimes he's messing with Jeff and getting him all hyped up," Roy said. "And all of a sudden, Jeff's having the greatest practice of his life."

Howard said he is simply setting a positive example. Providing the next generation with proof of how to play the game the right way and treat a sport he loves with respect.

"I'm passing it down," Howard said. "Showing the guys that, Hey, here's an example of a guy who played 16 years. If you don't want to listen and get the valuable, free information from him - soak it up like a sponge - then you've got to be a damn fool."

Chris Dempsey of the Denver Post on Mark Warkentien...

The point is it would be extraordinarily bad for the Nuggets if he were to go.

Portland isn't the only team interested in Warkentien. He is the single most-wanted free agent in the Nuggets' organization right now, and the team should take the necessary steps to keep him.

As he works on others' contracts, Warkentien has no contract of his own beyond this season. He is one of the least-paid professionals in the NBA in his position. But he has been the backbone of what the Nuggets are right now - a team among the league's elite with a shot at winning an NBA title. He is the reigning league executive of the year.    

Darnell Mayberry on Rich Cho to Portland...

Thunder assistant general manager Rich Cho already has had his name tossed into the speculative short list of candidates to replace recently fired Blazers vice president of basketball operations Tom Penn. Penn was described as Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard's right hand man, and Cho has a close relationship with Pritchard.

But jumping to Portland to assume the same position would be a lateral move for Cho. The more intriguing prospect could be Pritchard's job, which is widely believed to be up in the air despite his dazzling makeover of the Blazers.

Jason Quick on the vets...

Probably just as important as their statistics has been the mood and example the three veterans have provided. From giving advice to leading by example with their preparation and approach to the game, the trio has subtly become the pulse of the team. 

"This has been going on for a while now," coach Nate McMillan said. "Andre, Marcus and Howard ... there is more talk now among the team. They are challenging each other, holding each other accountable. And tonight, Andre was the quarterback once again and Marcus was just good again. And Juwan has been there for us all season."      

Mike Barrett on the hot streak and winning in OKC...

As we mentioned on the TV broadcast, it was a playoff atmosphere in OKC on Sunday. The fans there knew (after they were told by the public address announcer) that they should cheer loud. So, they did. The Trail Blazers though have grown up, and have become a very dependable road team. Hostile environments don't really seem to rattle this crew, and even seem to bring out the best in this team. That should serve them well in the playoffs, where they won't likely have home-court advantage.

Brother Wendell Maxey on 50 wins...

Portland is sitting on 44 wins with a favorable eight games remaining in their regular season. They still face New York, at Denver, at Sacramento, at the Clippers, home for Dallas, at the Lakers, and then end the season at home with Oklahoma City and Golden State.

The Blazers could go 6-2 in that span (falling to the Nuggets and Lakers) which would put them at 50 wins.

Think about that: 50 wins.

Kelly Dwyer on the win in OKC...

It was close; play a fifth and sixth quarter and this still would have been a one-possession game, but to do this in Oklahoma City? Quite a win for the Blazers.

They are now tied, with the Thunder and the Spurs, for the sixth spot in the West. No Oden, no Przybilla, all sorts of in-season injuries to all sorts of rotation players, while having to say goodbye (for better or worse) to two players (Travis Outlaw and Steve Blake) who were prominent members of this team's rotation for years. Nate McMillan may rarely coach a team that hops into the upper half of the league in terms of defensive efficiency, but he's done a spot-on job in 2009-10.

SJ from Rip City Project likes the Blazers D...

I continue to like the Blazers defense. Not counting the New Orleans non-game, the Blazers have held opponents to the following numbers of late: 74 (Wash), 87 (PHX), 89 (Dallas) and 87 (OKC), Three of those four teams are headed to the playoffs and all of them can put the ball in the basket. I believe we're starting to feel the impact of Marcus Camby and how much easier he is making it for everyone else on the defensive end. There is still work to do, but things are headed in the right direction at the right time. For example, we had no real answer for Kevin Durant. If he could have gotten some help from his buddies this might have been a different game. Credit Portland for making Green (14 pts, 6/14 shooting) and Westbrook (12 pts, 5/14 shooting) struggle but make no mistake about it he was ready to take over the game. And in the third quarter he basically did. It just felt like he was about to take over, his eyes were screaming it through the TV.    

A great line from Ezra Ace Caraeff at Portland Roundball Society...

While Roy struggled throughout the night, it was Miller and Camby that directed the team to victory. Thanks to acquisitions like that, Portland GM Kevin Pritchard should... "get to the end of the season and you evaluate what has gone on." Oh sorry, I let Larry Miller finish that sentence for me. My apologies.     

Henry Abbott doesn't like the NBA's divisional setup...

The team I grew up supporting happens to play in one of the NBA's least intuitive divisions. When I was younger, Portland had meaningful season-after-season standings squabbles with geographically relevant teams like the Seattle SuperSonics and the Los Angeles Lakers. Now the Lakers are in a different division and the Sonics are no more. It was always a long shot that a team from Minneapolis or Oklahoma City would really have that familiar rivalry feeling, and lumping them all together into the generously title "Northwest" division. 

Oklahoma City is, I guess, northwest of the Caribbean. The Twin Cities are west of Lake Michigan.     

John Hollinger on the Blazers turnaround...

With all the tumult over other trade-deadline upgrades, I'm amazed Portland's didn't get more attention. The Blazers traded a redundant backup point guard (Steve Blake) and a forward who had played 11 games (Travis Outlaw) for a quality starting center (Camby). Everyone understood that part, but the piece that was basically ignored was that Batum returned from injury at the same time.

Now that everyone has acclimated, Portland is gaining speed. The Blazers are 11-2 since the end of February, with one of the losses coming in a game Camby missed in Denver. Suffice it to say he's a bit of an upgrade over Juwan Howard and Dante Cunningham. Meanwhile, Batum has been even better than anticipated: He's eighth among small forwards in PER and notably more potent offensively than in his rookie year, upgrading another position in which the Blazers had been getting limited production.

At his All Star press conference this year, Brandon Roy let everyone know that his son pretends to be Jerryd Bayless when they shoot hoops.  Jason Quick with more...

However, it turns out that Brandon Jr. doesn't want to be just like dad on the basketball court.

"He likes being (Jerryd) Bayless,'' Roy said incredulously. "Every time I tell him ‘Nice shot B.J.!' he says ‘No. I'm Bayless!' Then he will give me this look. And I say, ‘Just shoot the ball, stop fronting so much.' He has a lot of personality.''    

Travis Heath of HoopsworldWhere will Marcus Camby end up this summer?  Denver?

"I still have my foundation based out of Denver and still do a lot of charitable things with my Marcus' Mentors program and my work with the Boys and Girls Club," said Camby.  "I still have my Thanksgiving dinner that I host in Denver for over 1,000 homeless people at Jackson's Hole every year and also my Cambyland Christmas.  For the last couple of years I haven't been able to attend that, but J.R. has filled in for me and actually taken those kids shopping at the mall.  I thank him for stepping in and filling that void, and I'll always keep my connection with the community in Denver no matter where I end up going."

Quick Hits

Power Rankings

Playoff Projections

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

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