Here's a quick post-Thanksgiving round-up of Portland Trail Blazers links.
A behind-the-scenes style video via YouTube user NBA.
Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com has thoughts on Portland's hot start from owner Paul Allen.
"I knew that Neil [Olshey] had done a great job bolstering the bench," Allen told CSNNW.com Wednesday night in Phoenix. "I was just anxious to get the season underway to see how things would play out, see how the different new players would fit together with our starters. You just never know. But it has definitely exceeded my expectations so far."
"Terry [Stotts] has done a great job," Allen said. "I always say that I'm a big fan of good defense and it's definitely improved from last year. I think his offensive statistics are right up there at the top of the league, too. I'm really encouraged with how things have gone so far."
"AAU basketball and college was shaky," Aldridge said. "You really learn there was not a lot of trustworthy people out there. Everyone has a motive. Coming from being poor and not having much, everybody thinks they can latch on to you and try to get some money.
"Everyone wants to give you things early, offer you things hoping you take it, so when you make it, they can be there with you. I just learned that the process was so dirty it made me not trust anybody. I just saw how everyone you know could be about something negative."
Sam Amick of USA Today had a quick piece on the Blazers earlier this week.
"I think the best thing that we're doing right now is we're looking at the next game," said Stotts, the former Dallas Mavericks assistant and former head coach in Atlanta and Milwaukee who replaced interim Blazers coach Kaleb Canales in August of 2012 after Nate McMillan had been fired. "I don't think we've gotten caught up in the win streak. The games that we won that started this streak are long behind us, and I couldn't even name you the game where it started. I think the most important part is that we're playing like we have something to prove, and we need to continue that."
Said Matthews, the resident underdog himself who was undrafted coming out of Marquette in 2009 and who is having by far his best season as a pro: "The luxury about the NBA is that you don't have time to admire your work...It's a lot of fun; winning is always fun. But we've still got to get (to the playoffs). The West is tough, and we're taking it game by game."
A good chunk of their players were born in the 1990s. Most of them don't recall a time without an internet connection, or even dial-up, and each player (we're sure) knows their way around a touch screen. It isn't as if the Blazers' coaching staff is wheeling out some newfangled device meant to worry and/or confuse - they're basically utilizing the same sort of technology that their players are staring into for hours on end on plane rides between city to city, with Netflix blaring away.
On top of that, it's not as if these players are being shown up. Mathews, Batum, Lillard and Aldridge are all heady, agreeable sorts that want to win. They don't need an iPad clip to show them what they've done wrong, as the clang of their last jumper or the success of their opponent is evidence enough. The Blazers, to their credit, are full of players that want to know what went wrong - right away.
Danny Nowell looks at the Blazers for ESPN.com.
In fact, let me cut to the chase here and say that what is most striking about the Blazers' current success is the way it reflects the team's embrace of its own character. The differences between this team and the team that last season won 33 games are differences of degree, not kind. Those Blazers also bombed away in a free-flowing offense. Those Blazers, too, were marked by a kind of quiet, self-possessed locker room character. The veterans added this past offseason -- Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright, Earl Watson, Mo Williams -- were brought in less to reimagine the team than to fill in the gaps and serve as an extension of how Nic Batum, Wes Matthews, Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge were already playing. With that kind of support, the core of the team is able to embrace its own style, play without anxiety and carry itself without defensiveness.
NBA.com has LaMarcus Aldridge at No. 10 on its "MVP Ladder."
Aldridge roasted the New York Knicks for 18 points, 14 rebounds, three assists and two blocks as the Trail Blazers stretched their win streak to 11 games. Then, he nailed the Phoenix Suns for 24 points on 10-for-18 shooting (but just four rebounds) a game later when Portland's streak was snapped. His consistency this season has been something to marvel at, particularly for a player who was rumored to be uneasy about his situation over the summer. If this is Aldridge in a groove, in his comfort zone, then the Trail Blazers need to make sure he stays in that lane as much as possible this season.
In case you missed it, Haynes checked in with former Blazers coach (and current Indiana Pacers coach) Nate McMillan in advance of Mondays' game between Portland and Indiana.
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian has more from McMillan, who discusses the high turnover rate among NBA coaches.
"It's very surprising," McMillan says. "I think things have changed as far as ownerships and what they are looking for and the control that the new ownerships want and have now. I think the owners are making more decisions than they were years ago. It used to be GMs and presidents made decisions, coaches coached and owners opened their wallets. Now, I think owners are drafting players, they're saying they want to play a certain style. It's not so much the GM making those decisions.
"I think (Dallas owner) Mark Cuban started it in the sense that it looks like he's very hands on. It's like in the NFL with Jerry Jones of the (Dallas) Cowboys. It's that type of ownership now, whereas in the '90s and early 2000s, you didn't even see the owner."
Jesse Lawrence of Forbes has a look at the best ticket values in the NBA.
Another teams nobody had their eyes on during the preseason were the Portland Trail Blazers. But 2nd-year head coach Terry Stotts has them on a hot streak to start the season. Reigning Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and two-time all-star LaMarcus Aldridge are leading the show with Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum providing some solid scoring and defense. Robin Lopez, who the Trail Blazers acquired during the offseason, rounds out the starting lineup for a team that looks to end its two-season streak of missing the playoffs. Despite the great start, Portland Trail Blazers tickets are averaging just $103 per game, 25% percent below the league average.
"Lance Fresh" of BleacherReport.com has a video interview with some of the Blazers about style topics.
Chris Roberts of NBCBayArea.com reports that Blazers owner Paul Allen purchased a $27 million home in Silicon Valley.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter