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It's a 3 day work week anyway so why don't you just blow off the next hour and read these?  What a sales pitch.

Hendrickson and Pritchard talk Oden smiling.

One of the biggest differences Portland Trail Blazers general manager Kevin Pritchard has noticed in Greg Oden has nothing to do with points, rebounds or blocks.

In fact the recent change in the rookie center has little to do with basketball.

"He's smiled every once in a while," Pritchard said.

Perhaps that smiles-per-game stat was overlooked by many fans, but it has not gone unnoticed by the Blazers. 

Have you seen the girl they've got on the "I Am A Trailblazers Fan" logo on the bottom right?  Subtle, guys, real subtle.

Mike Barrett talks homestand.

If the Blazers can hold serve during this homestand, and that's not a given, Portland will head east next Saturday morning with an 11-6 record. All things considered, that would be a very, very nice start to the season. I've said on many occasions, I would have taken 6, 7, or 8 wins going into December. If they can be at 11, you'll have to think this team is way ahead of schedule.

One person that would grind his teeth at that paragraph would be Nate.  But I'm with MB on this one.  Go ahead, chalk up the Ws. Life is more fun that way.

Freeman has the team's musical preferences.  Which is hilarious. Sergio listens to Coldplay, Blake doesn't listen to music and Shavlik Randolph thinks he's Rocky.  Assumptions confirmed all the way around.

Freeman also had a nice talk with TP30.

"Obviously anybody who played there during the special times knew how special the place could be," Porter said. "And when you see organizations go through the disappointments or the frustrations, from an ex-player standpoint, because you've been there during the great times, you're always disappointed. The nickname Jail Blazers and all those things are not very attractive from an ex-player standpoint because we know how special that place can be and we know the fans will support the situation when it's right."

 Casey talks Greg Oden rolling hard.

As a general rule, when you roll hard, you don't need to worry about anything else.

Somebody submit that definition to Urban Dictionary.

Kevin Pelton with look at PJ's firing.

What general manager Sam Presti was looking for was two things: playing hard, especially at the defensive end, and improvement amongst the team's young talent.

On the first count, Carlesimo's tenure can actually be regarded as something of a success. For all its woes, the Thunder is 14th in the NBA in Defensive Rating so far this season, a dramatic improvement from anything the franchise saw prior to Carlesimo's arrival. The Oklahoman's Darnell Mayberry suggests in his reaction article that the effort of the Oklahoma City players was in question, but that does not match what I saw from them, especially last night. This team is simply that far behind its opponents.

Where the Thunder has struggled--epically--is at the offensive end. The team's 93.4 Offensive Rating is last in the league by a mile. In fact, it's 12.1 percent worse than league average, which would be the worst relative to average in modern NBA history were it to continue. The only team since the merger to even be 10 percent worse than average was the 2002-03 Denver Nuggets.

Blaze of Love is mad at Greg. Shock post? Probably, but I couldn't leave it alone.

Can he quit with that obnoxious swooping/leg kicking/backboard slapping annoyance of a dunk?  Just dunk the [ orange ] ball and come back down.  You don't need to try and rip the basket down with each dunk there big guy.  You practically kicked Amare Stoudemire in the face tonight because you are incapable of just dunking and dropping straight to the floor. 

Bold edit is mine on that one.

Bust a Bucket found that old Nike "Uh Oh" poster, if you didn't see this last week.

Power Rankings. Who cares, I know, I know, I know. But the single digits are so tempting to flaunt around like they mean something.

Here's another single digit to flaunt: despite the loss to Phoenix, we are #7 in the Western Conference.  Just one game behind the division leaders. And it's almost December.  Suh-wheet.

-- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)