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Here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge over the long holiday weekend...

Sixers Preview | Decade Retrospective (Part 1) | Nuggets Media Row Report | Nuggets Recap

Reminder: The Les Schwab Invitational continues today through Wednesday.  Here's the bracket.  Jesuit, Rainier (WA), Lake Oswego, Westchester (CA), Jefferson, Westview, Oregon City and Oak Hill (VA) make a pretty awesome elite 8.  Quarterfinals run tonight from 4PM to 8:30PM. Winners advance to the semifinals are tomorrow at 7PM and 830PM.  The championship is Wednesday night at 830PM.  For more information, click here.

Jonathan Givony of Draft Express reported this weekend...

Courtney Sims signed with CSKA Moscow, a source tells Will play in Euroleague and Russian league.    

Sims was reportedly one of the players who worked out for the Blazers when the team was looking to fill its first hardship exemption. He was also on a list of top candidates for the Blazers' second hardship exemption pulled together last week by Scott Schroeder. So he's out.  Awesome. One step closer to Boomtho (more on him below).

Click through to go around the blogosphere. Desite the holidays there is a ton of good stuff out there.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter

A phenomenal story about Portland's Roosevelt High football program from ESPN's Tom Friend.

Roosevelt kids were just happy to have something to eat, period. Few of these kids knew football. They didn't play "Madden." When they went 0-9 the previous year, they slammed their helmets, pointed fingers, cursed the refs and griped at their coach. Most of them didn't have fathers at home to set them straight. Swain guaranteed Lomax that these kids would break his heart, that he would design some elaborate game plan and they would forget the plays. He told Lomax that he had better not be coming in to win nine games, that his goal should be to help these boys become men. One win, he told him, would be gravy.

At the first summer workout in July, eight players showed up. Lomax was upset, but Swain grinned and said, "This is good!" Recent Roosevelt teams had never even held summer workouts; to the head coach, this was progress. Lomax brought out the footballs, and his initiation came in the form of an early four-on-four drill (because they didn't have enough to go seven-on-seven). One of the Roosevelt wide receivers ran a hitch pattern, caught the pass and just stood there, obviously pleased with himself.

"Don't you think you ought to turn upfield?" Lomax asked.

"Oh, yeah," the player said.

Jason Quick of The Oregonian continues his series of the Top 40 Blazers in franchise history.  Links...

30. Billy Ray Bates | 29. Kelvin Ransey | 28. LaMarcus Aldridge | 27. Larry Steele | 26. Dave Twardzik

Dwight Jaynes writes...

I'm pretty sure what we're seeing is not all that important to the long-term future of this franchise. And I'm afraid at season's end we won't be able to say that the Trail Blazers have made important progress toward someday being a championship contender.

For many of you, that's not exactly breaking news. You've figured it out and already accepted it. Good for you, because it frees you to enjoy this season for what it is - an exciting and surprising turn of events during a season that appeared at one point to be pretty depressing. But I hear from a lot of people who don't have that sort of perspective.

Truth is, we're seeing the Trail Blazers play pretty much the same sort of game they played last season

David Aldridge writes...

If you wondered why the Blazers have resisted all offers for Jerryd Bayless over the last year, now you know. When Brandon Roy was out Wednesday in San Antonio with a shoulder injury, Bayless got the start and promptly dropped 31 on the Spurs, leading Portland to an amazing road win. You know the Blazers' litany of injuries by now, but coming on the second of a back-to-back that began Tuesday with a win at Dallas, beating the Spurs at the A T&T Center was one of the most impressive wins I've seen in some time.

"For the last year in practice, we've seen him," teammate Steve Blake said by phone Sunday. "We definitely know his physical ability, his ability to get to the free-throw line and all that stuff. It was just as matter of time before we could start putting him in that scorer's role, doing what he knows how to do, which is score the basketball."

Kate Fagan of the Philadelphia Inquirer on Andre Milller...

Last summer, his No. 1 choice was to remain with the Sixers, Miller said yesterday.

"There wasn't any money available to pay me," Miller said. "So that was the problem right there.

"I felt the two times we made it to the playoffs, we actually had opportunities to advance. So I just thought with a little bit more time to jell together . . . we definitely had a chemistry when I was over there."

Brian T. Smith on Jeff Pendergraph. A full transcript with Pendergraph is here.

The next trip down the court, Pendergraph ran up, planted his feet and set a screen. But he soon saw Anthony barreling his way. The Nuggets' all-star forward had turned into a bulldozer, revving up and attempting to uproot Pendergraph.

However, the rookie braced himself, tightened his muscles and barely moved. And when a frustrated Anthony drew a moving foul, Pendergraph screamed out in victory.

"I'm, like, ‘Yeah. Go ahead and get mad; hit me. Cause now you got another foul, fool.' " Pendergraph said.

Brian T. Smith on Anthony Tolliver giving back this Christmas...

Working with the Blazers and Big Brothers Big Sisters, Tolliver is sponsoring Lisa Hill and her two children, 15-year-old Darius and 10-year-old Marquisha.

Hill is a single-parent mother living in outer Northeast Portland. She struggles with health issues and is unemployed. As a result, Hill said the holidays are usually hard for her family.

But things will be different this year, thanks to Tolliver.

Joe Freeman on Juwan Howard...

From Day One in Portland, Howard, the sixth-oldest player in the NBA, had a voice in the locker room. 

When he speaks, even a heralded leader such as Roy said he perks up to hear the message and quietly says to himself, "Tell me more." Howard constantly screams motivation on the court, shouting "Believe, believe," to his teammates, and, "He can't guard you," to Roy and "We're a bad team, too," to no one in particular. McMillan said Howard has been the glue during these rocky, injury-riddled early-season weeks. 

"Howard has really stepped up and kind of (given) that veteran leadership we need," McMillan said. "He's not allowing these guys to give in to all of the adversity that we've been facing. He's playing good basketball. All of our guys are feeding off of that."     

Coup on the Christmas Day win...

Bayless still had an up-and-down night, and by that I mean he was walking along the bottom of the ocean for most of the game until he came across an undersea volcano in the fourth quarter, slipping up only with a love/hate pullup jumper and an airballed three. Jerryd's biggest contribution was not his offense, but that his ball handling allowed Roy to set himself up, allowed Bayless to create better than Blake would and allowed Blake to catch and shoot better than Bayless would. Synergy.

Mike Barrett writes...

In the first half Roy was spectacular, but didn't get enough help from his teammates. Once other people started getting in on the action, it started the ball rolling, and the Trail Blazers roared from 10 down to finish off the Nuggets in the final minutes.

Steve Blake, who has now officially busted out of his shooting slump, scored 14 in the fourth quarter, including three huge three pointers that helped put the Nuggets to bed. It's pretty amazing that even though we've talked of this "slump" for Blake that he's still shooting 39 percent from behind the three-point line on the season.

Jason Quick with the latest on Rudy Fernandez...

Rudy Fernandez, who underwent back surgery Dec. 8, said he is targeting a return to practice in two weeks and has his sights on joining the team for a four-game trip that begins Jan. 18 in Washington. Fernandez said he has been pain-free while shooting free throws and during three 20-minute sessions on an anti-gravity treadmill. Blazers athletic trainer Jay Jensen said Fernandez experiences pain when twisting and has yet to be weaned off anti-inflammatory medicine, making Fernandez's two-week goal of returning to practice "optimistic."     

Sheed from owns up...

Let me first get something out of the way about this most recent stretch of games. Last Monday, apparently not trusting our team, feeling disheartened by injuries and a rough stretch of losses- I basically predicted Portland could lose 6 of these last 7 games. What else can I say but- my freaking bad.

Runyon from Trail Post writes...

Luckily, Jerryd is the most focused person in existence. That's what it comes down to. Jerryd Bayless is the answer for this team at this time. They need guts, focus, and moxie, and that's what Jerryd specializes in. Roy will be Roy, and LaMarcus will do his thing. We needed a third option.    

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Drop anything I missed in the comments. And, please, frequent the FanShots.

-- Ben Golliver | | Twitter