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I tweeted about this last week but it's worth repeating: one man, ONE MAN, was steadfast in his prediction that RLEC would not be moved.  That man was Wendell Maxey. Give his Beyond the Beat blog a read.

Jason Quick looks at Blake's record night last night.

Blake assisted on nine of the Blazers' first 10 baskets, including a string of eight in a row, and they came in a variety of ways. Three of his first-quarter assists were the benefit of teammates hitting jump shots, but the rest were plays where Blake blended his two biggest strengths -- court vision and accuracy. He zipped a 30-foot lob pass in transition to Batum. He threaded a bounce pass through traffic that Joel Przybilla caught and dunked. And he did the dipsy-do pass for Batum's three-pointer.

"I was seeing the floor really well," Blake said. "Guys were running the floor hard, which makes it easy."

Mike Barrett also gives his thoughts on Blake's night.

Dwight Jaynes thinks Blake should have had a little more run to take a crack at additional assist records, despite the blowout.

Now assist records are different from scoring records. If you're out there trying to get someone a scoring record and you're ahead by 30 points, there's something rather distasteful about that. I don't see the same feeling toward a record that's, in essence, a symbol of unselfishness.

Jason Quick also had a trade deadline wrap.

That's not to say Pritchard didn't have some trying moments. He admitted he thought long and hard on some proposed deals -- none more so than a swap that would have brought Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire to Portland -- but in the end, he said the Blazers' culture and core talent were too important.

"We were close, really close," Pritchard said of a deal with Phoenix. "But we didn't bite."

Suns Owner Robert $arver, however, told Phoenix media that they weren't close to an Amar'e deal.  It's a moot point but I wonder who's closer to telling the truth here.  

Brian Hendrickson has a look at the Blazers puzzle.

Brandon Roy heard all the talk about the need for adding a veteran in the last few weeks.

But as the shadow of that deadline passed, the Portland Trail Blazers guard pondered exactly what the team would have needed from that experienced player. And his answer was surprisingly generic: Someone who had been to the playoffs, Roy decided. Someone who contended for a division title. And a good personality who could gel in the locker room.    

Here's the must-read story going around today: Howard Beck of the NY Times talks with Michael Jordan's agent, David Falk.

The latest sign yet that newspapers are in trouble: the Arizona Republic's' esteemed Suns beat writer, Paul Coro, is being placed on furlough during the season.   [Link courtesy BSOS.]  Coro must be heated. Hopefully he's enjoying the time off on a deserted island somewhere; if the Suns are lucky, maybe he can find a treasure chest with Steve Nash's game in it and bring it back with him.

CNNSI's Ian Thomsen, briefly, on the Blazers' trade deadline.

The Trail Blazers can afford to take the long-term view because they have a young team that is ahead of schedule. Why make a move now unless it's a no-brainer? No matter what kind of deal they might have consummated at the deadline, the Blazers still would have been a year or two away from a deep playoff run because Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden lack the necessary postseason experience.    

KobeStoppers with an entertaining trade deadline review and playoff preview.

Loaded Orygun on the psychological impact of the passed trade deadline.

Obviously I don't know these men, but it's seemed clear that from the first folding chair on the bench to the last, this particular group of young professional athletes trusts and cares for each other, and feeds off their common experience in a way that leads them to exceed the normal boundaries of their years and talents.

Did the uncertainty of how that circle might change at the upcoming trade deadline, cause subconcscious anxiety and hesitancy? We can't be sure, and the players themselves probably don't know or wouldn't admit it publicly. What we do know is that there seemed to be universal relief and a renewed sense of purpose after Kevin Pritchard said the roster (minus Ike) would stay the same. And I think it also renewed the challenge and crystallized their common purpose: win together. discovered that Phil Jackson has a Greg Oden voodoo doll.

Power Rankings:

-- Ben (