Well, college football season is officially over, the two biggest names in the League came through town on the same weekend and the Blazers continue to defy the injury odds and remain in the Western Conference playoff race. Add that all up and there is an absurd amount of Blazers content out there this week. Hours of quality reading.
First, in case you missed it, this weekend on Blazersedge...
Game Recap (Lakers) | Media Row Report (Lakers) | Game Recap (Cavs) | Media Row Report (Cavs)
Also, on Tuesday night KGW featured Blazersedge on its 7PM live, local news show. Here's the video clip. If you're on Twitter and have a second today, it would be cool if you sent a "Thank you from Blazersedge" message to @StephStricklen, a KGW anchor and one of the show's hosts.
Anyway, on to the links. Some national voices, some new local voices and all your usual favorites are included.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
Brian T. Smith of The Columbian with the least surprising news of the year...
Blazers president Larry Miller stated during an Oct. 12, 2009 television appearance on "Trail Blazers Courtside" that the organization planned to broadcast all 15 of its KGW-televised games on the Internet this season. Miller also spoke of a commitment by the Blazers to stream CSN-televised games over the Web "by the end of the calendar year."
However, 2010 has arrived, and none of the CSN-televised Blazer games have been streamed on the Web. Moreover, no progress is being made on the front, and negotiations have stalled.
"We are disappointed the carriage distribution hasn't been resolved," the Blazers said. "And we are now pursuing all of our rights under contract, which must be done on a confidential basis."
John Hollinger of ESPN after the Lakers game...
But if the Lakers want to gain the league's top seed and home court advantage for a presumptive return to the Finals, it' s no laughing matter -- they need to beat shorthanded teams like the Blazers, with or without Pau Gasol. They'll get another crack at it on Feb. 6, and while Gasol should play in that one, a few of Portland's walking wounded (Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum, Steve Blake) will dress as well.
One thing's for sure -- L.A. has no shot if Bryant needs three times as many shots as Roy to get the same number of points.
John Hollinger with an important lineup note after the Cavs game...
Oddly, it was the Blazers -- normally a team that goes small at the drop of a hat -- who stayed big this time. Portland kept two traditional big men on the floor the entire fourth quarter, pairing Juwan Howard and Jeff Pendergraph with LaMarcus Aldridge rather than inserting guards Jerryd Bayless or Steve Blake.
The Blazers held to that setup even in the final minute. Down eight points and coming out of a timeout, it was Howard -- not Blake or Bayless -- who shot a 3-pointer that missed everything and sent the locals scurrying for the exits.
Ken Berger of CBS Sports on the Blazers...
Before the game, Lakers coach Phil Jackson bemoaned the Blazers' epic bad luck with big men and injuries, invoking the names of Sam Bowie and Bill Walton. But there were no ghosts involved in Portland's latest homecourt mastery over the defending champs.
"They're extremely well coached," Bryant said. "They execute everything well. They don't make mental mistakes, and I think that's been the key. They've been able to adjust their game and adjust the tempo of the game having most of their horses out."
Jason Quick on LaMarcus Aldridge...
"It's changed," coach Nate McMillan said of Aldridge's role. "At the beginning of the year, we were looking for something different from him. And then Greg goes out and it changes again. And now with Joel being out, he's playing center for us."
Still, Aldridge was awarded a $65 million extension this fall, and for the most part, he has yet to show he belongs in that upper echelon of big men.
Dave McMenamin of ESPN LA writes...
At Los Angeles' practice on Thursday, Phil Jackson listed the defensive schemes that McMillan has employed on Bryant in the past, complimenting his adversary's game plan.
"They high-side, they rotate, they front, if he's on the post they send a double-team guy down there on the passes that go in," Jackson said. "So they've developed a strategy that's pretty effective."
Jackson was describing how the Blazers change their defense possession by possession, hoping never to allow Bryant to get comfortable.
Wendell Maxey with a great locker room observation after Friday night's win...
Minutes after Portland beat the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night at the Rose Garden - for the ninth-straight time - Brandon Roy stood knee deep in a media moshpit talking about going for his against Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest. As voice recorders and video cameras rolled with Roy, Andre Miller dressed slowly on the other side of the locker room making small talk with Hersey Hawkins, the Blazers' director of player personnel.
"Man, doesn't anyone want to talk to this man right here?" Hawkins said softly to no one in particular about Miller.
"He had a great game."
Joe Freeman on Martell Webster's search for consistency...
Is this the genesis of that ever-elusive consistency?
"I feel like I'm on the right path," Webster said. "I just gotta keep following that path and know that there's success at the end. It's unfortunate that I had to take a year off. Who knows where I'd be if I still had that timing and that rhythm. But I'm not going to use that an excuse. I'm just looking forward to another day, another game."
Kevin Pelton on the Lakers game...
The other presumptive matchup advantage for the Lakers going into the game was at center, where Portland was forced to combat Andrew Bynum by crossmatching with power forward LaMarcus Aldridge. This too failed to materialize; while Bynum's final stat line of 13 points and 12 rebounds looks decent enough, Bynum did the majority of his damage after the game was out of reach. Through three quarters, he had just eight points on 4-of-9 shooting and five boards. Credit Aldridge for battling in the post and using his length, which was the biggest reason McMillan chose him to defend Bynum rather than veteran Juwan Howard. Still, Bynum looked uninterested and struggled at both ends on a night where he could have dominated.
Dwight Jaynes on the lack of bigs...
It's just not fair to ask these guys to play so hard night after night for such long minutes and then be betrayed by the lack of any semblance of a big man. My goodness, outrebounded by 10 on a night when there weren't that many rebounds available. And Shaq, even though he's nothing but a comical imitation of what he once was, dominated them. It was a shame to see poor Juwan Howard out there trying to guard him.
Wendell Maxey checks in with Mike Conley on Greg Oden...
Mike Conley remembers hearing the news about Greg Oden from a couple of his teammates: Your boy just blew out his knee.
Immediately, Conley began texting and calling Oden, his childhood friend and former teammate at Ohio State.
"I just shook my head like, not again. It was an unfortunate thing," said the Memphis Grizzlies second year point guard straight-faced.
Mike Barrett after the Lakers game...
If Kobe gets open looks, you're dead. He's the best in the world, in my opinion. But, if you get a hand in his face, and make him work for everything he gets, you can absorb his point total and still win. Most of the credit on this night, for making him do just that, goes to Martell Webster. Martell has put up bigger offensive numbers, but has never played a defensive game like this. Overall, I felt this was the most impressive complete game of his career. He ended up playing 46 of the 48 minutes of this game, and is probably sitting in a bucket of ice as we speak.
How insignificant does the Andre Miller/Nate McMillan shouting match on Thursday look now? Everyone around the team downplayed the incident, which happened during practice.
Mike Barrett after the Cavs game...
The major difference between the Cavs and the Lakers is that Cleveland defends. The Lakers tend to take possessions off, and will simply try and outscore you. The Cavaliers know how to lock down on defense, and with Portland's front line so thin, the size advantage prevented the Blazers from getting to the rim and to the foul line late in this game.
In short, the Blazers simply don't have any margin for error right now. Against an elite team like this, just about everything has to go your way late in a game if they want a chance to win it. Clearly, things didn't go their way late.
Coup from Rip City Project recaps the Cavs game...
41 points on 19 shots for Mr. James. And we thought Brandon Roy was having an efficient week. Anyways, the gameplan appeared to be to allow Martell Webster to isolate with LeBron on the perimeter and throw quick double teams at him off the dribble, which sounds well enough except LeBron jumped over, under and through every single Blazer that came near him, including Webster. You can live with some of the silly shots he was making, but the Blazers dug an early grave with mudslide defense in transition. James had 20 points in the first quater and then went into facilitator mode for the rest of the game. Given our lack of interior defenders, he probably could have ripped Portland's heart out anytime he wanted.
Kellex from Blaze of Love compares the two superstars we saw this weekend...
After being treated to both Kobe and LeBron in one weekend, it's easy to see that James is clearly above Kobe at this stage in their careers. Both came in motivated, both put up numbers, and that's where the similarities end. Bryant has drowned in the aura of the Rose Garden while James' determination has him sailing far above it.
Runyon of Trail Post goes in on Juwan Howard...
Juwan Howard's biggest highlight was Daniel Baldwin wearing his jersey. Just as Howard's prime was 1994-96, Baldwin's was his stint on Homicide: Life on the Street, during that same stretch. Other Howard highlight: my girlfriend asking why NBA players wear such baggy shorts and my matter-of-fact explaining that it's actually Howard's fault. I've never been less attractive to her in my life.
Nathan Begley, a contributor over at Portland Roundball Society, examined Roy's efficient Friday night...
Exactly how impressive was Brandon Roy's game last night?
It was only the 10th performance like it in the NBA since 1986, which is as far back as I had data for.
Sophia Brugato, a new contributor to BustaBucket.com, goes after Nate in her first post...
I have no doubt that if more players were healthy, Bayless would be among those getting the least minutes. Even with a decidedly less effective Steve Blake, Bayless was not seeing considerable burn until the team simply needed his body on the floor.
Whether Nate is able to manage effectively Bayless' playing time and the point guard position is going to be a major factor to his success this season. Bayless' incredible play raises questions about McMillan's personnel management and willingness to reward sheer talent, if not an outright indictment of coaching ability.
John Canzano provides the best in LA versus Portland checkers coverage...
Los Angeles hasn't won at Portland since Feb. 2005. Not in basketball. Not in checkers. Or bridge. Or Monopoly. There is no doubt that the Lakers would lose at any of these games, and any you could dream up if only the Blazers could get them at home.
- The Rudy Fernandez satire blog with a precious comparison between Andre Miller and The Stranger.
- A Stern Warning with a hilarious photo-take on the Miller/Roy/Bayless end of game miscommunication from last week.
- Here is all the information you need about the Blazers' Jumptown redevelopment plan. (It will never happen... but cool pictures!)
- Lang Whitaker of Slam Online quotes a scout with an interesting take on B. Roy.
- Portland Roundball Society has postgame video clips.
- John Canzano says go after LeBron James. As uninformed as it sounds.
- Brian T. Smith wonders if playing time will again become an issue with players coming back.
- Stein: Blazers are 7th
- Hollinger: Blazers are 12th
- Schuhmann: Blazers are 5th
- Parker: Blazers are 8th
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter