A little housekeeping note to start the week. We're going to try something new and hopefully it works well.
If you look to your left you should now see a button that reads "Page 2." Stories that are relevant for a certain amount of time and then not relevant at all afterwards (event announcements, starting lineup changes, etc.) will be moved from the front page to Page 2 once they lose their relevance. That way, bigger news stories, analysis and previews/recaps will see more light on the front page. It's a small change aiming to get the best of both worlds: all the fast-breaking updates when you need them without burying the longer-form, bigger-picture stuff. If you think you're going nuts and can't find an update you were looking for, chances are it's on Page 2. If you like this change or hate it, let us know via email.
Here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge this weekend....
Jazz Media Row Report | Jazz Recap | Celtics Media Row Report | Celtics Recap | Shake Charts
Alright, click through for the back and forth about Roy's hamstring, new details on the Marcus Camby trade, a positive update from Petteri Koponen, questions about Nate's new rotations and more.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter
If there's one piece to read this morning, it's probably this interview with Blazers Trainer Jay Jensen conducted by Brian T. Smith. A few of the eyebrow-raising quotes...
To the observer that's watching him practice and watches him play, they say that he looks good. If you were to ask the players, if you were to ask the coach, if you were to ask the trainers, if you were to ask anybody that watches him, they say he moves good. But he also plays like a guy that's been off, not playing for five weeks. So, for me right now, it's a matter of him getting his confidence; it's a matter of him getting his timing and rhythm down, and that's what it's about for me. Plus, the fact that he says with confidence, 'Jay, I'm ready to play.'
I think I would say 'setbacks.' I don't think he's had any setbacks with this thing. And I think we want to keep moving forward. I don't think rest right now is the correct thing to do. We've talked to every possible person that has knowledge. We've talked to guys in football that deal with hamstring injuries all the time. We've talked to track (doctors) that deal with track athletes and their hamstrings. We've been very aggressive with our treatment of him with the (platelet-rich plasma) injection. We've exhausted with acupuncture. We've done massage. We've done rest. He's done an extensive rehab program to get his hamstring very strong. And he's passed all those tests. What you cannot test is how he feels. And that's something that Brandon has to tell you. And he'll tell me, 'I don't feel good today.' And hopefully, we'll get him over this hump. Part of it is him learning - 'learning' is not the right word - well, yeah, learning to deal with a little discomfort. Because he's a tough cookie. But when he tells you that he can play, you have to believe him. And when he says he can't play, you have to believe him. Because if you don't, you cannot believe him one time and then not believe him the next. But for me? The objective part of his evaluation, he's passed all of those.
SJ from Rip City Project counters...
Roy's hamstring looked about as good as a grizzled stripper in her 10th year in the business on a Monday afternoon.
Geoffrey C. Arnold spoke with Roy for quite awhile after Friday's game and then wrote this weekend...
I just wonder if there is a higher power inside the team who is "pushing" or "strongly suggesting" or "kind of demanding" or "borderline begging" that Roy play. You know, the old "take one for the team" mentality. Yes, the Blazers are in the playoff race, but is it really a smart idea to continue to have your best player possibly risk further and more long-term damage for a short-term gain of say, winning the seventh or eighth spot in the conference and probably losing to the Los Angeles Lakers, Denver Nuggets or Utah Jazz?
Brian T. Smith with quotes from Nate over the weekend about about Roy's hamstring...
On whether it's rhythm or his hamstring being the main issue:
Again, all that should come with more time on the floor. That's just like being off for the summer. And normally your (shooting) percentage is about 40, 38. And by November, December, you get it back. And he's been off for a few weeks, so sometimes you get that rhythm right away, and sometimes it takes a bit of time. It may take some games for him to get it, but he'll get it.
On whether the team is better having a less-than-100-percent Roy in the lineup so he can get his wind and find his rhythm, and if that is the main theory supporting why Roy is playing, rather than being held off the court:
We can't put a time limit on it, whether it's a week or two weeks. ... He's at a point now where he feels he can play, and that's what we're doing. We're not - if he felt he needed more time, then we would give him more time. But he feels that he can play right now, and he knows that he's got to play to (find) rhythm. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? Or next week after those five games on the road? So, we're where we're at. To say, 'Should we give him another day or another week or two?' We have to listen to Brandon and his body. And, as I said before, when he feels he can go, we're going to put him out there.
Wendell Maxey on the 15th roster spot...
"If a big man became available and maybe just wasn't playing a lot, I think we would definitely look at that. You're always looking for big bodies. There's nothing like having a 6'9 or 6'10, 260 or 265 pound body you can put out there," explained Born, knowing Portland's depth is at small forward and guard positions.
Hey, Shav, all you have to do is put on like 24-29 pounds.
Kevin Pelton writes...
In his second game in a Portland uniform, center Marcus Camby showed why the Blazers added him in a trade last week. Camby was a huge factor on the glass, finishing with 18 rebounds--including eight of Portland's 21 on the offensive glass. His ability to tap the ball back out to teammates (something he tried to do even once when he had no defender around him and had the chance to cleanly secure the ball) returned a dimension to a Blazers offense that has been short on second chances without offensive-rebounding dynamos Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.
Likewise, Camby offered production missing without Oden and Przybilla at the defensive end, where Camby blocked four shots, mostly as a weak-side defender coming in to swipe at Boozer's shot attempts. While Camby was not quite as stout a defensive anchor in the paint in this matchup as I had anticipated, he did a better than expected job of coming out to defend Paul Millsap on the perimeter. Overall, Portland's defense was much more effective than in the last two matchups against Utah. At the same time, Camby's 1-of-7 shooting was something of a drain on the offensive end.
Dwight Jaynes dissects the late-game stagnation...
My point is, this team continues to use "We need another guy who can get his own shot in the fourth quarter" as a convenient excuse for not coaching. Man, watch the Jazz and see how often they just hand the ball to a player and ask him to beat the defense by himself. It just doesn't happen.
And watch how easy it is for the good defensive teams - like Boston and Utah in the last two games - to lock in on Portland's stagnant offense. You've got to move the ball and move bodies, which the Blazers so infrequently do, to get good shots.
My goodness, the Jazz had 50 points in the paint. It's not because they're handing it to one guy and letting him create his own shot, either. It's because they pass, cut and move the ball.
Mike Barrett looks back and ahead...
Portland is now 4-5 in the month of February, and is 11-13 in 2010. There is still time for a recovery, but time is not on their side. Of all the emotional body blows this team has taken this season, this one, self-inflicted as it was, may be the toughest to bounce back from. Monday we head out on a five-game road trip that could decide if this team makes it to the post season or not.
The trip has us at New Jersey, Toronto, Chicago, Minnesota, and Memphis. There are winnable games on this trip, but only if this team finds its offense. For whatever reason, the Blazers are in their biggest offensive funk in the last couple of years. The Blazers shot just 33 percent against Boston on Friday, and shot only 35 percent in this game.
Brian T. Smith with some follow-up details about the Camby trade...
However, it was not until a two-day period surrounding the All-Star break that Camby wearing black and red became a real possibility. And even then, there was as much uncertainty surrounding the veteran's future in Los Angeles as there was a chance he could truly become a Blazer. Camby was told either he or young Clippers center DeAndre Jordan would be in L.A. team after the break, not both.
"No one (knew) what was really going on," Camby said.
But everything changed Feb. 14, when Camby received a call from his agent wondering how he would feel about playing in Portland.
Andrew R. Tonry laments the final play that slipped away.
Down two with the final shot, Deron Williams missed a decent look from 20 feet, but Carlos Boozer grabbed the rebound-his 21st of the game-and flipped it back in just before time expired. Boozer finished with 22 points, while setting new career highs in total rebounds (23) and offensive boards (eight).
And although Marcus Camby had a mostly terrific outing in his second game as a Blazer-he finished with 18 rebounds and four blocks-that final rebound he allowed Boozer to grab as regulation ended was the nail in the coffin. Sure, there was overtime and the Blazers technically had a chance, but it was clear that the Jazz, who came out flat, were finally engaged and in control.
Coup from Rip City Project says cut Jerryd Bayless some slack...
And finally Jerryd Bayless. I'm sure there will be some hate for him tomorrow after nine ineffective minutes when the Blazers desperately needed him. One thing to remember is that in the last couple weeks, and especially now that Blake is gone, he is essentially playing a new position at point guard than even earlier in the year, when the call was to supply as much self-induced offense as possible. And in that new position where he has to be a new sort of player, that new player has hit a rookie wall. As such, we are in standby mode with Bayless.
Casey Holdahl on Nicolas Batum...
I spoke to Batum after the game with no intention of mentioning the miss that would have sent the Trail Blazers into a five-game road trip with a win. I was more interesting in discussing Nate McMillan decision to go with Batum rather than Martell Webster through almost all of the second half, but Nico, unprovoked, brought up the miss himself.
"My last shot, I have to make this one," said Batum. "I'm wide open. I cannot miss this shot because you don't have a lot of chance like that. I remember I got one last year, I made it against Jersey. I have to score this one. If I score this one, put away ... We have the game; I just miss. I put the team in a bad situation. I feel very bad tonight."
Hippo, our Finnish friend, writes via email...
Petteri Koponen continued his impressive performances last Sunday, when Virtus Bologna played against undefeated Montepaschi Siena in Italian Cup Final.
Virtus Bologna were able to hang with Siena for the full 40 minutes, but didn't have enough firepower in the end to upset powerhouse Siena. Siena snatched a 83-75 (38-33) victory, adding yet another trophy to their impressive track record.
For Portland Trailblazers fans, the most interesting fact concerning the game was that Petteri Koponen was the leading scorer of Virtus Bologna with 19 points. In the fourth quarter, Virtus was already down 70-55, but Koponen orchestrated a furious Virtus comeback in the final minutes draining 13 points and bringing his team to just down five, 77-72. However, Siena made their free throws in the end and Virtus couldn't get any closer.
Koponen had 19 points in the final, the most points in the game tied with Italian Cup MVP Shaun Stonerook.
The whole Italian Cup weekend was an impressive showing by Koponen. In the quarterfinal, Koponen scored 12 points in second half while ending the first-half scoring run of Pepsi Caserta's shooting guard Robert Hite. Koponen also had five assists, two steals and no turnovers in the game.
In the semifinal, Bologna easily knocked out Air Avellino 73-61 with their grinding defense. Koponen had an off-day (field goals 2-8), but he played the biggest minutes of his team (33) and had the second best +/- number of his team with +16.
Here are Koponen's averages in the Italian Cup weekend. Koponen's high AS-TO and ST-TO numbers and field goals percentages are worth noticing. (However, it might raise some questions why Koponen didn't earn one single trip to the line in three games.)
Games 3, Minutes 30,0 , Points 12,0 , Rebounds 2,7 , Assists 2,0 , Steals 2,0 , Turnovers 0,7 , field goals 60,0% , 3pt field goals 50,0%
Seth Johnston of BustaBucket with a fun reference...
Once it was bonus basketball Portland couldn't overcome the mighty Ha Seung-Jin like powers of Kyrlo Fesenko (seriously) and ended up losing the stinking game after Roy's potential game tying three rimmed out. Bummers all around.
Sophia Brugato of BustaBucket wrote regarding Friday night's loss...
Before the game started during a pre-game interview on Comcast Sports NW, the head coach of the Boston Celtics, Doc Rivers lavished Nate McMillan with generous praise, stating "he's been the best in the league, with all the injuries and the record they have, McMIllan has done a heck of a job".
As it turned out, it appears McMillan set out to prove Rivers wrong by not starting superior-in-every-way Nic Batum in lieu of inferior-in-every-way Martell Webster, playing the hobbled Brandon Roy for more than 30 minutes when much of the time the game was clearly out of reach, and playing Rudy Fernandez instead of Jerryd Bayless .
What I found most discouraging tonight, however, was the way the addition of Roy and Camby seemed to affect the overall rotation. In particular, I was bothered by the fact that Batum played only 5 minutes in the first half, Bayless played only 3, and Dante Cunningham played only 1. Those three players provide more energy than anyone else on the team, energy that was conspicuously missing in the first half. I'm glad the Blazers now have help at the center position now, but it is not in the short or long term interest of the team to have Camby and Howard take up all of the available front court minutes. Dante Cunningham has been playing fantastic basketball lately and should be getting more minutes than Howard. He's a better defender than Howard and, unlike Howard or Camby, is likely to be a part of the Blazer rotation beyond this season.
- Video: Nicolas Batum's chase down block of Deron Williams.
- Enter a SMART raffle to win 2 courtside Blazers tickets, a gift certificate for dinner and a night at the Heathman.
- a 16 man 1 on 1 tournament of NBA players with no bigs. Who do you rank in order as your top 16? Mine are in the comments.
- Free Darko on basketball in the Phillipines.
- HoopData.com writer Joe Treutline guests on NYTimes.com and examines whether the Lakers are better without Kobe.
- Travis Outlaw to debut for the Clippers tonight? I'll be watching.
- The book learning is coming easy for Marcus Camby.
- KD for MVP?
- Schuhmann: Blazers are 12th
- Parker: Blazers are 11th
- Stein: Blazers are 13th
- Hollinger: Blazers are 13th
- Hollinger's Playoff Odds: 68.2%
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter