2:22 PM Epic Update
I forgot (again) to congraulate JKSnake99 who beat out 634 other contestants to win this year's Blazersedge Readers NCAA Bracket contest. And, yes, he picked Duke to win it all. Here's his winning bracket if you would like to salivate over it.
The entire Earth's supply of pride and glory are now the property of the Snake. Oh, he won a book too.
With Brandon Roy's knee pain (he is now officially out tonight and Rudy Fernandez will start), Lakers game reaction, Mavericks game reaction, Nike Hoop Summit reaction and end-of-season awards, there are so many freaking links today I'm not even going to bother with an intro. Step into the realm...
Here's what you might have missed on Blazersedge this weekend...
-- Ben Golliver | email@example.com | Twitter
Jason Quick's season-long Top 40 Blazers series wraps up with his top 5.
Andrew R. Tonry of Portland Roundball Society recaps the Lakers game...
On the ensuing possession, Webster fouled Kobe Bryant again, the result of a defensive communication breakdown according to coach McMillan. In the penalty, with the crowd wildly chanting "MVP! MVP!" Bryant stepped to the line.
He missed them both.
Joe Freeman quotes Martell Webster on his unorthodox 3 point attempt that helped win the game in LA...
"He left me open and I saw Derek tried to jump in there and put his hand out," Webster said. "So I just went up, threw it and I got the foul. It's probably not how we want (to get the shot) nine times out of 10. But that 10th one was good."
Dwight Jaynes liked what he saw from Rudy in LA...
- Rudy Fernandez, as I've said before, is VERY good with the ball in his hands as a playmaker. When he runs the pick-and-roll he actually looks for the guy who is rolling toward the basket - and can deliver it to him quickly. I would use him to run more of that stuff. He also looks a lot better on the floor when he isn't looking over his shoulder, expecting someone to enter the game in his place. I'm just sayin', OK?
Coup from Rip City Project on the Lakers game...
Aldridge got sincere looks on eight of the last ten plays, not counting that he was one of the two primary options on the final play which went to Webster. Of those eight looks, Aldridge touched the ball six times and shot it four times - just one being a poor shot. Other than Miller, who touches the ball on every play as the point guard, Aldridge was the offense. Things weren't perfect, as the Blazers only got points on four of the eight possessions Aldridge was directly involved in (wait, that's 50 percent, so it's kind of good), but two things are important here: One, LaMarcus seemed to want the ball every time down, was comfortable with it and yet didn't and two, those late-game repetitions are crucial to his development as a leader. If the Blazers are a better team if they are confident in one of their best players in big games.
Defensively, the Blazers switched on just about everything. This isn't terrible when Aldridge has to play a perimeter guy, but when you get Camby on Kobe or Martell on Gasol, you're dead meat. In the playoffs, they are going to have to work much harder to fight through picks, otherwise opponents are going to terrorize them with mismatches.
Sheed from Bustabucket.com on the Lakers game...
One of the biggest surpises in this game for Portland had to be the play of the bench unit. With Brandon Roy virtually gone the whole game, Martell Webster stepped up his game, scoring 16 points in 24 minutes while Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Fernandez both played extremely efficiently in their time on the floor. You can't always win the game but you can sure lose it sometimes, these guys certainly didn't waste any possessions.
Jason Quick with the latest on Brandon Roy...
The bone contusion on the outside of Brandon Roy's right knee is the result of contact from his tibia and femur, Trail Blazers trainer Jay Jensen said.
The injury, suffered in the first quarter of Sunday's victory at the Lakers, will keep Roy out for at least tonight's home game against Oklahoma City and probably Wednesday's season finale against Golden State.
Casey Holdahl with more on Roy...
Roy, who underwent an MRI Sunday after the team returned to Portland, will be reevaluated by doctors later tonight. His status for Wednesday night's regular season finale against the Golden State Warriors is unknown.
"Of course (Roy) is bothered by (missing Monday night's game) but it is what it is," said McMillan. "He has that injury. We're going to hold him tonight and we'll reevaluate him tomorrow."
Jason Quick thinks Roy should exercise caution...
Before the Blazers had left Staples Center, there was already gossip within the traveling party that Roy had told his fiancée, Tiana Bardwell, that no matter what the MRI revealed, he was playing in the playoffs.
The hope here is that Roy uses his head more than his heart. It would be better for the Blazers to have him for playoff games rather than a playoff game.
Kevin Pelton, fresh from the clink, includes Andre Miller and Marcus Camby in his All-Defense season review...
Andre Miller, Portland: While super-quick point guards like Houston's Aaron Brooks can still be a problem, Miller has solidified the Blazers' defense, which allows 3.5 fewer points per 100 possessions with him on the floor. Miller's size makes him a versatile defender.
Marcus Camby, Portland: Camby's defensive statistics are within shouting distance of Howard's, which explains why he was the Defensive Player of the Year in 2006-07. The question mark on Camby, especially when he was traded from Denver to L.A., is whether his stats overstate his impact because he is a poor defender on the perimeter, especially in the pick-and-roll game. Watching him on a more regular basis in Portland, it appears this criticism is overstated if not entirely inaccurate, and it reassures me that the sage Kevin Arnovitz reached a similar conclusion when Camby was a Clipper.
Dwight Jaynes's take on Friday night's mayhem...
But the players were composed compared to the fans. It was pretty disgraceful. Throwing stuff on the floor, getting ejected from expensive front-row seats and chanting "these refs suck" really isn't going to help. In fact, folks, here's a real scoop for you - with tough-minded officials like Mauer, it's going to hurt.
At this level, referees are anxious to prove that you can't intimidate them, no matter what the situation. This isn't college basketball, where the stripes run for cover as soon as the final horn sounds, looking like scared sheep. This is the NBA, where they strut around daring you to react to them.
John Hollinger on the Friday night refs...
Let me explain: I never like to mention officiating in a story because I feel like it cheapens the winning team's accomplishment. Besides, part of winning basketball is knowing how to react to the officiating and staying composed when the calls go against you.
Tonight, however, I'm making an exception. I have to. It's unavoidable; I'd be burying the main story if I didn't. First, though, let me emphasize that Dallas won on merit: They completely stifled Brandon Roy, got 40 points from Dirk Nowitzki, and were a half-step quicker to most of the loose balls. They also reacted better to the officials than Portland to earn a huge road win in the battle for Western Conference seeding.
Nonetheless, the other story tonight is what everybody in the arena, regardless of which side they were cheering, will remember about this one: Put simply, this was as badly officiated a game as I've ever seen.
Sophia Brugato of BustaBucket.com goes in on the refs...
Tonight Blazer fans witnessed perhaps this season's most ugly and disappointing loss whose end saw the referees quickly whisked out of the arena surrounded by security guards. Yes , it was that type of game. Where the fans were so incensed, the teams so amped up and the officiating so bad that the officials had to be escorted from the arena for the sake of their physical safety.
Welcome to today's NBA: Where Incompetent Officiating Happens.
I really want to be able to write about tonight's game with objective analysis but I just can't . I would be lying if I said I wasn't upset the Blazers lost and it would be completely dishonest to pretend that the atrocious job by the referees did not impact the game's overall outcome.
SJ from Rip City Project says the refs are no excuse...
Make no mistake about it, the Blazers are the reason they lost last night's game to Dallas. Not the referees. That may not be the popular sentiment but it is true. Were the refs anywhere near great? No. But, Portland still had enough control of this game to the point that they could have overcome all of that. In basketball, you can't control whether or not the refs are great, you're not always going to make every shot or get every stop. However you can always control your heart, your will and your composure. And down the stretch the Blazers lost their composure and ended up losing the game. The determination to win wasn't there, replaced almost by a ‘we're the victim' type vibe at times. The focus was not on executing and winning and I don't know if that can be argued.
The reason why I don't blame the refs is because Portland had their chances to win this game.
Ian Thomsen mentions Nate McMillan in his Coach of the Year ballot...
COACH OF THE YEAR: Scott Brooks, Oklahoma City Thunder. This annually becomes the most difficult category to choose because there are so many worthy candidates. Among those I considered but didn't list on my ballot were Alvin Gentry for returning the depleted Suns to the playoffs; Nate McMillan for keeping the Trail Blazers focused despite their injuries and front-office fiasco; Utah's Jerry Sloan for all of the same reasons he has deserved votes for 20 of the last 21 years; and Orlando's Stan Van Gundy and Cleveland's Mike Brown for integrating new personalities and talents while maintaining the East's top two contenders.
David Aldridge does too...
This category may have the most number of deserving candidates. A legit case can be made for Skiles, who has piloted the Bucks back to the playoffs; for Woodson, who has guided the Hawks to their best record in a dozen years despite inexplicably being left to dangle in a lame duck year; for Brooks, who has surrounded Durant with defensive principles and responsibilities, and got a young team to almost never play young; for McMillan, who has continued to get maximum effort and production from player after player despite a rasher of injuries to every center walking, and a midseason trade for Marcus Camby; and for Gentry, who has coaxed a 50-win season out of a Suns team no one thought would come close to anything like that.
Henry Abbott uses John Hollinger's Playoff Odds to explain why upsets are likely in the Western Conference...
Take the West's top four teams. Give them homecourt advantage against all the lower seeds all the way through the playoffs. And guess what. This smart tool will predict that those four teams together have worse than a 50% chance (47.7%) to just make it to the darn Finals.
Frank Isola of the New York Daily News can see Marcus Camby in the Knicks' future...
Long and athletic does describe former Knick Marcus Camby, a pending free agent currently playing with Portland. Walsh is expected to pursue Camby this summer and, from all indications, Camby is interested in returning to New York. Camby is the type of defensive presence Walsh wants to add to the team. D'Antoni wants Camby as well and may try to convince Walsh that Lee, Camby and Danilo Gallinari make an effective starting front line.
"It is now new that I am not hapy for my role in Portland. Last year I was an important player for the team, this year things are different. For sure my injury which kept my out was a reason but I have played good games also this season" said the Spanish guard who doesn't rule out his return to Europe from the next season.
"I did not decide yet. I want to play, here, in Europe or in Bejing, it is not important" added Fernandez. "In the summer I will talk also with my family and I am going to take a final decision" ended Fernandez
Here's a full translation from amlmart1.
Travis Heath from Hoopsworld reports Jerryd Bayless is fine with his current situation...
"I don't really think what if I played in another situation anymore, but I used to," Bayless confided. "I like the situation I'm in now in Portland. It's been a great learning experience for me so far. I can say I've been to the playoffs twice when most all of the other young guards can't really say that. It's been tough at times, but I've realized with time this is a good situation."
Brian T. Smith explores the "Big 3" theory...
Still, when McMillan was asked who the Blazers' No. 3 player was, he did not hesitate.
"Greg Oden. That's the third guy that is in place, that we have and we'll see next season," McMillan said. "But we have that guy. It's just a matter of (Roy, Aldridge and Oden) playing together."
The organization has never failed to publicly back Oden, and Pritchard said the franchise still holds the reins in regards to keeping the often-injured center in Portland as long as it desires.
Nike Hoop Summit Roundup
Blazersedge superstar photographer Alex McDougall was out at the Nike Hoop Summit taking some excellent pictures. Watch his slideshow below or click here for the full size.
In case you missed it, my Hoop Summit preview. With so much going on this week, I won't write at length about the game. But here are a few brief thoughts.
Here are a few more must-read and must-view links to get your Hoop Summit fix.
- An excellent, narrated video breakdown of Nicolas Batum and Martell Webster guarding Kobe Bryant last night.
- Another video breakdown from the Lakers game, this one from Sebastian Pruiti, who looks at the not-very-intelligent final play for the Lakers.
- Richard Hoffer of Sports Illustrated calls Greg Oden the "poster child" for distributing indecent photos on the internet.
- Take a moment to meet Travis Diener while he is still here.
- A Woj turns to video to breakdown who the Lakers might want in the first round: "Nate McMillan has done a phenomenal job there."
- Paul Forrester gives Nicolas Batum some brief love in a column on perimeter defense.
- Kevin Durant for MVP?
- Stein: Blazers are 8th
- Hollinger: Blazers are 6th
- Parker: Blazers are 10th
- Aldridge: Blazers are 12th
Drop anything I missed in the comments. And, please, Frequent the FanShots.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter