Around The World: April 1, 2014
“I know where my heart is, I know that I really want to be with Portland,” said Lillard. “It’s just fun to me, honestly … I’ll be here as long as they’ll have me.”
Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Talk Technical Fouls
“I don’t know, I have a lot of technicals that I feel are very warranted. I’ve deserved the majority of my technicals. I can be a pill sometimes", said Lopez. "I had that hard foul on Blake Griffin a few years back. I bumped a ref once. There’s a couple of things that I’ve done that are rather unsavory, a little seedy.”
Trail Blazers: Running The Break
“I think they'll end up right where they are now: in the five spot playing in the first round against the Houston Rockets. After a brutal March, they've got a reasonable schedule to finish out the season and just enough cushion to hold off Golden State. But honestly, they could finish in any spot between four and eight and I wouldn't be the slightest bit surprised.”
“The Lakers succeeded in that role Sunday night, defeating the playoff-chasing Phoenix Suns 115-99. The Lakers won without All-Star forward Pau Gasol — who has been battling vertigo — as Chris Kaman had his best game of the season, recording 28 points, 17 rebounds and six assists.”
“We just can’t fall into that full trap of trying to go shot for shot with them,” guard Wesley Matthews said. “We have to stop them. We can’t fuel them, we can’t fuel them with our bad shots that we don’t’ give ourselves a chance to offensive rebounds.” Matthews, who has battled the Lakers countless times in his five NBA seasons, was asked if it’s odd to see the Lakers be so irrelevant in the playoff picture. “Yeah,” he said, quickly adding: “It’s not my problem right now.”
“I just want to make the playoffs right now,” Matthews said after the Blazers practiced Monday to get ready for their Tuesday game against the Lakers in Los Angeles. “We got a game against the Lakers coming up, who beat us here and we gotta get them back. All this seeding stuff, we’ll see where the chips fall after seven games.”
“Still, fifth place in the Western Conference standing exceeds the expectations of some, with some projecting the Blazers to end the season seventh or lower, even out of the playoffs. Portland can fall in the standings, though gained a game on the Warriors, Suns and Mavericks Sunday while jockeying for position, pushing Memphis farther out of the playoff hunt, winning three straight since the return of Aldridge to the lineup.”
“I just feel like these last 10 games I want to assert myself more defensively,” he said. “Try to be a little more disruptive and just give it all I got these last 10 games so we can finish it off the right way.”
Portland Tribune: Freeland Eyes Playoff Return
“I don’t want to rush back if it will cause me problems in the future,” Freeland said. “I’m going to wait on Chris’ opinion, and the doctors’ opinion, and go from there.”
Rip City Project: Mo Williams: The Why, How, And Who Else
“When there is action run for Williams, it’s almost always a very simple pick and roll, without any cutters or off-ball motion. Here the only thing that happens besides the Mo-RoLo PNR is Dorell Wright realizing that he’s about to bump into the action and backing away quickly. Williams takes a pullup from 20 feet while defended by noted giant man Kosta Koufos. He makes the shot, but it’s still not a good one. Blame whoever you like on this one. Williams takes an ill-advised shot, to be sure. But Lillard hardly moves to bail Williams out of a tough spot and perhaps create some motion. And it’s clear no one was required to move here. Similar motionlessness is evident in this play too.”
“The sort of teams that would want to hand Rudy Gay his next big contract are still going to be there in the summer of 2015, with pen potentially going down on paper a full month before Rudy turns 29. Why not take that $19.3 million, paid off during what could be an improved consecutive career year for Gay, and then grab the security of another long term deal? It’s true the players’ market, in this relatively weak free-agent class, may be the best time to pounce, but again – the sort of general managers who would want to pay big money for Rudy Gay in 2014 will still be there in 2015. The league isn’t yet filled with Masai Ujiri clones.”
"Yet, as our Kelly Dwyer pointed out on Monday, the Pacers do have some ways of figuring things out. While the playoffs start in a little more than two weeks, the first round figures to be comparatively unchallenging for the top two teams in the East, what with the seventh-place Charlotte Bobcats striking fear into few hearts and the Atlanta Hawks, New York Knicks and (somehow) Cleveland Cavaliers struggling to figure out who can lose least to take the last spot by default. The Pacers clearly can't afford to take any team lightly right now, but they do have more wiggle room than their current form might suggest."
“I just don’t know if we’re handling success and being out front the right way,” power forward David West told NBA.com. “When we don’t share the ball, we have 10, 15 possessions where we don’t make a single pass, and you’ve got four guys, or nine guys on the floor watching one guy, watching two guys, it’s on us. … We’ve had that same sort of conversation over the last month and a half or so. We just haven’t been able to apply that on the basketball court, particularly on the road.”
“However, the Cavaliers do have a favorable stretch the rest of the way, as just one of their seven remaining opponents (Brooklyn) has a record over .500. Cleveland also gets a head-to-head game against Atlanta and has four games against the East’s bottom-five teams (Orlando, Detroit, Milwaukee and Boston). Sneaking into the playoffs would make the Cavaliers easy pickings for either the Pacers or the Heat, but it would help salvage a strange and disappointing season for the Cavaliers, who fired GM Chris Grant, traded away center Andrew Bynum and acquired Luol Deng and Spencer Hawes in midseason moves as they chased a return to the playoffs."
"When we go small, we can match up pretty well with them," said the 6-foot-7 Shawn Marion, who plays power forward or sometimes center in Mavs' small lineups. "They can be a little faster, a little bit more athletic than us. We've got to use our savviness and our craftiness."
TrueLosAngeles: Lakers Fans' Civil War
"In fairness to Kobe’s vigilantes, getting his back has often felt like getting hit by a Greyhound. Bryant’s career has been shaped by persistent PR turbulence. Feuds with Shaquille O’Neal and Phil Jackson. Getting (too much) blame for the three-peat core’s dissolution. Colorado. The 2007 offseason, in which he demanded a trade to Pluto. His relentlessly demanding relationship with teammates. An-court persona that would raise Hannibal Lecter’s eyebrows. Throw in the reductive -- and idiotic -- idea that Kobe’s first three titles on “Shaq’s teams” somehow counted less, and the guy has spent considerable time between the crosshairs. Bryant may be more popular than polarizing these days, but likability will never be his calling card. "
“After running out the same starting lineup for every game before the All-Star break -- tied for the sixth-longest streak in NBA history -- the Blazers have been forced to adjust as LaMarcus Aldridge has battled injuries since then. Aldridge's absence has been compounded by the loss of their top reserve in the frontcourt, Joel Freeland, to a sprained MCL. While Portland is 7-5 overall without Aldridge, it lost the last three games he missed last week before returning just in time to spark a three-game winning streak.”
Grantland: Building The Brow
“The new parlor game is to compare isolated parts of Davis’s game to their equivalents belonging to someone else. He’s so dangerous on the pick-and-roll, capable of snagging insane lobs and catching and dunking from the foul line without a dribble, that he sucks in defenders like Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard — only Davis is also a 79 percent foul shooter. One opposing assistant coach says Davis is the first player since prime Rasheed Wallace who is fast and long enough to help off Nowitzki on a pick-and-pop, and then recover back to Nowitzki before the big German can release his deadly jumper. Another assistant offered up the comparison to a prime Cliff Robinson — a 6-foot-10 guy with elite outside-in ballhandling skills, only Davis, of course, has more potential in almost every other facet.”
SLAM: Post-Up: Heat On Top
“The win moves Miami back into the No. 1 spot in the East, having played 2 games less than the Pacers. And with Toronto and Chicago currently boasting identical records, it will be very, very interesting to see how the top-four seeds end up in the East.”