Around The World: April 23, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets Game 2 Preview

"Just try to stay close to him because he's very good in transition," Aldridge said. "He's very good at that pull-up 3, he's good at getting to the line, just trying to make all of his looks tough and don't give him any space."

Trail Blazers: Practice Notes: Missed Calls, Stotts Got Robbed And Time Off Between Games

“He shouldn’t be sixth, he should be at least Top 3 from what we’ve done this year. Pop, the season they had is ridiculous in San Antonio but Terry should be higher than that. The season we had last year and the season we had this year, we had 54 wins this year … He should get more consideration, but I think that’s who we are. Nobody expects something from us, so that’s okay.”

Trail Blazers: Transcript: Terry Stotts Talks Game 1, ‘Hack-A-Howard’ On The Jim Rome Show

“The other thing is, I don’t think it’s necessarily bad for the game because the drama in the arena. When Dwight Howard hit those two free throws, the place erupted. They were cheering. There was a lot of energy in the building. The drama of whether to use it or not and if you use it, will he make or miss the free throws, I think it adds drama and adds interest and it’s not like it’s something that’s used very often to begin with.”

Oregon Live: Rockets Confident Even As They Face 'Must-Win' Game 2 Against Trail Blazers

“We just gotta close it off,” Harden said. “We were up 11 on our home court with four or five minutes left to go in the game. We gave up an and-1 three, just small things that we can control. We’re ready to get back on the court tonight.”

Oregon Live: Other Playoff Series Serve As Reminder For Trail Blazers To Stay Focused

“It wasn’t a perfect game, but they stick around and make timely plays and get timely stops, and kept up the energy, mostly importantly,” Blazers point guard Damian Lillard said. “They were able to stay together two times in a row. We got a chance to see what not to do that could get us blown out, and we saw what could give us a chance to come out and steal another game.”

CSNNW: Blazers-Rockets Game 2, Earl Watson Says They Have To Be Desperate Team

“We’ve got to be the desperate team and come into the game like we lost Game 1,” Earl Watson said. “We can’t let up. We’ve got to stay hungry. That’s our mentality.”

CSNNW: Parsons: 'I'm The Best Small Forward In This Series'

“He said that?” Batum asked CSNNW.com. “He’s not going to say, ‘Nic is the best.’ I understand that, but we’ll see. We’ll see at the end. I don’t care about that.” Knowing Batum like I do, I believe he cares. He won’t admit it, though, and he probably shouldn’t. The focus needs to be kept on winning the game and how can each team come together to achieve that goal."

Blazersedge: Portland Trail Blazers Vs. Houston Rockets: What Does The Game 1 Victory Mean For Game 2?

"Portland's superstars outplayed their Houston counterparts handily on Sunday. Since Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge comprise 2 of the 3 most reliable Blazers this season and since Aldridge has destroyed the Rockets all year, excellent play should become the norm. The Blazers have shown that they present riddles that Houston will have a hard time solving. Making Houston adjust instead of having to adjust to them is a victory for Portland, as are most defensive permutations the Rockets could employ to stop Portland's Top 2, particularly Aldridge.’’

Blazersedge: Blazers C Robin Lopez, F LaMarcus Aldridge Draw Votes For Most Improved Player

"Most Improved Player award voting is determined by a panel of 126 sportswriters and broadcasters. Blazers radio broadcaster Brian Wheeler cast the second-place vote for Lopez and Blazers television color commentator Mike Rice cast one of the third-place votes for Lopez."

Hang Time Blog: Blogtable: Flukes And Real Wins

“I feel like the Blazers in Houston was the truer picture of what that series could be. Mainly because the Blazers/Rockets Game 1 was both teams at the fullest of their powers. We were one extra-session Harden jumper from this game going into infinite overtimes. But to me that opening Clippers/Warriors game was one of the worst games I’ve seen Los Angeles play in the last few weeks. Blake Griffin was in foul trouble throughout (he finished with 16 points in 19 minutes) and how often do you see Chris Paul with a 4:3 assist-to-turnover ratio? Even with all that, the Clips still were in the game down the stretch and nearly pulled off the win.”

Houston Chronicle: Omer Asik Wants Another Chance To Slow LaMarcus Aldridge

“I wasn’t able to do much because I wasn’t able to play much. I always try to make it hard on him before he catches the ball, to make him maybe tired before he gets the ball. He is one of the best power forwards in the league. It’s hard to guard him but we will try our best.”

Ball Don't Lie: Washington Continues Its Domination Of The Chicago Bulls, Grabs 2-0 Series Lead

"The Wizards’ young backcourt of John Wall and Bradley Beal didn’t exactly shoot the lights out, but in comparison to the duo’s 7-for-25 mark in Washington’s Game 1 win, the pair somewhat lit it up. The two combined to score 42 points on 15-of-35 shooting, with Beal managing 11 fourth-quarter points and Wall nailing two clutch free throws in overtime. Meanwhile, Nene sustained his Chicago-crippling all-around play from Game 1, hitting for 17 points and seven rebounds including six killer points in the five-minute overtime frame."

ESPN: The Portland-Houston Paradox

"That's my game, you know? I shoot midrange shots," Aldridge says. "Our offense works with me taking midrange shots and most teams like to give up midrange shots. So if I specialize in that shot, then why not shoot it?" Aldridge's midrange jumper, either at the top of the key or on the left side of the floor, stabilizes the Blazers' offense, allowing the other four players locate their hot spots. Robin Lopez rarely leaves the basket area. Lillard, Batum and Matthews are all killer from beyond the arc."

ESPN Chicago: Wanted: A Scorer In Crunch Time

"If romancing Carmelo Anthony isn't at the top of the Bulls priority list, one would ask, why the hell not? Free agents, trades, draft picks, players stashed in Europe -- every option ought to be explored to death to avoid another season of this. Two straight games playing at home the Bulls couldn't get a basket when they needed one, and now they're halfway to summer."

ESPN: Are The Chicago Bulls Done?

"Fiction. The Bulls have too much heart and toughness to just roll over now. Thibodeau and Joakim Noah won't let them. But -- if they can't find a way to score late in games all the heart in the world won't matter. The Bulls are being reminded of a lesson they've learned before: Talent usually wins out in the postseason."

ESPN: The Cost Of Playing Through Pain

"What it comes down to is Beverley is risking more than the mere possibility of missing the rest of the playoffs. It goes far deeper than that: long-term damage to his knee. And that's before we factor in the possibility of a different injury occurring as a result of overcompensating for that knee. No doubt that the Rockets' team doctors have checked out Beverley's MRI and have walked away with the conclusion that he's fit to play, but we also have to consider the circumstances."

ESPN: Frank Vogel 'Coaching For His Job'

“Sources said that Stephenson and guard George Hill had to be separated on the bench during a 26-point home loss to San Antonio on March 31. And when Roy Hibbert made his well-chronicled complaints to NBA.com in late March about "some selfish dudes in here," sources say he was essentially referring to Stephenson, who ranks as one of the league's most improved players this season as he approaches free agency in July and is well-known to be a Bird favorite.”

CNNSI: Did Goran Dragic Deserve The Most Improved Player Award? History Suggests ...

"There is no statistical prototype for the award. Last season, for instance, George was the runaway winner and his PER increased only 0.3 (16.5 to 16.8). This year’s winner, Dragic, improved his PER 3.9 points, from 17.5 to 21.4, in his sixth season. That’s a pretty healthy climb, but not even the biggest on his team. Phoenix swingman Gerald Green, who finished fourth in the voting, saw his PER skyrocket 6.6 points, to 16.5."

CNNSI: Rookie Diary: Playoff Debut, Key To Beating Heat

"Playing on the biggest stage this spring is an awesome experience. The two tournaments are different, but the NBA playoffs does have the some of the same kind of buzz as the NCAA tournament, which I played in last year with Indiana. I'll watch the other playoff games at night just like the fans. The end of Oklahoma City-Memphis on Monday was pretty crazy.”

SLAM: Post-Up: DC Risen

"In the extra period, Game 1 hero Nene had 6 consecutive points to give Washington a hefty cushion. The Wizards were abysmal from the free-throw line all night long (16-28), but managed to knock down four in a row during crunch time to keep Chicago at bay. With 38 seconds on the clock, Wall was called for an offensive foul on an inbounds pass that gave the Bulls life again. Chicago narrowed the deficit to 2 points and had a chance to tie the game in the closing seconds when Hinrich was fouled on a layup attempt, but he missed the first free throw. He ricocheted his second attempt off the rim on purpose and Wall snatched the rebound, throwing the ball to the other side of the court as time expired."