Around The World: April 24, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Blazers Ride The Aldridge Wave To Take 2-0 Series Lead Versus Rockets

“This team, in general, just believes in me so much, they ride the wave so well,” said Aldridge. “When I’m going, one through 15, they’re all cheering for me, they’re all telling me to shoot it. If I pass up a shot, they’re all mad at me. So I think having 15 guys have your back like that, that’s great.”

Trail Blazers: 'Inside The NBA' Crew On Game 2

“Last night on “Inside the NBA,” Shaq, Ernie, Kenny and Chuck discussed Portland’s 112-105 victory versus the Rockets in Houston to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series. Shaq drops a “baked salmon” reference, Dorell Wright and Mo Williams get some love for their play off the bench and Chuck makes a very good point about why double-teaming LaMarcus Aldridge, who followed up a 46-point performance in Game 1 with a 43-point performance in Game 2, isn’t as easy as you might think.”

Trail Blazers: Game 2 Notes & Quotes: Trail Blazers 112, Rockets 105

“What can they do to stop him. He was hitting tough fade aways, getting into the lane, getting guys into the air and drawing fouls. He was great once again. Just like game one. He really carried our team. When I couldn’t get it going and I couldn’t hit shots, he just carried us. He played like an MVP again. I thought we had a great effort collectively in the second half as far as guys knocking down shots when it came they’re way. Guys coming in off the bench, coming in and playing physical defense and defensively, we did a great job and we did whatever we needed to do to win the game.”

Trail Blazers: Call Of The Game: L-Train Coming Through

“After scoring a career-high 46 points in Game 1, LaMarcus Aldridge backed up that spectacular performance with one just as impressive. Portland's three-time All-Star poured in a game-high 43 points, on 18-28 shooting, to become the first Trail Blazer to record multiple 40-point games in the postseason. And no bucket was more emphatic than the one which came at the 4:58 mark of the fourth quarter. With the Trail Blazers leading by seven, Wesley Matthews drove to the middle of the floor and tossed up a pass to a streaking Aldridge that was slammed with home with authority over Omer Asik. The Trail Blazers would go on to win Game 2, 112-105, and will take a 2-0 series lead. ”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets Game 2 Audio

“LaMarcus Aldridge is 1st NBA player to record 43+ points, 8+ rebounds and 3+ blocks in a playoff game since Shaquille O'Neal (May 8, 2001). His 89 points in 1st 2 playoff games are fewer than only Michael Jordan (1986, 1988) and Jerry West (1965) in last 50 years.”

Trail Blazers: When It Comes To Game 2, The Trail Blazers Learn From Playing Last

“It’s to keeps you grounded and keeps you in the moment,” said Aldridge of what can be learned from other playoff teams in similar situations going into Game 2. “Golden State went into L.A. and won (Game 1) and they lost by 30 (in Game 2). It’s just to keep you locked in on how much work it took and how hard it’s going to be.”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Not Worried About Officiating Going Into Game 2

“You can’t go into a game worried about what the officiating may or may not be. We’ve got to go in with the mindset that we’re going to try to win this game, regardless of what’s going on with Houston, regardless of what is going on with the officiating, regardless of everything else. We came here with this tight group and that’s going to be the group that’s going to have to go out and win.”

Oregon Live: Quick: A City, And A Team, Embrace The Blessing That Is LaMarcus Aldridge

“No. I haven’t. I haven’t felt it like this before. Never,’’ Aldridge said. “This is the first time I felt where 1 through 15 on the roster is happy for me. And this is the first time where 1 through 15 knows when I’m going, they want to ride that wave.‘’

Oregon Live: LaMarcus Aldridge Powers Trail Blazers To Stunning 2-0 Series Lead Over Houston Rockets In Western Conference Playoffs

"The 89 points in the first two playoff games are more than all but two players — Michael Jordan (1986, 1988) and Jerry West (1965) — have recorded in the last 50 years. Aldridge is the first player to record back-to-back 40-point games in the playoffs since LeBron James (2009) and he’s the first player with at least 80 points and 15 rebounds in the first two playoff games of a series since Jordan in 1997. Aldridge also is first player to record at least 43 points, eight rebounds and three blocks in a playoff game since Shaquille O'Neal in 2001."

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers-Rockets: Dwight Howard Says 'It's Not Over With' After Falling Behind 0-2

"They won two games but it's the first to four and we can't let our heads down," Rockets center Dwight Howard said Wednesday. "We dug a hole but we can always get out of it."

Oregon Live: Dorell Wright Comes Off Bench To Play Huge Role In Key Juncture Of Trail Blazers' Game 2 Win

"I was just in a situation where I could make shots, and I just try to take my shots with confidence," Wright said. "The roll that L.A. is on is nice to watch, I'm happy that he's on our team, but you know, I had the opportunity to knock down shots."

Oregon Live: Struggles Of Rockets' James Harden Carry Over Into Locker Room Arugument With Reporter

"But when his media session in the Rockets opulent locker room ended, Harden went back at the reporter, asking if he had ever seen a player not play well before. The reporter answered that the struggle seemed unusual for Harden and was coming on a major stage, the playoffs."

Portland Tribune: Aldridge Gives Blazers, Son Plenty To Celebrate

"Jaylen had a couple of pretty big items to celebrate: His fifth birthday and the Trail Blazers' resounding 112-105 victory over Houston for a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven NBA first-round playoff series. "He texted me and said I looked like Spiderman when I dunked the one ball (in the fourth quarter)," Aldridge said. No higher praise from a 5-year-old than that."

Blazersedge: Portland Trail Blazers Vs. Houston Rockets Game 2: LaMarcus Aldridge Blows Away Rockets Again

"That performance cannot be overstated, by the way. He IS LaMarcus Aldridge, and that name is now synonymous with back-to-back 40-point performances in the playoffs, a feat unmatched in Trail Blazers history. Just as impressive: the Rockets kept bigger players on Aldridge most of the evening, so those points came on a variety of jump shots, each deadly and each eliciting a groan from the Houston crowd and progressively-louder amazement from national television commentators. Aldridge didn't just carry his team to victory tonight, he loaded them in a rickshaw, gave them a tour of the city, cooked them dinner, gave them a pedicure, and arrange for a V.I.P. meet-and-greet when they arrived. He...was...everything."

Ball Don't Lie: Blazers Top Rockets With Historic LaMarcus Aldridge Performance, Grab 2-0 Lead

"Yet, for whatever Aldridge seemed to lack in the game's final moments, the Rockets as a whole gave much greater cause for concern. Despite Aldridge's heroics, this was a close game in the final minute, with the Rockets trailing only 102-98 with 44 seconds left in regulation. After forcing Aldridge into a missed jumper, it looked like they might take the Blazers to the final buzzer. However, Lillard grabbed the long rebound and took an immediate and reckless foul from Patrick Beverley, pushing the lead to six points with two free throws. The Rockets did get two points from Howard at the line on the next possession, but that was followed by perhaps their worst mistake of the game. In transition, all five Rockets let Wesley Matthews slip past them in for an easy lay-up. To make matters worse, Jeremy Lin fouled Lillard — one of the best free-throw shooters in the NBA — after a James Harden 3-pointer on the next possession, extending the game. The problem was that they trailed by only three points with 28 seconds on the clock, which means that a defensive stop would have given them a chance to tie at the buzzer. It seems that every time the Rockets had a chance to come back, they got in their own way with an avoidable mistake."

Ball Don't Lie: Mavericks Force 22 Spurs Turnovers To Even Series, Win For First Time In 10 Matchups

"The Mavericks won this game with a combination of two strengths. The first came at the offensive end, where Dallas made their name this season with the second-best scoring efficiency marks in the NBA. In Game 2, they shot 48.9 percent from the field and turned it over only seven times (against 19 assists) for a full 28-point improvement on their Game 1 performance. With Dirk Nowitzki (16 points on 7-of-19 shooting) not having one of his better games, Monta Ellis (a team-high 21 points), Shawn Marion (20 points on 8-of-10 shooting), and Devin Harris (18 points on 7-of-9 shooting) picked up the slack. This is a deep team with many offensive options, and they proved that in this win."

Ball Don't Lie (Via Los Angeles Daily News): Pau Gasol: 'There'd Have To Be Significant Changes' For Me To Return To Lakers In Free Agency

“Re-signing [with] the Lakers is a possibility, but I’m not sure whether to say it’s a remote one,” Gasol wrote Wednesday on his personal Web site. “If there’s anything or anyone who could make me stay it’s Kobe Bryant. I’d stay for him, but there’d have to be significant changes. I’ve said it many times: I want to be in a team that has a solid chance to win another [championship] and where I can be an important factor in the game.”

Ball Don't Lie: Whoops: Clippers Color Commentator Mistakenly Filed MVP Ballot For Most Improved Player Award

"It's not a wholly ludicrous concept to give Durant a nod as the league's most improved player. Heck, it's not even an especially new concept — Mike Prada made the case for Durant as 2011-12's MIP, and our own Kelly Dwyer considered it (before ultimately disagreeing) at that time — and in a season where Durant's taken a clear step up from the league's second-best player to the likely winner of this year's Most Valuable Player trophy, KD's case might actually be even stronger."

TrueMemphis: No Bluff: Thunder Are Grizzlies' Best Rivals

"In Memphis, this became known as “The Tony Allen Game.” A February rematch that season in Oklahoma City, in which Allen had 27 points (still his high with the Grizzlies), 5 steals, 3 blocks, zero turnovers and brilliant late-game defense on Durant, rendered it “The First Tony Allen Game.” Following the overtime win Monday, Allen turned a postgame interview into an impromptu sideline soliloquy, warning of the dangers of the Ibakas and Sefoloshas of the world, but not before a now-familiar rallying cry: “It’s all heart. Grit. Grind.”

ESPN: Durant Not Nice About Allen Matchup

"It's not like I'm just totally getting locked down," said Durant, who had 36 points in the overtime loss Monday. "He's making it tough, but it's not like I'm just nonexistent. I don't know what you guys have been watching. He's just making me work, like everybody else will."

TrueHoop: Post Guard Battle For The Ages

"Like Manning, Paul’s greatest strength -- that tight control -- might be his greatest weakness. Similar to how the Denver quarterback has been criticized for ignoring his running backs, the ball can stick in Paul’s hands at times. While Paul tends to end possessions with brilliant passes, he can phase teammates out during the search."

ESPN: Coaching Jobs On The Line

"In the world in which we'd love to live -- a world of peace, prosperity and abundant resources -- it would be unfair. In the cold reality of today's NBA, where coach of the year awards and trips to the conference finals aren't enough to keep jobs, it's fair. The Pacers' record has improved every season since he got the job in 2011. They established their initial objective of securing the No. 1 seed in the East. But if he can't fix these leaking pipes, it's time for a new plumber."

ESPN: Redraft 2008: Kevin Love No. 1

"Speaking of the importance of defenders with offensive gifts, the rangy Frenchman is one of the most versatile players on either side of the ball. In this era of oversized perimeter threats, having a smart 6-foot-8 defender with a 7-1 wingspan is a valuable resource. Giving him handles, passing and 3-point range is a tremendous bonus."

Grantland: NBA Playoffs Overnight: LAMARCUS!

"LaMarcus Aldridge’s jumper has reached Waterworld levels of wetness. Kevin Costner with vaguely gills, swimming through Aldridge’s midrange turnarounds, two of every animal traveling by boat across LaMarcus’s jumpers in hopes of one day repopulating the globe."

CNNSI: Give And Go: Roy Hibbert's Missing Game, Grizz's Chances And More Playoff Debates

"Many of the things that frustrate people about Hibbert — his modest scoring numbers for an All-Star, poor field goal percentage, weak finishing ability in the basket area, underwhelming rebounding numbers for a 7-footer and a lack of mobility — have been issues throughout his career. This is the 27-year-old Hibbert’s sixth season; spending too much time screeching about any of those issues becomes a waste of breath at this point. The magic potion needed to transform him into the player critics want him to become hasn’t arrived yet, and it’s probably not coming."

SLAM: Post-Up: Red-Hot LMA

"Sidenote: I bet it’s really, really friggin’ hard for Chicago Bulls fans to watch LMA cook in these playoffs knowing that they traded the rights to the former Universtiy of Texas standout and a second rounder to Portland for Tyrus Thomas and Viktor Khryapa’s contract."

SLAM: Frustrated James Harden Calls Game 3 The Rockets' Season

"Through two games of the first round Playoff series against the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets All-Star guard James Harden is connecting on a ghastly 29.8 percent of his field goal attempts. Having missed 33 of 47 shots so far in a pair of home losses, Harden realizes the Rockets are now facing an absolute must-win situation Friday night in Game 3."