Around The World: April 25, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Aldridge, Matthews And Lillard Talk Game 3 At Shootaround

“The Portland Trail Blazers held shootaround at their practice facility in Tualatin in preparation for tonight’s Game 3 versus the the Rockets at the Moda Center. Here’s what LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard and Wesley Matthews had to say about tonight’s matchup.”

Trail Blazers: Birthday Texts, Pep Talks, And Coconut Waters

“Me and Mo spoke before the game because we didn’t have a good showing, we feel like, in the first game,” said Wright. “Just come out aggressive, play our game and do what we do. This is why we were brought here, for these moments in the playoffs and I feel like we both went out there and played a solid game.”

Trail Blazers: 2014 Playoffs: Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets Preview - Game 3

“Aldridge found success in the paint in the opener so the Rockets adjusted - but so did Aldridge, who went outside to pepper Houston with midrange jumpers. Thirteen of his 18 field goals came from 10 feet out or more.”

Trail Blazers: Houston's Perspective Heading Into Game 3

“We’re just too calm at home, too calm like it was going to be easy,” Harden said. “This is a great test for us. This is going to be our game changer of the season right here.”

Trail Blazers: What 2 Watch 4 - Trail Blazers Vs. Rockets: Game 3

“When LaMarcus Aldridge became just the third player in almost 30 years to record at least 46 points and 18 rebounds in a playoff game in Game 1 at Houston, he was in great company. In the record books yes, but he was literally in the company of the other two players inside the Toyota Center in Houston. The first to accomplish the feat since 1986, all-time great center Hakeem Olajuwon, was sitting courtside. The other, eight-time All-Star center Dwight Howard, was one of Aldridge’s combatants during his storied night on Sunday. And Howard notched 27 points and 15 rebounds of his own while Aldridge broke Portland’s all-time record for points in a playoff game, supplanting Bonzi Wells and his 45 points on April 23, 2003. And while both players’ numbers may have exceeded expectations, we shouldn’t be too surprised by their success in that game, Game 2 (Aldridge – 43 points, 8 rebounds; Howard – 32 points, 14 rebounds) or the rest of this series. Aldridge has tallied better than 20 points every time these teams have met this year – six games that include the regular season and playoffs. And Howard has posted a double-double in each of the five contests in which he has suited up against Portland. These brilliant big men once again garner the spotlight in Game 3 and throughout this playoff series.”

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers Anticipate Electric Energy At Home, But Are Determined To Stay Focused

“I’ve tried to help prepare every player – just warming up in the Rose Garden in the playoffs is a different level,” Aldridge said, reverting to the Moda Center’s old name. “They’re going to chant the whole warmup, they’re going to bring so much energy to the building you could overdo yourself early. So I just try to tell every guy take in the energy that they’re going to have tonight, but don’t overdo it in warmups.”

Oregon Live: Terry Stotts' Trail Blazers Clicking On Offense, Staying Stingy Against Rockets' James Harden On Defense

“I think Nic and Wes, in particular, have taken the challenge of guarding him and trying not to give him easy baskets,” Stotts said. “Look, he’s missed some shots. But I think our defense, not only on the ball, but our help defense, our pick-and-roll defense with him, has been pretty effective. And that’s a credit not only to the guys guarding him, but the guy guarding the screener as well.”

CSNNW: Blazers Take Commanding 2-0 Series Lead Heading Home

“They’re going to be crazy,” Batum said. “They’re crazy. In a good way, though. And now that we’re up 2-0, those guys are going to be insane. We all know that. We want them to be crazy. Be insane. Be who you are. Be Rip City.”

CSNNW: Trends That Trouble Heading Into Game 3

“If the Blazers have any aspirations of finishing off the Rockets by Sunday night, Stotts will need to find ways to bring out the beast that owned the low post to start the series. Aldridge hitting 13 of 19 shots from mid-range is great, but not sustainable. For proof, just look back to the 1st game when Aldridge made just 3 of 12 from that area of the floor.”

Columbian: Blazers' Defensive Effort Causing Rockets Trouble

"I know Nic was talking about when they played Phoenix (2010) and went down there and got a split and then came back and lost Game 3. There's enough examples out there that just because you come home that doesn't guarantee you anything."

Portland Tribune: Terry Stotts Explains Why The Blazers Are Leading Houston 2-0

“We don’t approach these two games, we approach Game 3,” Stotts said, on a day in which the Blazers' players weren't available for comment. “That’s the first thing. There’s enough examples out there that just because you come home, that doesn’t guarantee anything.”

Rip City Project: Dorell Wright - Invaluable Contributions

"Beside his on-court production, I have no doubt that his off the court influence has had a huge role on the entire Blazers team as well. As has been noted before, Wright is the only Blazer on the team with a championship ring (2006 with the Miami Heat). Even though he did not play much on that team, you can bet that he saw and learned exactly what goes into a successful, extended playoff run."

ESPN: Postseason MVP Rankings: 1-2

"Knowing that the Rockets are hyperaware of his shot-making right now, he is cleverly using fakes to create space for his shot or to draw fouls. The end result is this: Not only are the Blazers in prime position to win this series, but Aldridge can elevate his "status" to a potential MVP candidate next season if they do. That's how impressive he has been in the first week of the playoffs."

ESPN: Biggest Questions Facing Rockets

"There's no easy answer here, but you have to trust that Aldridge isn't going to shoot 13-for-19 outside the paint as he did in Game 2. Seems crazy after watching him splash jumper after jumper, but that's an unsustainable pace. Play him straight up, stay close and stick with the process over the results. Soon the results will follow. Doubling him in the post makes sense only with elite weakside defenders who can rotate seamlessly, but James Harden complicates that."

ESPN: Game 3's: Who's Ready To Rumble?

"Fact. As long as LaMarcus Aldridge is playing like Shaq Nowitzki, Portland's opponents have no good options. I suspect Houston -- and whoever's next, should Portland advance -- will continue to play Aldridge straight-up rather than let Portland shoot open 3s, but Aldridge is making that strategy look less tenable daily."

TrueDC: Swing 'Mate

"When Wall couldn’t stay in front of a frenzied D.J. Augustin (25 points), Ariza asked for the assignment. From the time the 6-foot-8 swingman switched onto Augustin, with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter until the end of overtime, the Bulls point guard missed all of his shots, including an attempt with 15 seconds remaining in regulation that would have put the Bulls up two. "

CNNSI: Playoff Roundtable: Bulls Or Rockets More Likely To Fall Into 3-0 Series Hole Tonight

"Portland’s home-court advantage will be oppressive, and the Rockets have no one to match up with LaMarcus Aldridge. The Rockets knew Aldridge would put them in a difficult position — he’s too agile for their centers, too physical for their power forwards – but he’s single-handedly controlled the series and there’s no reason to believe his dominance will cease. This isn’t to say the Rockets are finished. They could win a Game 3 shootout if James Harden shakes out of his playoff doldrums. But their defense, outside of Patrick Beverley and Dwight Howard, is disconcerting. The situation in Chicago is virtually the reverse. The offensively challenged Bulls have no margin for error, and yet, you could have said the same thing about them for the past two years. They always respond, always find a way, and anybody who thinks they will just hobble off into the abyss hasn’t been paying attention."

CNNSI: On Off Night For Star Point Guards, Chris Paul Did Just Enough

"I was going to take him out," Rivers said. "I think it was during the middle of the third. I saw him grab his leg twice. I told our trainer, 'I think that's it.' You could see it. He was laboring. He said, 'I'm good, just trust me. Please trust me.' And he was good. He's just a tough, tough kid."

CNNSI: Pacers Can't Win Unless Roy Hibbert Rediscovers Game

"I don't know," said David West after Game 3. "We have all tried to talk to him, keep him confident. It's hurting him. He wants to help us. He wants to play well. He is hard on himself. We have to figure out a way to get him involved. He has to figure out a way to get himself involved. The biggest thing for us is to keep him confident, [to] let him know we still trust him."

SLAM: Post-Up: Grind Hard

"During the overtime period, the Grizzlies made up for their fourth quarter mistakes. Conley recorded five of his 20 points, the team as a whole held the Thunder to a mere 3-12 shooting, and Courtney Lee hit some very important clutch free throws to seal the win."