Around The World: April 29, 2014
Trail Blazers: Wesley Matthews Finally Getting What He Deserves
“I mean, that’s Wes,’’ Lillard said. “He competes as hard as anybody in this league on both ends of the floor and he’s matched up against one of the toughest offensive players in this league in James Harden, and every possession he is coming back at him. Having Wes on our team is huge, and he was definitely one of the main reasons we won.’’
“That was a great decision. The commissioner did his job. That was a bad situation for everyone, especially for the Clippers. So I think it’s the right decision. We have no place for racism in this league, in this world. If you’re going to make those kinds of comments, whoever it is, you’ve got to step away from this league. They took the position they needed to take.”
“I completely support NBA Commissioner Adam Silver’s decisive action on the Sterling issue. He exhibited great leadership, and the league is in good hands.”
Trail Blazers: The Life Of Jack Ramsay
“The NBA has put together an very nice video about the life and career of Jack Ramsay, the Hall of Fame coach who led the Trail Blazers to their one of only NBA championship in 1977, who died Monday at the age of 89. Some nice remembrances from Hubie Brown, Bill Walton and other coaches and players who knew Ramsay.”
Trail Blazers: Team Trainer Geoff Cark's Assist Still In Play
“Clark and Watson, who is now in great healthy, have stayed in touch ever since, and sometimes visit when the Trail Blazers are in Houston to take on the Rockets, as they’ve done in during the first-round series between the two teams. The video above from CSN Houston provides a great reason to post this story again.”
“We will be honoring him, and I’m sure I will bring out some 70’s apparel at some point down the road, but not right now,’’ Stotts said. “I was glad to be able to pay tribute to him when I did. But now, the whole basketball community in the United States is paying tribute to him, and that’s even better.’’
“That was huge, just someone who’s been in this situation before on the Rockets,” forward Chandler Parsons said. “It’s huge to hear from him, just the mindset that he had, and what we need to be thinking, and how we just need to believe in each other and basically how it’s not over and how we can still turn this thing around and put the pressure back on them.”
“I mean, that right there, that … that is us,’’ Matthews said. “That’s a fight. We wanted that game. When I saw that ball come down, it was 50-50, and one of us was coming away with that ball, either Dame or myself.’’
“Jack believed he could out-coach anybody on the globe, no matter the quality of his personnel. I asked him about his first year as the Buffalo coach. That team won only 21 games. Surely, I thought, he understood that those players weren't good enough to win consistently.”
“Game 3 of the Thunder-Grizzlies series is on the tube. For Gina, it’s just like old times in east Oakland. These occasions haven’t ensued much since her youngest son became worth more than $100 million in only his second year in the NBA. She says it’s been tough to get the family up to Oregon all at one time. But on this day, everything worked out.”
Portland Tribune: Only One Thing Left To Do
“It will be tough, just like the first two games,” said Portland’s Damian Lillard, who is averaging 25.5 points, 7.5 assists and 6.0 rebounds in the series. “Doing it three times is really tough, but it’s not impossible. You get a team down three games to one, you don’t want to let them believe too much. They’re a good team, a confident team, and I’m sure they believe if they win one at home, come back, win one here and get it to seven, they’ll have a great chance. ... we’ll take the same mind-set we’ve had these past four games, and try to do what I guess is considered to be almost impossible.”
Rip City Project: Afterglow: Trail Blazers, Rockets, And Mo Williams - Game 4
“It’s no surprise, then, that Mo Williams was the one to start that halftime locker room speech. By all accounts, it was directed at himself as much as anyone else. He was the wussy. He was the one who needed to stop complaining and just meet the crisis at the moment. And while the rest of his game may have been questionable, he made it happen not a moment too soon.”
“While losing the higher-priced items — the ring from the 2014 NBA All-Star Game, which marked George's first appearance as a starter voted in by the fans, a pair of Air Jordan 4 Toros and a $700 Flux watch — likely hurts the most, this is the coldest element of the crime, to me: "A $20 bill was also taken from the home." Like, you're already hitting a man for tens of thousands of dollars in merchandise — you've got to snag Andrew Jackson, too? That's just plain mean.”
“The Spurs find themselves in strong position to take the series with two home games remaining, but they clearly have room for improvement. While Diaw (17 points on 7-of-12 FG) provided a boost in Game 4 and Ginobili continued to be the team's best player in the series, the Spurs are far from peak efficiency. In particular, Parker has yet to dominate the series as many predicted he would, restricting the Spurs' ability to play as well as many predicted they would. Before the playoffs, Parker looked to have a significant advantage over likely defenders Jose Calderon, Devin Harris and Ellis. While his shooting percentage in the first three games was solid, he has yet to score more than 21 points and appears less central to the Spurs' plans vs. the Mavericks. His Game 4 (10 points on 5-of-14 FG) gave cause for concern.”
“Roy Hibbert, who finished with four fouls and zero points in 12 minutes, once again contributed a miserable stat line – and yet the Pacers played relatively well with the All-Star center on the court in the first half, he was actually on the pine when the Hawks turned a 21-21 tie into a whopping 21-point advantage at the half. Luis Scola, who could not guard a soul out there, somehow managed a -16 night in terms of plus/minus in just under eight minutes of play. New’ish addition Evan Turner was even worse when counting the seconds, putting up a -14 in 4 1/2 minutes.”
"As he did throughout the series, LeBron James led the way, scoring a game-high 31 points on 10-for-19 shooting to go with nine assists, seven rebounds, three steals and a block in 43 minutes. It was James' 64th 30-point playoff game, second only to Kobe Bryant (88) among active players. He averaged 30 per game on the dot in the four-game series win, shooting 55.7 percent from the floor and 79.5 percent from the foul line (on 11 attempts a night) to go with eight boards, six dimes and 2.3 steals per contest, continuing to find (and cash in on) the looks he wanted against the likes of top Bobcats wing defender Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Chris Douglas-Roberts and anyone else Clifford could throw at him."
“Silver also stated that Sterling cannot attend any NBA games or practices, be present at any Clippers office or facility, or participate in business or player personnel decisions.”
"Although the Hawks haven't been that hot the entire series, they have made 59 3-pointers through five games, 14 more than any other playoff team. (Remarkably, Indiana is second with 45.) That's one off the NBA record for triples in a five-game series (the 2007 Golden State Warriors had 60 against the Utah Jazz in a series they lost) and on pace to surpass records for series of six games (70 by the Houston Rockets against the Oklahoma City Thunder last year) and seven games (77, shared by the 1995 Orlando Magic against the Pacers and the 2006 Phoenix Suns against the Los Angeles Clippers)."
"Statistics speak for themselves. But even before Durant admitted the Grizzlies' ace defender was harassing him out of his comfort zone, there were some signs. Durant appears to have fallen into a habit of short-arming his release a bit. His high and smooth stroke seemed at times to become shorter and jerky during Game 4. As did his balance, where it seemed he often wasn't able to get into that trademark form on his takeoff."
"Nobody. The Grizzlies should still be salty they let Game 4 go, that was a golden chance to knock the Thunder into the ropes. Even still, Kevin Durant is having a tough time dealing with Tony Allen, it is really something to see. It is expected the Thunder will assert dominance and Durant and Westbrook will rise up out of slumps, but assuming things in the playoffs is often foolish."
"Or Charlotte could certainly opt for trades to fill its nagging holes at both small forward and backup point guard if it fears the usual chilly summer chasing players on the open market. The rumbles have already begun that two players Clifford is said to regard with real fondness after working with them in Orlando as an assistant -- swingman Arron Afflalo and backup point guard Jameer Nelson -- will be among the Bobcats' trade targets."
"Kidd-Gilchrist took great strides at becoming a savvier defensive player and has the potential to be a perennial All-Defensive team selection with his impressive combination of strength, quickness, size and length. The real question is whether his offensive game can catch up to his defensive prowess, and that largely depends on developing a perimeter jumper that now looks worse than it did at Kentucky. Still, he has gotten better at the type of "ghost cuts" that renowned nonshooter Dwyane Wade has mastered, and as he gets better at that, his offense will grow."
"The Blazers lead 3-1 but these teams are so evenly matched they ought to play best of nine. Three games have required overtime. LaMarcus Aldridge has scored more than 40 points twice. James Harden has gone from goat to hero and back. Damian Lillard has been as comfortable on the postseason stage as on an Oakland playground. Patrick Beverley has fought through a torn meniscus and a couple hundred screens. Oh … and then there’s that guy from the D-League who can’t miss. Relatively speaking, the Blazers and Rockets are playoff novices, and at times defense has been lacking. But they’ve set the bar for first-round action."
“[The Spurs] looked like they were doing whatever they wanted to do,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. “You just can’t do business that way this time of year. We’ve done a few good things in this series — we’ve done a lot of good things. But defensively the last two games we’ve been poor. Even though the number of points is relatively low in this game, our first-half performance from a competitive standpoint was just not up to snuff.”
SLAM: Post-Up: Spurs Survive
"The defending Western Conference champions would not be in this series without the play from their current best player—Manu Ginbobili (23 points, 5 assists). Ginobili and Ellis have been the catalysts for their respective offenses, being the two best players through four games. Even though Ginobili sometimes uses flopping to his advantage, the Argentinian knows how to get to the rim and free throw line. Monday night, with Ginobili on the floor, the Spurs scored 117.6 points per 100 possessions. Without Ginobili? Only 69.7 points per 100 possessions. That says it all."