Around The World: March 12, 2014

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Trail Blazers: What 2 Watch 4 - Trail Blazers Vs. Spurs

“If Portland is to hold off Golden State for the fifth seed in the West, they'll need Aldridge to start playing more like his idol, they'll need to start looking more like the Spurs. And specifically, Aldridge will need to return to form as the heir apparent to his idol, Spurs power forward/center Tim Duncan. At age 37, Duncan is still averaging a double-double with 15.3 points and 10.0 rebounds while also blocking almost two shots and handing out three assists a game in a shade under 30 minutes a game.”

Trail Blazers: Blazers Drop To 0-2 Versus Memphis And 0-3 On Road Trip With Loss To Grizzlies

“We’ve just got to go out there an keep playing,” said Lillard. “We can’t be worried about what’s happened these last three games and we can’t get caught up in, ‘There’s something missing. We need to fix this, we need to fix that.’ We’ve got to go out there and be ourselves and try to make it a game coming down the stretch and try to win one.”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Spurs Preview

“The Spurs didn't have Tony Parker, Tim Duncan or Kawhi Leonard for a 111-109 win at Portland on Feb. 19, but they've been surging with a fully healthy rotation. San Antonio has won 10 of 11 and seven in a row after Tuesday's 104-96 victory at Chicago.”

True Portland: Middle-Earthy

“Without those high-wattage focal points, the Blazers are also without easy scapegoats. By most considerations -- and certainly by the players’ consideration -- Aldridge is the Blazers’ cornerstone, but he isn't the sort of star who exercises a gravitational pull over a whole organization. The same goes for Lillard, the only other real candidate for this designation. The Blazers’ collective approach to success is refreshing in the era of alpha dogs and hot takes, but it all denies a certain emotional satisfaction to fans craving context for the ups and downs of a season. ”

Oregon Live: Mo Williams Questionable For Game Against San Antonio

“He appeared to hurt himself when he landed, however, as he grimaced and rubbed his hip shortly afterward. Williams left the game 34 seconds later and went directly to the locker room with Chris Stackpole, the Blazers' director of health and player performance.’’

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge Not Worried About His Career-Low Shooting Numbers

“Every time he shoots the ball I expect it to go in,’’ point guard Damian Lillard said. “Especially his mid-range jumper, turn around. I’m not worried about it. I think he is still playing at a high level , even though some might say he’s not the L.A. he was, I think he is. We’re just not winning games, so it’s like, people think there must be something wrong. If we would have won against Dallas and Houston, we probably wouldn’t be talking about it, people would be saying he was playing well.’’

Oregon Live: Quick: Key To Trail Blazers' Success Spelled Out In Tattoo On The Back Of LaMarcus Aldridge

“He has embraced that motto since he came to Portland as a gangly colt, and even moreso as he has matured into the thoroughbred that now paces the Trail Blazers. Throughout his seven-plus seasons in Portland, it has served as a barrier to many, sometimes even teammates."

Oregon Live: Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Mo Williams Shoot Well In Trail Blazers' Wins, Don't In Losses

“He has embraced that motto since he came to Portland as a gangly colt, and even moreso as he has matured into the thoroughbred that now paces the Trail Blazers. Throughout his seven-plus seasons in Portland, it has served as a barrier to many, sometimes even teammates."

CSNNW: Freeland Shifting To Playoff Return

“I’m still not where I need to be,” Freeland told CSNNW.com. “I was projected to be out 4-8 weeks and I was shooting for that four-week mark. I’m not ready yet. The playoffs are the more likely scenario."

CSNNW: Will The Real Blazers And Real LaMarcus Aldridge Please Stand Up

“We [need to] just pick our urgency up and get back to how we were in the start of the season when everybody wrote us off,” Matthews said. “We’re almost at the same exact point right now, people writing us off again. That’s when it’s time to get that hunger and that dog back. Not that we lost it, it’s just a rough three games right now.”

CSNNW: Pick And Rolls Are LaMarcus Aldridge's Kryptonite

“The player setting the pick is often the one who gets the good shot off a pick-and-roll situation. Setting a rock-solid pick forces the defense into all sorts of problems with rotations, mismatches and open players. We see it all the time when Portland is defending the pick-and-roll. But in Aldridge's case, he's often in such a hurry to pop out for his jump shot (he very seldom actually "rolls" to the basket), he doesn't hold the pick long enough. Once in a while, "slipping" the pick is a good move but Aldridge does it way too often."

Rip City Project: Patrick Beverley Reveals True Colors

“What he [Lillard] was saying yesterday really bothered me, because, I’ll tell you against all the other top point guards, all the other all-star point guards, it was nothing but praise. Patrick pushes me, he plays hard, he forces me to better my game, Patrick does this. However; he whines and says that I’m pushing him and all that, but I’m not a fan of excuses, I’m a fan of just go-and-do-it, and that’s what I go and do. I play my basketball game and nothing is going to change.”

Blazersedge: Trail Blazers Vs. The Spurs: Chatting With The Enemy

“As far as another gear, the Spurs definitely have one. Especially on defense. Especially that, now that Kawhi is back from his broken hand, he's playing the way everyone expected him to play all year long. The way he played in the Finals against Lebron. Multiple steals for breakaway dunks per game. Cleaning the glass to take it coast to coast against defenses that seem to be standing still. Post-ups against smaller forwards that look like an older brother taking little bro to school. It's been a joy to behold.”

Ball Don't Lie: Los Angeles Lakers Announce Kobe Bryant Will Miss The Remainder Of The Season

“After 7 1/2 months of grueling work to get back on the court, Bryant got just six games and 177 minutes worth of floor time before succumbing to another busted wheel. He averaged 13.8 points, 6.3 assists and 5.7 turnovers in 29.5 minutes per game, shooting 42.5 percent from the floor and a career-worst 18.8 percent from 3-point range.”

SLAM: Post Up: KD Quiets The Rockets

“The real story of the game was Kevin Durant, who poured in 42 points. His hot shooting helped Oklahoma City end a two-game skid while putting some distance on a Western Conference foe slowly creeping up the standings. The Rockets couldn’t win their sixth in a row, because other than James Harden (28-8-9) and Francisco Garcia (11 points on 4-5 shooting), the rest of the team failed to generate any offense. Dwight Howard had just nine points (4-12 from the floor) in the loss.”

CNNSI: The All Bulls-Eye Team: Five All-Stars Who Will Be Under The Microscope Come Playoff Time

“The bullseye falls on Aldridge in a direct “it’s time to walk the walk” manner. In January, he said he “definitely” should have been an All-Star starter over the likes of Griffin and Love, and at the time he had a strong case. Since the break, though, he’s missed time with a groin injury and has looked badly out of sync upon his return, while Griffin has raced past him on the various MVP trackers. After averaging 23.9 points and shooting 46.6 percent before the All-Star break, Aldridge is down to 20.7 points on 38.4 percent shooting after the break. Portland surprisingly looked better during his absence (going 4-1) than it has since his return (2-4).”

CNNSI: The Fundamentlas: The Frustratingly Good Blake Grffin

“Griffin moves in a way that forces opponents to hustle and home in on his location, only for him to then turn their effort against them. A defender has to keep up with every baseline cut for fear of the dunk that might follow, which can lead to some noticeable overplays. Even the softest roll through the paint prompts opponents to flock to Griffin, opening up opportunities elsewhere. His post-up work is efficient enough to warrant ball denial, but Griffin is so slick in sealing his man and so flexible inside that a quick lob generally yields a deep catch and finish. He’s strong enough to bull his way to the hoop and clever enough to react to defensive contact. He can lose an opposing big man with a jab step and attack before the defender has an opportunity to recover. Playing Griffin too closely can lead to an easy shooting foul (as evidenced by his top-five mark in free-throw attempts per game and per minute), and playing him too loosely can open up the jumper, the drive or the well-timed pass. There is no antidote.”