Around The World: March 28, 2014

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Trail Blazers: What 2 Watch 4: Trail Blazers Vs. Bulls

“While Lopez doesn't garner the same attention that Noah does, his performance this season has been just as invaluable for the Trail Blazers. He's shattering his previous career-high in rebounding with 8.5 per game this season while also putting up his best numbers in blocks (1.7 per game), offensive rebounds (4.0 per game) free-throw shooting (82 percent) and minutes (31.7 per game). And like Noah, Lopez has been incredibly durable this season, starting in all 73 of Portland's games this season. ”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Bulls Preview

“Chicago will look to clinch a playoff berth Friday night with a win over the visiting Trail Blazers, who are hoping the return of LaMarcus Aldridge can spark a turnaround after their recent lull."

Trail Blazers: The Return Of Aldridge 'Brings Balance' In Victory Versus Hawks

“I wasn’t winded, I was surprised,” said Aldridge. “They actually gave me time to workout and go up and down and do things like that. I thought that was big for my cardio tonight. I didn’t even get tired, really.”

Trail Blazers: Notes & Quotes: Trail Blazers 100, Hawks 85

“We’re a whole different team with him. He’s our best player. He brings balance to our team. We had an inside presence and we were able to play inside out, like we have all year. I just think with him out there we just got more quality shots.”

Oregon Live: Will LaMarcus Aldridge Play In Trail Blazers' Game Versus Bulls?

"We'll find out how he feels, talk to our HP department and make a decision tomorrow," Stotts said in Atlanta. Added Aldridge: "I'm going to see how I feel in the morning because I haven't done anything in so long."

Oregon Live: Chicago Bulls Bring Stymieing Defense Into Matchup Against Trail Blazers: About The Opponent

"Aldridge played last night, so they’re back to how they normally play," Thibodeau said after the team’s shootaround Friday. "They’re a very hard team to guard. Offensively, they have a lot of weapons. They play together. They share the ball. They can really shoot. You have to challenge shots and finish your defense."

Oregon Live: Potentially Big News For Blazers: Houston's Patrick Beverley Reportedly Injures Knee, Could Be Lost For Season

“Beverley hurt the knee Thursday against Philadelphia and is seeking a second opinion, according to Yahoo. If he is unable to play in the postseason, Jeremy Lin figures to move into the starting role. In his last 20 games, Lin is averaging 10.2 points and 3.9 assists while shooting 42 percent from the field.”

Oregon Live: Quick: LaMarcus Aldridge Returns, Bringing With Him Hope, And A Glimpse Of The Old Trail Blazers

“As I walked through, Coach said ‘Thank you’,’’’ Aldridge said. “You know, that means a lot coming from your head coach, showing that he really doesn’t take me coming back early for granted.’’

CSNNW: Motivating LaMarcus

"Let's get this out of the way first: I must say I was a little surprised when LaMarcus Aldridge decided to credit me for a little extra motivation in his comeback game. There was some misinterpretation of what I wrote but I always ignore that because I realize most times the players didn't actually read what I wrote but were hearing it from someone else -- so get an exaggerated version. When you read Chris Haynes' interview with Aldridge (previous link) he mentioned he was going to show he could get inside and get points rather than shoot long, fallaway jumpers: “I heard he said I was going to come back shooting fadeaways and not really help us,” Aldridge said to CSNNW.com. “So I just wanted to try to be more dominant down low. Sometimes when a person calls you out, they can only help you out. So I thank him."

CSNNW: Terry Stotts In Control, Will Let Contract Plays Itself Out

“Coach is not going to go get a rebound or get a stop for us,” Wesley Matthews said. “He can say whatever he wants until he’s blue in the face. He’s saying all the right things. It’s just up to us to do it.”

Rip City Project: Damian Lillard's Dependability

“That’s something that is becoming more and more apparent about Lillard, and something that I am appreciating more and more – his simple, burning passion for the game of basketball. His quote from earlier in the season, when he said, ““If you’re serious about basketball, Portland is the place. I love it there. It’s not a big city so it allows you to concentrate on your craft,” is one of my favorite things I have heard a Blazer say."

Ball Don't Lie: The NBA Needs To Eliminate Conferences, Lengthen The Season, And Save Its Soul

"The Phoenix Suns, Memphis Grizzlies and Dallas Mavericks are fighting for the two bottom playoff berths in the Western Conference, and one of these very good teams will lose out, while several mediocre teams in the East will lose in. The Atlanta Hawks currently own the final spot in the East’s playoff bracket, but they’ve also lost 19 of 25 games, and are working without their best player in center Al Horford. The Toronto Raptors, designed to tank the season, will probably win their division. Chicago will have home court advantage despite playing without Derrick Rose and also Luol Deng, who was traded midseason for no compensation. Things aren’t even."

Ball Don't Lie: The Philadelphia 76ers Lose Their 26th Straight Game, Tying An NBA Record

“Both teams “need” to lose on Saturday, but the Pistons feature a litany of players that truly are going through the motions right now, awaiting a new coach and front office to turn things around. Philadelphia is far less talented, and the team’s front office wants to increase those lottery odds (the Sixers are still “behind” Milwaukee for the worst record in the NBA), but they’ll also be fighting not to make its mark in NBA infamy, featuring rotation players who at least put some fight into those wins."

CNNSI: Roundtable: The Worst Team I Ever Covered

“Once the games began, Portland initially looked all right, but it wasn't long before stern coach Nate McMillan and out-of-shape point guard Raymond Felton began butting heads. A controversial goaltending call during a heartbreaking loss to the Thunder was the death blow: The defeats started mounting afterward, and the Blazers went south fast. A brutal 121-79 loss to the Knicks that was way, way uglier than the 42-point margin of defeat indicated, spelled the end for McMillan. At a hastily called press conference to announce the firing, Miller admitted to reporters that the coach had lost his locker room. The spiral continued from there, as Miller and interim GM Chad Buchanan pulled the plug on the season by dealing veterans Gerald Wallace and Marcus Camby at the trade deadline."

CNNSI: Short Corner: Best Scorers Against Top Defenses, Playoff Strategies And More

“This season only two players have averaged 30+ points against both the Pacers (the No. 1 defense in the league by points allowed per possession) and the Bulls (No. 2): Kevin Durant (34.3 points per game on 59.3 percent shooting between the two matchups) and Kevin Love (31 points per game on 47.4 percent shooting). That’s a small sample size, naturally, but good on the Kevins."

ESPN: Sizing Up The West Playoff Race

"The Blazers possess the inside position now, but they had better not falter with their heavy road slate. It's a good thing that LaMarcus Aldridge has returned from his back issues because the Blazers have been just so-so outside the Rose Garden, err ... the Moda Center this season (20-18). Not helping matters is the likelihood the Blazers will show up to the tiebreaker table empty-handed."

HoopIdea: Abolish The NBA's Conference System

“Scrapping a geography-based playoff system would make travel difficult between certain East and West teams over a back-and-forth series. The counter to this argument is that there are already "West" teams that actually reside in the Eastern part of the nation. Somehow, the league makes do when Memphis plays the Los Angeles Clippers or when New Orleans plays the Los Angeles Lakers in a series. ”

SLAM: Post-Up: Sixers Drop 26th

“We’ve arrived, finally, after a two-month slog. With their 26th straight loss, a whitewashing at the hands of the Rockets, the 76ers have tied the record for the longest losing streak in NBA history. Unlike some of their recent losses, the Sixers never stood much of a chance. Sure, they hung in for the first 20 minutes of the game, but the Rockets blew things wide open before halftime and didn’t relent. James Harden recorded a triple-double despite sitting out the fourth quarter, going for 26 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists.”