Around The World: May 12, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Shootaround Notes: Every Game Is A Game 7

“If we lose tonight we’re going home,” said Nicolas Batum. “We’ve got to win this game tonight and don’t think about winning the next four. Just think about tonight and try to get this one.”

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

“San Antonio’s Tim Duncan has more playoff rebounds than any player still in the game today (2,605). His 221 games and 4,776 points during the postseason trail only one active player in the NBA (Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant, respectively). But his sensational playoff career, which includes four NBA Championships and three NBA Finals MVP awards, does not include something Portland’s LaMarcus Aldridge accomplished – twice – to begin the 2014 NBA Playoffs. You see, Duncan’s 4,776 points have never come more than 41 at a time (his playoff career high). In one of the best, back-to-back performances in playoff history, Aldridge scored 46 points and then 43 points at Houston in Games 1 and 2 during the first round. The 46 points represented a Trail Blazers playoff record, while the 43 points rank third (Bonzi Wells, 45). And the incredible start resulted in a 29.8 scoring average in six games vs. Houston, second all-time by a Trail Blazer in a playoff series (Drexler, 31.4). Aldridge’s performance propelled Rip City into the Western Conference Semifinals to face Duncan and his gaudy playoff resumé. And Aldridge is all too familiar with that document’s contents. Portland’s three-time All-Star grew up in Dallas following Duncan from less than 300 miles away. They’ll be standing face-to-face tonight. ”

Trail Blazers: 2014 Playoffs: Trail Blazers Vs. Spurs Preview - Game 4

"Monday is a new game, and we are confident we are capable of winning," Lillard said. "It is also about our pride. We do not want to come out here and get swept. We still believe we can win a game - we have to come out here and play like it."

Trail Blazers: Craig Sager:
I'd Also Like To Interview Damian Lillard'

“You’re probably aware that TNT’s Craig Sager, arguably the most well-known sideline reporter of all time thanks to his longevity and penchant for eye-catching suits, has been absent during the 2014 NBA Playoff while he undergoes treatment for leukemia. But he has been paying attention to the playoffs from home and the hospital. He caught Damian Lillard’s series-winning three-pointer in Game 6 versus the Houston Rockets in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, and said he’d like a chance to interview Lillard when he’s back roaming the sidelines …”

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers Assistant Coaches Could Become Hot Commodities This Summer

“We laugh about it all the time,” Lillard, the Blazers’ All-Star point guard, said. “Last summer, he became a serious candidate for the job in Philly. And I would always tell him, ‘Man, if they call and ask me about you, I’m going to hate. I’m going to pull shade over everything.’ Because I’d hate to see him go. I love having him as a coach and as a big brother. And it wouldn’t be the same without him.”

Oregon Live: Mo Williams Not Likely To Play In Game 4

“With Williams out, the Spurs' bench outscored Portland's reserves 40-6 in Game 3. San Antonio has a 140-43 advantage in bench scoring in the series, although the Spurs were expected to have an edge as they led the league in bench scoring during the regular season at 45.1 points per game, and Portland was last at 24.7.”

Oregon Live: With History, A 3-0 Deficit And Talented San Antonio Spurs Stacked Against Them, Trail Blazers Say Game 4 Is About One Thing: Pride

“I don’t know if there’s really words for it,” Wesley Matthews said, when asked to describe the way the Spurs have played. “They’re playing extremely well. Everybody’s playing at a high level. Everyone on their team seems to look like the first option on any other team. They’re playing well together, they’re shooting the ball well, their conversion rate on our turnovers and our mistakes is off the charts.”

CSNNW: Spurs Will End Series But Shouldn't In Rip City

“We want to go back to San Antonio,” center Robin Lopez said after the Game 3 loss at home. “We have no choice but to take it one game at a time. At this point, we have to try to get a game.”

CSNNW: Really, It's All About Gregg Popovich

“TThis is one of the best "teams" I can remember watching in my more than 30 years covering the NBA. They positively grind you down with their offensive execution, unselfishly passing up good shots so their teammates can get better ones. Watch the little things with them -- how many times they receive perfect passes from teammates then immediately get into the classic basketball "triple-threat" position of being ready to shoot, dribble or pass instantly. There are ball fakes constantly, picks all over the floor, flashes to the basket -- it's a template for both modern and traditional NBA offense.”

Columbian: Blazers Face 'Not Ideal' Situation Down 0-3 To Spurs

“Thank god for waking me up with my Mom and my grandma in my house and wishing them Happy Mother’s Day,” Matthews said. “As far as the series, it’s not an ideal situation to be in.”

Rip City Project: Trail Blazers: Reviewing NBA History to Chase NBA History

"Just two seasons ago the Spurs dropped four straight games to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Western Conference Finals after leading the series 2-0. That Thunder team was able to burn the Spurs because they were younger, faster, more athletic, and they made the necessary adjustments to take advantage. This Trail Blazers team is younger, faster, and more athletic, while the Spurs’ core is two years older than they were the last time they were “too old.” There is a crack in the door; Terry Stotts has to stick his shoe in."

Blazersedge: Where Did Portland's Swagger Go?

“If the strutting, composed Portland Trail Blazers who just played against Houston met the cringing, dodging squad we've seen against the Spurs, half the state would implode from the swagger/anti-swagger discharge. If the milquetoast frontcourt of this series had shown up against the elbow-swinging, body-blow-rocking Rockets, the Blazers never would have made this round. When Dwight Howard went up with the ball near the bucket, Portland took his head off. When any random Spurs guard does the same, it's a timid and-one. When the Blazers needed a big shot against Houston, LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard vied for the honor while Nicolas Batum held his hands out in case they needed an outlet. When they need even the smallest shot to start a mini-run against San Antonio, nobody has a clue. Expected to come out with the ferocity of a cornered mama bear in Game 3, the Blazers showed all the ferocity of your average Muppet and all the intensity of a finely-aged Brie cheese.”

Ball Don't Lie: The Toronto Raptors? Gone Til November

“The lack of a star hasn’t bothered Ujiri in the past, though. His 2013 Denver Nuggets may have flamed out in the postseason after injuries and matchup issues hit the squad at the absolute worst time, but Ujiri dove into building that borderline faceless crew with gusto. Lowry is a free agent in his prime that will receive quite a bit of consideration from desperate NBA teams looking to get something – anything – out of all the cap space they’ve accrued this summer, but Ujiri isn’t going to let ego get in the way of keeping Colangelo’s crew."

Ball Don't Lie: Bucks Send Special Ping-Pong Balls To 10,000 Fans Drum Up Excitement For Draft Lottery

"Such promotions — while creative and interesting — aren't especially meaningful in a big-picture sense. But after a season that saw Bucks fans literally renting billboards to beg the Bucks to lose so that a proper rebuild could commence, reaching out to the fans with a symbol of shared ownership in the next chapter of the franchise's history does seem to send a positive sign to a fan-base that's been left without very many of them in recent years. With a little bit of luck and the right combination of ping-pong balls, another one could be coming very shortly."

Ball Don't Lie: Paul George Scores 39 Points, Gives Pacers 3-1 Series Lead Over Wizards

“The Pacers are not necessarily back to being one of the elite teams in the league, but there are some signs they're on their way. With George playing like a star and Hibbert (17 points, nine rebounds, two blocks) producing again, the Indiana starting lineup is once again one of the best units in the league. It's telling the Pacers' biggest issue in this game was a familiar one — their bench was so bad it nearly gave the Wizards control of the game with one early second-quarter run. For as great as George played, he still finished with a plus-minus of zero because he played with this group.”

Ball Don't Lie: Clippers Mount Furious 4th-Quarter Comeback, Stun Thunder 101-99 To Take Game 4, Tie Series At 2-2

"After Durant struggled at times in Round 1 against a strong, quick, determined, active-handed smaller defender in Memphis Grizzlies stopper Tony Allen, Rivers rolled the dice by calling upon the somewhat similarly styled Paul to work double-time to deny Durant the ball, then fight to make things as difficult as possible on the newly minted MVP once he got it. When the near-7-foot Durant began to work on the 6-foot Paul in the post, the Clippers brought quick double-teams to eliminate any breathing room for KD to operate, and had wings like Collison and Jamal Crawford ready to dart into passing lanes for disruptions, deflections or steals."

TruePortland: Trail Has Gone Cold

“The Blazers’ defense is built to encourage midrange shots; Tony Parker was built to drop floaters in from the elbow. The Blazers, despite making efforts to upgrade their bench, are now perilously thin after a groin injury to Mo Williams; a sequence in Game 3 saw a Kawhi Leonard post-up bucket over Will Barton immediately followed by a Tim Duncan post-up bucket over Thomas Robinson."

ESPN: Cavaliers Fire Head Coach Mike Brown

"This is a very tough business,'' Gilbert said in a statement. "It pains all of us here that we needed to make the difficult decision of releasing Mike Brown. Mike worked hard over this last season to move our team in the right direction. Although there was some progress from our finish over the few prior seasons, we believe we need to head in a different direction. We wish Mike and his family nothing but the best.''

ESPN: Second-Round Favorite Win Odds?

"If and when the 3-0 comeback happens, however, it will probably be achieved by a team that loses three closely fought games to start the series. That doesn't describe Portland, which has been outscored by an average of 18.7 points per game. According to, the Spurs are the fourth team in NBA history to win the first three games of a playoff series by 15-plus points. Two of the other three swept; the 2000 Utah Jazz were able to win Game 4 (against the Blazers) before losing the series in five games."

CNNSI: Playoff Roundtable: Which X-Factor Is Most Likely To Decide Thunder-Clippers?

"Reggie Jackson, Thunder. If a backup point guard was going to make an impact on this series, you would think it would be the Thunder’s Jackson. But there was Darren Collison in Game 4, fueling the Clippers’ wild comeback to even the series. Jackson was a big sparkplug for Oklahoma City in the first round, scoring 32 points in one victory and 16 in two others. The Thunder went 20-3 during the regular season when Jackson topped 16 points and are 3-0 when he hits the mark this postseason. But he’s averaging just 8 points per game against the Clippers and had a -22 plus/minus rating in Sunday’s defeat. Oklahoma City needs Jackson to be the positive force he was against the Grizzlies and most of the regular season, not the background contributor he’s been of late."

SLAM: Post-Up: Clips Even It Up

"At his dual post game presser with Westbrook, Durant was asked what type of challenge Paul presents to him on the defensive end. “He doesn’t,” KD said confidently. “It’s not one-on-one, when I catch the ball they send the double-team. When they didn’t, I scored. When they sent the double-team, they did a good job of crowding me and making me get rid of the ball. When it’s one-on-one, I got the advantage.”