Around The World: May 13, 2014

by Casey Holdahl
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Trail Blazers: Batum, Blazers Avoid Elimination With Game 4 Victory

“Like we said, why not us?” said Batum. “It’s never been done before. We’re down 3-0. We know it’s going to be tough. It won’t be easy. Especially against this team, the San Antonio Spurs. Like we always say, just take one game at a time. We were focused tonight. We had a great game tonight. We try to do the same thing, go down there to San Antonio for Game 5 and just be focused on that game and move on.”

Trail Blazers: Boost From Barton And Blazers Bench Helps Propel Portland Past San Antonio, Forcing A Game 5

“To be honest we had no clue that tonight was going to happen like that. One thing coach has been great with all year is preaching to stay ready, so we stay ready,” Robinson said. “Will came in and played amazing man. I did a solid job, I’m just trying to help, but Will was big.”

Trail Blazers: Highlights From Game 4

"There weren’t too many Trail Blazers highlights in the first three games of the semifinal series versus the Spurs. However, that was not the case in Game 4. Between Damian Lillard’s Tim Duncan almost poster, Thomas Robinson’s block on Aron Baynes and any number of instances of Will Barton being Will Barton, Monday night’s victory provided a host of memorable moments well worth reliving. "

Trail Blazers: Lillard's Dunk Over Duncan From All Angles

“Damian Lillard’s one-handed throwdown over a retreating Tim Duncan in the second quarter of Monday night’s 103-92 victory in Game 4 gets the every angle treatment from the NBA. Watch from multiple vantage points as Lillard uses a Robin Lopez screen to get past Spurs guard Patty “Stacks” Mills, drives past Tiago Splitter, elevates in the paint and finishes with a tomahawk dunk while Duncan wisely finds somewhere else to be. ”

Trail Blazers: Trail Blazers Vs. Spurs Game 4 Audio

“It was Nicolas Batum's night at the Moda Center. Batum scored 14 points and splashed home two 3-pointers. Currently, he is the only NBA player to record a game with 14+ points, 14+ rebounds and 8+ assists during the 2014 NBA Playoffs.”

Trail Blazers: Game 4 Notes & Quotes: Trail Blazers 103, Spurs 92/font>

“I thought with Nico playing the way he played, the game came a lot easier. He was attacking, he was making plays. I didn’t have to bring the ball up a lot. He was pushing the ball, Wes was pushing the ball. Wes made shots. We had a lot of guys come in and play really well. I thought Will did a great job. Once we started to make shots, the lane opened up and I just started to attack. Like I said, it could have been our last game so I wanted to leave it all out there. I got into the paint and I was able to get some good looks at the rim.”

Oregon Live: Even In His Finest Hour, Trail Blazers Forward Nicolas Batum Leaves Us Wanting More

“Like we have said all along, I could be the key, the X-factor on this team,’’ Batum said. “And I feel tonight, I had an effect on the game both ways.’’

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers Beat San Antonio Spurs To Foce Game 5 In Western Conference Semifinals

“We got this one done, so now we focus on the next game,” Lillard said. “The first three games are gone. They outplayed us. There were a lot of things we could have done better, but we can’t go back and change it. So we have to focus on what we did tonight and try to let that grow, try to keep improving and focus on the next game.”

Oregon Live: Trail Blazers Gamble And Win With A No-Point-Guard Strategy Taht Buys Damian Lillard Some Rest

"They all are capable of running some of our motion action where anybody can initiate it, so I felt like any one of those three guys, not all of them, would be pressured," Stotts said. "So I thought we could initiate offense, and with that, you still have good length and a good defensive presence as well."

Oregon Live: Will Barton, Thomas Robinson Give Trail Blazers A Huge Jolt Off Bench In Game 4 Win Over Spurs

“We just didn’t want to go out like that, we didn’t want to get swept,” Barton said. “We worked too hard this whole season to get to this point. If we want to go out, let’s go out on our own terms and play hard and give it all we can.”

CSNNW: Will Barton Receives An Embraces He'll Never Forget

“That meant the world to me,” Barton told “Whenever you have a player of his caliber go out of his way to say how proud he was of me, that was just a special moment for me. It’s something I’ll remember for a long time.”

CSNNW: It's All About Staying' Alive For The Trail Blazers At This Point

“Barton and Thomas Robinson brought reliable play off the bench, every player in the starting lineup contributed in his own way and the Trail Blazers did enough to post an 11-point win over San Antonio. And really, if the whole thing ends Wednesday night in Game 5 at San Antonio, Portland will at least have one game to hang its hat on in this series to show it belonged.”

Portland Tribune: Eggers: Crazy Things Could Indeed Happen For Blazers

“Portland's Damian Lillard finally began looking like himself in the second half Monday night, getting to the paint and scoring 15 of his game-high 25 points after intermission. Lillard even hit a couple of 3's, making him 3 for 19 from long distance in the series."

Rip City Project: Will Barton And The Portland Trail Blazers: A Closer Look

"Whether the Trail Blazers’ current playoff run ends as early as Wednesday night, or ends as late as the NBA Finals, every game from here on out is important for Barton’s saga. His contract for next season is not guaranteed and he must prove to the Trail Blazers organization that he is worth exercising the $9.1K team option. He has very little time to cement himself in Portland’s plans for the future; especially with limited roster spots available for free agents. Only he, Williams, Robin Lopez, and Earl Watson are not yet officially on the books. If there is any logical way to retain Barton’s services, I am extraordinarily interested in seeing how he turns out. Cheap, young, talent with potential to fill an immediate need has to be at least considered."

Blazersedge: Media Row Report: Blazers 103, Spurs 92

"People's champ, man," Barton told Blazersedge, when informed of his Trending Topic status. "It's the fans. I love them. They do it. Not me." "Was he [trending]? He's supposed to," Wesley Matthews added. "He's The Thrill."

Ball Don't Lie: Damian Lillard's Tough Finishes Help Blazers Avoid The Sweep Vs. Spurs

"Lillard's highlights were emblematic of the Blazers' freer approach to the game. Facing elimination, the West's No. 5 seed played with a sense of desperation and got contributions from all seven of their rotation players. Five of them scored in double figures, while Robin Lopez (nine points and 12 rebounds) and Thomas Robinson (nine points) nearly joined them. Nicolas Batum had the team's most productive all-around game with 14 points, 14 rebounds, and eight assists. Will Barton, a player not expected to play a big role in the series, had 17 points. The team-wide shooting stats aren't anything to write home about, but this was Portland's best performance in the series by a considerable margin."

Ball Don't Lie: LeBron James Scores 49 Points, Ties Career Playoff High In game 4 Win

“LeBron's efficiency deserves notice, too. He went 16-of-24 from the field, 3-of-6 from the 3-point line, and 14 of 19 from the line for an incredible average of 2.04 points per shot. His shot chart shows how effectively he was able to get to the rim and maximize every attempt:"

Ball Don't Lie: Donald Sterling Attacks Magic Johnson In A Bizarre Interview With Anderson Cooper

"This is what makes it odd when, in talking with Cooper, Sterling claimed “several” NBA owners have his back, and that “of course they support me.” Which either hints at a typical showing of Sterling-esque delusion, or some deep seated and unspoken racism within the NBA’s ownership ranks. In decades past, perhaps it would have been a mixture of both. In 2014? It’s hard to single out a current NBA owner and determine that, “of course,” they would support Donald Sterling in a fight that is distracting from one of the more enjoyable playoff seasons in NBA history.''

Ball Don't Lie: The Memphis Grizzlies? Gone Till November.

"The Grizzlies badly need a shooter, because even with Mike Miller lighting things up from outside (nailing nearly 46 percent of his three-pointers), the team attempted the fewest long range bombs in the league last year, and its below-average percentage led to a rather average offensive mark overall for Memphis. With Randolph getting on in years and mid-season acquisition Courtney Lee (who started off hot, with his new team, before fading a bit) coming back to earth, to say nothing of the perpetual health uneasiness surrounding Miller, the Grizzlies are going to have to hit a series of unheralded ropers to the wall, and come into second base standing. These moves have to count."

Ball Don't Lie: The Dallas Mavericks? Gone Till November.

"The offseason begins with the Nowitzki Decision, as the free agent will have to decide just how much he wants to give back in the first real free agent turn of his NBA career. As a player, Dirk wasn’t probably worth the nearly $23 million he made in 2013-14, but the All-Star wasn’t far off, and in terms of value to a franchise and city he’s “worth” well more. Nowitzki has indicated several times that he will be willing to leave money on the table in order for the Mavs to have even more cap space to chase free agents with, unlike what Kobe Bryant did last fall in Los Angeles, but getting to that actual number could be a painful and uneasy negotiation for both sides."

ESPN: Breaking Down Tuesday's Game 5s

"Fiction. Paul is taking 16.5 shots per game in this series, which is more than he has attempted in a postseason overall since his rookie year. It is also a large jump from the 14.0 he took during the regular season this year in nearly identical minutes. Given how efficient he is shooting (54.5 percent overall and 50 percent from 3-point range), a few more attempts wouldn't hurt, but I trust the best point guard in the league to know when he should and shouldn't call his own number."

ESPN: Does Pace Affect Playoff Success?

"Fast can win. And the Los Angeles Clippers are attempting to be the latest example. Beneath the cloud of exiled owner Donald Sterling, the Clippers are quietly testing the limit here in the playoffs, speeding up when everyone typically hits the brakes. With 98.7 possessions per 48 minutes this postseason, Chris Paul's Clippers are currently playing at a higher pace than any of then-coach Mike D'Antoni's Suns did in the playoffs."

CNNSI: Three-Pointers: Blazers Stay Alive With Cohesive Offense And Surprise Contributions

"When the Blazers move the ball this well they can stay a beat ahead of even the better defensive teams in the league. It’s not just the assists; Portland can swing the ball into a mismatch, find another ball handler for a quick pick-and-roll or feed a cutter who, after drawing the attention of the defense, sets up an offensive rebounder. Other teams can get by with over-isolating their stars but the Blazers are at their best when every player on the floor is connected. The pull of LaMarcus Aldridge (19 points on 16 shots) helped Lillard push to the rim, while Lillard’s assertiveness opened up room for Nicolas Batum (14 points on 11 shots, 14 rebounds, eight assists) to work as a facilitator. Batum’s passing, in turn, created quality looks for Wesley Matthews and Robin Lopez."

CNNSI: Playoff Roundtable: Most Impressive Coaching Job This Postseason

"Doc Rivers, Clippers. It can be argued that Rivers is the right choice even if you discount any tactical adjustments he’s made during the Clippers’ postseason run. Rivers has kept his team on task despite the firestorm of controversy stemming from racist comments made by owner Donald Sterling and his subsequent banishment from the NBA. With a different coach calling the shots, there’s no telling how Los Angeles would have responded in such a volatile situation. Rivers’ ability to deftly manage a scandal that could have thrown many teams off course has not received due credit. Further, Rivers has capably led a team relatively light on playoff experience past Stephen Curry and the Warriors in the first round and to a 2-2 tie against Kevin Durant and the Thunder in the second. While other coaches may have performed better from the sidelines, Rivers and his team have endured a unique set of circumstances that deserve special consideration in this debate."

SLAM: Post-Up: LeBron Nets 49

“He was indefatigable,” Erik Spoelstra said after the game before asking out loud if he had indeed pronounced his SAT word properly. Apparently LeBron is so good that he’s now raising the vocabulary of those around him too. “He was fantastic tonight. He just has a way of sensing what we need.”