Pick and Scroll, Caution Considering an Ohio State Player with a Lottery Pick

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

  • If you haven’t heard already, Wesley Matthews will replace Nic Batum in tonights starting lineup.  While I understand Coach McMillan’s desire to want to “mix” things up, I don’t think replacing Matthews for Batum is the right move. Moving somebody who is struggling to score to a second unit that has trouble generating offense sounds somewhat…counter-intuitive.  But what do I know?
  • Over at CSNPhilly.com, Andre Miller offers advice to second year 76er point guard, Jrue Holiday.  Here is to hoping that Miller offers him some more advice on how to shoot a three-pointer before the game tonight.
  • At Phily.com Kate Fagan points out that although they have similar stats over the past three games, Craig Brackens and not promising fellow rookie Evan Turner will be sent down to the D-League.  While it is still entirely too early to consider Evan Turner a bust, the Sixers can’t be overly enthused with his Rookie of the Year campaign.
  • Scott Howard-Cooper at NBA.com is reporting that the late Maurice Lucas will be a Candidate for the 2011 NBA Hall of Fame Class
  • Tom Sunnegren at TrueHoop Network sister site Philadunkia, wants to let everyone know that it’s not entirely Doug Collins fault the team is 4-13, its because the team is, in his words: Terrible. 

Hard Truths: It’s Time to Bench Brandon Roy

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Getting beat Sunday in New Jersey was atrocious, but not really surprising—The Blazers have lost Hope.

That belief—if they just held on a little longer things would get better—vanished along with Brandon Roy’s meniscus and the reason why Greg Oden’s bones suddenly break. Like the American body politic, the Blazers aren’t confident about the future.

Changing that course is going to take courage and an admission of fault no one in the Blazers organization seems ready to own at this point. To accept this role would mean knowingly entering into a world that’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Considering the pre-season hype, it’s a pretty stunning place to be now, in the first leg of a marathon NBA season. As Bill Simmons recently put it, the NBA’s 2010 campaign has only been running five weeks although it “feels like three months.”

Or at least it does when the team you follow is losing. And My God, the Blazers have found some disheartening ways to lose lately. Four times this season Portland have given up fourth-quarter leads. And over their last three games—losses at the hands of Utah, New Orleans and New Jersey—the Blazers have been outscored 85-51 in the fourth quarter.

But it’s more than the fourth quarter—Portland’s offense has simply become anemic. For years the Blazers have lived and died by the jumper. This strategy was passable (albeit not in the playoffs) because Brandon Roy turned lemons into lemonade. Consistently saddled with isolations, Roy made tough baskets, and the Blazers won games.

Now, with his knees hurting, Roy can no longer hide this team’s glaring offensive deficiencies. They’ve become one-dimensional. They shoot jump shots. Jump shots don’t win championships.

But when the Blazers play through LaMarcus Aldridge late, teams sink down, double-team immediately, and force open shooters to make shots. Aldridge has not yet developed a way to work through the double-teams and create reliably for his teammates a la Tim Duncan’s calm, back-to-the-basket execution. Neither is any real fast break or solid pick and roll basketball happening for Portland either.

As Chris Paul told me last Friday, “One thing I know about basketball is you’re always going to make a lot more of your dunks than three’s.”

Now, to those who would argue Roy is healthy and capable, evidenced by a few 20-plus point games, I’ll again point to Paul, who said “you could tell (Roy’s) knee was bothering him.” This on a night after Roy scored 27. The Blazers lost.

In fact, the Blazers have lost all three games since Roy’s return. Other than causing the offense’s grinding to a halt, Roy has also been a liability on defense. He had trouble, for instance, staying anywhere near Paul on switches. But Roy’s effort on defense has been even more disturbing. He trots back down the court, often late, and has developed a tendency to stand straight up, rather than in the ready position, leisurely patrolling at walking speed. For the points Roy is managing to score, he’s giving a number back on defense.

When Roy sat two games, the Blazers won them both. The sample size, of course, is too small to be definitive—but something else is: the way the team played together in those against Memphis and Denver. It was a far cry from the bumbling sludge or “lack of execution” seen in recent weeks.

After Sunday’s loss in New Jersey, Portland called a players-only meeting to address the recent turmoil.

Nate McMillan reacted as well, but it seems, perhaps, in panic. Or maybe because his hands are tied…

Continuing a trend that began in the second half Sunday, McMillan will send Nicolas Batum to the bench and install Wesley Matthews in the starting lineup for Tuesday’s game in Philadelphia.

Now, no move would be particularly good for team morale, but condemning Batum is not something to build on. He’s a young player nowhere near his potential ceiling. Sometimes I get the feeling Batum feels like he could do more on offense if just given the chance. I’ve seen him get upset at his lack of touches. When passes don’t find Batum on nice cuts he gets frustrated, and has a tendency to force shots to compensate. Obviously, the kid with tremendous upside wants the touches and minutes to realize it.

(While it’s far from happening, it’d be a tremendous shame to see Batum give up on the Blazers, seeking instead a team who’d unbridle him offensively.)

Aside from limiting Batum’s development—remember, he’s just 21 years old—the move would make the Blazers’ second-unit considerably less potent offensively.

Despite my apprehensions surrounding this lineup shuffle, I feel for Nate McMillan. He’s stuck in a hard place. Because the smartest move here is political suicide:

Brandon Roy should come off the bench.

It makes all kinds of sense. Limiting Roy’s minutes, as the Blazers already are, would give his knees time to rest. It would be a fine way to see if, under less demand, Roy could find a way to operate within the confines of his injury—one that’s supposed to dog him the rest of his career. In the last three games, Roy has been considerably more potent early in games—as if the injury and minutes become heavier weights to carry down the stretch. Certainly tired legs miss jump shots.

In a sixth man role, however, Roy could be an explosive scorer, tearing through lesser opposing bench players. The young Batum and Matthews, who looked downright Roy-like in his stead, would get time to grow. The Blazers could work on expanding their offensive schemes. In other words, it’s time to look to the future.

But a few realities, both in terms of marketing and politics, pretty much preclude this from happening. Everyone would scream: “you can’t put a three-time All-Star, team captain and max-salary guy on the bench!”

Portlanders have Roy’s back and they’d come running to defend it. For what he’s done in Portland over the past five years, honestly, Roy deserves the support. Indeed, he is a class act and a genuinely good person who doesn’t deserve this rotten hand.

But as long as Roy’s knees are hurting so too will be the Blazers as they force him in the role that appears to have bypassed his body. There’s nothing that can change that. And if the resulting anger has to go somewhere, perhaps it should be directed at Kevin Pritchard, who signed Roy to a max-deal knowing his knees had serious potential to sabotage the deal.

For now, the best change the Blazers could make in trying to plan for a more productive future is to bring Brandon Roy off the bench, while studying closely the limits and remedies for his aching knees.

It’d take someone cooler than a polar bear’s toe-nail to pull it off. They’d have to be super bad—the kind of person who tells an unwilling public the hard truths, coalescing acceptance that difficult sacrifices will be needed from everyone.

You know, just like what we thought Obama would do when he got to Washington.

Good God. The Blazers are in worse trouble than I thought.

Sixers Preview

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I’m happy Collins took the job—now I don’t have to hear his wheezy commentary.


Well, it could be worse.

Philadelphia are off to a horrible. It seems coach Doug Collins, or “Grampa,” as I like to call him, hasn’t had much of an impact on the Sixers.

And for all the strides Andre Igoudala supposedly made with Team-USA in regards to his defensive intensity, the growth surely hasn’t manifested itself in terms of wins for the 4-13 Philadelphia team.

Second year point guard Jrue Holiday, averaging 13.9 points and 7.4 assists, is perhaps the lone bright building block Philly’s stable.

The Blazers, who suffered a somewhat humiliating loss Sunday to the New Jersey Nets, should be nothing if not focused. The team called a players-only meeting, and Nate McMillan shifted the starting lineup, swapping out Nicolas Batum for Wesley Matthews.

Joel Przybilla, who is still recovering from the flu, is not expected to return.

TIP-OFF: 4:00PM

TV: Comcast

RADIO: 95.5FM

VEGAS LINE: Portland -4

Pick and Scroll, Something needs to be kicked.

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Your daily (Mon-Fri) roundup of links from around the blogosphere, typically Trail Blazers related.

The top teams in the West have jumped out to a torrid start, the Hornets have been setting the league aflame (much to the detriment of the first round pick they owe Portland) and yet are only 5th in the conference. The seven teams above Portland in the standings are all legitimate 50 win threats barring injuries or trades; and to make matters worse, the Warriors and the Suns are only a half-game behind Portland with Memphis lurking just a bit further back.

Height and length will always be advantages on the basketball court, all else being equal. Because of the distribution of human height, big men will always demand a premium. There just aren’t many athletic and coordinated seven footers in the world, but if you’ve got one of them, you’ve got a real weapon on the basketball court. The problem with very tall people is that there is a reason there aren’t very many of them. See, being tall puts a lot of pressure on bones that are not well situated to being scaled up that far, and thus taller people are more likely to have foot, knee, or leg injuries than their shorter counterparts.

As one travels up the height spectrum, over seven feet and into the realm of true giants, it is revealing to see how many of these enormous people require a crutch, or brace, or wheelchair, or are effectively bed-ridden (granted, some of those infirmities are directly related to the reason they became tall, e.g. a pituitary tumor).

The key here is that Greg Oden and Sam Bowie do share a similarity, but the franchises that drafted them and the players picked after them have little to do with it. Greg Oden and Sam Bowie are both tall and their abnormal height has led to, or exacerbated chronic injuries. The height is the driving factor that made them so effective and rendered them less than durable. There is a long list of injury-prone centers in the annals of NBA history, many of them have been very high draft picks.

The human mind is always seeking connections, analyzing data for patterns, trying to predict the future using the past as a guide. As such, humans are partial to narratives. After all, it’s been said that there are less than a dozen distinguishable story lines in all of literature and movies and that each individual story can be characterized as a variation of one of the basic stories. Because of this proclivity, it is easy to slap the Bowie label on Oden and the Jordan label on Durant. However, there were injury-prone big men before Sam Bowie, and they will be just as injury prone when Greg Oden retires. To constantly compare one to the other is a disservice to both. Greg Oden’s future is yet unwritten, even if his past is carefully chronicled in medical files and injured player exceptions.

BLAZERS LOSE GAME, COMPETITION FOR F-LIST CELEBRITY FANS

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Two invisible… hotdogs

Reality show and former “actress” Kim Kardashian was in attendance at the Blazers’ 96-98 loss to the Nets in Newark, New Jersey, last evening. Though I feel strange plugging everyone’s favorite media flavor of the month with this PRS post, she was an apt metaphor for the Blazers’ play: sloppy, disinterested, and weirdly, hauntingly vacant.

The Blazers and Nets looked tonight like they were passing each other on the way up to and down from NBA legitimacy. The Nets are young and stupid, winning (very occasionally) despite themselves; the Blazers *feel* old and brittle. The Nets’ bench stood and cheered for the final minute and a half of play; the Blazers stood around while their assignments drove or cut to the hoop.

While it’s possible that the Nets can’t teach basketball smarts to a bunch of kids with money, their talent is beginning to make the court-intelligence questions irrelevent. The Blazers can’t “teach” knee meniscus, nor can Camby learn “five years younger.”

Speaking of Camby, what happened to the defensive player of the year and end-of-the-season-spark, prowling the key, flashing to and from double-teams with a preternatural timing? He now moves with painful, casual slowness off double-teams, ending up with 10 rebounds mostly off the Nets’ incompetence. Defense was sorely lacking from everyone last night.

Two half-courts of effort from Brandon Roy are necessary, gimpy knee or not. He’s too important, and the team still looks to him to set the pace. When he takes plays off, other guys follow suit. Too many times he’d swat at a ball as his man scooted by or follow his man a half-step behind down the lane, a child dragged through a teeming weekend sale by his humorless mother. The defense wasn’t there tonight — the team just flat needs more from him on the “other” end.

It seems the Blazers need something to rally around, quickly. Perhaps the Oden-Roy double blow so early in the season was too much, too soon, too often for the team to circle the wagons. At this point, maybe a limb needs to come completely off for the Blazers to register anything other than cynicism regarding injuries. One thing’s for certain: this team needs someone other than Brandon Roy to step in a leadership role, someone to provide that locus of good on-court management and reassurance on the nights Roy doesn’t have it.

Can’t fault him for trying, but Rudy’s attempt to lead the team looks to be drawing smirks from his teammates. During his relatively scant minutes, Rudy was struggling to find his voice on the floor, pointing here and there without seeming to look at where or who he was pointing at; calling repeatedly for the ball at the top of the key when they play’d already been clearly developing in other climes; alternating between the whipped puppy look of a child picked last for dodgeball and the straining cheerfulness of a midlevel marketing manager trying too hard in front of Upper.

On the other hand, maybe the Blazers could use a little more Trying. With the exception of the requisite flashes of Old Roy and some exciting play by Wes “Turns Out Midlevel Was Well Worth It” Matthews, the away team never appeared to be in the game, even when solidly leading it. Their lackluster game finally “shone” through in the fourth quarter. The final frame, all 18 points of it, was yet another lifeless shrug from a leaderless and lifeless Blazer team; over the last three games, the Blazers have been outscored 85-51 in the fourth.

Most of the excitement came from the Nets and their youthful turnover shenanigans. Devin Harris seemed to lose the ball as often as put on a show, skipping to the rim for easy twos or dribbling the ball off his feet all night. Anthony Morrow knocked down some key 3-point shots, and is now only two-thousandths of a percentage point behind Steve Kerr’s career percentage from behind the arc. They are an infuriating team to watch.

One quick aside: the Nets’ halftime show’s sorely lacking in entertainment — with the exception of a 2-1/2 minute danceoff between three children, the court was empty during halftime. The evening’s side-entertainment was rounded off by a call to direct our attention to the jumbotron for tonight’s birthdays; the screen’s sobering blank blue screen would’ve been funny if it wasn’t vaguely sad. No one bothered to sign up.

Wesley Matthews was one of the few highlights of the Blazer’s game, running a 25-point game with a handful of steals and rebounds to boot. He was quick where his teammates and opponents seemed bored; if not for a questionable foul call, Matthews would’ve had another steal and subsequent game-tying, uncontested lay-in to add to his night.

The two teams tallied 27 turnovers and at least a dozen angry glares from teammate to teammate, highlighted by Brandon Roy’s daggers towards LaMarcus as he giggled and shrugged after turning the ball over in a key 4th quarter possession. It was an empty performance as a whole, broken up by occasional fits of excitement, either on accident or from the seemingly endless stream of unforced errors from both sides of the ball.

Said Wesley Matthews after the game, “We don’t feel like we’re an 8-8 team.” From the outside, they “feel” like an also-ran, doomed to tread the Atlanta Hawks-patented “just good enough to miss the lottery for a quick exit in the first round.” Right now, it feels like .500 is just about right.

Someone needs to step up big in the coming weeks; outside of a miracle-working orthopedist, it looks like it’s going to have to come from outside Brandon Roy’s camp.

New Jersey Nets Preview

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Quick and dirty notes for tonight’s game against New Jersey:

The numbers

Both teams are coming into tonight’s game playing not as well as they would like. The Nets are 23rd in offensive efficiency and 20th in defensive efficiency. The Blazers’ numbers are better: 10th in offensive efficiency and 16th defensively, but nothing to be overly excited about. While New Jersey has the second lowest amount of points scored per game at 92.7, they also have the second slowest pace in the league at 91.9 points per 48 minutes. Unfortunately for New Jersey, they also don’t shoot a very high percentage (44%, 27th in the league), leaving themselves few opportunities to score. They are last in the league in shooting percentage at the rim (56%), middle of the pack numbers in shots from three, 10-15ft, and 16-23ft. They attempt two more shots per game from <10ft than the league average, and are able to convert 49.8% of those.

New Jersey has a few offensive weapons in their starters: Devin Harris (17.8 ppg), Brook Lopez (18.6), Anthony Morrow (12.4), and Travis Outlaw (10.9), but their production really falls off with the bench who averages 25 ppg. If Portland can commit to stopping the ball on defense and moving the ball on offense they should be able to score enough points to get the win.

The Point Guards

Devin Harris has been putting up good numbers this year, but has had a tough time stopping other point guards. Andre Miller is should be able to quickly read what the New Jersey defense is giving the Blazers and look to exploit those match ups all night. Without tough coverage on the ball, Miller will look to take the ball inside early and kick it out to the wings for easy looks.

On the other end of the ball, Portland will need to put extra pressure on Harris to make sure he’s not able to help his teammates get going early. Harris is quick, and LaMarcus Aldridge and Marcus Camby will need to be ready to help stop the ball in the paint should he blow by Miller on the drive.

The Stars

Brandon Roy put up great numbers against a New Orleans team who is third in the league in defensive efficiency. Portland fans will all be waiting to see how Roy responds tonight and whether his knee slows him down at all. Roy averages 23.7 ppg against New Jersey and he should be able to put up good numbers again tonight if he’s feeling well physically.

Brook Lopez has been great on offensive in his young career. He’s averaged 22 ppg in six games against the Blazers, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be able to convert 20 points against Portland tonight. One area where he hasn’t been performing particularly well the season is in rebounding, averaging 6.4 per game — nothing special for a seven footer.

The Rest

As you may have heard: New Jersey didn’t add any of the major free agents they hoped to bring in over the summer. Portland fans probably remember Outlaw fondly, but he’s hardly a game changer. And, neither is back up point guard Jordan Farmar. New Jersey won a league and decades low number of games last year at 12. While they’ve added Avery Johnson on the sidelines, and an owner that makes Paul Allen look like nothing special, this team is still a couple of years and a trade or two away from getting anywhere near the playoffs.

Portland is starting another four-game road trip tonight, and since they have only played once in the past week though certainly a tough game — they should be rested enough to start the road trip off with a win tonight.

The Mouth

Tip off: 4pm PST

TV: CSN

Vegas line: Portland -5

Blazers’ Offense Falls Apart, Friday

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    “One thing I know about basketball is you’re always going to make a lot more of your dunks than threes.”
    - Chris Paul

With just under four minutes to play in the fourth quarter and the Blazers down 13, fans started streaming towards the Rose Garden exits. They had seen enough.

In their usual spots underneath the basket, owner Paul Allen, president Larry Miller and general manager Rich Cho slumped quietly, sharing few words while bearing witness to an extremely unsettling performance. After another flukey hot start the management brass were treated to some of Portland’s most insipid offense in weeks, perhaps dating back as far as last season.

It was the second time in two weeks the Hornets beat the Blazers like a cheap drum, this time to the sour tune of 97-78 at the Rose Garden.

The Blazers got almost no help from their bench, partly due to a sting of non-serious injuries. Sean Marks led the Blazers’ second unit with six points.

On the other end, the Blazers were continually torched by the Hornets, even while their first unit matched up against New Orleans’ second.

After scoring 33 points in the first quarter, Portland would not score 33 more until early in the fourth. In the final three periods combined, Portland’s offense put together a paltry 45 points, never scoring more than 20 points in a quarter.

In the fourth, Portland hit just six of 22 attempts for just 13 points.

As he so often does, coach Nate McMillan blamed “execution” and missed open shots. But the way the Blazers have been shooting this season, especially from deep, it almost seems as if they’re playing into the hands of opponents who collapse inside and put the game on the shoulders of Portland’s shooters.

To put it more succinctly: When you Live by the Jumper, you Die by the Jumper.

McMillan was somewhat coy about asking if the offense needed a structural change afterwards, but did admit that this team has “very little margin for error.” Or, they’re just not that good right now.

Aside from a stagnant offense, the Blazers appeared equally inept on the glass. They were out-rebounded by New Orleans 48-27. Marcus Camby, the Blazers’ leading rebounder, was limited to just five rebounds, a season low. Because of foul trouble, Camby logged just 27 minutes.

Playing for the first time after sitting out three games with sore knees, Brandon Roy led Portland’s early offense. Roy had 16 points by halftime and finished with a game-high 27. But for every good shot or move he made, there was bad one. Drive to the basket, than ill-advised fade-away on an isolation. Etc. Etc. Etc.

When asked if the Trail Blazers’ offensive sputtering was a result of missing open shots or a system in need of change, Roy answered “a little of both.”

Roy seemed to wither a bit down the stretch. He said afterwards that his legs did get “heavy” towards the end, but his knees felt “fine.”

And while Roy’s offense was admirable at times, his commitment to defense was not. Roy loafed back on defense often standing straight up in an un-ready position. He walked, rarely offered his teammates help, and was continually left flat-footed and behind the slicing drives of Chris Paul and others.

Paul said with some confidence that Roy was not playing to potential because of his injuries. “You could tell (Roy’s) knee was bothering him,” Paul said.

Paul also said that former Trail Blazers assistant and current Hornets head coach Monty Williams was able to shed a little extra light on Portland’s offensive tendencies.

Coach Williams said that at a recent practice the Hornets players made a commitment to developing a defensive identity. How much this was realized Friday is in question, as it was likely a combination of Portland missing shots they were given, but comfortable with, and the loss of their legs as the game progressed.

In this way, it Friday’s game reminded of Portland’s hosting the Jazz some six days ago. Start out hot, opposing defense picks up, shots stop falling, and Portland’s defense can’t keep pace or grab critical rebounds.

And again, the broken record plays: Live by the Jumper, Die by the Jumper.

NOTES:
- Welsey Matthews took a hard fall in the second quarter, hitting his head on the court. He stayed down, was dazed, but left under his own power. After returning, he didn’t find much rhythm. He’s also adjusting into the bench role.
- Sean Marks played an impressive stretch in the first half, subbing for the foul-plagued Camby. Marks’ six point performance was cut shot after badly twisting an akle. Marks hobbled off the court under his own power but did not return.
- Rudy Fernandez also went down. He was diagnosed with a bruised pelvic bone.

Hornets Preview: Rest Over, Now Get Going!

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Phew. I just woke up from what feels like days of hibernation. Weeks even. And I don’t know if this giant, magnificent cup of coffee is going to be enough. But I do know that the Blazers, in the last few days, have done generally the same thing—rest.

They said they needed it last Saturday, and it was no surprises why—Nate McMillan has been running a near seven-man rotation, not to mention standing up to all that emotional weight of continued injury devastation (and if that comes as news to you, well, where the hell have you be—I mean, scroll down for the story).

Tonight should be a bit different. The Blazers could return both Brandon Roy and Joel Przybilla to the lineup tonight as they host the Hornets at the Rose Garden.

Przybilla must overcome the flu, which sent him to the hospital Wednesday. Roy is basically a game-time decision, and listed as probable despite continued soreness in his meniscus-less knees.

Surely Przybilla, should he play, would provide a substantial charge to his teammates and especially the Rose Garden faithful. Expect Przybilla’s minutes to be limited as he works back into game shape.

Roy, however, is another question. It was clear after Wednesday’s practice that he’s not %100, and according to recent reports, one must wonder if he will ever be again. The hope is that Roy is simply well enough to help the team, rather than hurt it by clogging the offense and getting beat on defense and in the in-between. (I’m not calling quarterback controversy yet, but keep a keen eye on things over the coming weeks, as Wes Matthews looked downright pre-injury-Roy-like in his three games as a starter).

The Blazers have already played witness to the league-surprising 11-3 New Orleans Hornets, led by former Blazers assistant Monty Williams and the re-emergent Chris Paul. Portland were beat like a cheap drum two Saturday’s ago in New Orleans, where they lost 107-87.

In that game the Hornets spread their scoring around (David West led all scorers with 18) while their defense frustrated the Blazers. In all fairness, if there’s any opposing coach aware of how to stifle the Blazers, obviously it’s Williams.

But the Hornets fast start has taken a slight turn in recent days, as they’ve lost their last two games to the Clippers and Jazz (maybe this is why the Blazers are four-point favorites tonight?). TrueHoop sister-site, Hornets247.com explains:

As the Hornet’s offense continues to choke and sputter on bad shooting from deep and an over-reliance on isolations, the New Orleans defense continues to chug along, keeping them in games in ugly fashion. Still, the offensive woes have been a major concern. Over the last week, the team has been so poor at generating points that it’s offensive efficiency has fallen 8 spots. Of course, that means they’ve been sucking hard to pull so high a number so low so quickly. To make it even more worrisome, the average defensive ranking of those three teams is 21. World beater defensive teams they weren’t.

Making shots should clear all ills. Over the last three games the Hornets are 27% from deep and barely 41% from the floor as they do their best Imperial Stormtrooper impression. They are getting the free throws, they are keeping down the turnovers, they just need to generate some open shots and knock them down.

Sounds pretty familiar, doesn’t it? I feel like a broken record, but as long as it’s happening here in Portland I’m going to keep pointing it out:

When you live by the Jumper, you Die by the Jumper

TIP-OFF: 7:00PM

TV: Comcast 37

RADIO: 95.5FM

VEGAS LINE: Blazers -4

Guess That Blazer: Plus/Minus Edition

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I host game shows. Is this a game show?

Basketballvalue.com has updated plus/minus statistics for your consumption. Click, scroll, and learn.

But first, try a casual experiment. Answer the following questions based on your own impressions. Follow the jump for the answers. Here is a helpful glossary of terms.

  1. Who leads the team in adjusted plus/minus this season?
  2. Which starter has the worst unadjusted defensive rating?
  3. Who has the best unadjusted defensive rating?
  4. Better unadjusted defensive rating: Nicolas Batum or Rudy Fernandez?
  5. Which player has the highest unadjusted defensive rebounding rate?

Results after the jump.

  1. LaMarcus Aldridge (+22.05)
  2. Marcus Camby (4.04) has the lowest rating.
  3. LaMarcus Aldridge (+8.86)
  4. Fernandez (-6.62) beats Batum (-1.36)
  5. Wesley Matthews (+9.8%)

Surprise!

 

Practice Notes: Przybilla Sick, Still Expects to Play Friday as does Roy

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As one might expect, considering the frost outside just a day before Thanksgiving, it was a rather relaxed, jovial day at the practice facility. But, this being the Blazers, there was of course a fly in the ointment—fortunately, it was rather small.

Joel Przybilla was admitted to the hospital this morning with flu-like symptoms. He is expected to be discharged tonight.

Whether or not the bug will cause Przybilla to postpone his return, which has long been projected for Friday’s game against New Orleans remains to be seen. Przybilla has not played for almost a year, originally injuring his patella tendon in December of 2009.

The approach, coach McMillan says, is wait and see. But as long as he’s not still sick, Przybilla expects to play.


The course is much the same with Brandon Roy, whose sore knees have kept him out of the last three games. Roy said that if he feels like felt today, he would play. Basically, barring any unforeseen flare-up, Roy expects to go against the Hornets. “If I feel the way I feel now I will play Friday,” Roy said.


Roy and the rest of the Blazers are certainly benefiting from the uncommon five-day mid-season break. After Saturday’s loss to Utah, the many Blazers looked and played exhausted—some of them (LaMarcus Aldridge) even admitted it.

The off-week has allowed two “maintenance days,” where players report to the practice facility for treatment—massages, and the like—but avoid full practice. Tomorrow, Thanksgiving, is another such day, and most all of those on the Blazers seem to be looking forward to doing little more than filling their plates and cueing up a slew of football and basketball games—not much different from the rest of us, really.

Even rookie Armon Johnson, a renowned gym rat, has left the practice court. So put your feet up—we’ll see you, along with Monty Williams, Chris Paul and the Hornets on Friday. And by then we’ll all be ready to put our shoulders back to the stone.

Well, scratch that—Johnson is back, hoisting up shots with the help of assistant coaches. Some people never rest.

NOTES:
– Nicolas Batum is also suffering from a cold or flu bug, but not to the extent of Przybilla. Batum practiced Wednesday.
– Dr. Roberts addressed the team post-practice, hoping to tighten up the basics of cold and flu prevention, especially in the midst of Portland’s current cold-spell.