Saturday, January 31, 2009

Nate's Got The Steelers

Not too much news to report regarding tonight's game against the Jazz. Steve Blake is still out, though no definitive word yet regarding whether he'll be on the injured reserve. My guess is that he will, meaning Shavlik Randolph will once again get to dress.

One note of interest regarding tomorrow's Super Bowl. You're probably aware that Channing Frye and Jerryd Bayless, both Phoenix boys, are Arizona Cardinals fans. But what you might not know is that Nate McMillan, a native of North Carolina, is a big time Steelers fan. Suffice to say, he's picking Pittsburgh.

"I’m Pittsburgh Steelers all the way," said McMillan after his pregame media availability.

Coach McMillan's Steelers fandom traces back to an appreciation of Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw and a respect for any team that can serve the Dallas Cowboys their comeuppance.

"Anybody who played against the Cowboys and beat them, I’m a fan of that team," said McMillan. "So I’ve always been a Pittsburgh and Redskins fan."

Why the dislike for the Cowboys?

"Dallas is one of those teams you either love or you hate," explained McMillan. "They’re America’s Team. I respect them because they’ve been good for so long."

Friday, January 30, 2009

Video: Roy All-Star Press Conference

Brandon Roy addresses the media after being named to the 2009 NBA All-Star Team. Roy rounds out a trio of Trail Blazers who will be in Phoenix for All-Star Weekend.

You can also listen to the press conference in its entirety here.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Video: Rudy, Oden Talk Rookie/Sophomore

Mroe video from today's shootaround. Right as practice was ending, the NBA announced that both Rudy Fernandez and Greg Oden had been selected to play in the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam. No surpise really on either of those selections.

Below is video of what both Rudy and GO had to say about making the team (Rebecca Haarlow fans will be happy to know that she asked most of the questions). Should be a busy couple of days in Phoenix.

Video: McMillan from shootaround

Sparse crowd at the practice facility today. Rebecca Haarlow, Ron Quant, Lora Green, some guy I didn't recognize and yours truly. So I basically had Nate McMillan all to myself today, which is probably why he cracked a smile a couple of times during the interview.

McMillan discusses what he saw out of the Bobcats in their win against the Lakers and Charlotte already having their full attention. I also get to break the news to Nate that Gerald Wallace will not suit up tonight. Exclusive!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Video: McMillan, Blake from practice

As promised, here is video of both Nate McMillan and Steve Blake discussing, amongst other things, Blake's shoulder. Sounds like, at the very least, Blake is going to be on the shelf for tomorrow night's game against the Bobcats. Will he be back for the HUGE game on Saturday against the Jazz? Too soon to tell. Now watch.

Notes from practice: January 27

Most of the fellows hightailed it out of practice with the quickness today, so not much on the player front to report. There were a few things of interest, specifically in regards to Steve Blake.

• Nate McMillan suspected that Blake would be listed as doubtful for Wednesday's game against the Bobcats, with Blake himself all but stating definitively that he wouldn't play. Blake noted that he doesn't mind playing through pain, but that the shoulder, especially after going almost full speed into a pick, was too sore to overcome.

• Blake did dress for practice, but I don't beleive he participated.

• Jerryd Bayless stayed after practice for a long time today working with assistant coach Joe Prunty. It was extended run even for Bayless, who is already almost always the last guy out the building.

• Brandon Roy, as far as I know, did not embarrass anybody by thunderdunking on their dome.

• LaMarcus Aldridge said his ear is getting better, which is good news. He can now hear out of both ears. Bonus.

Video of Nate McMillan and Steve Blake's comments to come.

That B.Roy Can Dunk

The reaction to Brandon Roy's vicious dunk over Cheikh Samb (full size picture gloriousness found here) has been fast and furious. After Eric Gordon's dunk ignited the Clipper fans who bothered to show up to the Staples Center, Roy answered back with a jam so emphatic that the Clips might have been better off declaring a peaceful surrender by waiving their white home unis on a stick. Mean, mean stuff.

Oh yeah, the reaction to the dunk.

Jason Quick: But Roy soon silenced everyone, finishing a drive with a thunderous jam in the face of 7-foot-1 center Cheikh Samb. It was so impressive and forceful that Blazers owner Paul Allen couldn't control his arms and legs from his courtside seat.

Slam Online
: Last night, the Blazers were losing to the League-worst Clippers. Eric Gordon set the momentum in L.A.’s favor after a sick facial over two Portland bigs. So Brandon Roy did what only a few players in the League can do at will: Dominate. Sorry Cheikh Samb. Mr. Roy had to go to work.

Dime Mag: Brandon Roy’s checklist for the last week looks something like this. Tell the media that you’re going to “give them something special” and then finish a game with 10 steals. Check. Come out and score 30 the next night. Check. Embarrass someone on the Clippers worse than anyone on the Clippers has been embarrassed all season. Check.

Blazer's Edge: Possibly the easiest 33 points you'll ever see scored. Did he even break a sweat? 11 of 15 shooting plus 9 of 10 from the line. Buckets. In case you missed it: here is one of the best dunks of the season, Brandon absolutely destroying Cheikh Samb. "Booya." The score was tied 67-67 when he dunked that. The Blazers went on to outscore the Clippers 46- 21. Game-changer.

Ball Don't Lie: "I hold here a contract between myself and one Cheikh Samb pledging me his soul for a poster and a donut — which I delivered! And both were scrump-diddley-umptious!"
— Brandon Roy, post-game, in my twisted Treehouse of Horror-infused mind.

Rip City Project: Seriously, Cheikh Samb might go Madonna-crazy and turn to kabbalah after the jam Roy laid upon his soul. If Darryl Dawkins were to name that dunk, it would be the "Losing your Religion on Planet Lovetron Jamaroo."

Side note: I want to declare my disdain for youtube highlight clips, especially those that originate via holding a camera up to a television. A lot of people work hard putting broadcasts and authorized web highlights together, and pirating that work is theft. Period. Those cameras and servers cost money. Producers and editors cost money. And when you pirate video highlights, you make it that much harder for those doing business to survive. It's no different than going to, say, Blazer's Edge, taking an excellent recap from Dave or Ben and posting it whole hog in a blog. Those guys put in the work, they should get the page views and the advertising dollars that go along with those page views. It's no different for video. There are no fewer than three different videos on that contain the Roy posterizing Samb highlight. All legal. Just something to consider.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Watch what you can't read

The recap page for Monday's game against the Clippers is up and ready for your perusal. But to really get the gist of this one, you have to watch the video highlights, which include Brandon Roy finishing at and over Cheik Samb (as seen in still life above) and Rudy Fernandez going behind the back to Travis Outlaw for a fastbreak dunk. Plenty 'o' highlight's in that second half.

By the way, keep your fingers crossed for Steve Blake's shoulder.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Video: McMillan, Oden, Roy Postgame

Nate McMillan, Greg Oden and Brandon Roy address the media after defeating the Washington Wizards 100-87 Saturday night. Subjects include Portland's defensive effort, Oden's desire for rebounds and Roy's greediness. Good viewing.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Photos: Roy's No. 3 Retired At UW

View some of the sights from Brandon Roy's jersey retirement at the University of Washington.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

01.22.09 Edition of the Podcast

Even LeBron James can't keep the podcast from forging on. Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of podcast for the third consecutive. Dedication!

This week we talk about how Steve Blake's subs are doing, if Brandon Roy is tired, improved consistency from Greg Oden, the shortening of the bench and the virtues of wearing socks with sneakers. Keep it hot!

Download the podcast.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Video: Daniel Gibson Talks LaMarcus Aldridge

Cleveland Cavalier Daniel Gibson, an all-around nice guy and a former teammate of LaMarcus Aldridge, talks about playing against his former running buddy. Gibson also discusses how good he thinks the Cavs are and can be.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Video: Nate McMillan from practice

Please to enjoy head coach Nate McMillan discussing today's presidential inauguration, Greg Oden's career game, his satisfaction at the midway point (!!!) of the season and the areas that he still needs to see improvement in.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Photos: Trail Blazers 102, Bucks 85

We might have had our first real glimpse tonight of what Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge can do together. I don't recall both clicking in the same game as they did tonight against the Bucks. Granted, Milwaukee is without Andrew Bogut, who is undoubtedly their best offensive and defensive presence in the post, but that doesn't much diminish what LA and GO got done tonight. A solid and much needed win, especially with the Nuggets falling to the Rockets earlier in the day.

Check some of the images from Monday's game. Big game on Wednesday. Huge.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Via Text: Bayless Goes Off

In what I hope to be a semi-regular feature, I'll be texting players after road games to get their thoughts on their performance. Will kick it off with Jerryd Bayless, who responded to getting more playing time by turning in a 23 point, 3 rebound, 3 assist night against the Nets. Bayless also went a perfect 11-for-11 from the line. That's how Bayless do. Onto the text

6:53 PM
Me: This is casey back in portland. Congrats on the great game. Mad rhythm. What you think about your performance tonite?

7:31 PM
Bayless: Thanks. My teammates kept feeding me and i took advantage of the opportunities they made for me.

On of those opportunities? The Sprite Slam Dunk of the Night.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Talking With Travis: Idle Hours

(The following is the fourth of six posts based off of conversations with Travis Outlaw. Click to read the first and second and third posts)

By all accounts, Travis Outlaw is a great guy to hang out with. He’s Mr. Popular in the locker room, a darling in the eyes of the media (at least from a personality standpoint) and generally well received by everyone whom he comes into contact with. But according to Outlaw, that happy-go-lucky persona doesn’t care much for sitting around.

“I hate missing games,” said Outlaw. “I hate sitting out. I get irritated at home, just being at home. I need something to do.”

Whatever that something is, it has to be something that results in putting Outlaw to sleep, because a bright-eyed and bushy tailed Travis also happens to be a pestering troublemaker jerk sibling.

“If we practice I can go home and feel tired all day,” explains Outlaw. “If I don’t practice, I go home and I’m up for no reason. Walking around, starting fights with my brother. Something got to happen! Me just being at home don’t work.”

So bottom line: steer clear of Outlaw on off days, lest he follow you around picking fights. Don't think he won't.

01.15.09 Edition of the Podcast

The Trail Blazers are on the east coast, but the podcast crew holds down the westside for you, the devoted listener. Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of podcast for the second week in a row. Dig that!

This week we talk about the rough go in Philly, Steve Blake's shoulder separation (with updates!) and who fills in for him, break down the most consistent role players and discuss why I won't wear a Brandon Roy UW jersey. I don't rock retired attire.

Download the podcast (54 MB).

And for more baller Trail Blazers podcasting, check out Sean Meagher and Jason Quick over at OregonLive. Synergy rules!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Talking with Travis: Standing around in the sweet spot

(The following is the third of six posts based off of conversations with Travis Outlaw. Click to read the first and second posts)

Even in his sixth year in Portland, Travis Outlaw and the Trail Blazers coaching staff are still trying to figure where he best fits on the floor. Coming off the bench seems to suit Outlaw just fine, but at what position? Does he come in for Nicolas Batum at small forward or is he better suited to fill in for LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward? Is it better to decide on a game-by-game basis? These are the questions that follow Outlaw.

Those questions seem to have been around for a while. Outlaw came into the league as a prototypical wing; a guy who could play forward and a little at the off-guard. Gradually Travis morphed into a straight small forward, but as time went on, head coach Nate McMillan found he could almost always draw a beneficial matchup by using Outlaw at power forward in the second unit. It worked well last season, with Outlaw putting up the best numbers of his career playing almost exclusively at the four.

But for any number of reasons, including the departure of James Jones and the injury to Martell Webster, Outlaw has been used primarily this season backing up Batum at the three (Outlaw averages nearly 10 more minutes a game than Batum). Outlaw has been decent in that role this season, but something still feels a bit askew. According to Travis, it might come down to simply getting reacquainted to life playing the three.

“In my book, three don’t do nothing but stand in the corner,” said Outlaw. “I’m so used to playing at the four, where I’d always touch it. I’d at least touch it once every trip down the floor. But at the three, you stay spaced and hope your defender helps. My man ain’t been helping too much lately, but you hope your man helps.”

Outlaw has a point about the differences between the small and power forward positions. In Nate McMillan’s offense, one of the primary responsibilities of the three is to, as Outlaw notes, keep the floor spaced, which prohibits defenders from loading up on LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy in the paint. The end result is that a significant number of attempts from Trail Blazers small forwards come from the baseline. That might not play to Outlaw’s strengths as an elite athlete, but it does highlight one of the major improvements in Travis’ game: the outside shot, specifically from the corners.

“I love the baseline three,” said Outlaw. “That’s my sweet spot. I don’t really want to shoot a three anywhere else. Not to say that I can’t, but that’s there most of the small forward’s shots come from: the baseline three. It’s rotate, rotate, corner three.”

And he’s been hitting a lot of those shots from the sweet spot. Outlaw is shooting 41% from three overall, but he’s four percentage points better (33-of-73) when shooting three’s from the baseline. When you’re shooting that well from a specific spot, maybe it’s best not to stray too far away.

So in a way, Travis is being trapped in the corner by his own talent.

“Last year I had so much freedom,” said Outlaw. “Now it feels a little restrictive, but it could be because everybody know that when I got the ball to come load up on me.

“You know, the scouting report is out that I guess I can score. Now it’s like when I drive or go into a pull-up, another dude is coming over as soon as I give a move. So it’s a little different.”

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Talking with Travis: Oregon Love

(Yesterday we looked into Travis Outlaw not feeling the love. Today, we touch on Outlaw feeling Oregon)

As longtime Oregonians, it’s sometimes difficult to hear our beloved Trail Blazers talk about life in the Portland metro-area. It never feels like disrespect, but every now and then you can sense the vague presence of hurt feelings emanate from the fanbase when a player talks about there not being much to do in their little corner of the country. Sure, that declaration is usually used as explanation as to why many of the guys spend extra time in the gym or manage to stay out of trouble, which are both undeniably good things, but it’s slightly disheartening to hear nonetheless. After all, Oregonians are unabashedly proud of their state, so it’s not surprising that they’re desperate to foster a kinship of proximity with the players they so furiously support. They want their players, guys whom they consider their own, to love life in the Pacific Northwest as much as they do.

As it turns out, maybe the conversion from NBA player who lives in Oregon to Oregonian who plays in the NBA just takes a bit of time. Say, six years. That’s how long it has taken Travis Outlaw, the longest tenured player on Portland’s roster, to come to the realization that Oregon ain’t half bad.

“Oregon is fun,” said Outlaw. “People be like ‘Man, what you do out there?’ I tell people Oregon is definitely fun. I’m having the most fun. I’ve been here six years so I kind of know what’s going on with everything, so Oregon is becoming fun to me. I’m like (turns head as if surveying the Oregon landscape) ‘Ooh!, Ooh!, Ooh!’”

If anyone should take a shine to good old Oregon, it’s Outlaw. An avid angler and animal lover, Travis shares many of the laidback, you-do-your-thing-and-I”ll-do-mine values that Oregonians cherish. Travis is always going rep Mississippi, and he’ll probably always be more flathead catfish than Chinook salmon, but hearing him talk about Oregon, you can see that the Beaver State has made inroads into his heart.

“I’m a country boy, and ya’ll got a lot of things that you can do outside,” said Outlaw. Nature walks and all that stuff? That’s cool. I can go out and walk my dog wherever. There’s a lot of stuff here to do.”

Now that Outlaw has realized what a special place Oregon is, maybe he can work on convincing some of his friends in the locker room.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Talking with Travis: Outlaw the hated?

(The following is the first of six posts based off of conversations with Travis Outlaw)

It's hard to imagine that anyone could legitimately "hate" Travis Outlaw. Sure, he might do some things on the court that, from time to time, drive you crazy, but Travis is simply too kind a person to despise.

But according to Travis, or more correctly, his cousin, you do, at least those of you who frequent blogs and message boards.

"My cousin told me about (what people write online)," said Outlaw. "He’s like ‘Travis, they hate you in Portland.’ And I’m like ‘You for real?’ And he’s like ‘Yeah.’ I was like, oh well, I don’t know everybody hated me. He said ‘Yeah, they hate you here.’"

I spend some time around Travis and have discussed this topic with him enough to know that he's not entirely serious (Outlaw tends to speak out of the corner of his mouth in a lower tone when he wants you to know he's joking around), but the twinge of doubt is there. A part of Travis, a guy who consistently asks and is legitimately interested in the opinions of others, really feels as though he's Portland's least wanted.

Now the declaration that people in Portland "hate" Travis Outlaw is likely overblown, at least in this case. Maybe Travis sparks more disagreement amongst fans than any of his teammates, which could actually speak to the devotion many feel toward him, but I see far too many No. 25 jerseys running around the Rose Garden to believe that Outlaw is loathed to the extent which he imagines.

But good luck convincing Travis of that. Even after hitting the game-winner against the Pistons, Outlaw still joked that he's not feeling the love.

"They most definitely still hate me," says Outlaw post-game. "They probably still be like ‘That’s still a bad shot; he just made it.’"

Travis Outlaw: Taking A Pass

He's been known to hit game-winners. He’s one of Nate McMillan's go-to players off the bench. And when Brandon Roy is unavailable, he’s the first option in the clutch. But nevertheless, Travis Outlaw still isn’t satisfied.

“I ain’t happy with my game,” said Outlaw. “I’m always looking to improve.”

But it’s not more shots that he’s looking for. Or more playing time. Or even more money. What Outlaw is looking for is something rarely associated with his game: he’s looking for the extra pass.

“Sometimes the first pass you see will be the pass to the assist,” explains Outlaw. “So instead of trying to make a homerun play, I’m trying to just pass it to the passer.

“Say, for instance, I catch it in my sweet spot and then I get to the dotted line. Then it’s okay to make the pass to Rudy. But say I catch it on the block and the dude comes from Rudy but Blake has pulled over. In that situation, it’s best to give it to Blake. I’ve got to give it to Blake and Blake can give it to Rudy. See what I’m saying?”

It’s an interesting goal, especially coming from a player who is known for his willingness to put up just about any shot on the floor. It could even be considered a sign of growth in his sixth NBA season. But making the pass to the assist doesn’t necessarily mean Outlaw is going to stop looking for his shot. Far from it. In fact, the desire to find the open man has spurred Outlaw to work on improving his shot selection.

“I’m going to quit trying settle for the jumper,” said Outlaw. “Now my thing is trying to get two people to start playing me. If I can get two people to start playing me, you know, then I can get someone else a wide-open shot. When I catch it on the block, they coming to a stopper down, so now my thing is to make them go and commit. If I can make them commit, then I can probably get Blake or Rudy, someone out there in the corner, an easier shot.”

“I don’t play against two, you know? Only a couple of people in the league can play against two.”

It’s a surprising admission from a player known for his ability to get off shots, and when pressed further, it becomes clear that Outlaw does think he can get his against a double team, but now, he doesn’t consider it such a good idea.

“I mean, I can play against two if I want,” jokes Outlaw, “but we got too good of a team for me to do that. Scoring is something I do. You look at my game, I’m definitely scoring, but we got too good of guys for me to take that poor of a shot. But trust me; I can get it off against two.”

Making the extra pass instead of shooting or not taking two defenders off the dribble might be a change for a guy like Outlaw, but it’s an adjustment that he’s more than willing to make.

“I’ll always sacrifice for winning. I ain’t ever been to the playoffs, so if we’re talking playoffs, trust me, I’ll make the sacrifice.”

Talking With Travis:
Outlaw The Hated?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Video: McMillan, Roy from practice

Contrary to what you may have read, there was actual discussion of basketball today at the practice facility in Tualatin. Nate McMillan talks about the temporary addition of headbands and Brandon Roy's status. Roy talks about the same things as well. View it!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

01.08.09 Edition of the Podcast

First podcast of 2009! First podcast in almost a month! Mad firsts. Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of are back in the studio mixing audio for your listening pleasure.

This week we talk about cooling the Pistons (get it!), Brandon Roy's imminent return, the future of the small forward, each of our Trail Blazers playoff predictions and Joel Przybilla's warrior spirit. It's wrist-breakingly good.

Download the podcast (31.4 MB!!!).

Video: Bayless, Aldridge, Outlaw Post-Game

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Video: McMillan from shootaround

So after "sleeping on it", Nate McMillan decided to keep Rudy Fernandez in the starting lineup rather than putting Jerryd Bayless with the first unit. McMillan was a bit coy when asked if he'd have any other rotation changes (possibly returning Travis Outlaw to the power forward?) so be on the lookout for a minor tweak to the substitution pattern.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Video: McMillan, Pritchard from practice

A few interesting comments today from Nate McMillan and Kevin Pritchard. You'll definitely want to give the following video a watch.

McMillan talks about the differences between the Celtics (win) and Lakers (bad, bad loss) games, needing consistency and the possibility of making a change to the lineup while waiting for Brandon Roy to return.

Pritchard, who was swarmed by the media for obvious reasons, discusses the desire for "calm waters", not being aggressive on the trade front, how it's a good thing to have your name on the lips of other general managers and being open and honest with his players. He even asks himself rhetorical questions! Vintage KP.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Lakers 100, Blazers 86: Notes and Quotes

Playing at home without your team leader is hard enough (Friday's loss to the Hornets being exhibit A), but on the road without Roy, against the Lakers no less? That's a lot to ask.

And for the first half, LaMarcus Aldridge and Nicolas Batum answered the call, allowing Portland to go into the intermission down by a single point.

Aldridge finished with 22 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals and a block while also playing solid defense on Pau Gasol.

And then there's Batum. Nic turned in easily his best game of the season with 17 points, going a perfect 6-of-6 from the field, including an impressive 3-of-3 from beyond the arc. He also tallied 5 boards, a steal, and a couple thunderous dunks.

But other than those two performances, there weren't many positives for the Red and Black. The guards went an ice-cold 11-for-28, with many of those makes coming when the game was already out of reach.

Aside from that, Travis Outlaw couldn't get it going on either side of the ball and Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla couldn't sneeze without being called for a foul. Ball game. So it goes.

When playing without Brandon Roy, basically everyone else has to perform perfectly in order to get a win on the road against a team like the Lakers. That didn't happen tonight, and so the Trail Blazers return to Portland 20-14.



On Trail Blazers performance during tonight’s game
“Well it’s just the way you got to play; it’s as simple as that. There are opportunities for guys to play and we are not getting production and you know there is an opportunity for guys out there.”

“Our bench needs to help us, we are not shooting the ball well we have some opportunities where we have guys with open looks that normally we knock down those shots .We are not shooting the ball well and we need to get our bench productive.”

On Brandon Roy being out tonight
“Well we don’t have Brandon; Brandon is not with us we know that he is not with us. This is an opportunity for other guys to play and we have other guys and we have to get it done without Brandon until he gets back. So we can’t sit and wait for Brandon to come back, first because we don’t know, and we have games before that happens. We have guys, who want opportunities, and we need everybody to play well and we are not getting that right now.”

On Greg Oden’s performance tonight game
“I thought he was more aggressive and a little bit more relaxed out there. A little calmer than he was in the first game and he was able to get some deep low-post position and make some plays out there for us. But again we need both groups playing well.”

On Lakers performance tonight
They are a good group, they are on a mission. They definitely know what they need to do to win. And right now everybody is healthy for that group. And Phil can push a lot of buttons. He has a lot of different combinations that he can go with as far as playing big playing small. You know those guys are playing ball, all of them playing well.”


“That was a tough loss. We had control most of the first half and they made a little run starting in the 2nd. They came out with the momentum in the 3rd and took over the game.”

“A lot of guys had open shots. We just didn’t make them. Myself and I think everybody had good looks. They weren’t going down for us. It was a tough 3rd. We stuck in there in the 4th. Kobe kind of took over and did what he do.”


On being compared to Andrew Bynum
“A lot of people try to make [the comparison] cause we’re around the same age. But then you think and he’s been in the league four years and this is my first. [Facing him] is very exciting because he is a big 7-footer.”

On whether he sees the Blazers as legitimate challengers to the Lakers
“We try to be. We try to be scrappers. We just want to come out there and try to scrap every game. We are young guys and we know that a lot of these teams have a lot of vets and they’re not going to beat themselves. Us, as a young team, we have to go out there and win it from them. We have to take it from those guys.”


“Los Angeles is a very good team. I think it’s 12 players and sometimes it’s Pau, sometimes it’s Kobe, sometimes it’s Odom, Fisher. I think it’s a very good team. But I think the first half we had great defense. If Kobe is tired he goes to Vujacic or Ariza. I think this is a very good team.”

Przybilla assessed fine for fracas

Word out of the league office yesterday that Joel Przybilla will be fined and assessed a Flagrant One for the dust up with Tyson Chandler during Friday's loss to New Orleans. So sayeth the league ...
Tyson Chandler of the New Orleans Hornets has been suspended one game without pay for throwing an elbow and striking Portland's Joel Przybilla in the neck. In addition, Przybilla has been fined $7,500 for his role in the incident and assessed a Flagrant Foul Penalty One for a forearm to the chest of Chandler, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident, in which Chandler was also assessed a Flagrant Foul Penalty Two and ejected from the game, occurred with 6:16 remaining in the third period of New Orleans' 92-77 win over the Trail Blazers last night at the Rose Garden.

Chandler will serve his suspension tonight when the Hornets visit the Denver Nuggets at Pepsi Center.
Rules are rules, though after watching the replay numerous times, it's hard to tell if the "forearm to the chest" that Przybilla delivered rises to the level of a Flagrant One. If Chandler hadn't thrown the elbow that subsequently got him thrown out of the game, no one would have noticed Przybilla's supposed infraction. And a $7,500 fine? Ouch.

It's a physical game. Tempers flare. Two guys got a little upset, but no punches were thrown. Restraint was exercised. The NBA has to do what the NBA has to do, but it seems that for the most part, everyone handled themselves responsibly.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Hornets v. Trail Blazers: In game thoughts


• The "give the ball to Travis Outlaw and let him operate" is in full effect. This one is going to end NOLA 92, Blazers 77. Tough loss, but without Roy, PTB is going to have to play near perfect ball to get a W. That didn't happen tonight.

• Nate McMillan calls a timeout with 1:15 to play. New Orleans up 88-76. With the game basically out of reach, it's time to start working on late-game execution. Teaching moment.

• Outlaw score his 14th and 15th points on a jumper, but Peja answers back, and then some, with a deep three. Just about done with this one.

• After Paul hits another tough fadeaway to put NOLA up 83-71, the Trail Blazers faithful begin heading to the exits. Then again, if you're leaving with 2 minutes to play, you might no be considered "faithful," though that's not for me to decide.

• Chris Paul is doing what All-Stars do: He's taking over in the fourth quarter. Every time the Blazers get a little something going, Paul is there to answer with a three or an assist. CP3 has 15 points, 9 assists and 6 rebounds, so far.

• Hilton Armstrong slams home a missed Posey three, pushing the lead to 11 with 5:43 to play. This one seems to be slipping away. PTB have score just 4 points in this quarter. That's not going to get it done against anyone, let alone an upper-echelon team like the Hornets.

• New Orleans goes up 72-63. No Roy in the fourth quarter to make the magic happen. Who's going to step up? I'm guessing that's what McMillan is asking his team every time they huddle up.

• Nate McMillan goes with Oden and Przybilla in the lineup together. Coach said pre-game that he liked what he saw out of the combination against the Celtics. We'll see how it works this time.

• Trail Blazers commit another over and back, and that's turnover number 13. NOLA up 68-63, and Portland needs a bucket in the worst way right now.

• Rudy replaces Sergio, which moves Bayless to the point. The Jay Bay playing important fourth quarter minutes tonight.

• Posey goes buckets with a deep three to put the Hornets up 66-63. NOLA has a little bit of juice early in the quarter.


• Great ball movement gets Outlaw an open jumper with 8 seconds left in the quarter. Puts PTB up 61-59. Unfortunately the defense forgets about those remaining 8 seconds, letting CP3 saunter his way to the hoop for an easy layin. Those are the plays that shorten Nate McMillan's life expectancy. End of the third we're all square at 61-61.

• Oden picks up foul number four courtesy of a 50/50 offensive foul against Hilton Armstrong. Joel checks back in after a short breather.

• Przybilla gets a much deserved standing ovation from the crowd as Greg Oden returns. I forgot to note that Chandler swiped at Joel's bad wrist during the kerfuffle. That's mad dirty pool.

• The Trail Breakers are out doing their thing at half court, which is always my favorite in game entertainment. Must be David West's as well, as he stops and watches the Trail Breakers during the entire timeout.

• WOW. Tyson Chandler and Joel Przybilla damn near come to blows with 6:16 to play in the quarter. Here's the breakdown.

Przy has a hand on Chandler's side, which is his right as a defender. Chandler slaps Joel's hand away with extreme prejudice. Przy puts his forearm back on Chandler, maybe a little more forcefully than usual. Chandler retaliates by throwing an elbow into Przybilla's chest. It's on after that. Both guys square up ready to throw, but calmer heads prevail.

Refs review the play and end up giving Przybilla a personal foul, but Chandler a flagrant 2. Chandler gets tossed, Przybilla hits both free throws, and the game goes on.

• Public address announcer Mark Mason throws out the "Blazers lead! Blazers lead!" with just over 10 minutes to play in the third quarter. It's techincally true; the Blazers did in fact lead, but it's still a but early to throw that chestnut out there.

• Przybilla gets the second half start in place of the foul-plagued Oden. Przy gets an early layin to bring his total for the game to 6. I feel a double-double coming on!


• Bayless sends Chandler to the deck with about 3 seconds to play. Nice plan, as it looks like the play was drawn up to use the big man. Paul has to jack a 3 as time expires. Air ball, end of half. NOLA 45, Portland 43.

• Throwing the ball into the third row probably wasn't the play Nate McMillan drew up with 30 seconds to play in the half.

• Travis Outlaw can get his shot against Stojakovic any time he wants. Knowing Travis, he's going to want it a lot.

• Peja's first foul of the night with 1:50 to play in the half puts the Hornets in the penalty. Hopefully the PTB can make'em pay.

• I was thinking before the game that Chris Paul and Tyson Chandler hadn't burned the Blazers too many times this year on the alley-oop. I should have controlled my thoughts better because CP3 and Chandler have already connected on two such dunks. My bad.

• Joel Przybilla's janky wrist doesn't seem to be slowing "The Thrilla" down much early. He's got 6 points and 4 rebounds already.

• David West has answered ever Portland run with a big bucket. Dude always has nice games against the Blazers.

• The Rose Garden was starting to fall asleep until Rudy slammed how a fastbreak pass from Blake, then followed up with a pumpfake pullup three to bring the Blazers to within one.

• Greg picks up foul number three. Oy, it's going to be a long night.


• Too bad Oden got into early (and suspect) foul trouble. With Brandon Roy out, the Trail Blazers are going to need all the offense they can get.

• Jerryd Bayless has already played the best game of his pro career just minutes into the first quarter. A bucket, a steal and an assist on consecutive possessions instantly becomes the best 30 seconds ever played by Bayless the Trail Blazer.

• Peja Stojakovic already has three three-pointers. Nic Batum needs to take it upon himself to lock that dude down.

• LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Ferandez both have two turnovers apiece. Ball control guys, ball control.

• Jack Nies is supposed to be the third referee tonight, but he's sitting this one out for one reason or another. Depending on your opinion of officiating in the NBA, that's either a good thing or a bad thing.

• Aldridge is 1-for-6 in the first quarter. Again, TXBOY12 is going to have to step up without Roy in the lineup. He know that, and might be pressing a little due to that.

Roy out tonight vs. Hornets

Despite claiming that his hamstring was feeling much better earlier in the day, Brandon Roy, along with the training staff, have decided to sit out tonight's tilt versus New Orleans. According to Nate McMillan, the hamstring simply won't loosen up, so rather than chance a full-fledged pull, the Roy-bot is going to watch his second straight game from the sidelines. Hopefully the result is the same.

Brandon Roy still a game-time decision

Joel Pryzbilla (left wrist) is all but guaranteed to go tonight versus the New Orleans Hornets, but Brandon Roy's (hamstring) availability is still up the air. The decision, according to Roy, will come down to how he feels later today in a game of one-on-one.

"I feel better," said Roy. "Going through shootaround, made some plays. I told coach I’m probably going to play some one-on-one today to have a better assessment of where I’m at. I’ll get (to the arena) early to do some one-on-one stuff where I’ve really got to score. (McMillan) said if you find yourself thinking too much, he just said don’t do it."

Roy said he'll probably go up against assistant coach Monty Williams a few hours before the game to decide if the hamstring is ready for the rigors of game speed. Roy hasn't played "live" since aggravating the hammy against Toronto, so there's still a level of uncertainty as to how it will respond between the lines.

If this was a one game playoff, Roy would almost certainly go, but with the meat of the schedule coming up, including tough games against the Lakers and Pistons, Roy and the team have to be careful not to waste the rehabilitation time already invested.

"I think I feel a lot better than I did yesterday," said Roy, "but what coach was saying is like, we're taking these days off now, we don’t want to put you back out there and do it again. It’s a fine line. He doesn’t want me to strain this thing again. He wants me to be smart and cautious with it."

When asked if the opponent made a difference regarding his decision, with the implication being that a game at home versus the Hornets would be a better opportunity for a victory than an away game against the Lakers, Roy hedged.

"They’re both good games! We need them both. Even going into the Boston game it was like ‘Boston, New Orleans, dang those are tough games!’ You don’t want to choose but it’s like you need New Orleans just as bad at home. Lakers are going to be tough on the road. We feel like this is one we really want to get."