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Warriors Fan

Warriors dominate Kings in all facets as Klay Thompson leads way posted by Warriors Fan

The Golden State Warriors too often let lesser competition keep games close and allowed a few of them to slip away on their home court last season.

That doesn't appear to be a problem anymore.

The Warriors eased past the struggling Kings 128-108 on Monday night, the kind of all-around performance that has defined their strong start under new coach Steve Kerr.

All 13 active players scored, including six in double digits. The reserves had a season-high 62 points. And the team totaled 36 assists, the franchise's most in four years.

"These are the fun games when everybody gets in there and scores and feels good afterward," Kerr said.

There have been a lot of those for Golden State already.

The Warriors got off to a fast start and controlled the game by doing what they have most of the season: clog the paint on defense, push the pace and move the ball.

They led 36-20 at the end of the first quarter, 76-53 early in the third and -- except for a few short-lived surges by Sacramento -- kept a comfortable cushion throughout.

Perhaps just as important for the Warriors was the return of David lee, who played for only the second time this season and first since Nov. 5. He had six points on 3-for-9 shooting and seven rebounds in 16 minutes, receiving a standing ovation from the crowd when he entered as a reserve late in the first quarter.

Lee admitted he felt some nerves returning to a team that has done so well without him.

"I was definitely the most excited guy in the NBA to play basketball tonight," Lee said. "I haven't been nervous for a game in five years."

Continue reading "Warriors dominate Kings in all facets ..."


Warriors Fan

Golden State Warriors Preseason Report 2014 posted by Warriors Fan

Golden State Warriors improved their score by winning 51 games in 2013-14, which is four more wins compared to the last season. During the playoffs, they were seeded sixth, but Los Angeles Clippers stopped them from reaching the finals. The Warriors faced many coaching and management issues, which proved quite chaotic for the team. Even with these problems, the team performed quite well and they were able to extend seven games to the Clippers in the playoffs opening round.

2014-2015 looks promising for Golden State Warriors with the hiring of new coach Steve Herr. However, Kerr is still not tested, and the big change could all be hype. Secondly, the best player of the team, Stephen Curry liked the former coach Mark Jackson, and the question remains whether Curry will be able to accept Kerr.

In the offseason, the Warriors tried to bring in Kevin Love, but the trade did not go through, as the management was not willing to trade Klay Thompson. The team had not picks during the draft, and hence the team remains almost the same as last season. However, certain depth was added for guard by acquiring Brandon Rush and Sean Livingston. Since the Timberwolves have a better chance of acquiring Love, the Warriors will have to settle with David Lee in PF. At center, there will be Andrew Bogut and Lee, who are tough and can provide rebounds. At the backcourt, there will be Andre Iguodala who is a defensive specialist, Curry, and Thompson.

Golden State Warriors are in a good position to do much better this season, and experts expect to see them in the playoffs second round. However, reaching the finals would be a stretch, even if they somehow manage to acquire Love. Since, Steve Kerr, the head coach is a rookie, who has not had any experience in NBA finals; the warriors can maximum reach the semis.

Continue reading "Golden State Warriors Preseason Report 2014"


Brad Hurt

Close call: Grizzlies rally for sweep posted by Brad Hurt

It was anything but easy, but the Memphis Grizzlies outlasted the Golden State Warriors, 88-81 in overtime on Wednesday night to complete a perfect West Coast road trip.

The comeback happened largely thanks to the team's Grit N Grind mentality.  After spotting the home team a double-digit lead in the opening quarter, the Grizzlies (7-5) relied on strong defense to get back into the game.  They had to overcome a 12-point deficit in the second half to escape with their 11th consecutive head-to-head win over the 8-4 Warriors.  They won the third quarter 25-13 behind a 17-2 run led by Zach Randolph's eight points in the period.  Randolph finished with another double-double of a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds.

Ball control played a huge part in the win as the Grizzlies turned the ball over only seven times.

The Grizzlies shot only 38 percent for the game, led by Marc Gasol's 6-of-14 effort.  Gasol added 11 rebounds to his 18 points to join Randolph with a double-double.  His pair of free throws with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter forced the game into overtime.  Mike Conley also finished in double figures scoring for the Grizzlies, scoring 19 points and draining the go-ahead 3-pointer in overtime.  The Grizzlies' bench came up large, outscoring the Warriors' reserves 16-7.  Kosta Koufos led the Grizzlies subs with seven points and grabbed eight rebounds.

Andrew Bogut led the Warriors with 12 points and 14 rebounds.

This trip proved the Grizzlies can compete with some of the top teams in the West.  It is never easy to win away from home, and putting together a streak like this shows the character and fight this team has.

Continue reading "Close call: Grizzlies rally for sweep"


Brad Hurt

Grizzlies seek first road sweep since '04 posted by Brad Hurt

The Grizzlies have reeled off three straight wins on the road since falling at home to Toronto last Wednesday.  West Coast trips are usually daunting, but the Grizzlies have found ways to win to this point.  Their current trip reaches its conclusion tonight in Oakland as the Grizzlies (6-5) take on the Pacific-leading Golden State Warriors (8-3), winners of four straight.  So someone will see a streak end.  If the Grizz get the win, they will have their first road sweep of at least four games since March 2004.  The Warriors are 5-0 at home this season, a mark the Clippers also had before falling to the Grizzlies on Monday.

The Warriors boast five players averaging double figures in scoring at this point in the season, led by Klay Thompson's 20.5 points per game.  Sensational guard Stephen Curry is a close second with 19.9 points per game.  Curry, who usually gets top billing as the team's superstar leader, will miss Wednesday's game with a concussion.

The Grizzlies have seen good balance offensively.  Mike Conley is off to a good start, scoring 18.7 points and dishing out around six assists per game.  As he has gone over the past few years, so have gone the Grizzlies.  He seems to be over the confidence issues and inconsistency that plagued him a couple of years ago, when trade rumors surrounded him.  Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have been key for the Grizzlies, continuing to comprise one of the biggest post tandem threats in the league.  Gasol is putting up 17 points and seven rebounds per game on the season.  However, on this trip he is scoring over 20 points per game with 8+ rebounds and 8+ assists.  Randolph is leading the team with 9.2 rebounds per game while scoring 16.1 points per contest on a career-high 55 percent shooting clip.

Continue reading "Grizzlies seek first road sweep since '04"


Charles Bisbee

NBA Anarchy posted by Charles Bisbee

The NBA is completely bonkers right now. With less than two weeks until season’s tip-off, players are being flipped faster than flapjacks at IHOP. Chris Paul has been perfecting his start-and-stop from the comfort of his living room. Dwight Howard can't seem to decipher his own feelings about the Magic. Lamar Odom, as collateral from the Paul fall-out, whined his way to the Mavs, who were spurned earlier in the week by Tyson Chandler (Knicks). Chauncey Billups took his frequent flier miles to the Clips (though he could be dealt again by the time I finish this sentence) and Big Baby was swapped for Brandon Bass.

Wait, there's more! The Celtics thought they had Baby's replacement in David West (Paul’s former right-hand man) but the Pacers swooped in and snagged him for a cool $20 mil. Consequently, the Hornets are trying to fill out a roster with Quincy Pondexter and a collection of ball boys. Vinsanity joined Odom in Dallas, which lost Caron Butler to the Clippers, which matched Golden State’s absurd, $43 million qualifying offer to DeAndre Jordan (he with the career 5.9 ppg). T-Mac, Rip Hamilton, Chris Wilcox, Mike Bibby and Dunleavy are on the move as well, though these names seem like afterthoughts compared to the seismic activity higher up. 

And all this happened in slightly over a week. It’s certainly enough to make the casual fan's head spin. The ramifications of this unforseen, pre-season turbulence on the regular season, though, is what really boggles the mind. With little time to mesh, little time to prepare, and a season packed tighter than Delta coach, teams should be in for a wild ride. We're staring down the barrel of the most slapdash, unforseen and chemistry-bungled season since, dare I say, 1998! Should be a wild ride. 

Continue reading "NBA Anarchy"


john howard

Bucks trade Gadzuric, Bell for Maggette posted by john howard

The Milwaukee Bucks traded Charlie Bell and Dan Gadzurik to the Golden State Warrios for Corey Magette.

 This is a good move for both teams and potentially a great move for Milwuakee.

Golden State is changing ownership and wants to get a younger nucleus to build around.  The Trade of Magette rids the team of $31 million for the next  3 years. 

As far as the Bucks go, this was a good move for a couple of reasons. One, if John Salmons leaves, then they have his replacement.  But, if they can resign Salmons, there is a lot more firepower for this team.  The Bucks made the playoffs and had a good showing without their top inside threat in Andrew Bogut. 

Small news, but could be a big deal.

Continue reading "Bucks trade Gadzuric, Bell for Maggette"


Amari Harris

Humpday Huddle posted by Amari Harris

I’ve been extremely busy lately so I haven’t had as much time to write, but I have wanted to weigh in on a few topics before the week is over and hopefully I can come through with a column for tomorrow.  Let’s be random…

 

Did I hear that correctly?  Appartently the Golden State Warriors turned down a trade that would have netted them O.J. Mayo and Nasheen Thabeet for Monta Ellis…craziness

 

There are a lot of interesting rumblings coming out of the 2010 Draft/Combine.  Tim Tebow is working on changing his throwing motion.  This is one of the more intriguing stories of the draft.  It is easy to root for Tebow because of his faith and his character but I just don’t see him being an effective NFL quarterback.  NFL defenses are too fast, too smart and too powerful for a guy who dominated the college ranks with those same traits.  His passing ability is very suspect because of that long wind-up release.  The transformation that he’s attempting will be very difficult as he has thrown with the same motion for the last 20 years.  Some people try to compare Tebow to Vince Young, but VY has demonstrated the tools and ability to excel on the NFL level.  Young does everything Tebow does, but way better.  This should be an interesting development and I’m sure there are GMs and teams out there that can make this marriage work, but I would stay away from this guy for the most part.

 

Free Agency is upon us and there are some pretty sexy story lines surfacing as the off-season progresses.  Julius Peppers will be the hottest free agent on the market despite being 30 years old and having questionable work ethic.  Peppers seems to be a bit selfish as he is looking for the biggest pay day and he doesn’t play the run very well.  Under the right conditions, Peppers could be a defensive MVP. I’m not sure those conditions exist right now however.  Many people are speculating that Peppers would go to the Patriots, but I don’t see the economics being there, and the Patriots have a lack of leadership on the defensive side of the ball…Peppers won’t help.  I’d be more inclined to see Peppers as a Jet or Charger.  These teams have shown promise for years to come and Peppers could be the missing piece for each team.  I also wouldn’t write off the New Orleans Saints.  This is a team that thrived off of turnovers this past season and Peppers is a turnover specialist.  I think he would be a good fit in their hybrid defensive packages that Greg Williams’ deploys.

Continue reading "Humpday Huddle"


Sabrina

Welcome Back Rip! posted by Sabrina

For starters, welcome back Rip Hamilton! With an impressive 18 points this game against the Golden State Warriors, Rip made sure his return was not overseen. Although Rip was the talk of the game, Rodney Stuckey was the point leader with an impressive 29 points this game.

Rodney Stuckey has proven that he is not a rookie anymore. He is much more consistent in his shot and now has found a place as a leader of the team. This team has definitely changed since winning the 2004 Finals, but it's a great way to start over. Stuckey has found his place and so have Charlie Villanueva and Ben Gordon. The three rookies all had playing time this game and showed that they have potential. Jonas Jerebko had a few amazing plays, shots and assists, and Austin Daye showed his confidence as he took a chance when he scored tonight. Jerebko and Daye are shining, but Dajuan Summers seems to be left behind. It's a question whether his lack of playing time is due to his lack of skill or adjustment to the NBA, but Jerebko and Daye are taking the spotlight.

A big question in mind was if the chemisty of the team would be broken when Rip and Tayshaun come back, but Rip has shown anyone with doubt that the Pistons can adjust and work together as a team. With Ben Gordon and Tayshaun Prince still out, the Pistons were able to extend their winning streak to a 5 game streak. The expected date for Ben Gordon and Tayshaun's return have not been confirmed, but it seems like they will be playing soon. Tayshaun, please come back soon. I've been saving you on my fantasy basketball team haha. The Pistons may see a positive change with all their injured players back in the line up, bringing the Pistons back to their full potential.

Continue reading "Welcome Back Rip!"


Scott Shepherd

That Guy Scored 50?? posted by Scott Shepherd

A few days ago I posted a blog listing the best scorers in the NBA today that have yet to have a 50-point scoring game.

While researching that post, I had an even more interesting idea for a post.

It’s a list of guys who, unbelievably, had a 50-point game in their career.

Since I was using www.basketball-reference.com to research the list, we’re only going back to the 1986-87 season. It’s far enough back in time to make some of the guys on the list obscure, but not far enough back to where you won’t remember them.

In no order, here are some of the more random players to score 50 points in an NBA game over the past 24 seasons.

Vernon Maxwell

Before Ron Artest and the “Malice at the Palace”, there was Vernon Maxwell running into the stands and punching a fan. While “Mad Max” will be remembered most for that, he also finds himself in elite company as one of only 60 players to score 50 or more points in a game since the start of the 1986-87 season.

Maxwell may be most remembered for his volatility, but at one point he was very dangerous on the court as well. He dropped for 30 points in the fourth quarter on January 26th, 1991 against the Cavs en route to a career-high 51 points.

Charles Smith

The former number three overall pick had a solid first few seasons with the Clippers, but a series of knee injuries cut his career short after a few other stops. For his career, he averaged 14.4 points per game.

Though he never developed into a big time NBA player, Smith dropped 52 on the Nuggets in December of 1990. It was the only time in his nine year career the Smith scored more than 40 points in a game.
Continue reading "That Guy Scored 50??"


Scott Shepherd

Fun With Box Scores posted by Scott Shepherd

Every Monday, with the assistance of the good people over at www.basketball-reference.com, I like to take a look deep into the statistics of teams and players from around the league in a little post I like to call “Fun with Box Scores”.

Some of the gems I came across this week:

-Quinten Richardson has gone 9 games, 275 minutes played, without taking a single free throw this season.

-Even more remarkably, Jason Kidd has taken just 2 free throws in 347 minutes this season.

 

-73% of Daniel Gibson’s shots this season have been from beyond the three point line, by far the highest percentage of any player in the league with at least 50 shots taken.

 

-Since 1986, the record for most 40+ point games before December 1st is 14. Brandon Jennings’ 55 point outburst on Saturday was the 14th time that someone has scored at least 40 this season, tying the record, and we’ve still got 15 days left in the month.

 

-Speaking of Jennings, since 1986, no player has had a better three point field goal percentage during a 50-point game than he did on Saturday (minimum 3 attempts).

 

-In that same time span, Jennings is the youngest player ever to shoot at least 34 shots in a game.

 

-Nazr Mohammed led the Bobcats in scoring on Wednesday with a whopping 13 points. In nine games this season, the Cat’s have failed to have a player reach 20 points in five of them, by far the most in the league.

 

-Golden State has given up at least 100 points in every game this season. They are the only team in the league to do so this season.

Continue reading "Fun With Box Scores"

Golden State Warriors News

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The 10-man rotation, starring the need to let Bradley Beal bomb away (Ball Don't Lie)

A look around the league and the Web that covers it. It's also important to note that the rotation order and starting nods aren't always listed in order of importance. That's for you, dear reader, to figure out. C : Truth About It . Good stuff from Adam Rubin on Bradley Beal, "a deadly 3-point specialist who does not shoot 3-pointers," and why it would behoove Flip Saunders Randy Wittman (whoops!) to do what he can to push the Washington Wizards marksman into more long-distance attempts. PF : Nuggets Ink . Brian Shaw really wasn't happy that Danilo Gallinari didn't get a shooting foul call that would've sent him to the free-throw line with a chance to tie things up in the closing seconds of the Denver Nuggets' Monday night loss to the Los Angeles Clippers. SF : VICE Sports . Patrick Redford looks at the latest Forbes valuations , looks at situations like the one in the works in Milwaukee , and comes to a conclusion: "If NBA teams are worth billions, it's farcical that cities should be held ransom by owners. No citizens are obligated to help the rich get richer." SG : RealGM . Jonathan Tjarks on why the Los Angeles Lakers' decision to give Kobe Bryant a $48.5 million contract extension last year made an awful lot of sense even if age and injury meant he was never going to come close to producing at that level on the court: "In a business where rain makers can choose where they want to work, it’s never a bad idea to cultivate a reputation as a place that takes care of its employees." PG : Forum Blue and Gold . J.M. Poulard on the uncomfortable eventuality that Lakers fans find themselves facing in the aftermath of Kobe's latest injury and, in all likelihood, eventual comeback: "I’m not sure whether I or anyone else for that matter is prepared for a world where a healthy but older version of Kobe is no longer the Purple and Gold’s best player." 6th : But the Game is On . Stephen Curry has turned in an MVP-caliber first half for the remarkable Golden State Warriors, but Mark Travis wonders if the magnitude of Curry's ascending star at the point guard position has perhaps somewhat unfairly obscured the continual brilliance of Chris Paul. 7th : San Francisco Chronicle . Ron Kroichick with a good look at the work that's gone into developing Curry's yo-yo handle, the metronomic backbeat behind the soaring solos he authors with his shooting. As former Warriors and current Charlotte Hornets assistant Stephen Silas says, "“He knows he’s not going to lose the ball, no matter what he does with it.”8th : Vantage Sports and The Triangle . Ian Levy and Kirk Goldsberry offer statistical and shot-chart-based looks at how Andrew Wiggins' offensive game has evolved as his rookie season has worn on, how and where the Minnesota Timberwolves wunderkind has improved, and where he still needs some work. 9th : San Antonio Express-News . The great Mike Monroe looks back at the 1975 ABA All-Star Game, an event that featured Willie Nelson singing a capella and the MVP receiving a horse. (There is a sad ending .) 10th : Wall Street Journal . Ben Cohen looks at how Vine has changed the experience of watching, and re-watching, NBA games. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow BDL's Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Warriors'Festus Ezeli to begin D-League rehab assignment

OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) Golden State Warriors backup center Festus Ezeli will begin a rehab assignment with the team's NBA Development League affiliate in Santa Cruz before making his long-awaited return. [read full article]

From FOX Sports Digital


LaMarcus Aldridge needs thumb surgery, and the Blazers might be in big trouble (Ball Don't Lie

We started to get bad vibes after Wednesday's reports that the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam on the left hand that LaMarcus Aldridge injured during the Portland Trail Blazers' Monday's win over the Sacramento Kings were "inconclusive." We knew something definitely wasn't right when Blazers general manager Neil Olshey confirmed the Thursday morning report by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that Aldridge's left thumb was in a cast heading into today's follow-up MRI. On Thursday night, we learned that our fears were well-founded: MRI confirms Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge has a radial collateral ligament tear in left thumb. He will undergo surgery; out for 6-8 weeks. —Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 23, 2015 The three-time All-Star power forward suffered the injury while defending Kings center DeMarcus Cousins early in the second quarter on Monday night: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Aldridge left the game at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter and did not return, finishing the game with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in 13 1/2 minutes. Inside the Blazers' locker room prior to Portland's Thursday meeting with the Boston Celtics, the news —as you might expect —wasn't greeted warmly, as Jason Quick of the Oregonian reports : Wesley Matthews was sitting in front of his locker and perusing his phone, when I mentioned "Bummer.'' "What?'' he asked, and I pointed to Aldridge's stall, where a horde of media had gathered for a 6:10 availability with Aldridge. "Torn ligament. Surgery. Out 6-to-8 weeks,'' I told Matthews. Matthews chucked his phone over his right shoulder and immediately got up from his chair and left the locker room. Jeff Stotts of the great medical/injury information blog In Street Clothes notes that Aldridge's injury is the same one suffered this offseason by Los Angeles Lakers wing Nick Young. Swaggy P was expected to miss eight weeks, as well, but came back a bit earlier than that , which offers something, at least, for Blazers fans looking to remain optimistic as they grapple with the notion of life without their leading scorer (23.2 points per game) and rebounder (10.2 boards per contest). Here, however, is the dark cloud within that silver lining: here are the western playoff hopefuls POR plays in the next two months: DAL (x2), HOU (x2), LAC, MEM (x2), OKC, PHX, SAS. —Aaron McGuire (@docrostov) January 23, 2015 The Blazers have been excellent this season, riding a balanced attack (10th in the league in points scored per possession, fifth in points allowed per possession) to a 31-12 record that's good for the No. 2 seed in the West (behind only the on-another-level Golden State Warriors) and an 8 1/2 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. But they've rolled up that record against a less-than-murderous slate of opposition; a handful of different strength-of-schedule measurements all peg Portland's schedule thus far as one of the seven easiest in the league. As you can see from the rundown above, that's about to change in a hurry . The Blazers' timeframe would keep Aldridge sidelined for anywhere from 18 to 24 games, slating his return somewhere between the first and third week of March. That's an awful long time to be without your top gun, especially in as dangerous an environment as the Western Conference; while it's very nice for Portland to have that 8 1/2 game division cushion, it probably wouldn't serve as a seismic shock to see the now-surging Thunder take a sizable bite out of that lead in the weeks ahead. The challenge for Blazers coach Terry Stotts will be to keep the margin from disappearing entirely. On that score, it'll be nice to be able to rely on Damian Lillard, who's in the midst of his best season as a pro (22.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game) and has become one of the league's most lethal fourth-quarter performers . But the Blazers will need more than All-Star play from their All-Star point guard. With starting center Robin Lopez still recuperating from the broken bones in his right hand and reserve big man Joel Freeland still working his way back from a right shoulder strain , Portland's frontcourt was already stretched thin. And Olshey saying Thursday that it's possible that neither Lopez nor Freeland will return before the mid-February All-Star break, Stotts will have to lean even more heavily for frontcourt productivity on the likes of Chris Kaman, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver, and on small-ball lineups featuring Nicolas Batum and versatile reserve Dorell Wright sliding up to the four spot. Batum has struggled mightily this season, averaging just 9.4 points in 33.7 minutes per game while shooting a career-low 39.5 percent from the field and just 28.1 percent from 3-point land, but he did have a bounceback outing (27 points on 9-for-15 shooting and 6-for-8 from long distance, 10 rebounds, five assists and a block) in Portland's Wednesday loss to the Phoenix Suns. Blazers fans must now hope even more fervently that the Frenchman's sweet shooting in Arizona was a sign of an impending return to form. Despite the daunting prospect of facing the double-tough schedule ahead without their most accomplished interior scorer, it's possible that Stotts, one of the league's sharper tacticians, will be able to bubblegum-and-duct-tape together enough solutions to be able to weather the storm, fend off challenges from the snarl of teams below them in the standings (the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Suns and Thunder) and keep the Blazers in position for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs until Aldridge returns. This is, after all, a deeper, more talented and experienced Portland team than we've seen in the past couple of years, and Lillard sure looks to be more than capable of carrying the weight of superstar-level expectations; Dame seems like the kind of dude who will hear droves of people saying, "Oh, no, this is baaaaad news for Portland," internalize it all, pressurize it into some kind of "nobody believes in us!" anger diamond and go average 30-7-7 for the next six weeks just to prove a point. That said, there's a reason why the Blazers' offensive efficiency drops from top-five-in-the-league (108 points per 100 possessions) to just-above-bottom-five (100 points-per-100) when Aldridge sits down . It's not just that he's one of the game's elite midrange shooters, a pick-and-pop maestro whom defenses just can't leave alone at the elbows and near the arc lest they suffer the same fate as the Houston Rockets. It's all the open space and opportunity that his shooting, and the threat of his shooting, opens up for Lillard, Batum and 3-point-bombing shooting guard Wesley Matthews. It's the added bonus afforded by the continuity and familiarity that the Blazers' core has built up by playing so many minutes together over the past few seasons. It's the knowledge that, virtually regardless of what happens on an offensive possession and how badly a defense blows it up, they can almost always get a decent look just by giving it to the 6-foot-11 cornerstone with the high, nearly unblockable release. It's hard to replace all that. Well, no, scratch that; it's probably impossible to replace all that. But the Blazers will have to do their best to keep plugging along, and Aldridge —reportedly in good spirits as he spoke briefly with media after the announcement —will do his best to both get back as quickly as possible and make sure he's healthy enough to stay back once he returns. From Joe Freeman of the Oregonian : "It's tough. We have been in a pretty good rhythm most of this season. We've lost guys a lot this season. This is a totally different season from last year. But we have a lot of guys here that can step up and play better and make plays. So I feel like the team shouldn't stall. We're going to get guys back soon, so it's going to be good for us." While Aldridge is to be commended for putting a brave face on bummerific news, we'll have to agree to disagree that anything about this is "good" for the Blazers. The difference between Portland contending for a title and missing the playoffs entirely could very well rest on how well and how quickly a tiny stretch of connective tissue on the outside of a thumb heals. It seems an absurd statement, but it also feels like a sadly appropriate margin of error in this unrelenting Western Conference. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports

LaMarcus Aldridge needs thumb surgery, and the Blazers might be in big trouble (Ball Don't Lie

We started to get bad vibes after Wednesday's reports that the results of a magnetic resonance imaging exam on the left hand that LaMarcus Aldridge injured during the Portland Trail Blazers' Monday's win over the Sacramento Kings were "inconclusive." We knew something definitely wasn't right when Blazers general manager Neil Olshey confirmed the Thursday morning report by Sean Deveney of the Sporting News that Aldridge's left thumb was in a cast heading into today's follow-up MRI. On Thursday night, we learned that our fears were well-founded: MRI confirms Portland F LaMarcus Aldridge has a radial collateral ligament tear in left thumb. He will undergo surgery; out for 6-8 weeks. —Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) January 23, 2015 The three-time All-Star power forward suffered the injury while defending Kings center DeMarcus Cousins early in the second quarter on Monday night: [ Follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr: The best slams from all of basketball ] Aldridge left the game at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter and did not return, finishing the game with 10 points on 4-for-7 shooting in 13 1/2 minutes. Inside the Blazers' locker room prior to Portland's Thursday meeting with the Boston Celtics, the news —as you might expect —wasn't greeted warmly, as Jason Quick of the Oregonian reports : Wesley Matthews was sitting in front of his locker and perusing his phone, when I mentioned "Bummer.'' "What?'' he asked, and I pointed to Aldridge's stall, where a horde of media had gathered for a 6:10 availability with Aldridge. "Torn ligament. Surgery. Out 6-to-8 weeks,'' I told Matthews. Matthews chucked his phone over his right shoulder and immediately got up from his chair and left the locker room. Jeff Stotts of the great medical/injury information blog In Street Clothes notes that Aldridge's injury is the same one suffered this offseason by Los Angeles Lakers wing Nick Young. Swaggy P was expected to miss eight weeks, as well, but came back a bit earlier than that , which offers something, at least, for Blazers fans looking to remain optimistic as they grapple with the notion of life without their leading scorer (23.2 points per game) and rebounder (10.2 boards per contest). Here, however, is the dark cloud within that silver lining: here are the western playoff hopefuls POR plays in the next two months: DAL (x2), HOU (x2), LAC, MEM (x2), OKC, PHX, SAS. —Aaron McGuire (@docrostov) January 23, 2015 The Blazers have been excellent this season, riding a balanced attack (10th in the league in points scored per possession, fifth in points allowed per possession) to a 31-12 record that's good for the No. 2 seed in the West (behind only the on-another-level Golden State Warriors) and an 8 1/2 game lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder in the Northwest Division. But they've rolled up that record against a less-than-murderous slate of opposition; a handful of different strength-of-schedule measurements all peg Portland's schedule thus far as one of the seven easiest in the league. As you can see from the rundown above, that's about to change in a hurry . The Blazers' timeframe would keep Aldridge sidelined for anywhere from 18 to 24 games, slating his return somewhere between the first and third week of March. That's an awful long time to be without your top gun, especially in as dangerous an environment as the Western Conference; while it's very nice for Portland to have that 8 1/2 game division cushion, it probably wouldn't serve as a seismic shock to see the now-surging Thunder take a sizable bite out of that lead in the weeks ahead. The challenge for Blazers coach Terry Stotts will be to keep the margin from disappearing entirely. On that score, it'll be nice to be able to rely on Damian Lillard, who's in the midst of his best season as a pro (22.1 points, 6.2 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game) and has become one of the league's most lethal fourth-quarter performers . But the Blazers will need more than All-Star play from their All-Star point guard. With starting center Robin Lopez still recuperating from the broken bones in his right hand and reserve big man Joel Freeland still working his way back from a right shoulder strain , Portland's frontcourt was already stretched thin. And Olshey saying Thursday that it's possible that neither Lopez nor Freeland will return before the mid-February All-Star break, Stotts will have to lean even more heavily for frontcourt productivity on the likes of Chris Kaman, Thomas Robinson, Meyers Leonard and Victor Claver, and on small-ball lineups featuring Nicolas Batum and versatile reserve Dorell Wright sliding up to the four spot. Batum has struggled mightily this season, averaging just 9.4 points in 33.7 minutes per game while shooting a career-low 39.5 percent from the field and just 28.1 percent from 3-point land, but he did have a bounceback outing (27 points on 9-for-15 shooting and 6-for-8 from long distance, 10 rebounds, five assists and a block) in Portland's Wednesday loss to the Phoenix Suns. Blazers fans must now hope even more fervently that the Frenchman's sweet shooting in Arizona was a sign of an impending return to form. Despite the daunting prospect of facing the double-tough schedule ahead without their most accomplished interior scorer, it's possible that Stotts, one of the league's sharper tacticians, will be able to bubblegum-and-duct-tape together enough solutions to be able to weather the storm, fend off challenges from the snarl of teams below them in the standings (the Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, San Antonio Spurs, Suns and Thunder) and keep the Blazers in position for home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs until Aldridge returns. This is, after all, a deeper, more talented and experienced Portland team than we've seen in the past couple of years, and Lillard sure looks to be more than capable of carrying the weight of superstar-level expectations; Dame seems like the kind of dude who will hear droves of people saying, "Oh, no, this is baaaaad news for Portland," internalize it all, pressurize it into some kind of "nobody believes in us!" anger diamond and go average 30-7-7 for the next six weeks just to prove a point. That said, there's a reason why the Blazers' offensive efficiency drops from top-five-in-the-league (108 points per 100 possessions) to just-above-bottom-five (100 points-per-100) when Aldridge sits down . It's not just that he's one of the game's elite midrange shooters, a pick-and-pop maestro whom defenses just can't leave alone at the elbows and near the arc lest they suffer the same fate as the Houston Rockets. It's all the open space and opportunity that his shooting, and the threat of his shooting, opens up for Lillard, Batum and 3-point-bombing shooting guard Wesley Matthews. It's the added bonus afforded by the continuity and familiarity that the Blazers' core has built up by playing so many minutes together over the past few seasons. It's the knowledge that, virtually regardless of what happens on an offensive possession and how badly a defense blows it up, they can almost always get a decent look just by giving it to the 6-foot-11 cornerstone with the high, nearly unblockable release. It's hard to replace all that. Well, no, scratch that; it's probably impossible to replace all that. But the Blazers will have to do their best to keep plugging along, and Aldridge —reportedly in good spirits as he spoke briefly with media after the announcement —will do his best to both get back as quickly as possible and make sure he's healthy enough to stay back once he returns. From Joe Freeman of the Oregonian : "It's tough. We have been in a pretty good rhythm most of this season. We've lost guys a lot this season. This is a totally different season from last year. But we have a lot of guys here that can step up and play better and make plays. So I feel like the team shouldn't stall. We're going to get guys back soon, so it's going to be good for us." While Aldridge is to be commended for putting a brave face on bummerific news, we'll have to agree to disagree that anything about this is "good" for the Blazers. The difference between Portland contending for a title and missing the playoffs entirely could very well rest on how well and how quickly a tiny stretch of connective tissue on the outside of a thumb heals. It seems an absurd statement, but it also feels like a sadly appropriate margin of error in this unrelenting Western Conference. - - - - - - - Dan Devine is an editor for Ball Don't Lie on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at devine@yahoo-inc.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @YourManDevine Stay connected with Ball Don't Lie on Twitter @YahooBDL , "Like" BDL on Facebook and follow Dunks Don't Lie on Tumblr for year-round NBA talk, jokes and more. [read full article]

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