Portland Trailblazers

Greg Oden wants to show you his current pad

So, have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an NBA superstar in the waiting? If you’re pretending to be Greg Oden, it’s probably not what you’d expect. Surely you’ve heard about LeBron James’ multimillion dollar mansion that is currently in the works; well, this is just a couple steps down from that. But, hey, everyone has to start somewhere and we’re guessing that it won’t be long until Oden breaks ground on his very own humble abode that will have LeBron and the rest of the world saying, “Daaaaamn!” Until then, it looks like he’s going to be eating Cookie Crisp and watermelon in this cramped little apartment.

Thanks for sharing, Greg!


[The Big Lead]: Greg Oden, Cribs (Well, His Mom’s Apartment, Anyway)

NBA General

Around the Rim: Portland gets a breath of fresh air

The next Jail Trail Blazer?

1. The West just got even better
It was one of the more shocking lotteries in recent history, as neither Memphis nor Boston grabbed either of the top two picks, a.k.a. Greg Oden or Kevin Durant, despite being the worst teams in the league, but instead it was a pair of Northwest Division clubs who changed their fortunes. With just a 5.3 percent chance of winning the whole shebang, the Portland Trail Blazers grabbed the top pick while Seattle ended up with a heck of a consolation prize. The beauty of this is that these two kids will grow as rivals for at least the beginning of their careers as they compete for the same division title every year. Unfortunately they will have some stiff competition for the crown as Utah, Denver and Minnesota all reside in the Northwest. But the real losers in this year’s lottery are those pathetic Grizzlies, Celtics and Bucks who put up some horrid regular season records but still had the statistical advantage slip through their fingers, giving their fans no reason to attend any home games in the next few years. That really sucks for those guys but our “kick to the crotch award” goes to Atlanta who came so freakin’ close to grabbing a franchise cornerstone but instead is going to have to settle for the La Toya Jackson of the draft. (Full lottery results)

2. Spurs dominate again

Like in Game 1, the Jazz put together a late run but they couldn’t escape from San Antonio with a victory as the Spurs grabbed a 2-0 lead in the West finals behind a 105-96 Game 2 win. Tim Duncan continued his run of playoff domination as he finished with 26 points and 14 rebounds while Tony Parker dished out a career playoff-high 14 assists to go with his 17 points. Utah had better hope that their home crowd gives them some added umph because the Spurs are starting to make this look way too easy. Sure, Carlos Boozer (33 pts, 15 reb) and Deron Williams (26 pts, 10 ast) are getting it done on the blue team but at this point it is a two man show against a cohesive unit. Sorry, but without some help from the role players, this is going to be a quick and easy series for the West crown.

3. Another Denver delinquent
Ron Artest might have found a new home after pretty much wearing out his welcome in Sacramento by being involved in several incidents with the law since arriving. So, what whacked out coach would possibly be willing to take a ride in the Artest demolition derby? Why, George Karl of course. Yup, the Denver Nuggets are looking to add rapper extraordinaire “Tru Warier” Artest to their bad boy lineup of Kenyon “Microfracture” Martin, Allen “Practice” Iverson and Carmelo “Sucker Punch” Anthony. We’re guessing that Artest would fit right in with this crew and we’re also guessing that in typical Karl fashion he wouldn’t be able to handle his malcontent cast and end up blaming the Nuggets management for his poor compilation.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Tim Duncan vs. Utah 38 min, 26 pts (FG: 10-15, FT: 6-8), 14 reb, 4 ast, 2 stl, 5 blk

Buzzer Beater: Well it sure didn’t take the Rockets very long to find a replacement for Jeff Van Gundy after the front office decided to give him the boot on Friday, because Rick Adelman is expected to be introduced as the new coach on Wednesday. It should be a good fit; Houston definitely needs a veteran coach who can properly utilize his tools and Adelman has proven that he can win. Hey, this guy got some great mileage out of Vlade Divac for cryin’ out loud; surely he can turn Yao Ming into a beast. And if you don’t think Adelman desperately wants to win a ring then just remember that he has the highest winning percentage (.610) of any coach who doesn’t have a championship.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Even Mr. Clutch can’t save Memphis

1. West walks away
Jerry West will always be the logo of the NBA, but yesterday he announced that he will no longer be the face of the Memphis Grizzlies. West told reporters that his five year run as the Grizzlies’ director of basketball operations will end on July 1. Mr. Clutch said “I’m not a youngster anymore,” and said that the constant losing, uncertainty and injuries have all added up to be too much for the soon-to-be 69 year old. West has done all that he can for the Memphis franchise and while they might have some pieces to build on; they seriously need a centerpiece to build around. And according to West, Pau Gasol is not that guy. But with the luck of the bouncing ping-pong balls, perhaps Kevin Durant could become what Gasol never did.

2. Skiles shoots down Curry’s season

If the Tim Duncan/Joey Crawford drama isn’t enough to keep your NBA interest peaked, then perhaps a coach/player rivalry will be more intriguing to you. Last week, Bulls coach Scott Skiles said that the Knicks Eddy Curry is “having a very good year but it seems like he’s being put on a pedestal awful quickly here.” It sounds to us like somebody is upset that Curry didn’t have his breakout season while playing in Bulls’ red. Curry said that his former coach was “very disrespectful” in his comments. This is a great start to a bad blood rivalry, but it’s not going to get a chance to get fully rolling until next season since New York won’t be participating in the post season.

3. Jamison doesn’t mind carrying the load
With Gilbert Arenas and Caron Butler out of the lineup there are gobs and gobs of points available for the other 12 players on the active roster. And on Tuesday night Antawn Jamison did his absolute best to make sure that he grabbed as many of those points for himself as he could by scoring 48 points against the Magic. Unfortunately, the 48 point effort was in vain as the Wizards fell by six to Orlando, 95-89. Jamison jacked up 26 of the Wiz’s 80 field goals and attempted 24 of the team’s 44 free throws. Talk about a one many show! Jarvis Hayes was the only other Wizard to finish in double figures with 15 points on 6-of-12 shooting.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Antawn Jamison vs. Orlando 48 min, 48 pts (FG: 14-26, 3FG: 5-9, FT: 15-24), 9 reb, 1 ast, 1 stl

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Golden State (41-40) @ Portland (32-49) Portland might be the home team in this contest, but the Trailblazers have nothing to play for. Golden State, on the other hand, has everything to play for as their post season hopes ride on the last game of the last day of the schedule. If the Warriors can pull out the victory, then they are in the playoffs for the first time since 1994, snapping the longest current streak of going without any post season lovin’. However, if Golden State fails to win against Portland then the Clippers can sneak into the post season by beating the Hornets in LA.

Buzzer Beater: Jermaine O’Neal didn’t try to hide the fact that he wanted out of Indy if the Pacers failed to reach the playoffs, but now that the season is over O’Neal is backing off of his demands for an off-season trade. “I want to retire here, but I understand the business part of it. The business part is brutal. If they feel they can’t rebuild the team, they have to tear the team down.” While O’Neal isn’t admitting it, he’s probably still looking for a change of address and one attractive location is in LA; with Kobe Bryant, not Elton Brand. The Lakers desperately need a big man to compliment their superstar scorer but they’ll have to give up some young talent in return; perhaps Andrew Bynum. Unfortunately, The Captain would not be happy with that.

NBA General

Around the Rim: The Battle of Los Angeles

1. Iron unkind
Kobe Bryant kept his hot string going last night as he dropped 29 points on the Clippers but the Lakers still ended up losing the game by eight points, 90-82. But don’t let the big number fool you, last night was one of the ugliest games Bryant put together all year. The Mamba shot a wretched 13-of-34 from the field, including three misses from behind the arc. LA has now lost four of their last five games and if they don’t turn things around pretty quick, it’s not unreasonable to think that they could fall completely out of the playoff picture. Golden State and New Orleans are both riding three game winning streaks and are now pounding on the door to the post season.

2. Wizards need a dose of magic

If the Wizards weren’t in trouble before their game against the Bobcats last night, they are certainly knee deep in it now. Not only did Washington drop a crucial late season game to one of the laughing stocks of the league, but they also lost their best player to an injured left leg. And with only eight games remaining in the Wizards’ season, this couldn’t have come at a worse time. On Sunday, Caron Butler broke his hand while trying to block a shot and is expected to miss at least six weeks of action. The Wiz appeared to have the Southeast Division wrapped up just a few weeks ago, but they are now sitting a game behind Miami in the division and currently hold the sixth spot in the playoffs. Antawn Jamison has finally gotten healthy, but without Arenas and Butler his health is a non-factor.

3. From bad to worse
The Portland Trailblazers don’t have much to cheer about these days, but, as unbelievable as it may sound, thing just got worse. Portland’s promising rookie, LaMarcus Aldridge has been sidelined indefinitely after being diagnosed with a rapid heartbeat and having bouts of dizziness. Aldridge had struggled to find his place in the pros for the majority of the season, but had put together several impressive games after taking over a starting spot when Joel Przybilla went down for the season with knee surgery. Aldridge averaged 15 points, eight rebounds and two blocks during the month of March, and had his best game as a pro against Denver on March 13, when he scored 24 points to go along with 17 rebounds and four blocks.

Wednesday’s Player of the Day: Gerald Wallace @ Washington 44 min, 27 pts (FG: 11-20, 3FG: 1-3, FT: 4-4), 12 reb, 8 ast, 4 stl

Thursday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (56-18) @ San Antonio (53-21) For the last few weeks everyone has been talking about the games between the Suns and the Mavs. But it’s the Suns/Spurs match-up which has a greater chance of becoming a playoff reality. San Antonio is trying desperately to catch the Suns before the end of the season in order to grab the number two spot in the West. But regardless of who finishes second or third, should both of these teams advance past the first round, they would run into each other in the second round. However, whoever ends up with the second seed will have home court advantage in what could be an epic showdown. Both teams have eight games remaining on their schedules and only three games currently separate the two Western Conference powerhouses. This should be a fiercely contested game.

Buzzer Beater: Everything was going fine for the Hornets as they entered into the fourth quarter of last night’s game with a 13 point lead in their back pocket. By the end of the fourth, New Orleans was staring at the scoreboard as it read 5:00. Yup, the Hornets blew their 13 point lead by only scoring six points in the final quarter, a franchise low. But wait, there’s more. NOKC would explode for 17 points in the extra period behind a seven point outburst by Bobby Jackson to win by nine points, 101-92. Oh, did we mention they were playing the Sonics? That explains the comeback in OT, but there is no excuse for letting Seattle’s sorry D hold you to six points in 12 minutes.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Move Em Out!

1. Country Roads, Take Me Home
Nothing comes between a Texan and his rodeo, so for the next two weeks the Spurs will have to vacate the AT&T Center as the arena is inundated with denim and livestock.  San Antonio began an eight game road trip yesterday with a close win over the Lakers in overtime.  Going back to last week, the Spurs are in the middle of a stretch with 11 of 14 games coming on the road.  But things could be worse; at least Tim Duncan has been putting up some of his best games of the year of late.  Timmy has flirted with triple-doubles in each of the past two contests.  Against Memphis on Friday Duncan finished with 26 points, 13 rebounds and a career-high nine blocks; he followed that by coming one assist shy of a triple dip (21 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists) against the Lakers yesterday afternoon.

2.  Randolph Shoots and Shoots and Shoots
Portland’s Zach Randolph put up a career-high 42 in a double overtime win against Memphis on Saturday, but the points didn’t exactly come in spectacular fashion.  It took 47 minutes and 40 shots before Randolph finally grabbed his personal offensive record, and he only hit 16 of the franchises’ new record in attempts.  Only one other player has jacked up at least 40 shots over the last five years, the Mamba himself.  Kobe Bryant has done it with regularity as he has pulled off the feat six times in five years.  The only difference between Bryant and Randolph is that Bryant’s 40+ shots usually result in point totals somewhere between 50 and, say, 81.

3. Long Balls
At the end of the first quarter of yesterday’s game between New York and Milwaukee, Knicks guard Nate Robinson shot and made a buzzer-beater from just inside the midcourt stripe.  Unfortunately, the trio of party-pooping refs wouldn’t allow the shot to count after reviewing the replay.  So, with time running out at the end of the first half, Robinson took a pass and heaved up a shot from about three-fourths of the court that hit nothing but net.  Maybe Nate should be in the three point competition instead of the slam dunk contest.  After all, he did go two for two from 35 feet and out, while it took him close to 20 attempts before hitting a slam off the backboard.

Sunday’s Player of the Day:  Antawn Jamison @ Boston 41 min, 34 pts (FG: 13-22, 3FG: 4-8, FT: 4-6), 7 reb, 7 ast, 3 stl

Monday’s Game to Watch:  Phoenix (36-8) @ Minnesota (21-22) Since suffering through a season-high six game losing streak, Kevin Garnett has his team rolling after an impressive road win over the Clippers.  Think that sounds good?  Neither do the Suns.  Phoenix is the hottest team in the league after they picked up their 17th straight victory, which is tied for the fifth longest in NBA history.  The Suns are now over half way to the all-time record set by the 1971-72 Lakers who won 33 in a row.  But don’t expect Phoenix to be grabbing that record anytime soon.  Should they win 34 straight, it would occur against Charlotte on March 7.

Buzzer Beater: Looks like Ben Wallace escaped with just a scare after colliding with Miami’s Udonis Haslem on Saturday.  An MRI on his left knee showed no structural damage, leaving the center listed as day to day.  But the Bulls would love to get Big Ben back soon as they begin a seven game, Western Conference road trip on Wednesday.  Three teams are separated by one game in the Central Division so there’s not a lot room for error; and Ben Gordon can only do so much without a little help defensively.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Wanna Trade?

1. A.I. Bye-Bye
Allen Iverson has obviously played his final game for the 76ers, now the only question that remains is where he goes from here. As the speculations run wild, questions of his selfishness and past clashes with coaches begin to tarnish the shine of the former MVP. Certainly, due to all the logistics involved with contracts and salary caps, various teams would be excluded but, it would foolish for any team on the verge of being a contender to disregard Iverson simply due to his checkered past. Iverson has always expressed his desire to retire as a Sixer, so he must be truly unhappy in Philly to demand a trade. But he doesn’t just want to leave Philadelphia; he wants to go somewhere he can win. And one thing that can’t be questioned is his passion to be the best between the lines. Regardless of his reasons, if Philadelphia management has any respect for the man that played his heart out for them, then they will trade him to a competitive team. And A.I. shouldn’t have a problem with that.

2. Welcome to the D-League
Jay, don’t call me Jason, Williams is playing in the NBA again. Well, kind of; he’s playing in the NBA’s Development League. After New Jersey waived Williams in October, he considered playing in Europe before deciding to play in the NBA’s version of the minor league. The Austin Toros signed Williams who should see action in the team’s next game on Thursday. While Toros might mean Bulls in Spanish, Williams is nowhere near the player he was when he arrived in Chicago. The former Duke star was the second pick in the 2002 draft before he wrapped his motorcycle around a telephone pole and virtually ended his career. While he might not ever play at the elite level again, he has made quite a comeback considering the nerve damage sustained in his accident was so severe that doctors thought his leg was going to have to be amputated.

3. Bailraisers
Zach Randolph apologized to the entire NBA organization and fan base for his ill-advised actions, again. The process is becoming ritual for the 25 year old. His latest incident involved giving an obscene gesture toward fans during a 108-95 loss to Indiana last Friday. Portland decided to beat David Stern to the punch and suspended Randolph for one game, costing him $133,333. Randolph’s actions are rather tame by his standards. In the past he has sucker punched-Ruben Patterson during practice, been cited for possession of marijuana and underage drinking, and he was present during a shooting in which his brother was ultimately sentenced to prison. Oh, but there’s more. He’s been found with guns, accused of sexual assault and allegedly, he attempted to intimidate witnesses involved with the trial of teammate Qyntel Woods. It’s all just part of being the Jailblazers model citizen.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Baron Davis @ Seattle 40 min, 28 pts (FG: 10-19, 3FG: 2-3, FT: 6-7), 9 reb, 13 ast

Monday’s Game to Watch
: Dallas (14-6) @ Utah (15-5) Utah has a 10-1 record in Salt Lake City and will look to use the home crowd to their advantage as they attempt to begin a new winning streak after losing four of their last seven. Dallas has also hit a skid in their schedule as they have gone 2-2 after ripping off 12 in a row. Despite their recent struggles, this should be a great game between two of the leagues best young teams.

Buzzer Beater: It looks like Amare Stoudemire is fully back from his injuries of a year ago and now he has his Suns team on a ten game win streak. Sure, Steve Nash, Shawn Marion and others have played important parts but Stoudemire provides Phoenix with an entirely different dimension they’ve been lacking recently. He’s the only Phoenix player to have actual skills in the post, which allows the Suns to transition between playing a “fast break” offense to an “inside-outside” type of offense. Throw in some uncanny athleticism and not only do you have a Phoenix Stud, but you also get a true Western Conference powerhouse team.

NBA General

Around the Rim: Remembering the Life of LBJ

1. The House of James
Have you every wanted to completely immerse yourself into all things LeBron James? Well, now you can. That’s because Nike has opened up a temporary store named IV in the heart of New York’s SoHo district. It is part shoe store and part LeBron James Historical Museum. The store takes its customers along a journey that spans the entire life of the soon-to-be 21 year old. Memorabilia from old football and basketball uniforms to baby shoes and childhood pictures are scattered throughout the store. Models of shoes that were never released are on display, and written on the floor are quotes about him from important people in his life. But The Big Apple has even more to offer the hardcore LeBron groupies. A block from Madison Square Garden there is a neon sign several stories high promoting Nike’s “Witness” campaign, in which James is seen performing a trademark dunk.

2. Portland Woes
Despite all the praise Zach Randolph has been recently receiving from basketball critics for his great play on the court; he will now have to be subject to criticism of a much more serious nature by a judge in a court of law. A woman has filed a $2 million civil lawsuit, claiming she was sexually assaulted by the Portland power forward. Allegedly, the incident took place on August 11 in a hotel room. The woman, identified as Jane Doe, filed a complaint on August 14 but Randolph was never identified by police as a witness and in September, the county’s district attorney decided not to prosecute the case.

We’ve seen enough of these types of cases in the NBA to know that it is possible for players to take refuge in the game and maintain high levels of success during times of stress. Just look at Kobe Bryant and his rape case. But we’ve also learned that once a player becomes involved with any type of sexual misconduct, regardless of the case’s outcome, the endorsement deals go away. Just look at Kobe Bryant and his rape case.

3. More Portland Woes
Darius Miles had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee Tuesday and will miss the remainder of the season. While in surgery, doctors discovered that Miles also needed microfracture surgery. The procedures were successful and Miles is expected to begin rehab soon, hopefully allowing him to recover fully. This is not good news for the Trailblazers organization who is already struggling to capture victories with consistency. The team lacks depth at the small forward position and was hoping that Miles could provide help at some point this year. Portland needs all the aid they can get and, unfortunately, they can’t even rely on their rookies for minutes early in the year. The second pick overall, LaMarcus Aldridge has played in only two games this season after having shoulder surgery in August and Brandon Roy is expected to miss at least a week with a banged up left foot.

4. Finally!
After dropping the first four games of the season, the Dallas Mavericks are on a three game winning streak and have, at last, won a home game. Heads were being scratched all over when the Mavericks opened the season playing such lousy basketball, but since their eight game losing streak, stretching back to last year’s Finals, was snapped, the team has looked more like the Mavs of old. During the first four games of the season, Dallas was struggling to score points, averaging 89 points per game. In the three wins, Dallas has scored 119, 103 and 111 points. The winning can also be attributed more directly to the performance of Dirk Nowitzki. In the three wins this season, Nowitzki has averaged 30.7 points per game while during the four game skid he was only getting 22.5. Coincidentally, the winning streak has come while one of the team’s best players, Josh Howard, sits on the bench due to injury.

Tuesday’s Player of the Day: Dwyane Wade vs. Denver 45 min, 37 pts (FG: 9-21, 3FG: 3-5, FT: 16-17), 8 reb, 11 ast, 2 stl

Wednesday’s Game to Watch: Denver (3-3) @ Orlando (5-3) If you love to watch the future stars of the NBA, then this is the game for you. Denver’s Carmelo Anthony is averaging 29.4 points per game and J.R. Smith is always only a head fake away from slam dunking on someone’s cranium. Orlando seems to have found their point guard, power forward combination of the future as Jameer Nelson and Dwight Howard have begun to develop a nice chemistry. Howard plays like a veteran at 20 years old; averaging 15 points, 13 rebounds and over two blocks a game. And if you enjoy watching the great players on their way out, keep your eyes on Grant Hill who could hang up his sneakers for good if his left ankle goes out on him yet again.

Portland Trailblazers

Odds and Ends for Fri May 5 2006: Zach Randolph is a white kid?

Last night, we watched the episode of Scrubs on DVD where Turk is photoshopped onto the cover of his college brochure… twice. Today, there’s a story about how some kid had to stand in for Zach Randolph in the Trailblazers’ team photo because he forgot to show up. Coincidence? Actually, yes. But it’s pretty goddamn funny that the Blazers would even bother having someone stand in, much less someone who is nowhere near the dimensions of Zack Randolph. It’s like using Rosie O’Donnell as a butt double for Keira Knightley. Damn.. now we both have that image in our heads. Sorry.

In other news…

[Kuklas Korner]: Proving once again that hockey players are the toughest athletes on the planet, Dion Phaneuf played with a broken foot. By the way, is it just us or does everyone think Enuff Z’Nuff when they hear Phaneuf’s name?

[SI]: Poor Kirby Puckett. At least they’re not trying to freeze him.

[NY Post]: Come on Cuban, you can’t get into Bugalow 8 with that haircut

[Tampa Bay Online]: Another fine example of the people teaching our kids

[LA Times]: Kobe is a Zen master: “When you go to the bathroom, you can’t stand there and look at what you just dropped. At some point, you have to flush.”