Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 20, 2011 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Jeff Caplan, ESPN Dallas: “In the first three quarters of both games, Nowitzki has scored 29 total points on 10-of-31 shooting and 9-0f-9 from the free throw line. In the fourth quarter, however, Nowitzki’s numbers are mesmerizing: 32 points on 6-of-11 shooting — 1-of-1 from 3-point range — and 19-of-21 from the free throw line. And he’s earning every one of them, pounding his body inside, absorbing contact and finishing strong. ‘This team is going to keep fighting,’ Nowitzki said. ‘I’m going to keep fighting.’”

Jason Quick, The Oregonian: “Brandon Roy has fought through a lot of things in his career, but never has he had to do what he did Tuesday in Dallas during Game 2 of the Trail Blazers’ first-round series. Brandon Roy, the face of the franchise, had to fight off tears. ‘There was a point in the first half, and I was thinking ‘You better not cry,’ Roy said. ‘I mean, serious. I mean, there was a moment where I felt really sorry for myself. Then I was like, nah, you can’t be sorry for yourself. I’m a grown man, but there was a moment there that I felt sorry for myself. Especially when I think I can still help…I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little hurt, or disappointed,’ Roy said. ‘But the biggest thing is to keep moving, to try and keep my spirits up. But it’s tough man. I just…I just always thought I would be treated better. That was a little disappointing for me.’”

Ben Golliver, Eye on Basketball: “Roy has maintained for the last month that his struggles are mental and that his knees feel fine after arthroscopic surgery earlier this season. He’s also talked at length, since before the surgeries, about his need to adjust his game to accomodate his physical changes. There is a clear disconnect for Roy. While his knees feel good that doesn’t necessarily mean that he’s the player he once was, nor even a productive player. A lack of swelling or pain doesn’t equal 25 points a night, or 10 points a night. Or, even, a single point on Tuesday night. Playing without pain doesn’t mean he’s playing well. Those two have long gone hand in hand for Roy in the past, but that simply hasn’t been the case for months now. When Roy says his struggles are purely mental, he’s either kidding himself or he hasn’t fully come to terms with his current abilities. Scouts, former players, media observers and fans see a player whose quickness and power off the dribble have disappeared, a player whose ball fake and dribble combinations no longer mesmerize, a player whose lift is gone, a player who has been a defensive liability — slow laterally, slow to rotate, slow to close out — for the entire season, and a player whose confidence is clearly shaken. ”

Marc J. Spears, Yahoo Sports: “Roy said he isn’t hurt anymore, feels strong and can still provide some intangibles to the Blazers. But his lack of playing time has affected his rhythm, he said. Roy hasn’t discussed the issue with head coach Nate McMillan, who said he didn’t play Roy much in Game 2 because he thought the Blazers’ starters were performing well while Roy was struggling with the pressure the Mavericks guards were applying. ‘I thought I’d get more of a chance coming back, but at the same time I’m never going to complain,’ Roy said. ‘I’m going to try to work and just try to play. I’m not going to lie: It’s hard. My pride is a little scarred. It’s difficult sitting on the bench.’ Roy’s teammates have noticed. ‘There was one time where he said to me that [reserve guard] Patty Mills got in the game before him,’ [Marcus]Camby said. ‘I know it’s weighing on him, and it’s definitely frustrating.’”

Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus: “It was masked a little by the slow pace, but what an impressive offensive display by the Dallas Mavericks in a surprisingly easy victory. During the fourth quarter, the Mavericks scored on 14 of their 19 possessions for a total of 28 points–a cool 147.4 Offensive Rating. It helps when you never turn over the basketball. Dallas did not commit a single turnover after halftime and had just six in the game, explaining why the Mavericks ended up with 10 more shot attempts than the Portland Trail Blazers and overcame shooting virtually the same percentage from the field (48.7 percent vs. 48.5 percent).”

Jeff Fogle, Hoopdata: “Beautifully played game from Dallas with only six turnovers and what will grade out as a big night in offensive efficiency. This was another very slow game. I know the TNT announcers kept telling you it was being played at a much faster pace than the opener. It wasn’t. When the expanded boxscore goes up you’ll see another slow tempo. Games can feel fast when the shots are going in. Portland only took 66 shots! How could that happen in an up tempo game?…Late in the game, the TNT announcers were raving about the Dallas defense holding Portland to 81 and 89 points so far.Those numbers aren’t quite as great as it sounds because the pace has been so slow. Portland’s shooting 52% on two point shots! That’s not great defense. Portland hit 50% of their treys tonight. It’s like the announcers talked themselves into thinking they were watching a fast paced game this evening, then gave Dallas credit for keeping Portland below 90 points.”

Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: “Dallas put up a whopping 125 points per 100 possessions because they have the shooters to pull that off. They have the brains to attack the unguarded spots, and the skills to execute when it comes time to let fly. And Portland? While I’m not going to tell you that Portland lost this game more than Dallas won it (that would be daft), the Blazers still could have done better. Like Nic Batum, in working off the ball and through screens. Or in the post, guarding Dirk Nowitzki. Or Marcus Camby, who was terribly slow on his rotations all night, even if he was a bit surprised that Jason Kidd wasn’t going to dump it off to Tyson Chandler there (instead going to a lefty floater). Or the team’s zone defense, which was picked apart all night. Portland was terrible, defensively.”

Jeff Caplan, ESPN Dallas: With seemingly the weight of the world on his shoulders to help carry the scoring burden with Dirk Nowitzki, Terry is getting plenty of help from his teammates, which is allowing him to play an unsung role — and one rarely attributed to Terry — on the defensive end against the bigger Portland Trail Blazers’ guards that were supposed to have the upper hand in that matchup. ‘He’s playing a terrific all-around game,’ Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. ‘He’s scrambling on defense, playing very solid. Offensively, as a facilitator he’s making a lot of good things happen for other players. “To gain the balance we need we’re going to need him to continue to do that.’ …’It’s his presence on the court,’ Stojakovic said. ‘Like tonight, he drew so much attention defensively without even shooting the ball. They always have a guy attached to him, a guy attached to Dirk and that’s how we’re able to get good looks, J.J. [Barea] and myself and J-Kidd, just playing off off those guys.’”

Bethlehem Shoals, GQ.com: “This season, though, a funny thing happened. Roy joined Oden in the dry-dock of tragedy, which created a perception that Portland was sad, broken, and uncertain outfit. That’s more true for those two players than the team writ large. In Roy’s absence, Miller makes the decisions. That means better looks for Aldridge, ageless wonder Marcus Camby, and trade-deadline steal Gerald Wallace, who plays the game like he’s dying to feel alive and alive just to die playing basketball. More importantly, though, it has allowed Aldridge to emerge as an All-Star. Not only is he getting lobs and inside touches that make life gravy for big men. Aldridge has finally been given the time, and spacing, to really dig in and play the post. He wasn’t soft; Brandon Roy was making him that way by marginalizing his game and leaving the offense in shambles. Too tough? Kicking a pained man while he’s down? Making an easy target out of a franchise player? Funny, no one has any problems taking shot at the Hawks’ Joe Johnson. Let’s put it this way: You can write off this Blazers team (which lost, by the way) as Ewing Theory magic. But it’s not really about sharing the wealth that Brandon Roy has left behind. Rather, this new team—fluid and darting as it can be—has also allowed Aldridge to come into his own. Would you rather have Roy, a guard who can’t co-exist with a selfless bloke like Andre Miller, or Aldridge, a skilled, hardy big man who strikes fear into opponents without bringing the Blazers to a grinding halt? I’ll excuse you a certain amount of sentimentality, but sometimes, one superstar is more than enough.”

Jeff Caplan, ESPN Dallas: “[Alley-oops] accounted for 15 percent of Portland’s offense [in Game 1], but in Game 2, the Mavs limited the high-flying play to one. Aldridge slammed it home late in the first half and that was that. ‘We took a way five lobs, which helped,’ Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said…’Now we’re going to have to take them down on transition points,’ Carlisle said. ‘Every game they’re going to find another way to get us and we’re going to find ways to get them. Even though they’re a low-possession team, Portland is very clever at running out, not only after misses but after makes.’”

Ben Golliver, Eye on Basketball: “Depth in the NBA can vanish in the blink of an eye, and the Blazers represent that truism to the fullest. Over the last 18 months, Portland has: watched Greg Oden, Jeff Pendergraph and Elliot Williams go down to season-ending knee injuries; traded Martell Webster for a draft pick that became unused rookie Luke Babbitt; traded Jerryd Bayless for a draft pick; traded two rotations players in Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw in a consolidation trade for Marcus Camby; and traded two rotation players in Dante Cunningham and Joel Przybilla for Gerald Wallace. Add that up: eight players that saw minutes, plus Williams, are out with just two players coming back in return. That’s six lost bodies — players whose roster spots have been filled by unused rookies (Babbitt and Armon Johnson), D-Leaguers (Earl Barron and Chris Johnson) and one free agent signing (Wesley Matthews). That qualifies as an overhaul. Portland’s management can still argue that the trades improved Portland’s top-end talent. Indeed, Camby and Wallace have been mainstays down the stretch for Portland, while Matthews has been a valued addition. All three are playoff starters. But the series of moves and the injuries — including dual knee surgeries for Brandon Roy — have decimated Portland’s depth, leaving coach Nate McMillan with just one reserve player that he can regularly turn to and expect meaningful contributions from: Nicolas Batum. During Game 2, Portland’s lack of depth was so tragic that it was almost comical. Aside from Batum’s 10 points in 25 minutes, Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez and Patty Mills combined to shoot 0-4 in 23 minutes, scoring just one combined point, grabbing four combined rebounds and dishing three combined assists. This on a night when aging Mavericks forward Peja Stojakovic outscored Portland’s entire bench (including Batum) by himself and added five rebounds to boot. The falloff from starters to second unit for Portland was like a Mt. Hood cliff rather than a Pacific Ocean sand dune.”

Dave, Blazersedge: “Surprise, surprise…the Blazers still deal with screens like second graders reading Shakespeare.  Dallas has figured that out just a little.  Portland has mobile guards and mobile bigs.  You’d think they could get it together.”