Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on April 22, 2011 under xOther | Be the First to Comment

Kevin Pelton, Basketball Prospectus: “[Nate] McMillan also changed his finishing lineup. While [Brandon] Roy got back on the court when the Blazers needed more shooters and ballhandlers to close out the game, Portland played with its starting lineup most of the stretch run, putting more size and rebounding on the floor. I’m not sure there was a verdict on that decision, as the teams played even during the stretch the Blazers used their starters. Over the course of the season, however, Portland has been much more effective with Aldridge at center and Wallace at power forward in a smaller, quicker unit. Looking ahead to Saturday’s Game Four, the Mavericks can feel good that they had a chance to steal a game in which the Blazers rode their crowd to an early lead. Dallas can also point to missed opportunities at the line, where they shot just 56.5 percent (13 of 23), including an atypical 4-of-7 effort from Nowitzki. Nonetheless, if Roy has found a way to contribute for Portland in this favorable matchup, that might prove the most crucial takeaway of all.”

Ben Golliver, Blazersedge: “Portland’s initial push came courtesy of Matthews, who practically refused to talk about his individual play after leading Portland with 25 points on 8-12 shooting. Thankfully, LaMarcus Aldridge was there to do it for him. ‘I think every game [this series] the team that’s won it has had someone play really, really well,’ Aldridge said. ‘Tonight it was Wesley.’ There’s been so much to like about Aldridge’s maturation this season but that quote is near the top. Aldridge, Matthews and everyone else with a pulse in the Rose Garden knows that the bulk of the headlines are going to Brandon Roy, who finished with 16 crucial points off the bench to help push Portland over the hump. But it was Matthews’ hot shooting that got Portland up early. 16 points in the first quarter. 22 points in the first half. Good shot selection (even including the heat checks, which you know are coming). Solid defense throughout the game on top of it. That Aldridge would single out Matthews with praise — despite his own success on the night and the mountain of questions about Roy — is a moment that will endure. Credit where credit is due. Recognition and rewards for those who have earned it.”

Tim MacMahon (and Ben Rogers), ESPN Dallas: “An object thrown from the Rose Garden stands hit Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the face during Thursday night’s Game 3 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. The incident occurred midway through the fourth quarter after Cuban had been interacting with the fans in the section behind the Mavericks’ bench. Cuban was not injured. ‘I don’t know what it was, but something hit me in the face,’ said Cuban, who encouraged fans to boo him more by putting his hand by his ear. Extra security was assigned to the area behind the Mavericks’ bench for the remainder of the game. There were no other issues.”

Jason Quick, The Oregonian: “For how much talk there has been about Portland posting up Dallas with its perimeter players, the Mavericks have been just as determined to exploit Batum when he guards Nowitzki. When that happens, the Blazers have to double team, and when they have doubled, Nowitzki has smartly found shooters open beyond the three-point line. Nowitzki has 6 assists in the first two games, and four of them have resulted in three-pointers. ‘We have to try and keep LaMarcus [Aldridge] on Dirk [Nowitzki], because the smaller matchup with [Nicolas] Batum he has really been able to get good looks,’ McMillan said. ‘It forces us to double team.’ Invariably, though, Batum will have to guard Nowitzki at times in Game 3, and McMillan wants Batum to try a new tactic. ‘I thought Nic has played him with European, international style of defense,’ McMillan said, raising his hands above his head to imitate. ‘You can’t guard Dirk with your hands up; he is too big, too powerful and you have no leverage. You have to do this …’ McMillan crouched and placed his forearm against the small of my back and his other hand on my waistline. ‘This is how you defend,’ McMillan said. ‘This is the NBA: I can put an arm and a hand on you. If you guard with your chest like they do in international play, Dirk is going to walk you into the paint. And Nic was playing him like that.’”

Dave, Blazersedge: “Though the first three quarters had belonged to the Blazer guards, the fourth period was all about the forwards.  Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum started out the period hot, scoring 7 and 5 in the first four minutes.  The nice thing about those two getting their games rolling?  It carried over to the defensive end as well, a phenomenon absent the Blazer backcourt scorers outside of Matthews.  For the first 4-5 minutes of the fourth Dallas could only muster contested jumpers.  Having settled for just a Terry three and Marion layup in that stretch they decided to go to their standby and feed Dirk.  The Blazers were having none of it.  They fronted a little, doubled with smalls when they got switched into a bad matchup, and moved their feet enough to stay out of foul difficulty.”

Beckley Mason, HoopSpeak: “For some reason, Portland has tried, on a few of occasions, to catch Dallas off guard by springing a zone on the Mavs. All three times, Dallas has gotten an excellent look, either from a ball screen or by finding Nowitzki in a mismatch. Dallas is perfectly built to dismantle zones because zones necessitate constant crossmatching, and Dirk is a killer in a mismatch, especially with three shooters and a great offensive rebounder flanking him. Portland has a decent zone, but Dallas has recognized it immediately and exploited it every time.”

Brad Townsend, Dallas Morning News: “‘The only way you can score is with attempts,’ [Shawn] Marion said. ‘But at the same time, we’re a very talented team. We’ve just got to continue to get everyone involved, for the most part. When I get it, I’m trying to be aggressive. That’s all I can do. I can’t control anything else.’ Said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle: “His game is so predicated on our flow game and our movement that we have to do a better job of limiting the turnovers and getting into transition. That always helps him, and we do look to go to him. We went to him a few times tonight. He did a good job in match-up situations and he caused double teams a couple of times, which is something that really helped us. I think there are ways to get him more involved, and we’ll look to do that.’”

Ben Golliver, CBS Sports: “Roy’s 16 points qualify as a scoring explosion, given he scored just two points in Games 1 and 2 combined. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said he knew Roy was capable of providing the bench scoring Portland had been lacking. ‘We continue to game plan for Roy as an All-Star player because he’s capable of doing this any night. He’s done it to us this year, so I’m not surprised.’ Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge, who has emerged as the No. 1 scoring option this season as Roy has battled knee injuries, enjoyed seeing the three-time All-Star playing with rhythm. ‘I thought he had his swag back tonight. He was a little bit more loose, going through his legs more. He was big for us tonight.’”

Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: “Brian Cardinal’s first NBA game came at the Rose Garden. Cardinal had been inactive for the Detroit Pistons for the first six weeks of the season in 2000. During a December road trip, he was activated for the game in Portland. ‘I was super-excited, and the team told me to bring them out on the court. ‘Lead us to victory,” Cardinal said. ‘I run through the tunnel, I get to the court and I’m the only son of a gun out there. The place is packed, and I get the ball from the ballboy and I’m out there dribbling between my legs and getting ready for the layup line, and they’re all dying laughing in the tunnel.’ The night didn’t get much better. ‘We got crushed by 30,’ Cardinal said.”

Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: “Caron Butler was covered in sweat a couple hours before tipoff Thursday as he went through a rigorous workout on the court at the Rose Garden. He finished it with a strong one-handed dunk. Butler was moving well, but he still lacks enough strength in his lateral movement to be cleared for contact drills.”