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Tex787
Tex787
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NBA News

Rookie of the first trimester posted by NBA News

The NBA's much-hyped Class of 2014, as a collective, is in the midst of a thoroughly forgettable and deflating introduction to the pros. Only two rookies -- Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker -- are scoring in double figures. And that's with Wiggins leading all rookies at a mere 12.6 points per game, with Parker, after going No. 2 overall, suddenly out for the season after a knee tear that has sadly shelved him just like No. 3 pick Joel Embiid (foot), No. 4 Aaron Gordon (foot) and No. 7 Julius Randle (leg). 

So you could make the argument, in this climate, that we should have skipped this category entirely for Trimester purposes. The problem there is that some youngster is eventually going to win Rookie of the Year honors in late April or early May, no matter how underwhelming his production might be, so we're somewhat duty-bound to try to identify a leader at the one-third stage. 

Which brings us to Nikola Mirotic. 

Perhaps he's not a rookie in the truest sense after spending more than half a decade in Real Madrid's system before finally matriculating to Chicago, but what qualifies as big league production from Mirotic in the month of December -- averages of 10.9 points, 5.9 rebounds and .419 shooting from 3-point range -- is enough to put him in the lead. 

Who else could we conceivably propose here? Wiggins and Nerlens Noel have shown occasional flashes, as has Noel's Philly teammate K.J. McDaniels, but none of those more celebrated recent draftees is clearly on an upward career arc at this juncture. 

Continue reading "Rookie of the first trimester"

Sac Kings Fan

Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season posted by Sac Kings Fan

It seems like just yesterday that the Sacramento Kings were 9-6.  They were the talk of the league and for very good reasons but now they’re making headlines for the wrong reasons.

The wheels have fallen off the Kings’ bus.  Michael Malone was relieved of his duties.  The locker room has clearly taken a turn and persistent rumors of coaching changes, roster remakes and quirky additions have this team running on fumes.

Josh Smith signed with the Houston Rockets on Christmas Eve, George Karl is in limbo and the potential trade with the Brooklyn Nets for former All-Star point guard Deron Williams now on life support.  

At 12-16, Sacramento is just one really good stretch away from being back in the conversation. But where does the team go from here?  Do they reignite talks with the Nets for Williams?  Should they hire George Karl and pray he has another fix hiding in his bag?  Should they try for another blockbuster deal or should they just stand pat and let interim head coach Tyrone Corbin try to rescue the team from the spiraling drain?

Tyrone Corbin is a very solid coach that can at least get this team to the end of the season.  The same can be said about Collison as a point guard and Thompson in the paint. But solid isn’t what the Sacramento Kings are looking for.  Solid isn’t what sells tickets or gets this team out of the lottery.

Clearly there’s no plan in place.  And now the ownership and front office have put themselves in a pickle.  They have potentially thrown away a season, the fans are upset and a Hail Mary or two is in order.

Continue reading "Clock is ticking on Sacramento Kings’ season"

Houston Rockets

Corey Brewer to Rockets. posted by Houston Rockets

The Minnesota Timberwolves' wing is a little less crowded after Friday, as they've agreed to trade swingman Corey Brewer to the Houston Rockets.

Brewer, 28, is averaging 10.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game on 41.8 percent shooting. One of Minnesota's first players off the bench in most contests, a Brewer trade nonetheless became inevitable.

The former Florida star isn't a superstar by any stretch, but he's a smart player who knows what he is at this point in his career. Most of Brewer's best shots come in transition and semi-transition, where he's an expert at using the open floor to get to the rim. A subpar shooter from beyond the arc in his career, Brewer has almost abandoned the three-point shot entirely this season.

Minnesota's willingness to move him despite a fine start is an indicator head coach and team president Flip Saunders has come around to a full-scale rebuild. The Wolves' trade of Kevin Love to Cleveland this offseason started the project, but it seemed like Saunders was taking half-measures by signing veterans in free agency and trading for Thaddeus Young.

But a 5-19 start leaves the Timberwolves with little excuse not to see what they have in their young talent.

Getting Brewer is about the best Houston could hope to do given its salary situation. Brewer is by no means a lockdown defender, but he's a high-energy guy who consistently fights his way to a couple turnovers per game.

Offensively, he is more of a noticeable minus, where his penchant for leaking out for transition buckets can sometimes lead to some questionable decision-making. That, of course, is also an issue defensively when the opposing team gets the offensive board.

Continue reading "Corey Brewer to Rockets."


Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets Preseason Report 2014 posted by Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets reaching the first round of the playoffs, lost to Portland in an overtime game, and 0.9 seconds made all the difference. The offseason was supposed to turn things around for the Rockets, but GM Daryl Morey might have been too ambitious. Morey focused on getting Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony out of free agency. Due to this, the team ended up losing Chandler Parsons. However, the team managed to acquire Alonzon Gee and Trevor Ariza at a cheap cost. The Rockets were able to take advantage of the second round and the late pick in the first round by selecting Nick Johnson and Clint Capela. 

Even though, the Houston Rockets might have lost more than their gains; for 2014-2015, it is still considered a strong team in the playoffs. The Rockets no longer have Omer Asik, Chandler Parsons, and Jeremy Lin, as these players earned many minutes and better or equal pieces could not be bought in. For the SF position, the team bought in Trevor Ariza, who has talent; however, Parsons would have been a better choice overall. Since, the team has Dwight Howard; no efforts are made to acquire expensive and outstanding center back, which could be justified. However, Asik was a disappointment, and replacing Lin with Ish Smith for playing PG does not seem great either.

Losing Chandler Parsons, and the other exchanges, does not seem to look good for the Houston Rockets. Secondly, there are rumors of Howard and Harden drifting apart, and Howards seem to be goofing off more than usual. In fact, Greg Popovich did not spare words in reprimanding Howard for lacking focus, during the All-Star game. Howard might not lack talent, but character is also very important when you are trying to build the whole team around such a person. Howard is known to create trouble in the locker room, and could repeat the same here.

Continue reading "Houston Rockets Preseason Report 2014"


john howard

McGrady to NY helping the way for LeBron posted by john howard

New York unloaded a lot more money on Thursday in hopes of landing LeBron.

Here is what transpired: 

New York gained:  Tracy McGrady and PG Sergio Rodriguez

New York lossed:  Jordan Hill, Jarred Jeffries and draft consideratoins in 2011 and 2012

Houston gained:  Kevin Martin and C Hilton Armstrong and draft considerations from NY in 2011 and 2012 Jarred Jeffries and Jordan Hill

Houston lossed:  Tracy McGrady Cal Landry and Joey Dorsey

Sacremento gained:  Cal Landry, Joey Dorsey, Larry Hughes

Sacramento lossed:  Kevin Martin and Hilton Armstrong

New York is taking a gamble, but a good one.  What they got isn't working.  They have a lot of contracts that are going to expire and unloaded more salary.  So, they will have enough money to sign 2 free agents the maximum.  LeBron James is the first choice.  The other could be McGrady as he gets to audition for the big money for the next 30 games.  That is smart for all parties involved.  New York gets to see if McGrady is a fit.  McGrady gets to prove how good he is. And, Houston is rid of his contract and got something out of it.

Sacramento puzzled me a little here.  They unloaded Martin's salary of 10 mil per year.  But, for how good he is, that is a bargain.  Larry Hughes is up and down.  They did get some youthful talent in Landry and Dorsey, but that wasn't worth Martin.

The big winner was Houston.  They are in the playoff hunt and just got better now and for the future.  They got Kevin Martin, a guy who is immediately there go to guy.  That was SMART.  They gave up proven inside talent Landry for potential inside talent in Hill.  Hill could be better in time.  That get weaker for now, but Martin makes up for it.  Hilton Armstrong provides some size which they currently have none.  Houston did very very good today.

Continue reading "McGrady to NY helping the way for LeBron"


john howard

McGrady sweetstakes---Knicks? posted by john howard

Houston has been shopping Tracy McGrady all year and something is a about to happen.  The leading candidate is the New York Knicks.  McGrady could be a 20pt scorer again with the up tempo style of play New York has. I think he would be a perfect fit for them. 

A third team may have to be involved and latest rumor has the Wizards.  Houston might get Caron Butler from Washington and the Knicks would send much traveled Al Harrington to DC.  Sounds like a swapping of big salaries and not much improvement.  There will be other players involved and draft picks for sure.  But, the main thing is McGrady in the biggest market.  If he could stay healthy for any length of time, he could really profit well.  He might be enough of a surge to get them into the playoffs this year. 

Continue reading "McGrady sweetstakes---Knicks?"


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!"


Colin Linneweber

Blazers Center Greg Oden is an unfortunate bust posted by Colin Linneweber

Portland Trail Blazers center Greg Oden fractured his left kneecap during a game against the Houston Rockets Saturday night at the Rose Garden.

 

Oden, 21, the first overall selection in the 2007 NBA Draft by the Trail Blazers, underwent surgery on his left patella the following day and he will be shelved for the remainder of the 2009-2010 campaign.

 

“I’m obviously disappointed having worked so hard to get where I was. This is a setback but I’ll be back. It’s in God’s hands now,” said Oden, who was averaging 11.7 points and 8.8 rebounds this season as a starter.

 

“I want to thank the fans, my teammates and everyone in the Blazers family for all of their good thoughts.”

 

Oden, an affable seven-foot giant who is likable and easy to support as a fan, apologized to his teammates once he received his diagnosis.

 

“He didn’t do anything,” said forward Lamarcus Aldridge. “People don’t understand that injuries are part of the game. We all are at risk every time we play so I think injuries are going to happen. It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to him.”

 

Many hoops analysts described Oden as a “once-in-a-decade player” after he led Lawrence North High School in Indianapolis to three consecutive Indiana Class 4A basketball championships before he graduated in 2006.

 

After Oden received his high school degree, he decided to attend Ohio State University.

 

Despite battling a serious wrist injury, Oden managed to lead the Buckeyes to the 2007 NCAA championship game where they ultimately lost to the University of Florida 84-75.

Continue reading "Blazers Center Greg Oden is an unfortunate bust"


nbahawks

Hawks soaring high on new NBA season posted by nbahawks


The Atlanta Hawks is creating a lot of buzz in the new season of the National Basketball Association.Despite their less stellar lineup, the Hawks is on top of the leader-board in the young season of the premier professional basketball league in the planet. The Hawks is currently sporting an impressive 11-2 record after they defeated the Houston Rockets 105-103 Friday night.High flying Hawks power forward Josh Smith played hero for the top team in the NBA by scoring on a put back from a miss by Hawks top point guard Mike Bibby with 0.7 seconds remaining. Marvin Williams, the starting small forward of the Hawks top scored for the team with 29 points to help defeat the Rockets, one of the top teams in the NBA Western Conference.The recent victory of the Hawks is remarkable since the Rockets are on the verge of defeating the team and hand them their third loss but the impressive play of Smith saved the youth laden ball club to escaped with a victory. Prior to his game winning shot, Smith stayed mostly from the bench due to foul trouble but he was able to returned in the waning moments of the game and lead his team to victory.The strong and impressive plays of the Hawks is getting huge praise from basketball fans and experts. During the off-season, the Hawks is not among the top contenders for the NBA crown this season due to their less star studded roster. However, despite the lack of big named players in its lineup, the Hawks still showed class and impressive talent to defeat 11 teams so far.Aside from the strong plays of its veteran players Smith, Bibby and Joe Johnson, the Hawks also get huge contribution from newly acquired NBA veteran Jamal Crawford who contribute in both offence and defence for the team. Aside from the Hawks, the run and gun Phoenix Suns is also playing good this NBA season. NBA superstars point-guard Steve Nash and power forward Amare Stoudamire are playing well to lead the Suns to an impressive record in the NBA.Fans of Hawks team can buy the tickets to watch the NBA game live.

Continue reading "Hawks soaring high on new NBA season"


Scott Shepherd

Fun With Box Scores posted by Scott Shepherd

In the NBA these days, it seems like there is a stat for everything. We’ve got PER, offensive efficiency ratings, defensive efficiency rating, and so on and so on.

It seems like every team in the league now employs their own stat guru. And while I’m not one to question the use of all these new statistics to evaluate NBA players (I actually kinda like them), I’m old school.

 

To me, all the new stats in the world can’t tell the story of an NBA game as well as the good, old fashioned box score.

 

Therefore, I’m starting a new feature today called “Fun With Box Scores”.

 

Every Monday, I’ll be posting some of the more interesting things that jumped out at me from the previous week’s box scores.

 

This week, they are, in no particular order:

 

The Cavs were +38 when LeBron was on the floor this week. They were -27 when he wasn’t.

 

Meanwhile, the Cavs were -3 when Shaq was on the floor and +19 when he wasn’t.

 

Rasheed Wallace took 8 shots on Wednesday…all three pointers. For the week, ‘Sheed attempted 36 shots. 25 of them were three pointers.

 

Danilo Gallinari was 8-16 from deep on Saturday. He was 1-6 on two-point shots. For the week he was 18-36 on three-point shots and 4-11 on two-point attempts.

 

Carmelo Anthony had 113 points in 116 minutes this week.

 

Greg Oden had 26 points in 99 minutes. He also had 19 fouls.

 

Speaking of fouls, Hasheem Thabeet had 8 in 24 minutes of play this week. In his defense, he did have four blocks, giving him a nice one block for every two fouls ratio.

Continue reading "Fun With Box Scores"

Houston Rockets News

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Durant, Thompson added to NBA all-star game (AFP)

Reigning MVP Kevin Durant and first time all star Klay Thompson were selected to the NBA all-star game as reserve players, the league announced. Durant, who was named MVP of the 2012 all-star game and will be appearing in the marquee affair for the sixth consecutive time, has only played in 21 of Oklahoma City's 46 games while dealing with foot and toe injuries. Golden State Warriors sharpshooter Thompson will be making his first appearance. There are plenty of familiar faces among the Western Conference reserves, including Durant's Thunder teammate Russell Westbrook, NBA scoring leader James Harden, of the Houston Rockets, and Los Angeles Clippers point guard Chris Paul. [read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Smith and Harden lead Rockets over Mavericks 99-94 (Yahoo Sports)

[read full article]

From Yahoo Sports


Smith, Harden lead way as Howard-less Rockets down Mavericks

HOUSTON (AP) Josh Smith scored 18 points and James Harden added 17 as the Houston Rockets used a balanced scoring effort to outlast the Dallas Mavericks for a 99-94 victory on Wednesday night. [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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