Trail Blazers,Rockets,Lakers,Kings,Pelicans and more

- Blazers 111, Rockets 104:

- From Ben Golliver at Blazersedge.com:

    “There’s a reputation-altering momentum that’s been building around LaMarcus Aldridge over the last few weeks, a collective respect that’s not just limited to the “MVP” chants that keep popping up whenever he steps to the free throw line at home. Portland’s winning, strong statements of support from Wesley Matthews and Nicolas Batum, career-high stats, two Western Conference Player of the Week awards, respect from national media members, and some signature performances against high-profile opponents have combined to generate a new level of buzz for a player who has lived — and in some cases cultivated — a buzz-free existence.

Thursday was about the biggest stage Aldridge will find in mid-December, a nationally-televised game against a quality, big-market team with multiple All-Stars. He again carried the day — as he has previously against the Golden State Warriors, Indiana Pacers and Oklahoma City Thunder, among others — even though he started slow.”

Read it here: http://www.blazersedge.com/2013/12/13/5204680/media-row-report-blazers-111-rockets-104

  – LaMarcus Aldridge continues MVP-like play, Trail Blazers continue winning ways (from Joe Freeman at The Oregonian):

“The jaw-dropping performances are coming so frequently, so effortlessly and so monumentally, Robin Lopez has given up trying to forecast what might happen next. Instead, he’s decided to just hop aboard the L-Train, sit back and enjoy the ride.

“LA’s been playing at one hell of a level,” Lopez said, referring to LaMarcus Aldridge. “I know it’s only 20-something games in, but that’s a long time to be playing this way. You thought the apex was going to be the OKC game and then he comes with a game like this. I don’t want to predict what’s ahead, because I just don’t know what’s going to happen.”
  – Dr. Jack Says Blazers are ‘kind of reminiscent’ of his 1977 NBA championship team (from Joe Freeman at The Oregonian):
“He’s biased, of course. But as far as Jack Ramsay is concerned, there’s never been a closer, more skilled or more fun-to-watch Trail Blazers team than the legendary group that won Portland’s only NBA championship and kindled the birth of Rip City.
“I had the most fun with my team,” the former Blazers coach said Tuesday afternoon, chuckling about the 1977 title winner. “It was the best.
“But this is close.”
- Bill Plaschke  (LATimes) on Pau Gasol’s struggles:
“Once the most embraced Laker, Gasol has become the most scorned. His reluctant offense and dissolvable defense have elicited a dark rumble from Staples Center fans every time he goes near the ball. He is shooting a career-low 42%, five opposing big men have already run over him to equal or top their career best in points, and everyone has been wondering when Pau Gasol is going to fight back.On Thursday, in his own kindly way, he finally did.In an interview before the team left to board a plane for Friday night’s game in Oklahoma City, Gasol made clear what he usually only intimates. He said he believes his poor play is a result of his poor usage in D’Antoni’s system. He said he has come to the conclusion that he just doesn’t fit.”

- Why some teams execute great out-of-bounds plays (from Doug Eberhardt at SBNation):
What is an “ATO?” The acronym, which stands for “after time out,” refers to an opportunity to run an offensive set or action — depending on your team’s vocabulary — in the front court out of a dead ball, timeout situation. During end of game situations (in the last two minutes of regulation and all of overtime), the sideline ATO usually comes after the team chooses to automatically advance the ball into the frontcourt.

The majority of NBA ATO plays come from a sideline out of bounds, which is a function of NBA rules. The only time NBA teams get to inbound from the baseline is when the ball is put out of play along the baseline. (Or, if the ball hits the basket support or there is a throw-in violation, etc. I bet you didn’t know NBA rules were so fun!). Some teams, the San Antonio Spurs being the prime example, work on ATO, end of game, and need-a 3 situations every practice or shootaround. We’re talking a solid 10-15 minutes every practice. In the NBA, where the grind of games never stops, that is very valuable time.

Other teams will practice each ATO a couple of times per season, but they are already based on actions that they have in their existing offenses. In my experience, the best “ATO’s” are based on what your team does well, not the opponent. Who is hot might come into play, and you may change the action if you have an exceptionally good match-up. But teams successful at executing ATO plays usually are ones that create sets based on what they already excel at doing.”

Read it here: http://www.sbnation.com/2013/12/12/5200950/nba-coaching-analysis-timeout-damian-lillard-mavericks

- Can Rudy Gay regain his form? (fromSam Amick at USAToday):

Read it here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nba/2013/12/13/rudy-gay-sacramento-kings-nba-a-to-z/4008229/

-The Real Value of Ryan Anderson (from Jack Winter of Hardwood Paroxysm):

“Basic individual statistics never appropriate actual on-court value. To a certain degree, all players are more or less than box scores or per game averages seemingly suggest. But the real worth of a select type of player transcends that surface-level analysis even farther than most others.

“…New Orleans is 10-10 after an overtime win over the Pistons on Wednesday night, two games out from the West’s eighth and final playoff spot. That the Pelicans have reached even this level of respectability is a testament to their almost blindingly bright future. New Orleans finds itself right in the thick of contention – exactly where many predicted after a busy summer – as 2014 approaches despite a rash of injuries to its top two players.

You know about Anthony Davis – the Pelicans’ super sophomore has already missed four games and will be sidelined several more weeks due to a minor fracture in his left hand. Far less publicized but perhaps as pertinent, though, was the early-season absence of Ryan Anderson.”

Read it here: http://hardwoodparoxysm.com/2013/12/13/finding-the-real-value-of-ryan-anderson/

- Killer Lineup: Houston’s rim squad (from Kevin Arnovitz at TrueHoop:

Lineup: Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Chandler Parsons, Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard
Minutes Played: 180
Offensive Rating: 114.6 points per 100 possessions
Defensive Rating: 97.8 points per 100 possessions

Read it here: http://espn.go.com/blog/truehoop/post/_/id/64458/killer-lineup-houstons-rim-squad

- More on the Rockets’ D from Jonathan Feigen the Houston Chronicle:

“The Rockets and especially Dwight Howard have cited inconsistent effort for the Rockets sometimes unreliable defense, but he said they also have been working to adjust to changes in style and responsibilities. “On the defensive end, we’re trying to get better, trying to learn how to do more things as a team on the defensive end as far as movement and cracking back on the bigs, stuff like that,” Howard said. “That takes time. It’s something these guys weren’t accustomed to over the last couple years. We just got to get better at it.” The defense with Omer Asik in the middle was different because Asik tended more to stay back defensively while Howard comes out to challenge shooters more often, requiring that teammates move more to crack back, or help the helper. “I hope we continue to trust each other, continue to build the chemistry on and off the court,” Howard said. “We want to peak at the right time. We know we can get better. That’s what we’re striving for.”

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