Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Kurt —  March 8, 2009

Los Angeles Lakers v Portland Trail Blazers
Records: Lakers 50-12 (1st in the West) Trailblazers 39-23 (7th in the West)
Offensive ratings: 114.0 (1st in league) Trailblazers 113.3 (2nd in league)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 105.3 (6th in league) Trailblazers 109.0 (18th in league)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Luke Walton, Lamar Odom, Pau Gasol
Trailblazers Brandon Roy, Steve Blake, Nicolas Batum, Lamarcus Aldridge, Joel Przybilla

Real Women Don’t Wear Green: You asked for it and the shirt is here.

Lakers notes: So do the people here who thought Lamar Odom had turned the corner a few months back still feel that way? He’s had three games that have been down a little. I’ll go back to what I’ve always said about him — you need to accept Odom as Odom, the moments of brilliance and the moments he disappears. It’s all a function of just who he is. He is going to forever be inconsistent. He is going to be up and down in the regular season, but he tends to rise up in the playoffs. And he still provides a versatility that fits what the Lakers do very well. If you live and die with Odom night to night it is a roller coaster, but when you step back you see a picture of quality.

On another note Su Yue had 11 points on 4 of 15 shooting, with seven assists, in his first game for the D-Fenders. The reports are that he played pretty well, but his shot didn’t fall. The next game he had 12 points on 5 of 7 shooting.

What I thought was interesting was the report (couldn’t find the link) saying that the Lakers spent a lot of time debating sending Sun down and negotiating/talking with Chinese officials to make sure that this move was not seen as a demotion or an insult. As is very important in his culture, Sun needed to be able to save face, so a lot of time and effort was put into the timing and the wording of the press release that sent him down. I think everyone involved knew him getting some burn was a good thing, but it was all in the presentation.

The Trailblazers Coming In: I attended the Spurs/Clippers game this week (the infamous “the beatings will continue until morale improves” game) with a number of Pomona College grads. They were there because Greg Popovich used to coach at Pomona, and he recruited his now top assistant Mike Budenholzer to play for him there (but left before Mike arrived).

Budenholzer spoke to the group afterward, and he was asked about Brandon Roy, who the night before had dropped 26 on the Spurs in a Trailblazers win. The first thing he talked about was just how strong Roy is, how he may be the most physical PG in the league and that allows him to get into positions to get the shots he wants. That kind of PG (think D-Will) has really given the Lakers trouble in the past. Blazers Edge had a great line that Roy tends to “lullaby and waltz” his way to the rim, he changes speed beautifully and that with his strength makes it very hard to stop him.

He has led a Portland team playing very well now, they are 7-3 in their last 10 including that big win against the Spurs. Roy is shooting 56.8% (eFG%) in those last 10. Travis Outlaw and Rudy Fernandez have been playing great off the bench.

All that said, they barely beat the Pacers the other night. Every team at this time of year has clunker games. Here is what Nate McMillan said about the Lakers game right after the Pacers game:

“They know that we’ve beaten them up here so they’ll be ready for the game. We go into this game, what I wanted us to do was have a good rhythm going into this game. I wanted us to basically play really sharp to go into that game. We get this game but we gotta play much better than we did tonight to get that game because they are looking forward to it and for us it’s at home and we want to continue to protect home court.”

Keys To The Game: These are the two top offenses in the NBA (per possession, which is what matters). This is going to be a high-scoring game. That said, whichever team plays the best defense is going to get the win.

For the Lakers, that means protecting the rim. The Blazers are good on offense because they have guys that get to and finish at the rim.

The Lakers defense is predicated on stopping penetration, that is the reason for bringing the help line over so far (bringing the big over to essentially zone off the strong side), but that will be put to a real test with Roy. He is going to get past Fisher (and Farmar), Roy will kill you with layups, and while he hits jumpers it is at a lower percentage, so you have to get the ball out of his hands and to the other shooters. Against the Pacers, take Roy out of the equation and the team shot 37%. This is one case where the Nash/CP3 system is not the goal — you want to get the ball out of his hands and make someone else beat you.

Protecting the rim is also the key to Lamarcus Aldridge, who can only score at the rim and the left elbow (I have no idea why there, other than he worked on that spot because it is key to the offense, and he shoots 52% from there.

While the Lakers need to help on defense, you do not leave Steve Blake at the three point line to help.

The other key — and this is where Odom needs to break out of his slump — the Lakers have to crash the defensive glass. The Blazers grab 32.4% of their missed shots, the highest percentage in the league. Aldridge and Przybilla are good on the glass, and this is an athletic and long team. Teams that beat the Lakers tend to do it because they got a lot of easy buckets, often on fast breaks, but another way is offensive rebounds and put backs. The Lakers have to limit those.

Where you can watch: KCAL9 in LA with a 7 pm tip off. Nationally, League Pass and thee other usual suspects.



280 responses to Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. I hope the Lakers make this a statement game!

  2. First…And I was thinking, I’d like to see Kobe guarding Roy at key points throughout the game. I think that will slow him down and put a lot of pressure on the rest of the offense to get buckets. We match up really well overall, as I think Odom neutralizes Aldridge, their 2nd best weapon. We just need to close out hard on 3s, because they can catch fire at home on the drive & dishes.

  3. This will be a great game to see the mettle of our bench players. They’ve come out firing at home against the cupcakes (Memphis and Minnesota), but will they be able to keep up the effort and intensity on the road in one of the most hostile buildings in the league. If they crumble, I think we’ll have to conclude that our bench is just not mentally tough enough to play consistently on the road. If they play well, I think we can safely say that our bench was just slumping while playing to the level of the competition. Overall, this game will be a great marker for the future of team success.

    That’s not to say this game is a be-all, end-all, but it will give us great insight into the mental state of the team. Hopefully they’ll give us a good performance rather than some good things that we need to improve on.

  4. Sun Yue was also a good help defender during that game against Anaheim. Not many fans like him, but I do.

  5. It’s 7 PM on KCAL 9, 03/09.

  6. Yeah.. what rhybread said… got beat to it.. =\

  7. j. d. hastings March 8, 2009 at 3:06 pm

    Anybody else terrified by Stephon’s 2-5, 4 points, 1 rebound, 0 assists, -14 +/- in 21 starter minutes this afternoon?

  8. changed to KCAL. Thanks.

  9. The Dude Abides March 8, 2009 at 3:36 pm

    5. Correct, this game is Monday night. Here’s hoping that DJ can do a good job protecting the rim coming off the bench.

  10. I’ve said and I will keep saying: Marbury won’t improve Celtics. He isn’t (and never was) half as good as his image. He’s an ineffective, volume scorer, who gets “empty” stats playing for very weak teams. I think Celtics guard rotation was stronger without Marbury.

    As for today’s game – it’s interesting. I think Lakers won’t win if they play in their usual lethargy. To win with Blazers we need intensity. I wonder if Lakers will be willing enough.

    I won’t get into technicalities – that somebody needs to rebound, someone to defend etc. At this moment Lakers should win every game – while healthy and rested. Except Cavs and Celtics there are no other opponents who are equal to us.

  11. j. d. hastings March 8, 2009 at 3:56 pm

    9- I almost agree except that you should add the Bobcats to your list of teams that could compete with us. They have our number on the best of days and now we have to worry about a motivated Vlade whenever we see them…

  12. Aldridge can score away from the rim as well. He has a sweet outside shot, but is sometimes inconsistent with it.

    This game will be the battle of Kobe and Roy, two very promising and young benches.

    Our advantage is obviously at the C position, where Pau can take advantage of Przybilla. How Joel is very strong physically and Pau does not really like playing against tough Centers that really on strength to make up for lack of skill

    Our weak spot is SF when Luke is in, but Nicolas Batum is not an offensive force (even though he is a pretty good defender). It will be fun to see Ariza vs Outlaw. They are both similar players in that both are athletic, run and hustle. Outlaw is definitely a better shooter, while Ariza is superior on defense.

    On the general note, away games to Portland are always tough for us, as Lakers are the worst nemesis for Blazers. With Cleveland (to Boston) and Boston (to Orlando) dropping a game each this week, Lakers need to capitalize and gain advantage on the best overall record.

    Another thing is that Portland is playing very well lately and gaining confidence. It will be difficult, but we have to establish a reasonable lead (7-12 points) in the first half in order to not let the Blazers have momentum and quiet the Portland crowd.

    I want to see good things happen to Mbenga and Powell tonight! Mitch is beginning to look like a very good talent evaluator, while being an excellent financial coordinator at the same time.

    I think Phil Jackson is switching to “getting ready for playoffs” mode, preaching more discipline and talent-equivalent distribution of shots, meaning more for Kobe and Pau and less for Sasha, Walton and Ariza. I hope Lakers stick to that philosophy in this game and many more to come

  13. Hmmmmmm…

    Cuban went through and examined all the schedules of teams this season, comparing the numbers of back-to-backs and 4 games in 5 days for each team (a more easy-to-read breakdown is here:

    In case you don’t entirely get the chart – “own b2b” is pretty self-explanatory, it’s how many times the team plays 2 games in a row. “opp b2b” is how many games the team gets an opponent on the second night of a back-to-back.

    The Lakers have one of the WORST (toughest) schedules in the league in comparing their own back-to-backs versus their opponents. They have eight more back-to-backs than opponents on the 2nd night of a back-to-back this season (worst ratio in the league), and one more 4-in-5.

    The Cavs and Celtics have much more friendly schedules. The Cavs only play 2 more back-to-backs than their opponents, and actually play one fewer 4-in-5. The Celtics have the friendliest schedule of the three: one fewer back-to-back, and THREE fewer 4-in-5 (the best ratio in the league).

    For those that say the NBA colludes with TV execs to rig things in favor of the Lakers, wouldn’t a favorable schedule (one of the few things the NBA and TV networks have almost total control over) be the simplest way to do so?

  14. The game is Monday. I was working on the preview in advance and hit publish instead of save. So it’s out there.

    Re: Starbury. Maybe he can help them in 15 minutes off the bench, but expand his role to starting and I think this is what you get. I’d say I feel sorry for him, but that would be a lie.

  15. Woke up this morning, checked FB&G and to my surprise, there it was! Real Women Don’t Wear Green. Thank you, Kurt! Will order one asap!

  16. The Dude Abides March 8, 2009 at 6:00 pm

    13. Underbruin, I also noticed that a couple weeks ago, when it seemed we had an awful lot of back to back games, while our opponents never seemed to. I went back and checked then, and I think the last time we played a team that was on the 2nd night of a back to back was the first week of February. We do have three or four coming up in April, though.

  17. It’s Monday morning over here and kinda surprised that the preview is up 😉

  18. j. d. hastings March 8, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    At the beginning of the season the Lakers had 3 or 4 days off something like 3 or 4 times, even playing one game in over a week at one stretch. I thought at the time that was a bad sign for later in the season because teams only get so many of those long breaks. I wish the league would take more care to spread them through the year.

  19. 76-re: Marbury

    JD, these are the games I just LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE. Boston forced to use Marbury heavy minutes, Marbury failing and instead of taking blame, slowly beginning to point fingers, and ubuntu becoming u-bum-too.

    A few more games minus Rondo… or any other combination of Marbury playing 15+, we may not even see the C’s come finals.

  20. in past matchups this year, what have been the defensive assignments? i think of blake as a 1 and roy as a 2, but can see why kobe and roy (can we call him ‘wah’?) wouldnt guard each other. but kobes way too big for blake. so how have they matched up in the recent past?

    re schedules, i suspect he lakers get hosed because they appear on tv more often. schedule makers take that into account first, and back to backs are secondary. for other teams, not so much. just my hunch. its been awhile since i read about the husband and wife schedule making team. do they still do it?

  21. Me and the boy are ready for the game and our assault on the 300 level in the Rose Garden. Joe’s Sports is selling Beat LA shirts and I’ve got my boy’s Lakers’ away warmups already sitting on his bed, ready for the morrow. I have a feeling the Lakers are going to come with energy seeing how the crowd here reacts to the Lakers and the awareness that the Blazers are a coming team.

    The thing with Roy is how well he gathers himself before every shot. His gathering to shoot and hesitation moves remind me of a great change up coming from a fastball pitcher. The effectiveness comes from each looking like the other.

    My biggest fear is that McMillen figures out how to use Rudy between now and tomorrow night.

    I’ll be interested to see if Bayless turns into a Lakers killer. He has the right mix of skills to cause us problems.

  22. Can I ask a completely off-topic question? As Durant slowly makes his way from underrated to rated just fine and more and more people are acknowledging him, I’ve heard quite a bit of talk as the next era being the Lebron-Durant era, or as Durant being the only possible (feeble) challenger to Lebron’s crown in the next decade.

    Have these people seriously forgotten about Dwyane Wade?

    He may be a bit older, but he’s young enough to rule this next era. If you look at it one way, Wade is every bit as skilled as Lebron, only without the raw physical power and gifts. Don’t forget this is the first guy to carry a team to a Finals since Hakeem, and who put on arguably the greatest Finals performance of all time (arguably, but still he’s in the conversation).

    I think it’s just an overreaction to Durant being underrated. Simmons’ readers have suddenly been “enlightened” and now are rushing to anoint Durant as the next Big Thing. Don’t get me wrong, because Durant is fabulous. But he is not, and IMO will not, be as complete a player as Wade. Durant may be a better shooter, but the point is moot as Wade is explosive enough to score in the paint at will, and Wade (when he isn’t carrying the offensive burden) can be an extremely strong individual defender when he wants to.

    When Kobe eventually retires, I believe that the next era will be the Lebron-Wade era.

    And if we can ever get Lebron and Wade equally strong supporting casts at the SAME time, I think it would be the next Magic-Bird. Both are fabulous point-guard type wings who make their teammates so much better. If we’re robbed of the chance to see Lebron-Wade rule a decade because of inept front offices, I will be highly disappointed.

  23. so, uh…. when’s the last time the lakers actually won in portland? I’m sure I’m mistaken, but it feels like they haven’t won there since that incredible game on the last day of the season (was that ’04?) in which kobe hit those huge threes and the lakers won the division against incredible odds.

    seriously, two laker truisms:

    always lose in portland
    rest bynum against memphis

    this is going to be a very tough little roadtrip and I’d love to see them start it with a ‘W’. Don’t know about the rest of you, but I’d take 2-1 right now in a heartbeat, esp. with the level of the defense we’re playing of late.

  24. the thing with the blazers is they fall in love with their jumpshot quickly. if we’re able to stop them from getting to the rim they’ll fall into jumpshot mode. if we’re able to do that we should be able to pull out a W.

  25. Snoopy,
    The only problem with the Wade description is that his style of play makes him injury prone – Lebron isn’t, because of his size; he dishes out more than he takes.

  26. Thanks for listening to customer feedback, Kurt. Getting a shirt as soon as I have a spare moment!

    (And this super early post for tomorrow had me confused for a sec.)

  27. PeanutButterSpread March 8, 2009 at 9:54 pm

    The schedule sucks balls of steel, but I think that’s because of how in demand the Lakers are for “must-see” TV. Every time the Lakers play some WC contender on an EC contender, it’s must see TV on TNT or ESPN. It’s ratings bonanza or at least “hyped-up” storylines bonanza with ppl wanting to see the Lakers win/lose.

    I hope this roadie will be a good one to the Lakers and that they start it with the same intensity they had finished with from the 7-game roadie awhile ago.

    Also, I’m really looking forward to big Drew coming back. Anyone heard of any new news yet?

  28. 25, Craig – No doubt that’s true. Sorry, maybe I wasn’t clear enough in my post – I wasn’t necessarily trying to state that Wade was better than or as good as LBJ. What I was trying to say is that Wade is much closer than Durant is. I was just hearing talk of how the next era was going to be Lebron-Durant, and I was left wondering how Durant, in half a season, somehow leapfrogged the supreme skill of Wade.

    27 – The only news I’ve heard so far is that there have no setbacks like last year, and that he’s on schedule.

  29. Wade is much closer to T-Mac than he is to challenging LeBron for the control of the next era. Although I am hoping as hell that I am wrong in this and he enjoys a relatively injury-free career from now on.

    What I have a hard time imagining is Kobe playing past his prime. Jordan never really got the hang of it(and I’m not sure if I wanted to see it), although I think he could have played a Cassel type role for a long, long time.

    Will Kobe ever be able to play as a ‘missing piece’ in the mold of Horry? Would fans want to see a once-dominant player reduced to a vagabond role-player? Isn’t that what Shaq is? Questions that bug me sometimes.

  30. I’d love to see Kobe play past his prime

  31. 29

    I don’t see why Kobe would become a ‘vagabond role player’ (Shaq is certainly more than that IMO) or a ‘missing piece’ unless he plays until he’s 39 or 40. Hell, Malone and Jordan were still still legit All-Stars at that age.

  32. Snoopy2006,
    Remember how fast the ‘talking heads’ turned on Kobe? Like in the time of the Roman Empire, we are always looking for fresh food. In a couple of years we will be looking at the next budding superstar and our ‘oldies but goodies’ will be barely mentioned. That is the problem with instant gratification and 24/7 news cycles.

  33. P Ami- Have fun with your son at the game, represent FBG well…but be safe. I’m sure most Blazer fans are nice, but they can get pretty loud and if they are anything like they’re color commentator, they are big-time homers.

  34. Thanks for that chart, Mark Cuban!

    That shows how unfairly the games are scheduled. I would also like to see that statistic broken down:

    (1) for after the All Star break
    (2) average winning percentage (in 2008) of teams played on the second night

  35. harold,,

    I agree with you. I’m curious to see how Kobe plays whenever he start declining. I can’t see a 35+ year old Kobe being able to accept a decline in capability. *IF it happens.* Could his self worth and reality mesh? I think his ego is too big to handle not being THE man, but that (ego) is not necessarily a bad thing.

    Jordan was still elite at 35, and a very capable player at 38. We still have a lot of time. The only difference is, there was no LeBron waiting in the wings for everyone ready to anoint towards the end of Jordan’s Era. Kobe fights perception, and that fuels him, be it positively and negatively.

  36. Somebody asked: The Last time the Lakers won in Portland: Feb. 23, 2005.

  37. Snoppy2006,

    Wade didn’t carry the Heat to the Finals. They did have Shaq in his prime. Plus, Wade’s Finals performance was tainted by some very questionable officiating, and I hate blaming referees.

    I don’t think Dwyane Wade will win another Chip.

  38. Really excited for this week, should be another fun test for the Lakers.

  39. By the way, that Ty Lawson guy looked pretty good yesterday, didn’t he?

  40. Updating these into the post as well, but here are a couple of links:

    Kobe and Gasol speak Spanish on the court:

    An update on Injuries around the NBA:–No-Bodies-Available.html

  41. I still remember the Portland game on the final night of the ’04 regular season where Kobe hit the ridiculous 3 to send to overtime and then to win it. I remember the announcers talking about the Sacramento game and the Queens losing to open the door for us to win the Pacific Division. The ending to that game was unreal. When you add all of the other close losses their team has had to us (2000 WCF, 1991 WCF among others), I can see why they get so up for playing us. Let’s get the road trip started and get 3 Ws.

  42. I definitely think Kobe will linger too long in the game as his skills diminish. He defines himself entirely by this game. More than anybody I can recall. Even Jordan tried baseball and took up golf and cards to satisfy his general competitiveness. But Kobe has been all about basketball from a much earlier age. Every day of his life is dictated by basketball or workouts to improve his skill at it. His devotion to the craft itself may be the most underrated part of him.

    So i see him having a Favre like inability to tear himself away. Whether he can adjust to becoming a role player, I don’t know. Doesn’t sound like him, but we’ll see. I could totally see him pulling a Dominique and playing in Europe once his nba days are through though.

    Then maybe he’ll take a stab at coaching that won’t go well because he won’t be able to deal with peoples’ lesser work ethic or abilities. Could he be some sort of announcer or “analyst?” It would be interesting to hear him open up once his career was over. Usually if he’s not playing when others are I think he’s too upset or politic to be an effective guest host on Inside the NBA or anything.

    We’ll see. Just try to remember all the good times we had if we have to put up with a few years of him outstaying his welcome.

  43. i don’t think ricky rubio plays for the trailblazers….yet

  44. 43. Thanks, I made that change, a few people have reminded me. This is what happens when writing at night after a couple glasses of nice Pinot…..

  45. I watched that Duke and North Carolina game and Ty Lawson was a difference maker. His speed and ability to finish at the rim helped a bunch, giving the Tar Heels the win.

    Kurt, what did you think of Tyler Hansbrough performance?

  46. j.d. Hastings,
    I don’t think Kobe will go quietly into the night. However, I do think his respect for the craft will allow him to become more efficient in other areas of the game.

    I suspect he will become an even better passer and selective rebounder. My guess is he may become the most effective mid-range shooter we have seen. These skills will all benefit him when his athleticism begins to wane.

  47. Here is an interview with Kareem that I think all of you should read. I have followed Kareem since he enrolled at UCLA in 1965 and – like Ali – he is a true trailblazer {sorry for the pun???}. Like the ESPN pieces Black Magic, Kareem’s life and interests should be something we all know about.

    Also, for you coaches out there, take a look at one of Kareem’s websites.

  48. 42. I think that is going to be interesting, because while Kobe is competitive he also is a very self aware person, and now guards his image carefully. When he first realizes it is time to step away, he might be more willing than you think to do so. He’d miss it, but he wants to be remembered near the top, not in a Wizards uniform. We’ll see if he learned that lesson and if he could pull himself away even if he does understand he should. That will be an interesting development.

    45. Meh. He makes some plays at the college level, but at the pro level I think he’ll be in for a surprise. Not that he shouldn’t be drafted, but he is a college star and NBA bench 15 min. guy to me. I mean at his peak. He doesn’t show to me the rounded, polished game of a Kevin Love.

  49. I read somewhere that last year the winning percentage of teams playing back to backs was 43%. The mean, by definition, of course is 50%.

    What does this means for the Lakers who have a net deficit of 8 (8 more games played on back to back than their opponents)? 8 is the highest in the league and works out to an extra loss of 1 game.

    This is calculated via a simple assumption that their current winning percentage is decreased proportionally by the ratio 43/50.

    The specific example is that they win their last game in Denver with a full game of rest than the worst back to back of all , which is a home/away.

    With all respect to Kurt, the Blazers don’t really get to rim much except for Roy. 67% of their attempts are jump shots (vs 64% for the Lakers) . These stats include Oden and they shoot alot more jump shots now.

    For some reason McMillan insists on a slow-paced game. With a deep young team, the fastest big man in the league (Aldridge), and grey hounds in Fernandez, Outlaw, and Bayless, you would think running a bit more would be helpful.*

    The Lakers can slack off on transition defense and 3 point shots off penetration. Since the Blazers don’t run, their 3 point shots better be on.

    * In their last game against SAS, the Blazers ran and blew out the spurs. One game aberration or change in coaching philosophy? We shall see.

  50. Who’s going to score more points tonight, Andrew Bynum or Greg Oden?

    Oh wait, one’s injured and the other’s become the second coming of Michael Olowokandi. (I won’t say he’s the next Kwame Brown because Oden at least seems to want to play well, even if he can’t, whereas Kwame was only in town for the cake.)

    Man, things have changed a lot since opening night’s TV-led force feeding of the “Two Best Young Centers in the West” battle.

  51. Bill, what maybe a better phrasing would have been is that they finish well at the rim. I was looking at their hot shot shooting charts for most key players, and only Blake can shoot outside very specific spots on the court with any consistency.

  52. Chris J – Greg Oden has become the second coming of the Candy Man. Lol, ok. He hasn’t even played in 82 games yet. But hey, where there are no instant results, a bust is on the horizon.

  53. I hope to see Kobe in denial mode against Roy. Once he catches the ball, he’s so good at getting his shot off that I’d love to use the strategy of limiting his touches by denying him the ball. This will be harder when he’s playing defacto PG, but when they have Blake bring the ball up and get into the halfcourt I want to see some ball denials.

  54. Discussions of how long Kobe will play should include the question of whether or not Kobe has a real shot to pass Kareem for all-time career points. As of this moment (before the portland game), Kobe’s at 23,354, or 15,033 points behind Kareem. Assuming Kobe averages 27.5 points a game (and plays every game), he would need 547 games to pass Kareem, or (after this year), 527/82 = 6.4 seasons. At 25 ppg, he would need 601 games, or after this season, 581/82 or 7.08 seasons.

    We can debate whether or not he has a real shot at this, just as we can debate if Lebron has a better or worse shot, but I have a hard time believing that Kobe hasn’t at least eyeballed these numbers for himself and that they won’t play a major role in determining his career longevity (obviously assuming no serious injuries)…

    Anyway, it’s something to think about for those who argue he will retire in 5 years at his peak– namely, that he will likely, then, be a mere couple of seasons from the all-time record.

  55. 54) lil pau
    I think Kobe’s willingness to play longer will depend more on the number of titles he has, and the potential for him to get more prior to retirement. He realizes that that has a bigger affect on the general perception of how a player ranks, then point/rebound/assist statistics.

    He will need to take a significantly smaller contract if he wants an extended career. Teams won’t be able to afford a salary like his if he’s not one of the top few in the game.

  56. You can’t use a player’s recent seasons as a way to predict whether a player will surpass Kareem’s scoring total.

    It seems logical to set a “pace” and factor how many years before before so and so scores X number of points. But you simply can’t forecast how a guy’s body may break down at any given moment.

    Exhibit 1A to support this argument would be none other than Karl Malone, the NBA’s No. 2 scorer in history.

    In 2002-03, his last year with Utah, he played 81 games and averaged more than 20 points per contest. He led the Jazz to the playoffs that year.

    Everything seemed to suggest he’d have no issue playing well for another two years, at which time he’d have topped Kareem as the NBA’s all-time leading scorer — again, provided Malone remained on pace with prior years (or even slowed his scoring marginally).

    We all know what came next. I thought he was great in L.A. in his final year — when he was actually on the floor. But the Mailman had only 41 games in him that season, his scoring fell to 13.2 ppg and after the loss to Detroit he was last seen arguing with Kobe about what may or may not have been said between Malone and Mrs. Bryant. So much for “He’s on pace to top Kareem.”

    The same thing could knock off Kobe or LeBron or anyone else. One bad knee, one bad ankle… car crash or Yoko Ono. You just can’t tell what the future holds.

  57. anybody got a link for tonight’s game? I’ll be in class and hope to catch it online somewhere

  58. What ultimately stops most ‘top shelf’ players is their legs. As a shooter, Kobe should be able to play for a lot more years. Athletically he hasn’t had any leg problems over his career, so I most likely will be able to play for longer than average. He may not be the highlight reel that he was, but 1) he is already cutting back on that activity and 2) that is the high risk play that most of us want to see reduced, anyway.

    With Shaq, Kobe was excellent at getting the ball into the middle. With Andrew and Pau, he seems to be in that same mode.

    Kobe is extremely smart about his body and conditioning. He also has an extremely high BB IQ. Finally, he is also seemingly astute about presenting himself to the public these days. All this argues for him adjusting his game to maximize the skills he retains.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about Kobe suddenly dropping off a cliff – playingwise. Not too likely.

  59. Darius,

    Yeah. Ball denial is the best thing to do against Roy. He is very deceptive, and gives Kobe (and mostly everyone else) problems.

    I wonder how long it takes before Pryzbilla is firing Kobe up with his usual ineffective cheap shots.

  60. I have been mentally crossing my fingers all day, hoping against hope that my league pass subscription will give me the KCAL feed instead of the portland one. i absolutely CANNOT STAND their announcers, especially their color guy – reminds me way too much of tommy heinsohn (shudder)

  61. I wouldn’t go so far as to say Kobe speaks fluent Spanish. He can get by, but it was made abundantly clear in last year’s MVP presser that he’s not quite fluent:

    “…a todos mis fans que, umm, supported me. What, Spanglish, what do you want? You ask too much.”

    I’m sure it’s good enough to get the point across on the floor, though.

  62. Why do I think Kobe doesn’t need any ‘firing up’ for the game tonight?

  63. Kobe always says that he has no idea about what records he has broken when interviewed after a game, but I tend to believe he is just trying to act humble because he is a great basketball historian.

    In my opinion there is no doubt that Kobe will play into his late thirties or even forty if his health permits.

    At thirty-five and a half Jordan was the best player in basketball when he retired. I can’t see Kobe doing the same thing. He is just too obsessed with the game to retire before he needs to. If Shaq can play until thirty-eight (assuming he retires when his contract expires) then Kobe can play until forty and become the first player to score 40,000 points.

    Kobe will never be a “role” player. Assuming Bynum can stay healthy and stay a Laker, Kobe would eventually become the second option on a team that competes at a high level for the next decade.

    Anyway I know Kobe loves playing the Blazers, as he has averaged 36ppg against them since Shaq left town.

    I love the Blazers, because they were the stepping stone that set up the three-peat. I will never forget the best game I have ever attended was game 7 of the Western conference Finals, when they were down 15 in the fourth and Kobe, Shaq and Shaw surged a comeback capped by the famous Kobe to Shaq alley-oop.

  64. Lamar s just inconsistent, always has been, always will be.

    Lakers should lose tonight, Portland needs this win a whole lot more, however, I wouldnt be surprised if we pull it out by a couple, I think it will be a close game none the less.

  65. I could definitely see Kobe as part of NBA broadcasts. He has an amazing eye for what’s happening on the floor, is a very analytical type of person and also well-spoken. He’s already had a great appearance I can remember on TNT’s show with Ernie, Kenny, and Charles. The question is, can he be as entertaining as Webber for example, who is just amazing in my opinion.

  66. GQue24:
    WOW, I don’t think the Lakers are going to get rid of Bynum.

    Lamar may be overpaid, but he does contribute to many victories throughout the season and playoffs, how quickly a few bad games will make you call a player trash. You sound like he has personally wronged you…did you lose some money on the Phoenix or Denver game?

  67. My comment apparently doesn’t make sense now that GQues24’s has been deleted.

  68. I did an interview today with Oregon Live, if you want to check it out:

  69. I’m looking for the Lakers to contain Roy as best as they can, neutralize Aldridge and not let Steve Blake get his rhythm going. To me, the easiest of the three will be Blake. Stopping Roy is a tall order. And stopping Aldridge will be the wild card.

    If Aldridge gets 10 open looks from 10-12 feet (42% eFG jumpers) and 5 layups/dunks (52%eFG inside) it’ll be a long night for the purple marauders. If they can limit him to fewer than 5 rebounds, 10 contested outside looks, and only a couple layups/dunks, the Lakers can prevail.

  70. 63 – one thing that’s always struck me about the clip is shaq’s abject refusal to acknowledge kobe as he runs back down the court after the oop. I’m probably reading way too much into it, but kobe was the one who made that entire play happen, and he even extends his hand to shaq afterwards, but with no reciprocity.

  71. Craig W,

    No. Kobe doesn’t need to “fired up,” but Joel always throws gasoline on the fire. Every time. As soon as he comes in, Kobe’s going to the rack, and Pryzbilla will try one of his hard fouls and start a Kobe 8-0 run.

  72. I try to not comment on FB&G unless I have something very thoughtful to add because of the great insight of people like Bridges and kwame a.

    So – on a personal level I would HATE for Kobe to even attempt to fill the Horry role. At every level Kobe’s image commands a certain level of respect, however in stepping down from the top-dog strata he will forever tarnish the transcendence he is known for. Ultimately I agree with others on this board who think Kobe will make his decision to leave the game in relation to championships he can win. Very much like Jordan.. if the Bulls weren’t so dominant how likely would have his return have truly been.

    We as Lakers fans can and will cry for the next player who can be guarded by three people and still hit a pull-up corner three – but perhaps our perception of “team” basketball has been shifted and our desire to follow a God among men is almost seditious to the nature of the game.

    Before I am reminded of Kareem during Showtime and all the other amazing Laker greats… I just want people to ask how well we will adjust to a Kobe-less back court when Durant and LBJ come to town.

  73. Kurt- re: Hansborough- All I see when I watch Hansborough play is an East Coast version of Mark Madsen. Madsen may have been more dominant in college actually, because at least he took his team to a final 4. They are quite similar, able to bully the kids in college, but that just doesn’t translate into the NBA. I agree-15 minute 9th man for 7-9 years. Not a bad gig, but he ain’t nobody special.

  74. Sorry about the typos, I was trying to focus on typing while making my prof think I was taking notes… God only one more year left.

  75. Ugh, in Oregon we are stuck with Blazer telecasts, the announcers go on and on about the calls, Kobe being treated special, Phil sitting on his “throne”, etc.

  76. Someone mentioned a while back in here something about Oden not playing well. I don’t believe that-he did what I think most expected of him-he rebounded very, very well, shot a good percentage, drew a ton of fouls, and had a large turnover ratio (sounds remarkably like the man he took the starting gig from).

    It has been well documented, but his main issue is fouling, which plagues so many young bigs in the NBA.

  77. 60

    LeaguePass usually goes with the home team broadcast, so I think we will be stuck with Mike Rice. Oh joy. 🙁

  78. Almost game-time, my keys to tonight:

    1) LO challenging Aldridge’s mid-range: this will require him not getting in foul trouble and applying pressure on the offensive end to tire Aldrige out, weakening his jumper.

    2) Our bench not getting badly outscored: If we can play there bench near even, we should be in good shape.

    3) Perimeter players must rebound: we need Walton, Kobe, Ariza and or PGs to hit the glass.

    I love the intensity from the crowd in these games, hope its a good one.

  79. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:01 pm

    Kwame is giving Detroit some clutch play late in the game against Orlando. He had a block that led to a fast break, then got a key rebound off a Dwight Howard free throw.

  80. Let’s get it on, people! IN mah Blogging outfit, Pau Jersey on, let’s do this!

  81. any links for the game?


    It sounds like robots, and I am pretty sure it is the Lakers broadcast. I am not sure.

  83. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:15 pm

    I would rather listen to robots over Mike Rice 100% of the time. Even evil robots.

  84. What about evil smoking robots?

  85. Woo-hoo, Mike Rice! Impartiality personified.

  86. Okay, I hear spaceship sounds. No kidding!

  87. Little old school Phil. No T.O.

    We need to get it straight who is guarding Roy. Seems to be some cross-matchups and we are not playing them well.

  88. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    So much for portland being a halfcourt jumpshooting team…

  89. Saw that celticshub got upset with our Anti-Celt t-shirt. They wanted requests to one-up the Laker fans. Not sure if even Kevin McHale can help them out. Go Lakers!!!

  90. jesus luke…

  91. It’s bad enough that Walton can’t guard Roy (understandable), but if Kobe can’t contain Nicolas Batum the Lakers have problems.

  92. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Blazers production team: I don’t need the futuristic soundtrack when telling me about every foul.

    Luke: You’re doing a terrible job on defense and can’t hit a shot. Good job.

    Pau: Make a shot.

  93. We can’t keep a single Portland player out of the lane.

  94. Pau has got to give us more interior d.

  95. they need to get pau the ball against channing frye

  96. Did the Lakers practice on a high hoop this afternoon? All of their shots are going off the back of the rim…a house is slowly being built.

  97. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:35 pm

    16 points? Seriously? The lakers have been awful defensively, but 16 points? That’s absurd.

  98. Seriously I hate their announcers.. I think I might just have to light some up and chill or else im gonna wanna go after em

  99. Luke included*

  100. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:41 pm

    did Mike Rice just call Mbenga “Muhgemba?”

  101. Portland pulling the Kano-style fatality on the Lakers right now.

  102. well this is inspired stuff so far

  103. anyone else get the sense that the atmosphere of this game is too much for our bench? they’re playing scared and tentative

  104. We look like we’ve never seen tape on Portland. Why are we playing them like this? No ball movement on o, no ability to stop penetration on d. ARGH!

  105. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:46 pm

    Okay, so Farmar gets screened at the 3 point line and nobody switches so Blake has an entire quarter of the court to the basket to drive. Pau doesn’t budge towards him, though Ariza sags halfway off Outlaw as if considering helping. Which leaves Outlaw open to hit the 3.

    I think every Laker contributed to that crappy defensive possession.

  106. It is a team effort.

  107. Honestly, there is no “Meh-benga” on our team.

  108. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    Ariza gambles for the steal off outlaw who rolls straight to the rim the draw the foul on Mbenga.

  109. I don’t know what’s worse, the sieve-like perimeter D or the lack of help on the inside. Ridiculous.

  110. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    3 great defensive possessions in one that time.

  111. These Portland announcers are worse than the 2 muppets in the balcony who call themselves announcers for the Sac Kings.

  112. j. d. hastings March 9, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    I know they just made 2 3pointers, but I’d still have them shooting those than going inside incessantly. Also, 2 possessions in a row we’ve gone inside. Only got 1 point, but I like the ideas.

  113. We need to do a better job closing out on 3 point shooters …we cant count on them missing

  114. You’d think that the Lakers would realize that Outlaw was hot from outside tonight and try to guard him out there.

  115. You know how those Madden video games had a category for each player called “awareness”. Right now our team and individual awareness is a zero. Zero because we are allowing spot up shooters to get wide open looks, and over commiting to PGs whose sole intention of driving is to kick. We need to play to the Blazers weaknesses, not their strengths.

  116. Did Luke not read the book on Roy? Poor outside shooter? You don’t crowd him on the perimeter!!

  117. Our defensive effort has been pathetic.

  118. Portland cant play this well for 48mins right?

  119. 117

    I don’t think most of the Laker players have particularly good defensive instincts, which is probably why the scheme is relatively simple. It’s amazing how often they seem oblivious to the tendencies and strengths of the players they are defending.

  120. embarrising, but this has been coming

  121. 120

    Maybe not, but they won’t need to if the Lakers keep defending like this.

  122. WOW. Travis Outlaw grabs Lamar, and it’s foul on Odom?

  123. I would hate for the Lakers to have to play Portland in the first round. They haven’t brought their A game on the road against Portland in years. They also frankly have some potential match-up problems athletically against them

  124. Wow. Am I glad I am unable to watch this on TV tonight.

  125. 124. Yeah Odom ran him over but Outlaw was holding him.

  126. That has to be the worst half we’ve played all year. Horrible on both ends of the floor.

  127. when bynum is out we absolutely need lamar to create offensivly and since that 5 or 6 game run he had he’s gone into old lamar, all our role players are going backwards (am i the only one who thought farmar would be a starting quality pg by now), and gasol seems (understandibly) tired.

    PS Can you imagine portland with Durant? scary

  128. I know we have had some monster 3rd quarters this year, but can we come back from this deficit? And whatever happened to Farmar? I havent seen anything from him for a while now.

  129. that was not a charge

  130. Anybody still think the Lakers are better without Bynum? If nothing else he drastically reduces the reliance on Odom to produce on a consistent basis.

  131. I like the way we have come out this half. We arent gonna roll over, now lets rebound and get some more stops. Cut it to 10 (or less) by the end of the quarter

  132. kwame a. did you just say rebound? Did you just see the last series, where the Blazers played volleyball over the basket until someone decided to score? Ugh.

    I’d be hard pressed to think of a worse game by the Lakers.

  133. …and he might also stop the Blazers from having their way on the offensive glass. Yikes.

  134. for the love of god get walton out please

  135. Why is Luke Walton guarding Brandon Roy?

  136. The Lakers are not even trying to box out this game. Not a good game by the Lakers.

  137. What exactly do the Lakers have against boxing out? Seriously?

  138. Seven offensive rebounds for Pryzbilla alone. Get Walton out for Ariza, who will at least do a better job on Roy. Get Odom out for Powell, as Odom isn’t going up for the rebound out of fear of getting that fifth foul.

  139. Stop leaving guys outside!!!

  140. Why the hell does Farmar stop at 20 feet for a jumper on a fast break?

  141. This game is done. The Blazers play at the second slowest pace in the league, so there won’t be enough possessions for us to chip away at the lead. We lost the game in the 2nd quarter when the bench came in and didn’t score any points.

  142. ok ive seen enough

  143. The starters won’t play in the 4th.. PJax won’t risk injuring players for an already decided game..

  144. Just checked in on the game. What is going on? Why are the Lakers just jacking up shots from outside? It’s obvious they are missing everything. Where is Phil? What is going on? Coach?

  145. It never seemed to me like we were ever in it mentally. Sleepwalking from the tip.

  146. So when did the clipper step in for us? There is no effort, pride what so ever in this game.

  147. Didn’t think it was time for our scheduled loss, but then again scheduling was never in our favor.

    Maybe we needed this sort of a wake up call after rolling with the cellar dwellers.

  148. Could this get any worse? What was Ariza or Roy thinking worst game of the year.

  149. Okay now I’m definitely watching the 4th quarter!!! It’s gonna get interesting…

  150. schedule is not an excuse. They had 3 days to rest.

  151. He went for ball. No malicious intent. That’s not a flagrant two.

  152. he went for the ball, but im fine with that flagrant call. lamar is gonna get suspended too.

  153. Great way to cap off a dreadful game. Odom will probably get suspended for leaving the bench area as well. Hope Fernandez is OK.

  154. we used to be one of the best rebounding teams in the league so this is doubly embarassing. This is too painful to watch. I think i’m done.

  155. It was ugly but it actually looked like he went for the ball. Everyone’s heated though; disagree with the call but I understand it.

  156. can’t wait to see what henry abbott will have to say about this!

  157. He went for ball, their arms got entangled, and Ariza ended up dragging Rudy to his ground with his momentum. Hard impact on the ground; again, referees looking at the result. This is how it’s called, so I’m not going to dispute that, but there’s no malicious intent.

  158. after seeing that replay, i understand the ejection. Probably going to be a suspension as well. Ariza wound up in midair and swiped horizontally at head level…

  159. Wasn’t that all ball with a clip of the head? Meh.

    These Blazers announcers are hilarious. First they say the hit by reason is where Fernandez got hurt. Then they say Rudy seem to hurt his right shoulder. Which is it?

  160. These. Announcers. Hurt. My. Ears.

  161. “no need to do it – he’s going for a layup in a 30 point game”

    no. easy. buckets.

  162. Looked like some kind of whiplash injury to the neck when he came down. Being half spanish I really hope he’s ok (I’d still hope that otherwise too of course, but even more so now).

    That being said, Ariza did go for the ball. But it was careless, to put it mildly.

  163. That was definitely a flagrant 2, that was a wild swing that could have just as easily clotheslined him then hit the ball. I don’t think he should get a suspension though. Maybe 1 game at the most.

  164. I don’t know about ‘malicious intent’ but it was a reckless foul by Ariza. Also, as far as I know the refs are not expected to determine someone’s intent when it comes to flagrant fouls.

  165. “no. easy. buckets.”

    Apart from the gazillion the Lakers have already given up in this game…

  166. I thought you had to come onto the court to warrant a suspension. Right?

  167. Just tuned in to see what happened. The announcers make it sound like Ariza tried to take Rudy down with ill intent and then Odom went in for the kill…

  168. in terms of suspensions, there are a couple of certainties in my mind. lamar will be suspended for sure, and i think probably ariza as well (i’m anticipating more than one game).

    regardless of intent, it ended up being a hack at his head. Ariza’s lack of remorse after the fact probably doesn’t help his cause either.

  169. I respect the fact that Ariza didn’t give up the dunk in a 30 point game though…

  170. 165

    I’m pretty sure you get suspended for ‘leaving the bench area’, not just stepping onto the court.

  171. Thanx Joel.

  172. Call me a homer but i didnt see much to that foul…He went up high for the ball.

    What was Ariza supposed to do when Roy and co attacked him though? Let them slap him around?

  173. @ #160 – phineas


  174. let me first say by saying that i hate to see anyone go down in such a violent fashion, opponent or not, and i hope fernandez is ok.

    that being said, enough was enough. If you’re are prepared to be fast breaking with a 30 point lead, you better be prepared to have your shot contested – in this case, more violently than any of us would have wanted.

  175. Ariza probably deserves a suspension, but I’m ok with that. He did swing for the ball, but he got Rudy’s head, so even though there was no ill intent, he still caught him in the head then dragged him down, even if it was unintentional.

    Yea, intent matters, but if I kill someone with the best of intentions, I’m still guilty of murder (or at least manslaughter). Likewise, Ariza is guilty of taking down Fernandez, even if he didn’t intend to.

    That said, I like Ariza’s effort to try and stop our team from getting humiliated. Hopefully this will galvanize our team a little bit during this stretch run

  176. That’s good that Roy got in Ariza’s face, that’s a good teammate. Remember when Kobe got clothelined by Raja Bell and nobody got in his face. Never sat well with me, and probably didn’t with Kobe either.

  177. there’s no reason for kobe to be in this game right now.

  178. 175,

    Phil wants to see whether we’re going to have a Kobe moment or not before the game is over.

  179. You might as well play him until he gets his 6th foul

  180. Not sure how Kobe got called for his 5th when he was hit with an illegal screen by Pryzbilla directly in front of the ref.

  181. BCR – i can see that, but let’s be realistic. We’re not going to outscore them by 30 in this quarter, and the tone of this game has gotten very, very ugly, so why risk anything by leaving him out there?

  182. They should sit Gasol and Kobe already. Do the smart thing like what Popovich would =\

  183. Before you turn off the tv remember the lakers were one stop in game 2 of the finals from one of the greatest comebacks in sports history

  184. Getting pieced by the Blazers for the tune of 30 points after 3 days rest has gotta suck. Curse of the Leprechaun!

  185. Wow, Mike Rice knows so little about basketball.

    “How can Horry have more playoff games than Russell when Horry has 5 less rings?!”


  186. I swear, Mbenga hasn’t missed that 17 footer once since he’s began shooting it.

  187. A lot less series back in Russell’s day…

  188. It’s down to 20 points now.

  189. We couldn’t play like this for 3 quarters?!

  190. Haha Portland is up by 18 with 9 minutes left and their announcers are actually nervous.

  191. Actually, I retract my comment about taking Kobe out. Barring a hard, injury-causing screen from Przybilla, having Kobe out there to facilitate the offense and give the second unit some confidence and closure to an awful game makes a lot of sense.

  192. Am I hearing it right? The announcer is wishing for Kobe to get his sixth foul? Wow. Talk about homerism.

  193. Sounds like Rudy just had the wind knocked out of him…

  194. Did Lavetta just call that?

  195. If nothing else, this is good 3 point shooting practice!

  196. If there’s any reason to watch this game, it’s to watch the Blazers announcers freak out about the Lakers eating way at the lead.

  197. ” Keep the ball on the ground, he’ll foul you.”
    “Vujacic is just complaining becasue he doesn’t know the rules.”
    “Big free throws here” (8-9 minutes left Blazers with a nearly 20 point lead).

  198. mbenga with the facial!

  199. *shakes head* @ Vujacic.

  200. Does Sasha understand the fundamentals of defense? I mean I like his energy but c’mon!!!

  201. Does Sasha actually believe that he is going to steal the ball from Roy? Or even disrupt him? Don’t crowd him and concede the 21 foot jumper.

  202. “Kobe won’t get his 6th foul unless he brings a knife from the bench”

    LOL, these guys are a treat.

  203. Homerism is how it goes with Mike Rice/Mike Barrett. They are on the Blazer payroll and travel with the team after all . . . You guys are just too used to all your national tv games I’d say 😉

  204. I know Sasha has this “pesky defender” reputation, but this kind of defense is going to be abused by players on Roy’s caliber each and every time.

  205. Steve – plenty of local announcers are unbiased, unlike these clowns

  206. If the Lakers play Portland in the playoffs I think were gonna have to put Kobe on Roy, which might effect Kobe’s offense.

  207. Wow, the box score is really misleading. It says that Pau has a line of 7-12, 18 points, 13 rebounds, but it really seemed like he was getting worked by Przybilla on the glass.

    And I think I speak for everyone when I say we could’ve used a triple serving of some Mbenga instead of the standard serving of Gasol and Odom.

  208. Steve,

    Our local announcers, Stu Lantz and Joel Meyers, are very much on the unbiased side, as are a bunch of other local announcers. These guys are incredible homers in comparison to them.

  209. these guys are aweful. If they could call this game, they would probably throw everything at the Lakers, suspensions, technicals, fouls, delay of game, etc…

  210. I’m not as big of a fan of Kobe as most Laker fans, but Kobe does not quit!

  211. If only jeff van gundy could join these Portland guys.

  212. a) that was one weak dunk by Roy, and

    b) would have liked to see a better contest by farmar there

  213. 201

    I have watched every local broadcast in the NBA more than once, and Portland’s are rivalled only by Denver’s and Boston’s for sheer homerism. (If I had to rank them I’d list Boston first, with Portland and Denver interchangeable at second and third.)

  214. Farmar didn’t contest because he didn’t want to set off a riot in Portland. Smart, non-play by Farmar.

  215. It appears I missed the only exciting part of tonight’s game. Apparently Trevor fouled Roy pretty bad, and Lamar left the bench area…?

  216. Zephid – you’re right, no question that was the reason.

  217. I just want to say thank you for this space and all the posters here for your contributions. I am just reading the postings on the game streaming site and I am thankful for fb&g. They are just as bad as these announcers and that’s pretty bad.

  218. Wow, that dunk by Brown was sick

  219. Well, as thinking about this game is just dreary, let’s move onto the Houston game. Assuming Ariza and Odom are out, Powell starts at the four and we’re either going to see spot minutes from Morrison or lots of Kobe and Sasha on the floor the same time at the wings. Pau might see some time at the four to play with Mbenga, as we have a three-man rotation for the frontcourt. Considering that Houston has the two best wing defenders in the game to frustrate Kobe, and that we won’t have Odom, it’s going to fall to Gasol and someone off the bench to generate offense. Granted, Houston often has trouble generating offense itself, but not to the degree we’re going to have.

  220. There’s the memphis curse and there’s the garden curse.

  221. Denver game…Phoenix game…Now Portland.

    I much rather watch a team with less talent compete, then watch this team sleep walk through games.

  222. Im glad I missed the game tonight. No Bynum is now hurting us big time, its caught up to this team

  223. Blazer fan here… Came over here to check out your guys’ reaction to the game and must say I am very pleased. You guys are a shining example of Laker fans. Until next game

  224. It’s kind of sad to see this team unravel against stiff competition as it has done the last couple of weeks.

    I think that unrealistic 10-game stretch after Bynum got injured where we played out of our minds and over exhausting our players by mid-March is starting to catch up with us.

    Stupid, reckless play by Ariza and a foolish decision from Lamar. This team will most likely have a 3-game losing streak heading into the DAL game on Sunday.

  225. at least ariza showed passion.

    our bench is NOT playing well on the road.

  226. Well, the Lakers did a pretty good job limiting Steve Blake, a terrible job stopping Brandon Roy, and Lamarcus Aldridge had a fantastic game. The Lakers couldn’t take away enough of their weapons and Pryzbilla and Aldridge gobbled up a ton of rebounds. Nothing going on here, move along.

  227. @Zephid: Horry has played more playoff games than Russell. Horry has 244, Russell has 165.

    Wow, Mike Rice knows so little about basketball.

    “How can Horry have more playoff games than Russell when Horry has 5 less rings?!”


  228. Dwyane Wade is the f’n Truth. Or whatever’s truthier than the Truth. That guy never fails to amaze me.

    I hope someone uploads that game onto Youtube.

  229. 229, I was actually quoting Mike Rice. I knew the answer to the question when it was posed during the game, it was Rice who didn’t know the answer and then acted as if it was ridiculous that Russell with 11 rings could have played less playoff games than Horry.

    It will be interesting to see how the suspensions play out. I think the league will give Trevor a one-game suspension, as they’ve already handed us a freebie when Bynum didn’t get suspended on a similar play against Gerald Wallace. Couple this with Lamar likely being suspended for a game for leaving the bench, it will be interesting to see who gets their minutes. My guess is that Powell and Mbenga will divy up Odom’s minutes between them, supplemented by some extra Gasol time. What’s more interesting is who will fill in for Trevor. I have a feeling that Phil is going to give Kobe and Sasha more minutes to compensate for Trevor’s absence. This is probably the safest bet, very Phil-like with his rotations.

    However, I would love, repeat, love to see Shannon Brown take some of Sasha’s minutes at the 2-guard and shift Sasha or Kobe down to the SF. Maybe he doesn’t know the plays too well yet, but he can play defense, and he has at least one crazy play every 6 minutes he’s on the floor. The one thing I don’t want to see is a lot of Adam Morrison. You can tell he’s a step slow on every play, as well as his shots being rushed because he’s not comfortable in the offense yet.

    Luckily, we’re facing the Rockets, and beyond Yao Ming and Mt. Mutombo, they have very few tall players. They have a couple of under-sized bangers in Chuck Hayes, Carl Landry, and Ron Artest to some extent, but I think Josh, Luke, and and DJ will be able to contend with them on the glass. Shannon has looked really, really good in limited junk time minutes; Here’s to hoping he can get some real game time and show off what he’s got.

  230. Ariza should ask for the suspension so he doesn’t get hurt (like Bynum did following the Wallace injury). I’d rather have a short suspension than bad karma for the rest of the year. I can see him landing on Bowen’s foot or getting thrown off balance by Artest. Just take your medicine and don’t act like such a 3rd-grader when the guy you hit is lying broken on the floor. I’m so glad he stopped that layup with a 28-point lead. Very bright idea…

    Odom is definitely gone for the next game. It’s a simple NBA rule, and he broke it. I could hear the Rockets fans cheering while the whole thing was going down.

  231. I think our biggest problem throughout the game in terms of offense was generating easy buckets. Everything was a contested jumper and Portland did a good job of taking away the lanes to the rim. Usually, we counteract this by throwing it inside, but Pau is clearly tired by having extended minutes for so long. At the beginning of the season, Pau could of taken Przybilla — and especially Frye — with a jump hook in the post with ease, but it never seemed as if any of his buckets came easily. If there’s any reason for Bynum to come back, it’s to have a rested body that can generate easy buckets and force defenses towards him. Remember Pau was generating double teams from time to time at the start of the season. Bynum can too if he comes back reasonably close to his form before he got injured. Combine this with Kobe on the floor and suddenly our shooters have more room to operate: Sasha has room and doesn’t have to take contested threes off the dribble, same with Farmar, and Ariza can slash to the rim without dealing with triple coverage.

    On the subject of our bench though, Mbenga is perhaps the most surprising player. I thought he was simply an extra body — a big, athletic guy who was offensively challenged. Now, in limited minutes, he’s been very effective. Him making 17-20 ft jumpers — and accurately — was the greatest surprise. He’s even posting a 17.01 PER, which although comes in a small sample size, is pretty indicative of how effective he’s been in limited minutes. Now, I realize I’m getting ahead of myself and he’s not a panacea, but he’s definitely a good fifth big man to have and he can stay on the roster as that role for as long as he wants. Same with Brown as a fifth guard; guy produces a Youtube-worthy exploit every time he’s on the court.

  232. 211. If they had their way, Kobe and Gasol would be on stretchers already by the end of the first quarter with all with all the clotheslines and hard takedowns the Blazers would be allowed on defense.

  233. My parents took me to see Beverly Hills Cop in the theater. I was nine and eventually my parents stopped bothering to cover my ears when Eddie Murphy let F-bombs spill from his bombay. I felt like that tonight having taken my boy to the game. I finally stopped covering his eyes in the second half. He may be three but I guess he’ll learn from seeing so much ugly.

    We were sitting in the top level behind the basket where the Fernandez foul happened and I didn’t see him go down. I saw Rudy go up, and Ariza too, the latter’s length swinging through the Spanish wrist. I figured frustration is what had Ariza and Roy jawing and that things would settle quickly since I didn’t have any idea Rudy was still down. I saw one replay on the big screen and not knowing the rules, so I can’t say how “intent” plays into things, I just saw two guys moving fast with one of them trying to knock the ball away from the other while both were in the air and a freakish sequence of events landed Rudy hard on the ground (I was at the game where LO made a strong play for a Roy layup and again a Blazer wound up going down hard and the crowd over reacted). So, I’m a bit surprised to see that you all think a flagrant 2 was the correct call. I though you are allowed to play for the ball and any incidental contact is a foul but not flagrant. If you are going for the body (the head in particular) with no effort for the ball, then that is a flagrant. What am I missing?

  234. I was completely wrong stating Bynum would get suspended for his takedown of Wallace,so I should prob keep my opinion to myself 🙂 ,but…

    I saw the play and it looked like a hard foul,but a basketball play. Ariza swung for the ball,Rudy jumped higher than Ariza thought/could. Because he clipped his head a Flagrant 1 was warranted. Not even close to what Bynum did.
    But if I had to bet,the 2 stands and a 1 game suspension,as it’s the second incident w/the Lakers,it involves an international star player and it’s Portland,not Charlotte. Not to get on a soapbox,but if Trevor is suspended,it will be because the League does have different standards,not because it was warranted.

  235. Really off topic post here.. just to take away the sting of this blowout for the meantime.

    Come to think of it, I’d like to see that happen sometime… games ACTUALLY rigged by the NBA to get fans who complain about league vendettas against their teams back.

    Get those teams whose fanbase complains the most about the officiating (let’s say, the Celtics for example), and without their knowing, have the referees in a Celtic game call EVERTHING in their favor. Have the Celtic players commit Flagrant 2’s in every possession and not get called for it even once… let them walk the whole court without dribbling, etc… anything to make it all really blatant and obvious.

    After the game, they poll the Celtic fans on how they think the game was officiated.

    I’d like to see them complain about crappy refereeing costing them games after something like that.

    Well anyway.. sorry for the random post. Just something to get our minds off tonight for a while. =\

  236. 231

    How was that play similar to Bynum’s foul? Ariza clearly made a play on the ball, whereas Bynum did not.

  237. As a blazer fan watching tonights game with the LA announcers it’s nice to hear an opposing teams own announcers not religously biased like so many are. Mike Rice I have no doubt comes off with extreme bias but he gets like that when the blazers are playing what he thinks is a huge game which will piss any other teams fan off. But when he isn’t juiced up he’s refreshing because he will actually comment on ref’s taking over games with their star treatment, make up calls, and the truly bizarre bunches of calls all fans have seen. And when calmed down he most of the time is man enough to correct himself when he makes a mistake. Can’t wait for the rematch at the rose garden in april, nice to see what looks like the makings of an intense rivalry with teams that will be good and contenders for the years ahead.

  238. 237. Props for being a classy Blazer fan.. congrats on the win, and hopefully Rudy gets a fast recovery. Thanks for taking the time to come aboard.

  239. All the top teams have suffered blowouts this season:
    – Celtics @ Pacers : 16pt loss (were down 25 in 4th qtr)
    – Cavs @ Rockets : 19pt loss

    It happens to the best. Hopefully we move on gracefully.

  240. For all the talk of Zen and being focused the Lakers still don’t have a solution to “what happens when Kobe’s shot doesn’t fall.”

    The Lakers don’t have a plan B. Pau and Odom need to be that backup plan. Remember that game against BOS on Xmas day, Pau stepped up big and accepted the challenge. That is the guy we need, as well as Odom stepping up to KG.

    If you look at the game, the Blazers were making all their jumpers in the 1st half and were getting to the hole at will. Their offense flowed b/c of penetration and energy crashing the boards. The Lakers were flat footed on defense and it carried over to offense. It was Kobe trying to resuscitate our offense, but when his shot is off we were dead in the water. That is the story of every Laker game, and until the rest of the team can match Kobe’s intensity (when it matters) I still am hesitant on our chances.

  241. 242. Gasol is a very good plan B, who has been spectacular the last month, just he had an off night too. This team can score, the problems come when they play that level of defense (it impacts their offensive flow, too.)

  242. 239,

    I also give my kudos. Listening to Stu Lantz and Joel Meyers for a good portion of the games this season had given most of the posters here a fairly high bar for local announcers — when you get someone like Mike Rice who carries fairly obvious homer issues, it’s like nails grating on chalkboard. In any case, good win and good luck to Rudy on his recovery.


    I agree. We got blown out. We didn’t put forth our best effort and played like crap. If you go and look at the Celtics and Cavaliers in those games though, it’s the same thing. Their opponents played perhaps their most inspired ball of the season and they didn’t bring it mentally to the court that night. It’s not indicative of a larger pattern about anything for us except perhaps mental exhaustion and a bit of tiredness.

  243. They travel with the team and are part of the Blazers Radio network. Aside from being commentators, they are big fans as well. They are going to be biased, there’s nothing wrong with that from local announcers. 30% of the comments seem to be about poor commentating, how about poor play by the Lakers? That’s way more of an issue. Great game by the Blazers, we kind of caught the Lakers at a good time. April 10th will be interesting. Still don’t want to see you in the playoffs.

  244. This season during the biggest most important games mike rice has blatently hollered blindly for portland at times but its been like 5 years since we blazers have actually been playing meaningful games for the playoffs and that long without a star or big name to be that buffer and communication with the refs that makes a huge difference (just watch a celtic game) and he’s used to us getting to respect or calls and now that were becoming a playoff team again with a all star like roy he forgets were not at a big disadvantage with the refs like in the past. But your laker announcers I’m sure have seen it all these past years as far as the refs and one team milking them to know some nights the variable calls are gona go against you but in the end usually balances out in the weird nba ref make up calls system.

  245. 233,

    We really miss Bynum’s defense as indicated by the inordinate sagging into the paint and letting Outlaw & Rudy shoot barely contested 3pters – it couldn’t be the scouting report because both are shooting over 38% for the season!

    For the next game we might really be missing Vlad if we are stuck with 2 suspensions.

  246. Blazer fan here. Ticked that I couldn’t fully enjoy this victory because of Rudy getting hurt, but even with the frustration of seeing that kind of an injury I would agree that the play did not warrant a F2 call. People will argue Ariza’s intentions till they’re blue in the face, but I figure our guy going down is offset by your guy getting ejected, so in my opinion no bad karma points to you. I can’t wait for our teams to play each other at full strength again. We still owe you one for 2000.

  247. wow, did everyone forget how biased the hornets announcers are? they are #1 by farrrrrrrrrr

  248. The Dude Abides March 10, 2009 at 2:18 am

    My two cents: as much as I love Trevor, he needs to sit for a game, and he likely will. His play was the equivalent of making a stupid left turn in front of oncoming traffic. You’re not trying to get hit by the car that’s headed toward you, but it’s a reckless move and if a cop sees it, you’re getting ticketed. The NBA is always going to suspend someone when they take a full swing at the ball in the head area, and miss the ball while contacting the other player. It’s a reckless play.

    It appears that Rudy at the very least suffered a soft tissue injury to the chest area. It sure looks like he could have broken a rib or two from the way he hit the floor. I liked Jordan’s reaction to the play. He knew immediately that Rudy was in trouble.

  249. So many times we discuss the need for Bynum to return, yet, after this game I can say that unless we have a change of attitude we won’t win in the playoffs.

    I’m not sure if this team has a “on/off” switch…

  250. were gonna get to see how our team looks without two of our upcoming free agents .
    One game is a small sample size but I wanna see how it works out

  251. Those people who claim that we are better without Bynum are conspicuous by their absence. I didn’t see the game but Odom’s recent struggles have validated my stance that if it comes down to him or Ariza then I’m more than happy to see Lamar walk. Every time I criticize him he makes me look like a fool with a dominating 20-20 performance, then follows that up with 3 or 4 sub par games. For a guy with his talent and experience his inconsistently is nothing short of exasperating.

    And Ariza was always going to get tossed with how overzealous the refs have been all year calling flagrants. IMO he was going for the ball and should feel unlucky to be suspended, but he probably will get a game or two, just to appease the fans of all the other 29 franchises who incessantly harp about the supposed favoritism the Lakers receive from the league and its officials.

  252. I am a die hard laker fan – that said I was “disgusted” with the lack of concern that our team showed for the health of Rudy (excepting Farmar and Pau..). I do not understand how Ariza can be seen trash talking after the injury. Whether he did it deliberately or not is not the question – he should be man enough to understand what has happened and should have gone to Rudy to check in him as Farmar did..
    As a die-hard fan, I do not like the Lakers to be cold/ not caring etc..

  253. “It was the Lakers,” Blazers center Joel Przybilla said. “And we beat the (snot) out of them. And you can print that. In bold. And big letters.”

    I guess this makes up for the beatdown we laid on you during opening night, Joel.

  254. Oh and the Lakers best believe that the Blazers will be out gunning for them on April 10th. I’m buying tickets as I write this. Now if only Oden gets healthy somehow…

  255. It looked like Ariza was playing the ball to me. He was timing his steps(which shows a legit attempt) and coming in harder than Fernandez (which probably didn’t help the outcome). He’ll probably be suspended, but I’ll be shocked if Ariza gets more than 2 games for that play. Zach Randolph only got 2 games for punching Amundson in the face.

    This is going to be a credibility check for the NBA.

  256. I think it is appropriate the Trevor got tossed for a flagrant, while Lamar will probably get suspended for leaving the bench. That pretty much tells the tale between those two. One is over enthusiastic and the other doesn’t think a lot of the time.

    With his extremely uneven play, I think Lamar is increasing his chances he will play elsewhere next year. With all that talent he just cannot play on the 2nd unit and he is actually reducing the effectiveness of the 1st unit when they are at full strength in 30% of the games he plays.

  257. Hats off to the Blazers for a statement game, and glad to hear Rudy avoided serious injury (via TrueHoop).

    This losses do not worry me too much, yet. We do not want to peak too early, and a couple humbling losses that we can blame on defense can be a good thing.

    Also, its the time of the year for statement games, and the Lakers need to realize that all top contenders in the West want to take them out.

    My goals are to wrap up home court nd get Kobe and Paul some rest. Paul especially has looked weary recently.

  258. beyondblue – i disagree with you. This is the worst time in the season to have these types of losses (embarrassing blowouts). The last 20 games of the season is when you want to be fine-tuning things and peaking in anticipation for the playoffs. Instead, we’re still having difficulty with the absolute basics like matching our opponent’s effort and focusing (if Lamar’s postgame comments are to be believed).

    If we don’t right the ship soon, we won’t be nearly as sharp going into the playoffs as other western conference contenders like the rockets or the jazz who are slowly coming together and putting together impressive win streaks.

    On the plus side, we still have a great opportunity to finish this mini-road trip off on the right foot tomorrow and Thursday.

  259. According to there will be NO SUSPENSION for Trevor Ariza. They are looking into the bench rule regarding Odom, not sure how it will play out since the bickering/shoving basically took place on the Lakers bench.

    Right call regarding Ariza, I’m not really sure how people can deny it was a play on the ball.

    As far as last nights game I think it will wake up the Lakers, finally. They always seem to have an answer on the court when a team really gets in their head/embarrasses them, I think you’ll see that on April 10th. I also think we can win these next 2, our size against Houston should help, and we owe San Antonio one on their home floor. Pau isn’t going to have another off game (has he had back to back off games since he’s been with the Lakers?) so I still expect a positive road trip.

  260. the other Stephen March 10, 2009 at 10:02 am

    my respect for the young trailblazers continues to grow.

  261. I figured Ariza would get a one game suspension, but I guess not.

  262. I personally think Ariza shouldn’t be suspended, yes it was a stupid foul considering we were already down by double digits, but when do you ever see Ariza take a play off? He’s pure hustle, he goes for every loose ball and plays with a lot of heart, does any Laker fan honestly think he was just going to let Rudy go?

    Plus if anyone remembers the foul K. Perkins commited when he nearly took a guys head off knocking him to the ground (sorry forgot what team the C’s were facing) and he was ejected but if that foul got lowered to a Flagrant 1, than this is a foul not worthy of a suspension. The end result is what people are looking at, same thing happened when Bynum fouled Gerald Wallace.

  263. I don’t know what to make of the non-suspension. I’m glad Trevor will be able to play. Who knows, maybe having Odom out (if suspended) will be a good thing and really force the bench to bring it…because they haven’t since the 6-0 roadie in February. Also, Lamar has shown us just how mercurial he always has been. I’m not saying he deserves to be the whipping boy that most Laker fans make him out to be, but he perplexes the diehard fanbase to no end. We have the Texas two-step coming up and I’ll be at both games. A split would be great and 2-0 would be fantastic. I don’t know why our defense continues to be so carefree. Get healthy Drew and let’s start playing smarter on the defensive end of things.

  264. I am truly shocked by how callous the Lakers play-by-play announcers were about the play. One dude was actually laughing, truly appalling. And I cannot believe that Ariza didn’t get suspended for this takedown.

  265. New post up, which will be updated as the day goes on.

    Jimbo, how about we agree to hate each others announcers?

  266. I am from Portland, a Blazer fan.
    I read this thread because Henry on true hoop placed a link to it.
    I just wanted to comment on how I think you guys have a great respect and understanding of the game. It was cool to read through here and not see people talking a bunch of smack about a player possibly being injured, keep it up guys.
    And know that after my Blazers get elimintaed from the playoffs (they’re young and just not quit a contender yet) you guys made a Laker supporter of me as long as they are not matched up against my team.
    I agree with the call on Ariza, he should not be suspended by the league. I think I read he will not be.
    Mike Rice, is indeed a homer, I think it is painful for Barrett to have to sit next to him and call a game.
    I am pretty sure Rice comes drunk to every game.
    Anyways, just wanted to show respect to you guys for being respectful fans.

  267. 269. Thanks. And if you can tell me how to get a gig where I can show up drunk to every game, I’ll take it. I’ll even make less than Rice to do it.

  268. Blazerfaninvancouver March 10, 2009 at 11:04 am

    Considering the fallout from this game, I can say the most disgusting part of the incident with Rudy was the apparent lack of concern by the laker players (exception Pau and Farmar). The foul by Ariza was a needless foul and I question if a flagrant 2 was warranted but since these games between the blazers and lakers are always contentious, I have less of a problem with it. Odom will be suspended for a clear cut violation of the rules.

    The Lakers are still the best team in the west and will (barring an injury to Bryant) maintain the #1 seed. Every team has an opponent who just seems to have their number and the Blazers seem to be that for the Lakers (LA has lost 13 of the last 15 in Portland).

    As far as Mike Rice on the TV broadcast, Im a blazer fan and I can’t stand him either. I have heard the laker broadcasters and Its a refreshing change.

    Rudy appears to be fine and will likely miss the game against Dallas as a precaution but plan to see him back in the game on April 10th. I just hope that in that game none of the players do anything stupid that affects the roster for the playoffs as both teams will be prepping for the playoffs. Play smart and let the past die please, no giant fight please.

  269. I hate to belabor the point, but it’s been a matter of great debate here in my office; our consensus (here in Chicago) is that if you have a bruise, you should get up and walk away from the fall.

    cf. Jake Brown, X-Games 2007

    That is all. Great game, Blazers. Tough loss for the crew.

  270. I’m the rarest of rare birds, a Blazer fan who REALLY LIKES the Lakers (having grown up on the North Coast of Cali in the early 1970s)… So here’s the verdict on that Ariza play: Flagrant 1 act, went FOR THE BALL but wrecklessly and with unnecessary vigor. Totally fine with that being upgraded to a Flagrant 2 when Rudy didn’t get up — what, are you thinking he could be played further in that game after that without World War III erupting? OF COURSE he had to be tossed. And NO SUSPENSION is also the right call, because he was playing the ball, after all, before things went so tragically awry…

    Now as for Odom, I don’t care if he didn’t touch the court, he was on the bench and he TOUCHED Brandon Roy at a heated moment, and that’s 100% Absolutely Definitely gonna cost him a game.

    Well handled by the refs, almost comically so with them calling rookie top-of-the-key fouls on Kobe.

    I won’t try to explain Mike Rice to you all, because you’d never really understand. Just take it for granted that we Blazer fans love him like a silly old uncle that drinks too much at Thanksgiving, and we can appreciate why you probably don’t…


    Mbenga!!! Mbenga!!! Mbenga!!!

  271. Everyone is letting Mike Barrett off the hook. Always inserting traveling calls or hacking calls into his commentary. Play-by-play does not include refereeing the game. Plus they’re half-time announcers couldn’t be more stupid. I’m just waiting for them to hire that girl that does the game summaries and top 10 for Then they would be the worst commentating team in basketball.

  272. Like a few others on here I am a blazers fan who found this through truehoop. I don’t always comment on this sort of thing, but I felt compelled to commend you guys on your thoughtful comments regarding the game. The more I think about the foul by Ariza I understand the idea of no suspension, I agree that the intent was there to get the ball. I would like the league to be more clear that they will not tolerate this sort of foul, no matter the intent it was an extremely dangerous play, especially when a team is down by 30. I would also like to say that Jordan Farmar did a magnificent job in that situation, he checked on Rudy first thing and then went to try and help dissolve the conflict, outstanding. In regards to Mike Rice, please look at his commentary and appreciate his enthusiasm and concern for his team and the game. He is not asked to be unbiased as he is employed by the Blazers, and that is very clear. I am happy you guys are able to have less supportive commentary for most of the Lakers’ games, however I do wish those guys would show a little more concern for the health of the player and less of a concern for justifying the actions of the player involved in causing the injury. I thank you for showing me how respectful and classy Laker fans can be, however I still don’t like your team. Please try to understand. Thanks from your time.

  273. Thou what kind of sad is, Blazers got no shot of beating us in the playoffs hhahaha, I think the Lakers know that.

  274. 274

    Barret makes those same observations on the Blazers. He’ll say if he sees one of our guys travelling or fouling someone. He isn’t nearly the one sided announcer that Rice is

  275. Rice is a total homer, though he’s often amusing in a funny drunk uncle at Thanksgiving sort of way (he also once got ejected for loudly questioning a call in a game he was calling on the radio). Before Rice became the TV color commentator, we were lucky enough to have Steve “Snapper” Jones, who was way better and much more objective.

  276. Just saw the box score. I love Jackson’s choice for starting front court, Ariza and Powell. Worked out quite nicely.

  277. I am late to this thread and amused by all the “funny drunk uncle at Thanksgiving” comparisons Mike Rice garners. Apparently I am the only person who doesn’t have such an uncle.