Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Fernandez’

Morning shootaround — March 6


VIDEO: Highlights for games play March 5

NEWS OF THE MORNING

Blazers lose Matthews for season | Parker taking “baby steps” | What about JaVale? | Hawks meet Cavs tonight in battle of East’s best

No. 1: Blazers lose Matthews for season — The Portland Trail Blazers got a big win at home last night on TNT, beating another Western Conference playoff team, the Dallas Mavericks, 94-75. But the bigger story for the Blazers was the loss of starting shooting guard Wesley Matthews, who went down in the third quarter with a non-contact injury to his left leg. The Blazers eventually announced that Matthews had suffered a torn achilles and he would miss the rest of the season. Matthews had started every game this season for the Blazers, and was averaging 16.2 ppg. For a team with championship aspirations, the loss of Matthews will be tough to overcome, writes Jason Quick in the Oregonian

The injury is officially a ruptured Achilles, but to the Portland Trail Blazers, it was a breaking of their heart. To the people of Oregon a punch to the gut.

How important is Wesley Matthews to the Trail Blazers?

Owner Paul Allen, moments after Matthews was carried off the court, went back to the locker room to check on him. I’ve watched Greg Oden‘s knee explode. Watched Brandon Roy hobble off the court. And seen Rudy Fernandez carted out, immobilized on a stretcher.

And never have I seen Allen move from his courtside seat.

Matthews is that type of player.

He doesn’t just make three-pointers with the best of them. He makes this team.

He has an unbelievably positive attitude. Sometimes, I believe, he wills the Blazers out of slumps with his sheer belief that the Blazers are the best team in the West.

He holds teammates accountable, willing to call them out if he sees an effort, or an attitude, not meet his standards.

And he sets an admirable example with his tireless and determined work ethic. I’ve seen some great, hard-working professionals put on a Blazers uniform – Scottie Pippen, Joel Przybilla and Roy among them – and none of them outwork Matthews.

Few throughout the years have been as banged up as Matthews. He once played the last half of the season on an ankle the size of a grapefruit, waiting until after the season to have surgery. His elbow has been battered. His side has been bruised. And this season, he famously hyperextended his knee – elicting gasps from the Moda Center crowd – only to return later in the game, bringing a chuckle to coach Terry Stotts on the sideline.

Wesley Matthews is, quite frankly, the heart and soul of the Blazers.

And now, it no longer beats. Out for the rest of the season.

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No. 2: Parker taking “baby steps” — One season ago, San Antonio’s Tony Parker finished sixth in MVP voting. This season, he’s struggled with injuries and, even after returning, hasn’t been able to consistently play the way he did last season. Now back and healthy, with the playoffs looming, Parker hopes the worst is behind him, writes Dan McCarney in the San Antonio Express-News

It was the type of move that has been seen only rarely from Tony Parker in his star-crossed 14th NBA season, a lightning quick crossover that left his defender grasping at air followed by an aggressive drive to the basket resulting in two free throws.

Coming against Sacramento’s Andre Miller, who will turn 39 in two weeks, Parker wasn’t about to gloat. After looking more than a little aged himself during his recent slump, how could he? No, he was pleased simply for a glimpse of his old self with 19 points in Wednesday’s victory over the Kings.

“I’m not going to take credit (for crossing Miller up),” he joked at practice on Thursday. “I’m just happy I shot 50 percent (8 for 14). Baby steps. Baby steps.”

And perspective. Two solid games, sandwiched around one dreadful performance, does not constitute a turnaround for Parker, just as the Spurs cannot be declared as having recaptured their championship mojo with a three-game win streak that includes two victories over the lowly Kings.

But unlike his 19-point outing at Sacramento last Friday, in which he scored 11 points in the fourth to inflate his production, Parker was steady pretty much throughout Wednesday’s rematch before the game got out of hand in the second half. Less important than the numbers was the manner in which they were produced, with Parker using the blend of mid-range shooting and around-the-rim accuracy that made him a six-time All-Star.

“(Coach Gregg Popovich) was joking, saying ‘I don’t remember the last time you shot a tear drop’ and I said, ‘You’re right,’” said Parker, who hit two of his trademark floaters in the third quarter alone.

“Sometimes you go through those times and you don’t know why you don’t know how to play basketball any more. It happens and so our job is to get back in rhythm, get back the way I was before I got hurt.”

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No. 3: What about JaVale? — One of the better players to become available in the last few weeks was former Nuggets big man JaVale McGee, who was traded at the deadline to the Sixers and then waived on Sunday. Yesterday it appeared for a few hours as though McGee was heading to the Celtics, until that deal fell through. As Yahoo’s Adrian Wojnarowski writes, McGee is apparently looking to land somewhere he can can control his contract next season, while teams that have been interested in McGee have wanted the same option…

McGee visited the Celtics this week and had been inclined to sign there, only to have his agent, B.J. Armstrong, and Celtics general manager Danny Ainge become unable to move past that deal point on Thursday afternoon.

For McGee, the plan is to sign a deal that provides him with a player option on the 2015-16 season – something teams, including Boston, would prefer to be a team option. That way, if McGee plays well, teams won’t be so vulnerable to lose him this summer.

McGee had courted interest from multiple playoff contenders, including the Golden State Warriors, Dallas Mavericks, Toronto Raptors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls, league sources told Yahoo Sports. Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri signed McGee to a $48 million extension in Denver, and remains interested in offering him an opportunity to join the Raptors for a playoff run, league sources told Yahoo Sports.

Nevertheless, McGee’s insistence on holding onto his freedom for the 2015-16 season could cause some teams to resist committing to him for the rest of this year and the playoffs.

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No. 4: Hawks meet Cavs tonight in battle of East’s best — The Atlanta Hawks have spent this week celebrating franchise hero Dominique Wilkins, unveiling a statue and reminding everyone of how much he means to the franchise. But now the conversation turns back to the court, as tonight the Hawks host the red-hot Cleveland Cavaliers in what could be an Eastern Conference playoffs finals. And in Atlanta, they don’t mind pointing out that as good as Cleveland has been in the new year, the Hawks still have a healthy lead in the Eastern Conference, as Mark Bradley writes for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution

The Hawks lead Cleveland, LeBron’s latest team, by 10 1/2 games with 22 to play. But the Cavaliers, to give them their due, have won 20 of 24 and beat Golden State last week and Toronto on Tuesday. Naturally, this has inspired many in the media to proclaim the Cavs the East’s best team — even if the standings don’t reflect anything of the sort.

Any sign of a Cleveland uptick was bound to become an uproar, given that the Cavs have LeBron and the hoops world revolves around him. And I’d also submit that the Hawks, who’ve won five straight after that post-All-Star flop-apalooza against the Raptors, aren’t playing quite as well as when they were winning 35 of 37. But it’s not like they’ve turned tail at the sound of LeBron’s approaching footsteps. This isn’t a team easily cowed.

If the Cavs win Friday, we’ll be treated to six weeks of the The-King-Has-Reclaimed-His-Throne stories. If the Hawks win, we’ll be buffeted with It’s-Only-A-Matter-Of-Time-Before-The-King-Reclaims-His-Throne. Because he’s LeBron, he and his team will always be granted the benefit of every doubt. But I have fewer doubts about these Hawks than I do LeBron’s Cavs. At last check, 48-12 trumps 39-24.

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SOME RANDOM HEADLINES: After missing 8 free throws against the Rockets on Sunday, LeBron James has adjusted his free throw shooting formGoran Dragic loves the relationship he has with Dwyane Wade in Miami … The Timberwolves made some moves, picking up Justin Hamilton and waiving Glenn Robinson III … The Hawks have signed Jarrell Eddie from the D-League to a 10-day contract …

Ukraine To WCOB, France And Lithuania To Play For Eurobasket Title

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HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – Lithuania and France will meet for the Eurobasket title, thanks to wins in Friday’s respective semifinals. Lithuania beat Croatia comfortably, while France knocked off Spain in an overtime thriller.

Earlier on Friday, Mike Fratello and Ukraine earned a berth to next year’s World Cup of Basketball with a win over Italy in the loser’s bracket. Ukraine will play Slovenia for sixth place on Saturday, while Italy will face Serbia for Europe’s final automatic berth to the WCOB.

The semifinalists already earned their bids, but they were still playing for big stakes. And Linas Kleiza came up big for Lithuania, registering 22 points and 11 rebounds against Croatia. Jonas Maciulis led all scorers with 23 points, including six during 15-1 run that opened things up in the third quarter.

Spain took control of the other semifinal in the second quarter and led by 14 at halftime, but France slowly fought back and took a brief lead on a Tony Parker 3-pointer with two minutes to go in the fourth. The game was tied in the final minute and both teams had a chance to win it, but Rudy Fernandez made an incredible block on a Parker drive and Jose Calderon‘s 3 in the final seconds was off the mark. Spain then shot 2-for-7 and committed four turnovers in overtime, while France made their free throws down the stretch to pull out a three-point win.

Parker led all scorers with 32 points, with none of his teammates scoring more than 10. Marc Gasol led Spain with 19 points and nine rebounds.

There are two more big games to be played in Slovenia. On Saturday, either Italy or Serbia will be the 20th team in the WCOB field. And on Sunday, either France or Lithuania will be the next Eurobasket champion.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Mexico FIBA Americas champion
12 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas second place
13 Argentina FIBA Americas third place
14 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas fourth place
15 France Eurobasket finalist
16 Lithuania Eurobasket finalist
17 Croatia Eurobasket 3rd/4th place
18 Slovenia Eurobasket 5th/6th place
19 Ukraine Eurobasket 5th/6th place
20 Serbia/Italy winner Eurobasket 7th place
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

Parker Leads France To World Cup Berth

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY – With an impressive, quarterfinal win over hosts Slovenia, France became the 15th team to qualify for next year’s World Cup of Basketball and set up what could be a terrific EuroBasket semifinal matchup with Spain on Friday.

Slovenia and Serbia, who got crushed by Spain, now head to the loser’s bracket. They’ll play Thursday (8:30 a.m. ET) with another WCOB berth on the line. The loser of that game will head to the critical seventh place game on Saturday.

France-Slovenia was a pretty ugly game in the first half, but France took control with a 10-0 run early in the third quarter. Slovenia got back to within three, but couldn’t tie or take the lead. France opened things up again in the fourth quarter behind their NBA big three and held on for a 10-point win.

Tony Parker led the way with 27 points on 9-for-20 shooting, while Nicolas Batum and Boris Diaw combined for 24. Slovenia got 18 points from Goran Dragic, but shot poorly and allowed France too many second chances on the glass.

In the day’s first game, Spain simply ran over Serbia. A big first quarter from Rudy Fernandez, a big second quarter from Sergio Rodriguez and the tournament’s best defense gave Spain a 25-point lead at halftime. They shot 13-for-25 from 3-point range and led by as many as 40 in the third quarter.

The other two quarterfinals will take place after the Serbia-Slovenia game on Friday. At 11:45 a.m. ET, Croatia faces Ukraine and at 3 p.m. ET, Lithuania plays Italy. The winners of those two games will face each other in the semifinals on Friday and join France and the winner of Serbia-Slovenia in the WCOB field.

2014 World Cup of Basketball field

No. Team Qualified
1 Spain Host
2 USA 2012 Olympic champion
3 Iran FIBA Asia champion
4 Philippines FIBA Asia 2nd place
5 Korea FIBA Asia 3rd place
6 Australia FIBA Oceania champion
7 New Zealand FIBA Oceania 2nd place
8 Angola FIBA Africa champion
9 Egypt FIBA Africa 2nd place
10 Senegal FIBA Africa 3rd place
11 Mexico FIBA Americas champion
12 Puerto Rico FIBA Americas second place
13 Argentina FIBA Americas third place
14 Dominican Republic FIBA Americas fourth place
15 France Eurobasket semifinalist
16 Croatia/Ukraine winner Eurobasket semifinalist
17 Lithuania/Italy winner Eurobasket semifinalist
18 Serbia/Slovenia winner Eurobasket 5th/6th place
19 Eurobasket 5th/6th place
20 Eurobasket 7th place
21 Wildcard
22 Wildcard
23 Wildcard
24 Wildcard

U.S-Argentina Game Blog!

LONDON – That gold medal rematch of the 1972 Olympic final that folks have been buzzing about around here for two weeks is not going to happen.

There still could be a rematch Sunday. It just won’t include Russia. David Blatt‘s team held a 13-point lead over Spain but couldn’t hold off Pau Gasol, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Marc Gasol and the rest of a seasoned Spanish team that rallied for a 67-59 win in the first semifinal of the day.

The U.S. Men’s Senior National Team squares off with Argentina in the second semifinal (4 p.m. ET, NBC). If the U.S. wins we’ll get that rematch, but of the 2008 gold medal game in Beijing, won by the U.S.

Pau Gasol led Spain with 16 points and 12 rebounds in the win over Russia, capping a crazy day in which he found out the Dwight Howard trade was finalized during warm ups from TNT’s Craig Sager.

“Craig Sager came to me before the game, chasing me, telling me it was official, and telling me he wanted to get some thoughts while I’m stretching before the Olympic semifinal,” a smiling Gasol said from the podium afterwards. “I told him, ‘look, I’m trying to be focused here.’ And he said, ‘I wouldn’t do this to you if it wasn’t official,’ so I had to give him a little something to he would go away and I could stretch.”

Gasol and his Spanish teammates can stretch out tonight and watch the U.S. Argentina to see who they’ll have to fight with for that gold medal Sunday.

We’ll be here, too, chronicling the action play-by-nearly-every-play. Get your predictions in now …

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Spain Outlasts Stubborn Australia 82-70

LONDON – Spain followed up their opening day win over China with another strong effort in a 82-70 win over Australia.

Pau Gasol led Spain with 20 points. Rudy Fernandez added 17 points. Marc Gasol finished with 12. And they did all of this without the services of their captain and one of their leading scorers. Juan Carlos Navarro sat out with a sore left foot.

Australia (0-2) got 12 points each from Joe Ingles and Brad Newley.

Spaniards Chime In On Dream Team





HANG TIME, Texas — Maybe they’ve never heard the old saying about letting sleeping dogs lie in Spain.

It sure seemed foolish that Marc Gasol, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez, Juan Carlos Navarro, Sergio Rodriguez and Victor Claver would want to wade into the debate about the merits of the original 1992 Dream Team vs. the 2012 edition.

And it looked a little sillier after the Americans whipped Spain 100-78 Tuesday night in Barcelona. Admittedly, Gasol did not play due to a shoulder injury and Rodriguez was strictly an observer in the final tuneup game before the start of the Olympic tournament. Nevertheless, here is the excerpt of an interview that was posted on Hoopshype:

Which American team is better: the Barcelona ’92 team or the current one?

Marc Gasol: Who has created this debate? They have, right? On a bad day for the ’92 team, the current team would lose by just 15 or 20 points against them.

Jose Calderon; It’s impossible to compare. That ’92 was breathtaking and we grew up watching them. (The current team) is also very good and if they win the gold medal, then you can start comparing. I don’t like to compare. It’s different players and different generations.

Rudy Fernandez: No disrespect to this current team, but I would choose the ’92 team. We all grew up with that team, I lived in Barcelona at that time, the players were amazing and they were the stars on their teams.

Juan Carlos Navarro: They are teams from different eras. Both are great teams, but I especially liked the ’92 Dream Team. I was young and my favorite player was on that team: Michael Jordan.

Sergio Rodriguez: I would say the Dream Team. That team in Barcelona was special for us Spaniards. Now we have two All-Star players, a lot of players on this team have played in the NBA… Something that was impossible to even dream about 20 years ago.

Victor Claver: The current team has to prove it. The ’92 team was the Dream Team, they won it all and they were dominant.

While we’ll concede that the members of Team Espana didn’t engage in any direct trash-talking or say anything egregiously inflammatory, one would think that it is not wise to give the favored Team USA any motivational edge. After all, that Kobe fella has a long, sharp-edged memory and he and his teammates will likely get to do their talking in the gold medal game on Aug. 12.

Rosen’s Report: Nuggets At Clippers



Is Denver a legitimate championship contender or merely a flashy second-tier team?  After losing at home to the Clippers and then on the road in Memphis, the Nuggets need a win in L.A. to prove that their season will not yield still another pile of fool’s gold.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are in full sail.  After a slow start, and with Chris Paul finally healthy, they seek to establish themselves as the righteous successors to Dallas.

HOW THE NUGGETS CAN WIN: While there’s no doubt that Danilo Gallinari is a budding star, he must be more consistent.  If his treys are falling, defenders have to honor every ball fake, which will enable Gallinari to plow his way into the paint.  Also, when Gallinari is shooting bull’s-eyes from beyond the arc, the Clippers’ defense will be sufficiently stretched to allow more open spaces and lanes for his teammates to attack the rim.

  • Ty Lawson is back in action and adds quickness and speed to Denver’s already potent offense.  Since CP3 is an habitual head-turner and not an effective man-to-man defender, he resorts to looking for steals.  Accordingly, Lawson must protect the ball and take advantage of Paul’s somewhat risky maneuvers.  Also, Lawson must force Paul to either drive or pull left.  And since Paul’s shooting has dramatically improved season after season, Lawson does not dare to offer any defensive help.
  • Nene has to set sturdier screens than is his wont, hit his mid-range jumpers and overpower DeAndre Jordan in the low post. (more…)

Prickly Showdown In Rose City

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HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – We hesitate here at Hang Time to act too prematurely, to jump the gun, to make a statement that’s obsolete in five minutes. But we’ll venture on a limb and say tonight’s game in Portland between the Blazers and Lakers (10:30 ET, TNT) has statement-making written all over it.

Just look at the Blazers. What are they doing leading the Northwest Division, ahead of Denver (another neat story going on there) and especially Oklahoma City, the sexy pick to make it out of the West? Isn’t this supposed to be a year of adjustment in Rip City, if only because Greg Oden is down (and perhaps out for good) again and Brandon Roy hung it up?

Well, nobody told LaMarcus Aldridge anything about that. Same goes for the rest of the Blazers, who are piecing together a rather fine start and making you suspect this crew might have some staying power in a 66-game season.

Portland has made a habit recently of overcoming crummy luck to carve out some respectability for itself, and this season appears to be no different. Obviously the Oden situation remains haunting, and nobody saw Roy suddenly developing senior citizen knees and Rudy Fernandez never worked out to the satisfaction of everyone, especially himself. Still, the Blazers have stockpiled some solid talent in spite of everything, and more important, the talent seems to work well together. Ray Felton, Gerald Wallace, Jamal Crawford and Wesley Matthews were very nice pickups the last few years, and somebody needs to tell Marcus Camby (almost 10 rebounds a game) he’s old. Wait, don’t bother, since he won’t act his age, anyway.

It makes for a tricky visit by the Lakers, because as Mike Bresnahan of the Los Angeles Times reports, the Rose Garden has often been very thorny for Kobe and Co:

It’s that time again — unfortunately, for the Lakers.

Coach Mike Brown has no idea what awaits him Thursday at the Rose Garden, a misguided arena name if ever there was one for a Lakers opponent.

The issues are much more than thorny up here. They’ve lasted almost a generation for the Lakers.

Since acquiring Kobe Bryant in a draft-day trade in 1996, the Lakers are 6-23 in Portland in the regular season, falling to the Trail Blazers year after year, whether rain or hail or the occasional burst of sunshine as their bus pulls into the oversized garage.

Phil Jackson used to blame the weather. Then he blamed the team’s semiannual visits to the Nike store in nearby Beaverton. Then he went back to blaming the weather.

It will be noisy — the Blazers’ fans are among the best in the league — adding a Super Bowl-type din to their den whenever the Lakers arrive.

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Nene, Nuggets Agree To Terms

For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

The Denver Nuggets were not always the favorites, but at the end of the day, they got their big man back.

Beating back strong competition from Houston and New Jersey, the Nuggets reached terms Tuesday with free agent center Nene on a five-year, $67 million deal. Earlier in the day, the Nuggets pulled off a trade with the Mavericks, acquiring forwards Corey Brewer and Rudy Fernandez from Dallas for a second-round pick. And general manager Masai Ujiri said Tuesday night that progress had been made toward re-signing restricted free agent guard Arron Afflalo.

“Today was a good day for the Nuggets,” Ujiri said.

The Nets had an offer on the table believed to be in excess of $14 million per season for the 29-year-old Nene, who averaged 14.5 points and 7.6 rebounds last season for Denver. And the Rockets coveted Nene as well, hoping to pair him with Lakers forward Pau Gasol last week when it looked like Houston would be part of the three-team deal that sent Chris Paul to the Lakers. But the deal fell through, and the Rockets couldn’t make a deal for Nene alone work.

“We’ve been grinding all along,” Ujiri said. “Nene was our guy and we stayed the course and got through it. Nene wanted to stay home. He wanted to test free agency, but at the end of the day he wanted to stay home and play for the Nuggets. Nene will be a good player for us for a long time.”

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Spain Trying To Defend Title At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The top four spots at EuroBasket 2011 will be decided Sunday with defending champion Spain taking on France in Lithuania. They’ve both already clinched bids to the 2012 London Olympics, but there is still plenty to play for in a rivalry contest such as this one.

This is, after all, the battle for European basketball supremacy.

Russia and FYR Macedonia will battle it out in the bronze medal, having both already clinched spots in next summer’s Olympic qualifying tournament.

There were games played today, though. Consolation games (video above). Host-nation Lithuania edged Greece 73-69 in the fifth-place game. Both teams are headed for the qualifying tournament since the third through sixth-place teams in this competition earn automatic spots there.

Slovenia slipped by Serbia in the seventh-place game, finishing the competition on a winning note even though their Olympic dreams were already dashed.

The marquee matchup of the competition, of course, comes Sunday when global heavyweights Spain and France square off. Both of their rosters are stocked with NBA talent. Spain will be led by Pau Gasol, Marc Gasol, Juan Carlos Navarro, Serge Ibaka, Jose Calderon, Rudy Fernandez and Ricky Rubio. France counters with a loaded roster that includes Tony Parker, Joakim Noah, Nicolas Batum, Boris Diaw  and Mickael Gelabale.

These two teams have an extensive history of battling each other, having played against each other 18 times in EuroBaskets. Spain has won all but three of those matchups, including a 96-69 win in the second round to win Group E of this competition, a contest that Parker and Noah sat out so they could rest up for the quarterfinals.

“On Sunday, Spain will be clear favorites. They have dominated the EuroBaskets for several years,” Batum said. “It’s the best team in the world behind Team USA. They are strong but not unbeatable. Anything can happen.”

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