Posts Tagged ‘Rudy Fernandez’

Serbia In, Germany Out At EuroBasket

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Spain claimed the top spot in Group E with an easy win over France in what should have been a clash of the titans on Day 11 at EuroBasket 2011.

(More on that shortly!)

The day belonged to the crew from Serbia, though, as they claimed something even more important; a spot in the quarterfinals …

Serbia 68, Turkey 67 (Box Score)

Serbia needed this win to secure their ticket to the quarterfinals and to keep their Olympic hopes alive. They also needed an Ersan Ilyasova miss in the final seconds to escape Turkey in a thriller that went down the final tense moments for both teams. It helped that Milos Tedosic finally returned to form, finishing with a game-high 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

This loss is a wicked blow for Turkey, the runner-up (to the U.S. team) at last summer’s World Championships on their home soil. “We are very sad,” said Turkey coach Orhun Ene. “We were second at the last World Championship and we had big expectations for this tournament. We didn’t show our potential throughout the tournament. We promised the Turkish people that we would try to qualify for the Olympics for the first time, but we lost too many games. This was our last chance and we lost the game in only one possession.”

They won’t have to search hard to find reasons why didn’t succeed. Making just 55 percent (16-for-29) of your free throws in a game decided by the thinnest of margins is certainly a recipe for disaster. Remember, they made a paltry 45 percent (10-for-22) of their free throws Friday in a six-point loss to Germany. Serbia shot an impressive 81 percent (13-for-16) from the free throw line and also grabbed three more rebounds (38-35) than Turkey.

“This was very tough. Everybody was under pressure as the winner would go to the quarterfinals,” said Serbia’s coach, Dusan Ivkovic. “We controlled the game in the first half but our concentration went down in the second half. We led the game for almost 40 minutes only to allow Turkey to have the last shot. We deserved this victory because we were better on the night.”

Spain 96, France 69 (Box Score)

The top spot in Group E belongs to the defending champions, courtesy of their win over a France team that played without both Tony Parker and Joakim Noah (both given a day of rest). Without two of their biggest stars, France struggled to keep the game close after halftime. Spain used a 27-4 run in the third quarter to blow the game open and then cruised to the finish. The loss ended France’s seven-game win streak.

The difference in approach to this game was interesting, with France easing up and Spain going all out. “It was a weird game but we wanted to respect our opponent as well as other teams who are playing in this tournament to define the final positions and especially for ourselves, we believe there is nothing better than a good game to improve and get better,” said Spain coach Sergio Scariolo. “This was our motivation. Everybody gave something. We get to the point with the do-or-die competition starts. We know we start from zero but it’s better to get there in the right way.”

(more…)

Felton For Miller: An Even Swap?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – Veteran point guard for a little bit older veteran point guard.

It sounds like a reasonable take away for the Portland Trail Blazers and Denver Nuggets in their draft night dealings that saw Raymond Felton go from the Nuggets to Trail Blazers and Andre Miller from the Trail Blazers back to the Nuggets, where he played earlier in his career and resides in the offseason. While it wasn’t actually a straight up swap — it was a three-team deal that included the Blazers also trading swingman Rudy Fernandez to the Dallas Mavericks in exchange for the draft rights to Jordan Hamilton, the 26th overall pick who was in turn included in the deal with Denver — for the Nuggets and Blazers it comes down to a swap of these veteran point guards.

A NBA scouting friend suggested to me earlier today that it was basically an even swap.

“Miller is older at 35 but these guys do pretty much the same things,” he said. “They know how to run teams, are effective on both ends and they both have plenty of playoff experience, so you know they understand the dynamics of the job they have to do in a winning situation.”

But I’m not so sure.

Miller is a seemingly ageless wonder, much like his point guard elder statesmen brethren Jason Kidd and Steve Nash. But Felton is just 27. And he has always struck me as guy capable of so much more than he’s shown. He was on the road to showing off exactly what I’m talking about in New York last season, when he played All-Star caliber basketball, only to be traded to the Nuggets.

You put him at the controls of a Blazers team that boasts LaMarcus Aldridge down low and Brandon Roy and Wes Matthews on the wing with his old buddy Gerald Wallace (they played together in Charlotte) tossed in for good measure, and I’m seeing big things for Felton in his new role.

Rather than arguing back and forth with my scout friend I thought we’d let you help end this debate:

Rip City Mystery II?

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS — Rudy Fernandez kicked this thing off with his public grumblings about wanting to return to Europe.

Then came  Greg Oden‘s All-Star vow.

And now, Brandon Roy wants the ball “a lot more,” per my main man Jason Quick of the Oregonian:

Roy’s comments came in response to questions about the Blazers’ struggling offense during the preseason, where the Blazers are 1-3. He said several factors have led to the slow start: [Nate] McMillan has used several different lineups; no player-specific plays had been put into the gameplan until Sunday; and it’s only preseason.

“We haven’t really put in the offense we’re used to working with,” Roy said. “The first three games, we didn’t even have an offensive play. We’re not really the type of team that plays loose. I don’t play loose. I kind of need some plays, some organization there. That’s some of the reason why I think we’re not panicking, because we’re not really running plays yet.”

Wednesday was the second day of practices when the staff implemented plays designed to get a specific player a shot. Roy said he doesn’t expect the team to return to its Roy-dominated offense in the preseason.

“We’re talking about it, we’re working through it, but we’re not really committed to it now in the preseason,” Roy said.

Who’s messing with the water in Portland?

Every time we turn around there seems to be something strange creeping out of a team that we already have under surveillance for suspicious activities (Kevin Pritchard‘s strange departure still doesn’t jive).

One thing is clear, the vibe surrounding this team around the league has changed drastically in the past two years. This isn’t the same deep team that was overflowing with young talent and poised for what seemed to be a long stay among the league’s elite with Roy as the bell cow.

This was the team, not Oklahoma City, some people pegged as the potential heir to the Lakers’ throne in the Western Conference. They had all the ingredients — a good coach, talent up and down the roster and good chemistry. Now, no one seems quite sure what to make of what’s happening.

We got smoked for questioning the Blazers this summer, but our concerns were legitimate (we addressed them in the Rip City Mystery I).

They seem more and more legit with every day that passes.

Click here to check out NBA.com’s Trail Blazers season preview and previews of all 30 teams.

Rip City Mystery

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – A week of training camp is hardly enough time to form any lasting impressions about most teams in the NBA, let alone one with as many question marks surrounding it as the Portland Trail Blazers.

Is Greg Oden ready? Will he ever be?

“I wish I could honestly say there’s a timeline, but there’s not,” Oden said at media day. “There’s good days and bad days.”

What’s up with Rudy Fernandez? Why hasn’t he been traded already?

“I prefer the style of European competition,” he said. “I feel better in Europe.”

The Trail Blazers have already announced that Oden won’t be ready for opening night. And Fernandez has made clear his desire to be free of Portland, the NBA and the Trail Blazers, in at least two different languages.

This isn’t exactly the kind of stuff that inspires confidence during the opening stages of the marathon that is the NBA season. Hearing this sort of talk from and about two players that could prove crucial to the Trail Blazers’ postseason fate is what makes this team arguably the league’s biggest mystery heading into the regular season.

On paper, you’ve got to love this team. At their best, they’re capable of manhandling any team in the league. But the reality is their margin for error (due to injury or any other drama) is paper-thin, like several other teams not named the Lakers in the Western Conference this season.

Granted, Paul Allen‘s crew has already endured enough pain and suffering to last four or five years. Surely, you remember last season’s injury parade that claimed everyone from Oden and Joel Pryzbilla to coach Nate McMillan and All-Star Brandon Roy, at one time or another.

But there’s so much to like about this team, provided they stay healthy long enough to show off just how deep and talented they really are — they won 50 games in spite of all the tumult of last season.

Start with the Roy-Andre Miller backcourt and their improving relationship. They are as dangerous as any combo in the Western Conference, and the league for that matter, this season. And Marcus Camby is sure to deliver his usual double-digit rebounds and two or three blocks a night. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the league’s most productive power forwards. Nicolas Batum was an instant fave here at the hideout for his quality work on both ends of the floor and McMillan is easily one of the league top 10 coaches. There’s fresh new blood in the form of the fearless Wesley Matthews, the prize of the Trail Blazers’ relatively quiet summer, and rookies Luke Babbit and Elliot Williams.

In fact, it was Matthews that served as the true show stopper during the team’s first public showing before the Rip City faithful Friday night, per Joe Freeman of the Oregonian:

The Blazers’ prized offseason acquisition, best known for his in-your-face defense, scored a game-high 17 points and earned MVP honors before 11,525 at the Rose Garden during the team’s annual Fan Fest, a free scrimmage that offers fans a sneak peek at the team.

“When you’re looked at as a defender, of course your offense is going to be overlooked,” Matthews said. “I’m just going out there and taking the shots they’re giving me. I worked hard in the offseason to fine-tune my offense and I was able to showcase it a little bit tonight.”

Friday’s event was mostly about putting on a show for the fans, so it’s hard to put too much stock into an individual performance that came in a split-squad scrimmage. But, even so, it was hard to over look the newest Blazer.

Matthews scored his first bucket early in the first quarter, when he swished a tough baseline jumper over Brandon Roy, and that was but a taste of things to come. Matthews would go on to sink his first three field goals and make three three-pointers in the first half. By the time his night was over, Matthews had made 7 of 11 field goals, including 3 of 4 three-pointers.

Most of his damage came from the outside, but Matthews also mixed in some crowd-pleasing dunks, including a fast-break alley-oop of a lob pass from Jerryd Bayless. Matthews’ performance seemed to catch the crowd off guard — and perhaps even some of his teammates. After he hit his third three of the first half over Roy, the Blazers’ All-Star headed down the court shaking his head and laughing.

“I hope he didn’t leave it out there,” said coach Nate McMillan, laughing, after the game. “He’s been playing that way in training camp. You didn’t see a lot of that in Utah and it may be the style of play. But he’s been doing that. He’s been handling the ball, he’s been running the breaks. He does a good job of moving without the ball and he’s knocking down his shot. I want him to be aggressive.”

It’s probably foolish to assume Matthews, and not an inspired and healthy Oden, will make the difference in Portland this season. But with a team shrouded in as much mystery as these Trail Blazers are, at least to those of us watching from a distance, it’s hard to know what to go on here.

After slotting them far too low, according to so many, in our mid-summer rankings (hey, we’re thick-headed around here but we do listen) we have seen the light.

Surely, the Trail Blazers belong among the West’s top five teams. Now all they have to do solve a couple of these mysteries before the start of the regular season and everybody will get on board.

***

Elveda from Istanbul

ISTANBUL — If you were just looking for a little competitive basketball to tide you over until the NBA and European seasons begin, the 2010 FIBA World Championship more than delivered. We had late-game drama, brilliant individual performances, beautiful teamwork, and great basketball through and through.

Best of all, we had a gold medal game that put a young and small American team against a huge Turkey squad and their 15,000 ridiculously loud fans.

And the U.S. National Team answered all the questions with an impressive 81-64 victory over the hosts, who may have run out of gas after Saturday’s ridiculously thrilling victory over Serbia.

All the credit goes to Mike Krzyzewski and his team though. As I wrote in my story, the effort on defense and on the boards was incredible. This was for the gold medal and those guys came with more energy than they’d had in any of their previous eight games.

Heading into the game, there were probably some worries that Kevin Durant, after scoring 71 points on 25-for-44 shooting over the last two games, might have an off night. But KD carried them offensively once again, earning that MVP trophy that he was ready to concede to Luis Scola a few days ago.

Lamar Odom also had another big game in a big spot, recording his second straight double-double. And Russell Westbrook brought ridiculous energy and athleticism. Westbrook was thought to be on the roster bubble a few times in training camp, but he turned out to be the guy that best represented the identity of this team: fast, athletic and aggressive defensively.

***

Turkey was a fantastic host. Though it would have been nice to visit one of the other three pool play cities, I was happy to spend my 2 1/2 weeks in Istanbul, a beautiful city with much to see and do. The traffic sucked (I joked with some people that Istanbul’s top export is exhaust fumes), but every other aspect of the trip was fantastic.

Well, except for the untimely death of my laptop on Sunday morning, causing me much frustration. Fortunately, I was able to borrow a computer to write my story and post this blog. But unfortunately, I wasn’t able to accompany this text with some photos from my trip, because they were lost in the crash.

As beautiful as the sights of Istanbul are, it was equally enjoyable for me, as a basketball nut, to witness the atmosphere inside the Sinan Erdem Arena for every game that Turkey played. The reaction of the crowd to Kerem Tunceri’s game-winning layup on Saturday is something I’ll never forget. And I honestly got chills every time “12 Giant Men” or the Turkish national anthem was sung by the 15,000 strong.

***

Lithuania Wins Bronze

Before the USA-Turkey finale, Lithuania beat Serbia, 99-88 to capture the bronze medal.

The key sequence came in the second quarter, when Lithuania used a 14-4 run to turn a three-point lead into a 13-point cushion. The run included four straight three-point possessions and two straight threes from Linas Kleiza.

After Andre Iguodala shut him down on Saturday, Kleiza broke out for 33 points on Sunday, including 12 in that pivotal second quarter. Nenad Krstic struggled for Serbia, finishing with just five points on 2-for-7 from the field.

Lithuania came here with a young team, and they definitely overachieved, going 8-1, with their only loss coming at the hands of the U.S. They will host next year’s European Championship, certainly taking some momentum from this tournament into that one.

***

Argentina Takes Fifth

In the afternoon, Argentina outlasted Spain, 86-81 to finish fifth. Spain came all the way back from being down 25 in the middle of the third quarter to tie the game with two minutes left in the fourth. But they missed on a couple of opportunities to take the lead and scored just one point in their final five possessions.

Pablo Prigioni hit the dagger for Argentina, who was led by 27 points from Carlos Delfino and 22 from Scola. Rudy Fernandez led all scorers with 31 points on 11-for-13 shooting.

***

All-Tournament Team

Kevin Durant (USA), Linas Kleiza (LTU), Luis Scola (ARG), Milos Teodosic (SER), Hedo Turkoglu (TUR)

***

So, Elveda (I think and hope that means “goodbye”) from Istanbul. It’s been a great trip and I hope to be back here again sometime down the line. If you’ve got any questions or comments, please send an e-mail via the link below.

***

More USA Basketball coverage: Analysis | Blog

John Schuhmann is a staff writer for NBA.com. Send him an e-mail or follow him on twitter.

Notes from Serbia 92, Spain 89

ISTANBUL – Another classic at the Sinan Erdem Dome.

Milos Teodosic was the hero, pulling up for a loooong three with 3.1 seconds left to win the game for Serbia. Spain, the defending world champions, will not medal here in Istanbul. They will move to the consolation bracket now, with Serbia advancing to Saturday’s semifinals, where they will play the winner of tonight’s Slovenia-Turkey game.

Many will call this an upset, but I don’t really see it that way. Serbia had the most efficient offense in pool play, and through the round of 16, they were the third best team in the tournament statistically (behind the U.S. and Turkey), ranking second offensively and third defensively.

Spain, with as much talent and experience as they have, just hadn’t played that well.

Of course, this game was won by the narrowest of margins. It’s not like Serbia was far and away the better team on Wednesday.

(more…)

Notes from Spain 80, Greece 72

Rubio was the one in control. (Garrett Ellwood/NBAE/Getty Images)

ISTANBUL – The most anticipated round-of-16 matchup at the FIBA World Championship lived up to its billing for the most part. It was a close game that Spain turned it around with a zone defense that Greece just couldn’t solve in the final 13 minutes of the game.

Except for a few too many turnovers, the first quarter was a thing of beauty, as the two teams combined to score 41 points on 33 possessions. Then Spain went to zone early in the second quarter and took control. Greece went scoreless on five straight possessions before closing to within one and getting Spain out of the zone with four straight scores. But they scored just 12 points on 16 possessions in the period and trailed by six at the half.

Greece took the lead with a 7-0 run to start the third quarter, and after a stretch where they scored 13 points on five possessions, they were up six, 51-45, with 2:49 let in the period. That’s when Spain went zone again, holding Greece to just six points on 13 possessions spanning the third and fourth quarters.

Missed shots and turnovers from Greece turned into a handful of fast-break points for Spain. Their half-court offense was also clicking, with Rudy Fernandez hitting a pair of threes and getting Dimitris Diamantidis to foul him on another.

It was a 22-6 run for Spain, giving them a 10-point lead with less than two minutes to go. Greece gave themselves some life with a Vassilis Spanoulis three, a Sofoklis Schortsanitis 3-point play, and another Schortsanitis and-one. But they missed four free throws in a 45-second span and chose to foul when they were only down four with 54 seconds left. Spain hit their free throws and moved on to the quarterfinals, where they’ll play Serbia on Wednesday.

Here are some more notes…

(more…)

Fernandez Not One in Control

***

Rudy! Rudy!

Hang Time prediction: If Rudy Fernandez ever wants to get carried off the court in Portland a la that pint-sized footballer from Notre Dame, he’d better start making nice. It would certainly help his bank account.

The league took a $25,000 withdrawal from Fernandez on Thursday because the Spanish baller publicly asked for the Trail Blazers to trade him or cut him loose. That’s a no-no in today’s NBA. Nate Robinson and Stephen Jackson were docked last season for similar comments.

The hard-line stance by the league office may appear extreme in pro sports today, considering that athletes have routinely used the media to voice their frustrations. Fernandez didn’t invent the “play-me-or-trade-me” stance.

But he’s also under contract. If he wants to sit out two of the prime years of his career — two years he’ll never get back — and return to Europe to play … well, more power to him. Trying to hold the Blazers hostage, though, isn’t going to fly and the league office acted accordingly.

Even though he’s been on the job only a month, Portland general manager Rich Cho isn’t about to get bullied into a making a deal that’s not in the franchise’s best interest. Offers for Fernandez have been made, but Cho hasn’t felt compelled to make a move yet. The Blazers have the hammer here. Not Fernandez.

Fernandez isn’t the first player to be stuck behind better players. The 25-year-old swingman can rectify the situation by simply playing better and staying healthy. Take a cue from the movie Rudy and stick with it.

And while he probably would benefit from a new start in New York or Chicago or Boston, how bad was it really in Portland last season? Fernandez still played an average of 23.2 minutes, down 2.4 minutes from the year before when he took Portland and the NBA by storm as a guitar-strumming, slam-dunking rookie.

Asking to be traded despite being a key part of the rotation can’t go over too well in the locker room, either.

At least Fernandez and Portland coach Nate McMillan are back on speaking terms, according to Jason Quick of The Oregonian. The two caught up in Madrid, site of Sunday’s exhibition between the USA and Spain. Fernandez is a star on the Spanish team and McMillan is an assistant for the Americans.

McMillan said it was a “good” conversation, while Fernandez categorized it as “cordial.” It just doesn’t seem as if any breakthroughs were made regarding Rudy for next season. McMillan told The Oregonian:

“I don’t know if he is going to report. My focus is on the team, and right now, he is still a Blazer. So until something happens, my focus will be that he will be there, so I’m preparing training camp as if he will be there.”

Will he be, or will he get his wish to play in Europe? We’ll find out soon enough.

***

What’s Happened To Rudy?

***

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – The rumbling has been going on for months.

Portland swingman Rudy Fernandez is on the trading block, that’s no secret. And if you go by first impressions alone, there is a lot to like.

A slender swingman with deep range and a wicked first step, Fernandez is the sort of fearless, moderately priced and athletic role player good teams love to have. Fernandez flashed the same swashbuckling style he displayed for the Spanish national team in his rookie season with the Trail Blazers two years ago.

But last season things took a twisted turn for the worse. His statistical dip was slight across the board. A microdisectomy, a surgery to relieve pressure from a nerve root in his back that caused pain in his right leg, performed in December no doubt played a part in his struggles.

He missed 19 games after the procedure and never seemed to regain his stride (or perhaps the confidence of Blazers coach Nate McMillan).

Still, in a free-agent summer when no player and nothing is sacred and seemingly anyone can be had for the right price, how is it that a player like Fernandez is still in limbo? (The Prime Minister first raised the question after the weekend, sparking a larger conversation here at the hideout.)

Chicago was rumored to be chasing him in a trade, their quest to add as many different options at shooting guard as possible knowing no end. But they’ve since signed veteran swingman Keith Bogans, a better defender with a much sturdier body but with not nearly as much bounce as Fernandez.

The Bulls could still land Fernandez, though he’d be walking into the same sort of crowded situation at his position that he did in Portland a couple of years ago.

What’s hard to fathom is a player losing as much shine as Fernandez has in such a short time. His work during international competition certainly made an impression here at the hideout. Then he stormed the league in his first year, draining more 3-pointers than any other rookie in league history, a feat that’s even more outlandish when you realize he started just four games that season.

We suspect he’ll turn some heads at the world championships in Turkey later this month. Will a solid, or even spectacular, showing there be enough to raise his stock with NBA teams?

Maybe … maybe not.

We checked with two Western Conference scouts and one Eastern Conference executive about Fernandez and got lukewarm responses about him, which we must admit was a bit surprising.

While they acknowledge the talent and explosive scoring ability, all three voiced concerns about the fit in Portland and potentially anywhere that Fernandez doesn’t warm to immediately.

“Something was missing from his game last season. He just didn’t play with any fire the times I watched him,” the Eastern Conference executive said. “For a guy whose games is all about energy and passion, that was an alarming sign for me. But he’s still young, just 25, and learning his way around this league. So I wouldn’t close the book on him yet.”

We’re willing to give Fernandez the benefit of the doubt.

The transition from international star to NBA role player is a tough one. And not everyone manages it as well as guys like Manu Ginobili (who was obviously more than just a “role player” when he came to the San Antonio Spurs) and Luis Scola have.

We’re expecting big things from Fernandez this season, be it in Portland or somewhere else.

***

Hang Time Podcast (Episode 20)

***

Posted by Sekou Smith

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – After years of searching for a solution, the Hang Time Podcast crew has come up with a cure for inevitable blues that come with the (near) end of the NBA summer.

We decided to laugh our way through Episode 20 of the HTP, using our favorite subject (basketball) as a conduit to conversations about all sorts of things, including the movies you simply cannot ignore during your late night channel surfing.

Listen Here:

If you’re tired of all the negative stories and bad news that’s grabbing headlines everywhere, Episode 20 is your escape. Sure, we tackle all the relevant topics, but we’re doing it with a serious infusion of laughter (thanks in large part to special guest co-host Lang Whitaker‘s vacation flight dilemma that kicks off the comedy).

NBA.com’s very own John Schuhmann took a few minutes out of his vacation to chime in on USA Basketball and the upcoming world championships in Turkey and the role Kevin Durant will play this summer and beyond. Schuh’s movie picks had a sports bent that was largely absent before we tracked him down (depending on if you think Chariots of Fire is a “sports movie” or not).

Ben Golliver of the blazersedge.com also made his debut on Episode 20, helping us clear up some issues about the Portland Trail Blazers, our man crush on new general manager Rich Cho, the importance of and the role Greg Oden will play this season, what’s going on with Rudy Fernandez and more. Ben also offered up arguably the best movie pick of the entire show.

As always, we welcome your feedback. You can follow the entire crew, including the Hang Time Podcast, our special guest co-host Lang Whitaker of SLAM Magazine and your host, on Twitter.

– To download the podcast, click here. To subscribe via iTunes, click here.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

0:00- Intro

-Memories of Lorenzen Wright

-NBA game predictions for Christmas Day

-Favorite late-night movies

-Lang’s flight dilemma

21:10-35:05- NBA.com’s John Schuhmann dives into Kevin Durant’s role for the National team

-Derrick Rose as standout guard

-Who is the favorite to win gold?

-Lack of bigs on the roster

-Coach K’s future with the National team.

40:23-53:22- Ben Golliver of blazersedge.com talks about GM Rich Cho

-What do the Blazers need to do to get past the first round?

-Expectations for the season

-How will Greg Oden do?

-Who to look out for this season

53:25 -Outro

***