Blazers send Heat to fifth straight loss

Portland Trail Blazers’ Andre Miller (L), Gerald Wallace (C), and Rudy Fernandez congratulate each other as the Miami Heat’s Dwyane Wade (R) looks on, during fourth quarter NBA basketball action in Miami, Florida March 8, 2011. REUTERS/Hans Deryk (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT BASKETBALL)

I made a point to watch tonight’s game from start to finish to see how the Heat responded to the loss to the Bulls and how they weathered all of the jokes about Heat players crying in the locker room after Sunday’s defeat.

Once again, the effort was there for Miami, but the execution was not. Dwyane Wade (38 points, six rebounds, five assists) was excellent, and LeBron (31 points, 11 rebounds, eight assists) was pretty damn good. That means the rest of the roster accounted for just 27 points, including Chris Bosh, who shot a dreadful 3-for-11 and scored just seven points.

He was completely outplayed by LaMarcus Aldridge (26 points), who hit jumper after jumper, including a key baseline fadeaway (on Bosh) to push the lead to nine with 2:06 to play.

But the difference in the game was Gerald Wallace (22 points, nine rebounds), who keyed the Blazers’ bench and made LeBron work on both ends of the court. Wallace was a great acquisition for the Blazers and he seems to be fitting in quickly because at heart he’s more of a glue guy than he is a player who needs the ball in his hands. Brandon Roy (14 points) also came off the bench and hit a key three pointer late in the game to keep the Heat at bay.

Back to the Heat — they did run some pick and roll with Wade and LeBron, and for the most part it was successful, but the Blazers didn’t do a very good job defending it because it took them by surprise. Whenever Wade has the ball, his defender should go underneath LeBron’s ball screen and force Wade to shoot the three or dribble into the switch. By going underneath, Wade’s defender would be in great position to switch onto LeBron and defend his roll to the hoop.

On Thursday, Miami hosts the red-hot Lakers, who will be looking to avenge their blowout loss to the Heat on Christmas Day. It should be a good one.

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

Is LaMarcus Aldridge worth $65 million?


According to Yahoo! Sports, the total value of the contract is $65 million to $70 million, with some hard-to-reach bonuses.

This summer, I pegged his value at $13-$14 million per season, and he signed for an average of $13 M plus potential bonuses.

So is he worth it?

Bill Simmons has this to say about the deal:

It continues to floor me that anyone would overpay someone who isn’t a franchise player during these rocky economic times. Like Portland this week — the Trail Blazers inked LaMarcus Aldridge to a five-year, $65 million extension, a deal that might have made sense in the 2006 market, but not right now. I like LaMarcus Aldridge. He’s solid. In this climate, he should not make more than $8 million or $9 million a year. The cap might drop $6 million next season for all we know. Also, inking anyone to an extension that early means you can’t trade him for two solid years. You’re basically marrying the guy. Which means Portland married a power forward who doesn’t play inside and grabs seven to eight rebounds a game. With nobody else bidding for him, no real urgency to do a deal for another year and no idea whether declining revenue will keep wrecking the cap. This makes sense … how? And you thought the NBA was getting smarter.

Simmons often does this — he second guesses a signing and then lists all the perceived faults of the player. Let’s not forget that Aldridge averages 18.1 points on 48% shooting, which creates lots of driving lanes for Brandon Roy. The Blazers don’t want a power forward that hangs out in the lane. They already have a couple of centers that do this. Portland wants to surround Roy with shooters so that he can get to the rim with ease.

The Blazers probably overspent a little, but they have the peace of mind that they have their second best player locked up for the next five years. There was no way to convince him that he is only worth “$8 million or $9 million” without letting him hit free agency. (He’s worth more than that, for the record.) By the time he’s convinced, there’s so much ill will between the two sides that a deal never gets done.

NBA News & Rumors: Tyrus, Al’s Achilles, LaMarcus’s extension and Stephen Jackson keeping it cool

Tyrus Thomas not happy about coming off the bench. “I don’t think it should even be questionable from what I contributed to this team last season and what I did throughout camp, but like I said, he [Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro] is the guy that makes the decisions.” Del Negro gave the start to rookie Taj Gibson, who has started much of the preseason and has played pretty well, averaging 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds. Del Negro said not to read too much into it, so keep Thomas on your list of breakout candidates.

Al Jefferson is out indefinitely with Achilles tendinitis. Coupled with Kevin Love’s hand surgery and the T-Wolves’ front line is not off to a very good start. Jefferson has been going in the second round of fantasy drafts, but expect him to fall into the fourth or fifth depending on what kind of news comes out of Minnesota. It’s starting to look like Big Al is injury-prone.

LaMarcus Aldridge pledges to get an extension signed by Oct. 31.
Aldridge’s camp seems to think he’s a max contract player, but the Blazers don’t agree and aren’t willing to do a deal just to get him signed. It’s going to be interesting to see what he eventually signs for. I pegged his value at $13-$14 million per season, but with the projected drop in next year’s salary cap, I wouldn’t be surprised if he signed a deal that averaged a bit less.

Stephen Jackson plans to keep his cool tonight against Kobe.
“I’m going to be me, but I guarantee I won’t feed into the nonsense. If it came down to a real fight, I know what would happen. I’m just going to leave that alone, go out and play basketball and try to help my team win.”

NBA News & Rumors: Lee, Aldridge, Ellis and the “sit down” rule

David Lee wooed by Blazers, but was worried about playing time. Portland offered $28 million over four years, but Lee didn’t think there were enough minutes to be had with LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden already on the front line. It looks as if Lee left $21 million in guaranteed money on the table to stay with the Knicks and play out the season. This is a big risk, but it may pay off next summer.

Blazers, Aldridge still talking extension. While it’s good to hear that negotiations aren’t at a standstill, it’s still worrisome that a deal has not yet been finalized. Aldridge is not a no-brainer max-contract guy, so right now, the Blazers are trying to convince his agent that Aldridge is not worth the max. This can be a tough pill to swallow, expecially with all those teams sitting on loads of cap space next summer. If Aldridge becomes a restricted free agent in 2010 and gets a max deal in the form of an offer sheet, then the Blazers will probably match. But it’s their job to get him for what they think he’s worth, and right now the franchise has the leverage.

Monta Ellis warming up to Stephen Curry.
Ellis was worried that Curry was just a shooter, but he’s shown the ability to create (specifically the nine assists he had in the Warriors’ first preseason game). I’m not sure why Ellis is so concerned with the team’s front office decisions, as he should be focused on having a bounce-back year after a fairly disastrous 2008-09 season. Curry and Ellis may face some matchup problems on the defensive end, but they have the potential to create as many problems for their opponents on the other end of the court.

LeBron not a fan of the “sit down” rule. I don’t blame him. He doesn’t want to see the emotion sucked out of the game, and that’s what this rule does. The league doesn’t want its players to block the view of the fans that pay thousands and thousands of dollars for premier seats, but there has to be a compromise here. Why not have a rule where the players can stand up to cheer a play but have to sit down within some set amount of time?

NBA Rumors: Monta, T-Mac, LaMarcus and more

Monta Ellis is still unhappy with the Warriors. Jonathan Abrams (via Twitter): “Monta Ellis may ask out of the #Warriors too soon, via some1 in his camp. Still bitterness on both sides from the mo-ped fiasco.” I don’t know why Ellis is angry at anyone but himself when it comes to his moped accident. The team invests a ton of money in a guy and he’s out riding around on a moped. Unbelievable.

T-Mac doesn’t have anything to prove to anyone…but himself. Tracy McGrady: “I don’t have to prove to nobody that I still got it.” If NBA contracts weren’t guaranteed, McGrady would have been cut long ago. Even though he’s just 30 years old, T-Mac has missed 109 games over the last four seasons, or 33% of the Rockets’ games. He’s in a contract year, so he’s highly motivated to prove that he’s healthy and ready to contribute. With Yao Ming out for the season, T-Mac’s return may be the most compelling story coming out of Houston.

LaMarcus Aldridge isn’t happy about the lack of a long-term deal. This is a little perplexing. Unless Aldridge’s camp thinks that he’s a max player, I don’t see why it would be difficult to come to a number. I pegged his value at $13-$14 million per season and that seems reasonable for a guy with his skill set.

Stephen Jackson doesn’t think the Warriors are getting better. Jackson: “It feels like we’re not getting better.” Jackson said in late August that he was “looking to leave” the Warriors, and Don Nelson said that the team would move him if the right deal came along.

Andre Miller doesn’t seem too happy in Portland.
It might be the fact that Steve Blake is still the Blazers’ starting point guard, or it might be the tedious media events he was required to attend, but this is a situation to watch.

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