Blazers Coach McMillan believes Red Bull did not give his team wings

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The Blazers continue to give it the ol’ college try despite losing half their team to injury (including their coach splitting an ACL- seriously, what did Portland do to the Fates?). Granted, sometimes the ol’ college try is interpreted literally, clanging mid-range jumpers and lacking a consistent defensive force inside, but you know what we mean. Last night they continued that effort, staying in a close game with the Thunder all the way until the final quarter, at which point Jeff Harden and Kevin Durant took over, the Blazers had no one to score with, and the hometown crowd fell into a disappointed lull. Long before then, though, Blazers coach Nate McMillan considered his squad to be starting in an energy deficit. And in the midst of a frustrated press conference following a frustrating loss in a frustrating season, McMillan finally turned on an ally, everyone’s ally, the energy drink Red Bull. From Oregon Live’s transcript of McMIllan’s postgame comments:

“I thought before the game we looked like we were a little flat. I saw a lot of cans of Red Bull up to guys mouths and (it) looked like we crashed. Seriously. We were flat from the start. I was hoping that the (new starting) unit that I put out there would give us some spark (but) we got off to a slow start. So we weren’t sharp at all.”

Taken in context, McMillan was just spouting off randomly to show how meaningless trying to identify the culprit is. The All-Star break could not come at a better time for the Blazers.

That said, Coach McMillan has no right to attack the tasty beverage that is Red Bull. Sure, you can go that route, laud the upside of Monster and 5-Hour Energy, but eventually, you have to dance with the one that brung you. And for all its inconsistencies, Red Bull has been there for the Blazers before Greg Oden, and it will be there after. Lashing out shows a lack of leadership, and advertising slogans. It gives you wings, coach. Duh.

In all seriousness, McMillan struggled early in the season integrating Andre Miller, dealing with Greg Oden’s growing pains, finding enough touches, and then injury after injury hit, and McMillan actually improved. His best work has been with a ragtag group of leftovers, and for that he deserves to be commended. It’s a shame that talent is such a determining factor in this league, because two of its better coaches, McMIllan and Houston’s Rick Adelman, face a daunting future simply because the succubus of injury have swept into their villages and plucked away their players to Suitland.

Either way, I’d expect a healthier pre-game assortment for the Blazers next game. Perhaps some V-8, or some mango juice.

Somebody looks comfortable: Paul George drops 20 in first quarter

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Paul George‘s first experience starting as a power forward was going up against Anthony Davis — not just one of the best power forwards in the game, one of the handful of best players in the game period. That didn’t go well for George, and he wasn’t happy about it.

His second experience was in another preseason game Tuesday, going up against the Pistons and their four, Ersan İlyasova. He’s not quite as intimidating.

George scored 20 points on 7-of-8 shooting, 4-of-5 on threes — and that was just the first quarter (you can see it all in the video above).

As we have said before, George at the four is not a bad call by the Pacers, but some of that depends on the matchup. On the nights the Pacers face Davis or Blake Griffin or LaMarcus Aldridge or Zach Randolph (or a handful of others) the Pacers’ coaching staff is going to have to adjust. But there are a lot of nights where George at the four is going to force the other team to adjust, and that will play into the Pacers’ hands.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins

Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.