With NBA Playoffs looming, Portland should have kept their heads


Portland, Oregon may not be a big fancy city, but one thing it does have is incredible basketball fans. Smart, passionate, devoted NBA basketball fans. The collective IQ at a Blazers game is probably higher than the average. But last night it plummeted to Neanderthal levels, and it’s got nothing to do with getting mad at the official.s It’s when they did it.

Last night during the Blazers-Mavericks game, fans became so incensed at a series of what a vast majority of people would call bad calls, things got a little out of hand. Ticky-tack control fouls, foolish technicals, absurd unevenness, and pretty much one of the worst balances of the season, officiating wise. Yet, probably not the worst, and even if so, something that happens routinely in the NBA. And Blazers fans, with where they’re at, have to keep a calm head.

They did not.

As Blazers Edge covers expertly in their recap, fans started throwing things on to the court. Okay, not cool, but that’s nothing too bad. Worthy of ejection if busted, and not acceptable, but that happens about as frequently as these types of games occur. But they also started throwing things into the Mavericks’ huddle.

Too far.

I’m not going to waste your time or mine on why this unacceptable, the possible dangers of doing so, nor am I going to mention the words ‘Ron Artest” or “Malice at the Palace.” But let’s just all agree that throwing things at people is a good way to get things out of hand in a hurry.

But if we’re looking for a long-term effect of this, try this on for size.

The Blazers may be screwed come the playoffs. Sure, there are a handful of regular season games between now and the postseason. But the real consequences will come in the playoffs. With that kind of atmosphere, in what will probably end up with a series against just those Mavericks they played DodgeBeer with last night, or the Los Angeles Lakers.

You know, because LA doesn’t usually end up on the positive side of the officiating.

The Blazers fans have now set a tone that the refs have to respond to. And respond they will, most likely in the form of setting an early tone, delivering quick fouls and technicals, to make it clear that such behavior will not be allowed again. They have an obligation to set a tone, and while the officials have seen their fair share of these kinds of incidents, their hand is still forced in this instance.

Which is bad news for the Blazers. They need a scrappy first round. They need to rely on heart and ability, because their talent is severely limited by injury and other factors. They are in a position of needing to play the kind of game the officials now cannot let go because of their behavior last night. You create an environment of chaos, and unfair or not, the riot police is going to come to restore order and put people back in their homes.

Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe the tantrum the collective of Blazers fans (and personnel) will needle the refs to go back the other direction. But if they find themselves with Dirk Nowitzki or Kobe Bryant at the line 40 times in a round one game, they’ll have to deal with the fact that they, at least partially, were at fault.

The season of unfortunate circumstances for the Blazers continues.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.