Brandon Roy as Keyshawn Johnson: “I want the ball a lot more.”

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Two seasons ago, when Brandon Roy exploded onto the NBA scene the way those of us who watch a lot of Pac-10 ball expected he would, the ball was in his hands. You could define the positions however you want, Steve Blake was out there with him and may be the true point guard, but Roy was making the decisions.

Last season, Andre Miller was on the floor, Greg Oden was trying to be fit in (the first part of the season) Roy was slowed by injury and it just wasn’t the same. The Blazers were not the same.

Roy told Jason Quick of the Oregonian it’s time for him to have control again — that means a little Keyshawn Johnson, “give me the damn ball” time.

“I want the ball a lot more,” Roy said…

Roy said he has spoken with coach Nate McMillan about returning the offense to resemble the 2008-09 season, when he handled the ball on command, which included for much of the fourth quarter. Roy averaged a career-high 22.6 points that season and the Blazers won 54 games.

“I want to be maximized every game,” Roy said. “That’s a position that I’m strong with, with the basketball, and I’m extremely confident with it.”

What does that mean? Here is what Roy said before the game, as reported by Blazers Edge.

More pick and rolls. More isolation plays. Right now we’re doing a lot of powering, a lot of coming off screens. A lot of crossing. I think that’s going to be more of the second string’s offense. And the starters will play something different.

Roy is both right and shows the maturing he needs to make the next step.

Roy should have the ball more — he is the team’s biggest threat. He makes good decisions. He should be the focal point of the offense and have control of it with the rock in his hands.

But that is a separate issue from having good screens, crossing and off the ball movement. That is good, too. Look at the Lakers, who are a far more deadly offense when they are running the triangle, when guys are moving off the ball and spacing the floor. When it’s an isolation Kobe night, the Lakers are defendable and struggle. Same was true of Jordan’s Bulls. Of virtually every championship team of the last couple decades. It’s true of the Blazers.

Roy himself shot 44.3 percent in isolation last season and scored 0.99 points per possession that way last season. Off cuts it was 76.7 percent and 1.49 per possession. Roy even shot better coming off screens than he did in isolation. (Stats via Synergy Sports)

There needs to be both — more Roy and more movement off the ball, more continuity and less isolation. They can coexist. And for the Blazers to get where they want, they need to.

Joel Embiid scores over Carmelo Anthony, then they exchange words (VIDEO)

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Joel Embiid gives zero… well, you know where I’m going with that.

Embiid trolls the world and backs down from no man, and that includes Carmelo Anthony. Late in the fourth quarter of the barn burner between the Thunder and 76ers Friday night, Embiid backed ‘Melo down and scored over him, then did a little jawing — which Anthony didn’t appreciate.

I love that Embiid egged on the Sixers crowd after this. He knows his audience.

Embiid talks a lot — A LOT — but he is backing it up.

For example, in the first overtime Russell Westbrook thought he made a drive that was going to win the game, and Embiid rejected him.

If you did not watch this game, go find a replay. This is the new best game of the season.

Rudy Gobert leaves game vs. Celtics with likely knee sprain. Again.

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Rudy Gobert missed 11 games this season due to a bone bruise in his knee. While the Jazz defense suffered as should have been expected with their anchor gone, their offense found a groove without him — and with more Donovan Mitchell and Derrick Favors — resulting in Utah going 7-4 with their star center out.

Now the Jazz will be without him again for a while — he seems to have sprained his left knee just minutes into Friday night’s game against the Celtics when Favors fell back into him. That is the same knee he injured before. Gobert was forced to leave and will not return to the game.

If that diagnosis holds, it will be weeks again the Jazz will be without Gobert.

The Jazz know how to play without Gobert. Favors moves to center and while he’s not near the same defender his offensive skills got them buckets and opened up the floor. The rookie Mitchell, as well as Ricky Rubio at points, took advantage of it to give the Jazz a top-10 offense with Gobert out. They need to find that groove again.

Still, Utah needs Gobert back and himself to really reach the heights they are capable of.

Veteran NBA official Monty McCutchen to be head of referee development, training

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After 25 seasons running up and down the NBA hardwood and refereeing more than 1,400 games, NBA official Monty McCutchen got a promotion.

He officiated his last game Thursday night in Minnesota and will move to a desk at the league office where his new title is Vice President, Head of Referee Development and Training.

“Monty has earned the respect of players, coaches and his peers during an exemplary career as an NBA official,” said Senior Vice President, Head of Referee Operations Michelle D. Johnson (who started on the job in October).  “He understands as well as anyone what it takes to be an outstanding referee and how the league can best support its officials.  With his wealth of insight and experience, Monty is uniquely suited for a leadership role in our officiating program.”

“I’m excited for the opportunity to channel my passion for the officiating profession in a new way,” McCutchen said.  “While I’ll miss officiating games, I’m grateful to continue working with our incredibly talented referee staff as part of an organization so dedicated to excellence and innovation.”

Despite what some fans like to blast on Twitter (especially during the playoffs), NBA officials are the best trained and flat-out best basketball referees in the world (if you don’t think so, watch the college/scab referees from the last lockout of the refs, it was painful). Could they improve? Sure. Hopefully, McCutchen can help do that in his new position.

Kristaps Porzingis officially day-to-day, questionable vs. OKC

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Knicks fans can exhale now.

There was understandable concern after face of the franchise Kritaps Porzingis had to leave the game in Brooklyn Thursday night following a non-contact injury.

Turns out there is nothing to worry about. After the game, Porzingis spoke to the media and was standing on the leg, a good sign. By Friday, after a day of treatment, he was doing well. Officially Porzingis is day-to-day and may sit out Carmelo Anthony‘s return to Madison Square Garden Saturday, but the injury is nothing serious. Ian Begley of ESPN has the details.

Porzingis’ knee was “worked on” on Friday and the discomfort in his knee decreased, league sources told ESPN. It is unclear if Porzingis underwent an MRI or had X-rays to further determine the extent of the injury but sources say he did not undergo significant testing because it wasn’t warranted based on the state of the injury.

Good. We don’t need another star down with a major injury this season.

Especially Porzingis, who has led the Knicks to a 15-13 record (sixth in the East, in the playoffs) while putting up All-Star numbers: 25.5 points per game, shooting 39.5 percent from three, plus grabbing 6.6 rebounds a game. Maybe more impressive is how he has anchored a solid Knicks defense this season with his rim protection. Stay healthy and he should make his first All-Star team this season.