Wesley Matthews, LaMarcus Aldridge, Damian Lillard, Robin Lopez, Nicolas Batum

Wednesday NBA grades: It’s over, but celebrate what a great season it was in Portland


Our quick look around the NBA, or what you missed while trying to figure out how you could afford the home from “Scarface”….

source:  The Portland Trail Blazers. Yes, they lost. Their season is over. If you think that deserves a low grade I pity you, learn to embrace the joy of the game — and these Blazers were worth embracing. They (and their fans) should look back on this season with pride. The Blazers had one of the best and most entertaining offenses in the NBA. LaMarcus Aldridge can hold his own with any four in the league. Damian Lillard’s star continues to rise. They need to be better on defense, some roster tweaks are coming, but this is a team on the rise in the West — one that was not expected to be this good this season. It was a great run, they should savor it.

source:   Kawhi Leonard, San Antonio Spurs. I don’t really care what you nickname him, if he plays like this you can call him anything you want. When Tony Parker went down he stepped up. Defensively he seemed to be everywhere. He shot 6-of-8 inside eight feet and was 3-of-4 from beyond the arc. He had some great dunks. It was an impressive game and him playing like that makes these Spurs better than last year’s version.

source:   LeBron James, Miami Heat. He wasn’t brilliant, but he was good enough — he had 12 points in the fourth quarter and helped spark the 13-3 run to close out the game that gave the Heat the win. He was there making defensive plays in the final seconds. He was the best player in this series, which is exactly what we expect him to be but we shouldn’t take it for granted. He alone can get the Heat to the Finals.

Khris Middleton dunks, Jimmy Butler can’t stop him (VIDEO)

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Khris Middleton has more expectations and more pressure on him after a breakout season in Milwaukee, followed by him getting him PAID this summer.

Well, he looked pretty good on this play against the Bulls, making the steal then throwing down despite Jimmy Butler‘s efforts to stop him.

Middleton finished with 10 points on 5-of-7 shooting for the Bucks. However, Butler had the last laugh as he went off for 23 points on 12 shots and led the Bulls to the (meaningless) preseason win.

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.