Saturday, April 30, 2011

Sounders pound Toronto FC 3-0. Extend unbeaten streak to 6 matches.

By Money Mike

With Steve Zakuani out, it was Brad Evans who stepped in with two goals and an assist as the Seattle Sounders shutout Toronto FC 3-0. The Sounders fans paid tribute to Zakuani by raising their #11 signs in the 11th minute and also chanting his name. The Sounders were also without O'Brian White who had blood clot surgery on his leg and Mauro Rosales was also left out of the 18-man squad. Toronto FC, coming off a win in the Canadian Championship, are now winless in 6 straight matches as they had a couple holes to fill with injuries and also with Tony Tchani suspended.

Seattle struck early in the 9th minute when Alvaro Fernandez, who replaced Zakuani at left midfield got on the end of a Brad Evans cross, unmarked, to head the ball home for his 2nd goal of the season to give the Sounders an early 1-0 lead and they never looked back.

Toronto had a chance to equalize before the break when Alan Stevanovic's ball nearly resulted in a breakaway goal for Javier Martina, but his effort was blocked at the last minute by Tyson Wahl.

In the first minute of the second half, Fernandez's cross in the box fell to Fredy Montero, and with Adrian Cann backing away, Montero tried a curler with the outside of his right boot toward the far post but Stefan Frei made a terrific diving stop to deny him. A couple minutes later, a driven ball by Nate Jaqua found the foot of Brad Evans from point blank range but Frei came up huge again as Evans went for power with his left foot. TFC still had work to do though. Alvaro Fernandez's cross was headed out of the penalty area by Dicoy Williams but the ball fell to James Riley for a thumper that just grazed the top of the crossbar.

In the 52 minute, the Sounders would find the back of the net again. Fredy Montero found Brad Evans streaking behind the defense and Evans made no mistake, he hit it first time, into the far post for his 2nd of the season and he wasn't done yet. In the 75th minute, the Sounders were awarded a penalty. Erik Friberg's corner came off the hand of Mikael Yourrasowsky and referee Ricardo Salazar pointed to the penalty spot. Brad Evans then stepped up and slotted the PK into the right corner of the net to cap off a well deserved 3-0 win for the men in Rave Green as they are now unbeaten in their last six matches since starting the year 0-2 and have also won 3 of their last 4 matches.

Scoring summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Alvaro Fernandez (Brad Evans, James Riley) 9'

Seattle Sounders FC - Brad Evans (Fredy Montero, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado) 52'

Seattle Sounders FC - Brad Evans (penalty kick) 75'

Misconduct summary:

Seattle Sounders FC - Osvaldo Alonso (caution; Persistant infringement) 45'

Toronto FC - Julian de Guzman (caution; Reckless tackle) 54'


Toronto FC - Stefan Frei; Dan Gargan, Dicoy Williams, Adrian Cann, Danleigh Borman; Julian de Guzman (Nathan Sturgis 57'), Maicon Santos (Mikael Yourrasowsky 46'), Jacob Peterson; Javier Martina, Alan Gordon, Alen Stevanovic (Matt Gold 62')

Seattle Sounders FC - Kasey Keller; James Riley, Patrick Ianni, Jhon Kennedy Hurtado, Tyson Wahl; Brad Evans, Osvaldo Alonso, Erik Friberg (Servando Carrasco 80'), Alvaro Fernandez; Nate Jaqua (Roger Levesque 72'), Fredy Montero (Michael Fucito 66')

Friday, April 29, 2011

Seahawks go offensive line again take Moffitt in third round

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks traded their second round pick(57th) to the Detroit Lions for the Lions third round pick(75th) and fourth round pick(107th) plus swapped their fifth and sixth round selections as well which the Seahawks in both rounds will have moved up in. When the dust settled from that trade the Seahawks got the guy Tom Cable wanted which was John Moffitt the 6'5" 323 pound guard from Wisconsin. The days of the Seahawks being the "little Ruskells" are long gone as John Schneider and Pete Carroll believe in getting guys with size. The Seahawks are finally taking care of the offensive line problems. Like I wrote yesterday the Seahawks selected James Carpenter in the first round along with Russell Okung last year. The Seahawks are trying to make sure they never have a season like last year again where there was so many different offensive line changes.

When the Seahawks went to the Super Bowl in 2005 it didn't matter who the running back was. Every team in the league knew on third and short the Seahawks would run the ball behind Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson. The Seahawks were 100% on the year on converting third and shorts that season. Then Ruskell let Hutchinson walk as a free agent to the Minnesota Vikings instead of franchise tagging him. The Seahawks have not produced a one thousand yard rusher since then. The Seahawks didn't have a single 100 yard rusher in a game last year in the regular season. As was proven with Shaun Alexander in 2002-05 and then from 2006-2007 the offensive line means everything. With a good offensive line all of a sudden your quarterback and running back look better. The Seahawks are hoping with these last two years worth of drafting that the offensive line can go from a weakness to a strength.

I like what the Seahawks are doing in the Schneider and Carroll regime. I also think trading down was the smart move there too. By trading down you picked up an extra fourth round pick and you got the guy you wanted anyways. Going into the draft Cable told Schneider Moffitt and Carpenter were the two guys he wanted so that is who the Seahawks drafted. With a good offensive line Marshawn Lynch can finally turn into "beast mode" this year. Hard to judge Lynch last year when he was blown up everytime he touched the ball. The offensive line this upcoming year will get a healthy Okung, Unger back from injur and now with these two draft picks the Seahawks are fixing an area of concern. The Seahawks have plenty of weaknesses but with a good offensive line everyone else on offense looks better.

Overall, the Seahawks are doing what I've wanted them to do which is address the offensive line problem. Had Earl Thomas not fallen in their lap last year I would have liked to seen them go offensive line there too. Schneider is announcing in a very loud way that the "little Ruskell's" era is officially over. Now on those third and one's in the near future as a fan I can feel confident that the Seahawks will get those tough yards. In the NFL the difference between winning and losing is so close that little things like moving the chains is the difference between drafting in the top 10 or winning the super bowl. The Seahawks won't win the Super Bowl based on this draft but so far like last year it appears the Seahawks have a nice philosphy. The Seahawks are wanting to get bigger and it all starts with line play. With good line play the Seahawks are hoping to get back to the forumala that worked so well in 2005. I'm glad to see the Seahawks go with offensive line this year. Finally a general manager in Seattle who finally understands football is a great sigh of relief after the Ruskell years.

Seattle Sounders FC vs Toronto FC preview

By Money Mike

The Seattle Sounders after a successful road trip return home to Qwest Field as they look to extend their unbeaten streak to 6 games. Last week, Seattle came away with a 1-0 win in Colorado over the defending champion Rapids, but also lost one of their star players to injury, and the question is, who will Sigi Schmid add to the starting-11? On the other side, Toronto FC are coming off a disappointing 1-1 draw at home to the Columbus Crew. Tony Tchani, who was acquired from Red Bull New York, put TFC up 1-0 but was immediately sent off after picking up his second yellow for his celebration, and I have no idea what he did that the referee didn't like. Did he get booked for jumping over the boards? If there was a rule about that, when did they start booking players for it? I don't know what he did, but he got sent off and it proved costly as Emilio Renteria's goal erased Toronto's lead and the victory, and also the red card meant Tchani will be suspended for this match.

Injury report:

Toronto FC - I tell you what, Toronto FC have alot of guys with adductor injuries so let's take a look at who's out and who may play, but probably won't. First up on the list is Dutch veteran, Elbekay Bouchiba, has made an appearance for Toronto FC and he will not make his debut this weekend. He is recovering from right knee surgery. Keith Makubuya has an adductor strain and that will keep him out of this match. Alen Stevanovic also has an adductor strain but he is listed as questionable. Adrian Cann has a pectoral contusion and will be listed as questionable. Alan Gordon, Nana Attakora and Gianluca Zavarise are all suffering from adductor tightness and are all listed as questionable.

Seattle Sounders FC - Well there's gonna be a few holes to fill in this match. Pat Noonan remians listed as questionable with a right quad strain. O'Brian White just had blood clot surgery on his leg so he'll be out for a while, but I see him being out for too long. And of course we all know about this guy, Steve Zakuani, a broken tibia and fibula, this is a big loss right here.

Key Matchups:

Fredy Montero vs Ty Harden - Joshua Mayers on Seattle times listed Jaqua vs Harden as a key matchup, but I think Harden is gonna focus more on the Colombian international. Most of you Washington Husky fans who watched him when he played college soccer at UW should know that Harden is a tough-minded defender.

Maicon Santos vs Jeff Parke - Jeff Parke is gonna need to keep his eyes out for him at all times, yep, another test for him. Maicon scored two goals during midweek in a 3-0 win over FC Edmonton in the Canadian Championship and he is looking to pick up where he left off this weekend.

Javier Martina vs Leo Gonzalez - Martina looks like he gonna get the start out on the wing. He came to this team in the offseason only making three professional appearances, two for Ajax and one for HFC Harleem. This season, he's made seven appearances so far and has scored two goals. This young footballer has a lot of potential, and he's gonna test Gonzalez if he get's the start on the wing.

Who does Sigi use to replace Steve Zakuani and O'Brian White?

Well it's been a tough week with two key guys gone and now who does Sigi turn to? On the wing, they have Alvaro Fernandez, I think Rosales is an option, maybe Michael Fucito, David Estrada, as a matter of fact, I think rookie Michael Tetteh should get the start on the wing until Steve Zakuani returns, but of course that's just my opinion. Up front as O'Brian White recovers from blood clot surgery, I'm expecting Nate Jaqua to partner up front with Montero, but there are other options as well. You have 19-year old Miguel Montano, Rosales is also an option to partner up front or maybe even Lamar Neagle, but I think it's gonna be Jaqua up front with Fredy Montero. Like I said, alot of holes to fill.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers take Mason Foster in third round

By Kshell

For the second straight season the Washington Huskies saw their defensive leader drafted in the third round. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers selected Mason Foster in the third round and 84th overall in the draft. For the Huskies it is good to see some guys finally getting drafted. The Huskies in the 2006-2009 drafts had a combined three guys drafted including zero in 2007-08. The program had a huge void in talent which is finally slowly recovering from. First Jake Locker was picked in the first round and now Mason Foster who is one of the Huskies all-time greatest defensive players in school history was picked in the third round. For Foster he is going to a good team that went 10-6 last year who focused on defense yet again. There is actually a chance for Foster to start right for the Buccaneers. Foster had perhaps even a greater career with the Huskies than even Locker did.

What the Buccaneers are getting in Foster is a linebacker who can play all three linebacker positions as he is 6'2" and weighs over 240 pounds. Foster is a three time all Pac-10 performer including first team his senior year in 2010. Foster was also a third team all-american last year as well as he led the Pac-10 in tackles and was second in the nation in tackles. Foster as a sophomore in 2008 was honorable mention all pac-10 and led the Pac-10 in tackles with 105 tackles including 12 for loss. Then in 2009 Foster was more of a play maker as he again was honorable mention all pac-10 as he recorded 85 tackles but he intercepted three passes while forcing a school record six fumbles. Foster also recorded two sacks and had the game winning touchdown against Arizona when he intercepted a pass and returned it for the game winner 36-33. Foster then as a senior had a terrific season with 163 tackles, 14 for loss and 6.5 sacks. Foster has a nose for the football and the Buccaneers are getting a player who can play. Foster is a good Husky and hopefully he'll make Buccaneers fans happy as well.

Just like with Sarkisian and quarterbacks I'm sure Nick Holt will be doing the same with linebackers. From his USC days as coach and now with Washington Holt has produced plenty of NFL linebackers. Last year Donald Butler was picked in the third round just like Foster was this year. Before Butler was picked the last time a Huskies linebacker was picked in the draft was Marquis Cooper in the 2004 by these same Buccaneers. I'm happy that Huskies are finally being picked in the draft again. Hopefully Cort Dennison can get selected next year along with Victor Aiyewa this season. Just good for the program to have guys drafted even if in the short term leaves a giant hole. The Huskies will have a tough time replacing their heart and soul on defense. The Huskies will have lost their face of the offense and defense which will be strange next season.

Overall, I'm really happy for Foster as I think the Buccaneers is a good fit for him. He is going to a good team with the chance to start as well. Foster is great against the run and he's proven he is capable of making big plays as well. Foster although not a great pass rusher can still get to the quarterback. More importantly Foster is going to be a run stuffer which the Buccaneers fans are going to love. The Huskies are going to have a hard time replacing Foster this upcoming season but with the talent Sarkisian is bringing in the transition is going to start getting easier. Growing up I'd see several Huskies selected in the NFL draft hopefully Butler and Daniel Teo-Nesheim paved the way last year for the Huskies to be picked in the NFL draft every single season. Just a good time for the Huskies with Locker and Foster being drafted. Buccaneers fans get ready to enjoy Foster who is a tackling machine.

Four star QB Lindquist commits to Washington

By Kshell

Well guys it's that time of the year again where Steve Sarkisian starts to bring in yet another stellar recruiting class. Sarkisian got a nice start to the 2012 signing class by getting Mercer Island Quarterback Jeff Lindquist to commit to the Washington Huskies. Sarkisian the last two years has done a great job of keeping the top talent in the state of Washington at Montlake. This was a good signing for Sarkisian to keep the four star recruit home. I know he already has Keith Price and Nick Montana but you can never have too many quarterbacks. Getting a four star quarterback this early will create good momentum for the program. Typically if you sign a big time quarterback prospect early you gain other recruits. When the Huskies signed Nick Montana they got a few extra recruits like Erik Kohler for an example. This commit won't win the Huskies the Rose Bowl in 2011 or 2012 but it is a nice step in the right direction.

Now you guys are probably wondering about Lindquist. Well the Mercer Island quarterback is a dual threat who stands at 6'3" and weighs 225 pounds. He started as a sophomore throwing for 1,474 yards and 13 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He also ran for 519 yards with 11 touchdowns. Then last year as a junior he passed for 1,994 yards with 15 touchdowns to just nine interceptions. He also ran for 1,017 yards and 18 touchdowns. Add it all up that is 3,011 total yards. As you can see he will remind fans of Jake Locker. Lindquist is already a two year starter so look for his senior year to put up some really good numbers. He is a four star recruit who is the 13th rated quarterback in the country. Lindquist is also a smart kid posting a 3.6 GPA as he chose the Huskies over Stanford. The Washington State Cougars also offered him a scholarship as well. Lindquist coming to Washington was a good pickup for the Huskies as he'll be two years younger than Montana and three years younger than Keith Price.

Things are looking great for the Huskies right now. Jake Locker was picked in the top 10 yesterday, Lindquist signs today and you have the spring game tomorrow. With Locker being the first Huskies quarterback ever to be a first round pick and he was a top 10 pick that should pave the way for more quarterbacks coming to Montlake. Locker coming back to the program did so much going forward. He helped the program get turned around and by being a top 10 pick has given the Huskies program a ton of attention the past couple of months. Locker may have gained the Huskies a few recruits they wouldn't have had without him being drafted in the top 10. Locker improved under Sarkisian and was picked in the top 10. Sarkisian can just add Locker to list of quarterbacks he has had make the NFL under his watch which is a huge recruiting tool. At the end of the day who would you rather sign with a guy like Sark who has produced first round picks or a coach who is 5-32?

When Sarkisian walks in a quarterbacks room he can tell that kid with confidence I'll get you to the NFL. Unlike other coaches he can show evidence of Carson Palmer, Matt Leinart, Mark Sanchez and now Jake Locker all quarterbacks taken in the top 10 under his watch. Plus Matt Cassel was coached by Sarkisian as well and is making good money. Sarkisian can tell a quarterback come to me and you'll make millions in the NFL. Signing big recruits is nothing new for Sarkisian. In 2010 Sarkisian brought in the 11th ranked recruiting class by signing 30 kids which saw nine four star recruits and 16 three star recruits. Then in 2011 Sarkisian brought in the 23rd ranked recruiting class which featured 23 kids by signing two five star recruits, three four star recruits and 15 three star recruits. Sarkisian is starting to fill out his recruiting classes and the Huskies in a year or two will have pretty good depth. Sarksian is bringing in mostly three star recruits and above while bringing in some big time rated guys as well. He is also filling out his scholarships which Tyrone Willingham never did so depth won't be a factor.

In conclusion, there is no need to do jumping jacks for a recruit because everyone loves their recruits. However, it is nice that Sarkisian is keeping the top kids in state. In the last two years the top 11 kids in state Sarkisian has had nine come to the Huskies. That is important as this year you still have Joshua Garnett from Puyallup, Washington who is a five star recruit offensive guard and is the #1 rated guard in the entire country. Another key in state prospect is Zach Banner from Lakewood, Washington who is a four star left tackle and #11th rated tackle in the country. It feels good for once to know that the Huskies are keeping these kids at home unlike the Willingham era. With Sarkisian he is moving the program along and eventually there will come a time when the Huskies have five classes in a row that are ranked. Recruiting does matter for those who dismiss it as nine of the top 10 picks in this years NFL draft were four star recruits or higher. Just remember Husky fans Sarkisian is putting a fence up and for that all I have to say is woof!

Mavericks eliminate Blazers in Six games!

By Kshell

The Dallas Mavericks led by Dirk Nowitzki who scored 33 points were too much for the Portland Trail Blazers ending their season in the first round for the third consecutive year 103-96. The Blazers for the third straight year lose in the first round in six games and for the second straight season are eliminated at home despite the series at one point being 2-2. The Blazers in the playoffs have been beat up the last three years which is odd considering the last two years the Phoenix Suns and Dallas Mavericks have the "soft" label. Now the Blazers season is over the offseason begins and they are no longer that team on the rise. It appears that window has slammed shut and they must find a new way to be a title contender which will be tough. For the Mavericks they got the first round monkey off their back by rallying to win the last two games after the epic collapse in game four. The Mavericks who had at one point a 15 point lead let it get down to one point but unlike game four the Mavericks held on due to Nowitzki scoring 14 points in the fourth quarter. The Mavericks also overcame a hot start by the Blazers to clinch the series on the road.

In the first quarter the Blazers came out on fire playing like a team who wanted to keep their season alive. The Blazers sprinted out to a 27-19 lead in the first quarter behind Gerald Wallace who scored 13 points on five for seven shooting while grabbing six rebounds. The Blazers also got six points from Wesley Matthews and LaMarcus Aldrdige who had a poor game five. The Mavericks had six points from Nowitzki and Shawn Marion as well. The Blazers shot well making 11-20(55.0%) from the field and two of five from three point range. While the Mavericks shot poorly making just 8-23(34.8%) from the field and just one of four from three point range. The Blazers were hitting their shots and the Mavericks weren't. It had appeared that the Mavericks were mailing this game in and going back to Dallas for a game seven. Then something stranged happened as a seldom used player on the Blazers made a foul on the best player for the Mavericks which woke up Nowitzki.

The Blazers had extended their lead to 31-19 on the Mavericks. Then shortly later Chris Johnson committed a flagerent foul on Nowitzki. After leading 31-19 the Mavericks outscored the Blazers 33-12. The Mavericks for the quarter had outscored the Blazers 33-16 in second quarter as Nowitzki scored 13 points to give him a game high 19 points at halftime. The Mavericks who once trailed by 12 points took a 52-43 lead going into halftime. The Mavericks had shot much better that quarter making 11-22(50.0%) of their shots, made three three's while making all eight free throw attempts. The Blazers shot horrible making 8-22(36.4%) from the field while missing all five three point attempts. The Blazers let the Mavericks take over momentum as their season was down to just one half.

For the Mavericks they were led by Dirk Nowitzki who scored 19 points on 8-11 shooting including making all three free throws. Shawn Marion scored eight points on 3-10 shooting with five rebounds. Jason Terry added 10 points off the bench making three of eight shots including two three pointers. While Peja Stojakovic scored six points wihle making a three pointer to give the Mavericks the much needed bench scoring. Nowitzki was too much for the Blazers after that flagerent foul. For the Blazers they were led by Wallace scoring 13 points on five for seven shooting with six rebounds. Aldridge had 12 points on 6-13 shooting with five rebounds but had zero free throw attempts. Matthews had scored eight points on three for seven shooting including making a three pointer. Brandon Roy had also scored six points on three for five shooting. The Mavericks in the third quarter for the third straight game would go into the fourth quarter with a double digit lead on the Blazers.

In the third quarter the Mavericks did their best to end the Blazers hopes right there. The Mavericks had outscored the Blazers 23-19 to take a commanding 75-62 lead going into the fourth quarter. The Mavericks had a 75-60 lead but Wallace was fouled at the buzzer and sank both free throws. The quarter saw once again the Mavericks shooting well while the Blazers still not shooting well at all. The Mavericks made 11-19(57.9%)from the field and overall were shooting 30-64(46.9%) from the field. While the Blazers had made just 6-16(37.5%) from the field and overall were shooting 25-59(42.3%) from the field and just 3-13(23.1%) from three point range. To that point the Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who had 19 points and nine rebounds. Marion had 14 points and six rebounds wihle Terry added 18 points on 7-14 shooting and five assists. The Blazers were led by Wallace who had 20 points and 10 rebounds. Aldridge had 16 points on 8-19 shooting with seven rebounds with Roy scoring nine points on four for six shooting. The Blazers would have one last final push in them.

In the fourth quarter the Blazers made a huge rally led by Wallace scoring 12 and Aldridge scoring eight points. The Blazers had cut a 75-60 deficit down to one point as they trailed 86-85 with under five minutes to go. That is when veteran Jason Kidd hit a huge three pointer and the Mavericks never looked back. In the fourth the Blazers outscored the Mavericks 34-28 but fell short 103-96. Nowitzki was huge in the fourth quarter like he was in games one and two scoring 14 points on three for four shooting but made all eight free throw attempts. Nowitzki had closed the Blazers out in the fourth quarter. The win for the Mavericks snapped an eight game road losing streak in the playoffs. The Mavericks will move on to face the L.A. Lakers while the Blazers once again will be heading home.

For the Mavericks they were led by Nowitzki scoring 33 points on 11-17 shooting and made all 11 free throw attempts. He also grabbed 11 rebounds and dished out four assists. The Mavericks bench came up big again outscoring the Blazers bench 35-14 led by Terry who scored 22 points on 9-16 shooting with eight assists. Stojakovic added six points off the bench and J.J. Barea scored seven points with four assists on three for five shooting. Marion scored 16 points on 7-15 shooting with six rebounds and Tyson Chandler scored nine points with seven rebounds. Kidd who had a big series scored seven points with six assists. Now for the first time in Nowitzki's career he'll face off with Kobe Bryant in a playoff series which is crazy since both have been all-stars for a decade on good teams.

For the Blazers it's back to the drawing board this offseason. The team has changed quite a bit from the team who lost to the Houston Rockets two years ago. The Blazers got rid of Joel Pryzbilla, Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw and Martell Webster. The Blazers have brought in Marcus Camby, Andre Miller, Wesley Matthews and Gerald Wallace yet still first round exits. With all these changes the results have actually been worse far as wins go and the playoffs has been the same with another first round exit in six games. The Blazers were led today by Wallace who scored a playoff career high 32 points on 10-17 shooting and was 11-12 from the free throw line. Wallace also grabbed 12 rebounds as he finally had a breakthrough game for the Blazers. Aldridge broke out of his mini slump by scoring 24 points but shot just 11-25 from the field and attempted just four free throws. Matthews scored 19 points on 5-14 shooting and Roy scored nine of the teams 14 bench points. The Blazers will now have to make some tough decisions in the offseason.

Overall, the Blazers season ends in disappointment. This was supposed to be the year the Blazers finally break through. The Oklahoma City Zombies and Chicago Bulls have broken through while the Memphis Grizzlies are on the verge as well. The Blazers the last two years probably got the matchup they wanted the most and couldn't capitalize on it. For the Mavericks they move on to play the Lakers in what should be a fantastic series. Two superstars who have never played each other in the playoffs in Nowitzki and Kobe Bryant should be fun. The Blazers can only wonder what it would feel like to be in the second round something this franchise hasn't done since 2000. The Blazers once again will be talking about next year instead of the season at hand. The Mavericks are moving on this year while the Blazers can only sit and wonder what if for the third straight season.


- Want to win a playoff series? I suggest getting a superstar because they win in the playoffs. Nowitzki was a superstar this playoff series for the Mavericks. For the series Nowitzki averaged 27.3 PPG on 52-115(45.2%) shooting from the field while making 56-63(88.9%) from the foul line. Nowitzki also averaged 7.8 rebounds a game. Nowitzki averaged 10.5 free throw attempts a game while making 9.3 a game. Nowitzki was agressive and was rewarded with trips to the foul line.

Speaking of which in the Mavericks four wins Nowitzki shot 52 free throws(13 per game) while in the two losses he only shot 11(5.5 per game) which is a huge difference. Nowitzki in the fourth quarter was dominant in three of the games he scored in double figures carrying the Mavericks. Nowitzki was a matchup nightmare for the Blazers just like Amare Stoudamire was last year and Yao Ming was the year before. Start to notice a theme? The Blazers are soft in the middle and need another big.

- Remember when Dennis Green went off how the Bears are who we thought they were? Well LaMarcus Aldridge is who I've said he is for years. Blazers fans refuse to listen to me but I've said he is a great jump shooting big man who is soft. This series hasn't changed my opinion one bit. Aldridge put up solid numbers averaging 20.8 points per game while shooting 53-115(46.1%) from the field. He averaged 7.5 rebounds a game which is pretty bad for a power forward. The stat that jumps out to me is that he attempted 115 field goals and just 24 free throws(4.0 attempts a game). That tells me Aldridge is just camping outside jacking up jumper after jumper. Nowitzki shot 39 more free throws than Aldridge in just six games and that wasn't because the refs were "screwing" him either.

It could be Aldridge got frustrated by the physical style of play of Chandler and Brenden Haywood as his production went down as the series wore on. Aldridge in games one through three averaged 23.7 points per game on 30-59(50.8%) from the field while grabbing just 6.7 rebounds a game. In games four through six he averaged only 18.0 points per game while shooting 23-56(41.1%) from the field which is horrible for a power forward. He did average 8.3 rebounds a game though. If the Blazers ever wish to win a playoff series with this group Aldridge has to get tougher or the Blazers need to acquire another guy to help make up for Aldridge being soft.

- Gerald Wallace had a huge game today scoring 32 points while grabbing 12 rebounds but for the most part he had a bad series. Before today Wallace was averaging just 11.8 points per game on 20-50(40.0%) shooting but did grab 8.6 rebounds a game. So his series stats are going to be a bit inflated due to this one huge game.

Wallace was supposed to bring a much needed toughness to this team. For the most part Wallace was the Blazers top rebounder but scoring other than game six he didn't do enough. He was supposed to be the missing piece to finally get this team over the hump and win a playoff series. Now the Blazers will search for that next piece. I do think Wallace is a good fit for the Blazers as they need his toughness at the small forward position. Due to Wallace being on the team that makes another Blazer pretty expendable.

- I think if the Blazers were to ever win a playoff series with this group the time is to trade Nicolas Batum. I know Batum will only be 23 this December but he has the most value to other teams. He is also proven now in three playoff series with the club that he pulls a Cliff Robinson like disappearing act. This year Batum averaged just eight points per game on 19-46(41.3%) shooting from the field and even worst 7-26(26.9%) from three point range. Batum scored 24 in the first two games and then just scored six points per game including today where he scored zero points. In the last four games Batum shot 9-25(36.0%) from the field and just 4-14(28.6%) from three pointers.

Last year Batum in the playoffs averaged just 8.2 points per game but again like this year scored 30 points first two games. The final four games of the series Batum averaged just 4.8 points per game including three points in the final game of the series. Batum in that four game stretch shot just 5-16(31.2%) from the field during that stretch. Then his rookie year he averaged just 2.0 points per game and was so unproductive he played a combined seven minutes after starting the bulk of the season. When are Blazer fans going to realize he is more likely to be the next Travis Outlaw than the next All-Star? Now is the time to deal Batum for a big while he still has that "Potential" word. Batum still has value to another team. Trade him now for a big time point guard or another big.

- Nate McMillan now falls to 6-12 in the playoffs as Blazers head coach and overall is 14-20 in his career in the playoffs. He has never had great teams but he has also been a coach in this league for 11 seasons now and has only advanced past the first round one time. At what point does McMillan be held accountable? Losing in the first round three years in a row wouldn't have been acceptable back in 2009 so why should it be now?

The Blazers have changed their roster from the team who lost two years ago. Only Roy, Aldridge and Batum are the only main players who are left from that team. I think the Blazers need to move on from Roy and Greg Oden. Treat both players as bonus players at this point and find suitable replacements so you aren't left scrambling when they do get hurt during the season. If the Blazers don't advance past the first round next season I think McMillan will be fired and there will be a major shakeup. This will be the final season that guys are allowed to keep their jobs after losing in the first round.

In conclusion, the team who once had the brightest future in the NBA back in 2008 appears headed for mediocrity. The NBA is all about getting that franchise top five player. You get those players in the NBA draft lottery well the Blazers like they did in the 1980's passed on that player(Kevin Durant) and will now make the playoffs every year meaning they won't get that chance for another 20 years. That is the problem for teams like Portland you have to hit a home run on your few chances in the draft lottery or you won't win a title. Makes me appreciate the San Antonio Spurs run more when I think about it. Unlike Miami, L.A., and New York free agents aren't taking their talents to Portland. Portland just like Seattle in other sports either drafts stars or trades for them. Stop and think about the last time Portland or a Seattle team signed a "mega" free agent? Okay now that you realized they aren't any you've realized just how hard it is. For the Blazers the team whose future was so bright just three years ago is facing the sad truth of the NBA world. They had their chance and they blew it by passing on Durant. Now the Blazers just like the 1980's will have to live with that mistake forever. At this point the Blazers will just settle for a playoff series victory which for the third year in a row will have to wait until "next year".

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Seahawks take Carpenter with 25th pick overall

By Kshell

The Seattle Seahawks failed to make a trade to get out of the first round. Instead Pete Carroll and John Schneider decided to take offensive tackle James Carpenter out of Alabama. Carpenter is 6'4" who weighs 320 lbs and will be a welcome addition to the Seahawks who had problems with the offensive line. Under Tim Ruskell the Seahawks took just two offensive lineman in the first three rounds in his five seasons as general manager for the Seahawks. Already John Schneider has taken an offensive lineman in the first round back to back years. The last time the Seahawks too offensive lineman in back to back first rounds was in 2000 and 2001 when they took Chris McIntosh(bust) and Steve Hutchinson(all-pro). As you can see those picks had extreme results. With former Raiders head coach Tom Cable hired as the offensive line coach there will be a big emphasis on offensive line play this season. The Seahawks instead of taking a running back or a quarterback chose to go "boring" by taking an offensive lineman. I actually like that they are committed to the offensive line.

The Seahawks had problems running the ball last season. Well you can blame the running back or you can look in the mirror and realize the offensive line wasn't very good. The Seahawks are hoping with Russell Okung at left tackle for the full season to go with Carpenter at right tackle will fix that. The Seahawks if they re-sign Spencer and sign Raiders guard Robert Gallery to go with a healthy Max Unger all of a sudden won't have a terrible offensive line. When the Seahawks made the Super Bowl in 2005 they made it because their offensive line was the best in the NFL. The Seahawks under Ruskell neglected that position so it's good to see the Seahawks finally realize that offensive line is very important. You want a better running game? Well open up some holes and you'll see results. Shaun Alexander wasn't the best back but he had great holes so he put up huge numbers. If you don't have a good offensive line it is hard to win in the NFL.

All in all, I don't have much of an opinion because I don't really know about Carpenter. I heard he is great at run blocking but isn't athletic as a pass blocker. The good news is he is a right tackle so I can't see him being any worse than Sean Locklear. I'm just happy the Seahawks are finally picking offensive line again. It is good to get back to the offensive line and be a physical football team who can run for those third and one's. It will be fun to see in a few years that the Seahawks will have a good offensive line. I'm disappointed the Seahawks don't have an answer at quarterback but no sense reaching for a guy who isn't that franchise guy. Yes the Seahawks went boring with this pick but I think you need a good offensive line to be successful in the NFL. Here is hoping the Seahawks return back to the 2005 days where we had the best offensive line in the NFL. This was just one step in that direction which shows Scheinder is already taking care of the offensive line problems that Ruskell had neglected.

Titans select Locker with the 8th overall pick

By Kshell

When the Tennessee Titans selected Jake Locker with the eighth pick in the 2011 draft my first reaction was I'm going to be a Titans fan now. When the Titans selected the kid from Ferndale, Washington they are taking a kid with high upside. Locker also became the first quarterback in the Washington Huskies history to go in the first round. With Locker he'll be replacing another #10 who likes to run in Vince Young. The Titans shocked some people by taking Locker over Blaine Gabbert. I wasn't surprised as Patton Richard had said that Locker is rated higher than Gabbert. For the Titans they are getting a good kid who might not be a polished product just yet. Should be interesting what the Titans do with Locker but for fans to say this will end poorly before he has ever thrown a pass is just stupid.

So what are the Titans getting in Jake Locker? On paper they are getting a guy who didn't achieve greatness like he was supposed to do. At Washington he had a starting record of 15-25 which obviously isn't very good. To be fair to that stat Locker took over a program that was horrible under Tyrone Willingham. When Locker got hurt the team went 0-12 then Locker by his senior year led the Huskies to their first winning season since 2002. He also won their first bowl game since the 2000 season so be careful calling Locker a "loser" as I'd say he is a winner. Locker's stats aren't that great he completed just 53.7% of his passes for 53 TD's and 35 INT's for 7,639 yards passing. He also ran 1,783 yards and 29 TD's. Locker for being "bad" produced 82 touchdowns for his team in just 40 games which is an average of two touchdowns a game. The Titans know they are getting a kid who has a good head on his shoulders.

When quarterbacks bust out in the NFL it is for many reasons. One reason why Locker won't bust out is he won't let the money get to his head. Locker turned down two million dollars when he was 18 years old to play baseball. Then last year Locker chose to come back he passed up possibly 50 million dollars. Locker came back to lead his team to a bowl game which he had achieved. Locker is a man of great character as well as he has befriended two kids who were dying. Locker spoke at both their funerals and after having the disaster game against Nebraska bounced back to beat them in the bowl game. Locker is also engaged to longtime girlfriend who is a softball star at the University of Washington. With Locker you know you'll get a hard worker who is going to bust his butt to get better. Will Locker succeed in the NFL? That is yet to be determined but he won't bust out due to lack of work ethic.

The good news for Locker is he'll have Chris Johnson to hand the ball off to. In three years Johnson has missed just one game in his career has rushed for 4,598 yards and 34 touchdowns. He has also caught 137 passes for 1,008 yards. Locker won't be asked to carry this franchise. He'll instead hand off to Johnson 20-25 times a game while being asked to complete roll out play action passes which he is best at. Now Locker will be in a low key situation as well in Nashville, Tennessee with a great running back to lean on. He'll also have a veteran superbowl quarterback Kerry Collins there to help him out. I think this is a good situation for Locker as he'll most likely sit and learn behind a pro like Collins. With Johnson to lean on, being in a low key situation and a veteran like Collins this is a good situation for Locker.

All in all, I'm happy for Locker. Locker is the type of guy you wish to be and your daughter to marry. He is a hard worker who truly doesn't care about money or the limelight. There are 25 players at this NFL draft while Locker is celebrating with his family and friends in his hometown of Ferndale, Washington. When Locker signed with the Washington Huskies he was supposed to be the savior. Well he wasn't surrounded with much talent as no offensive player he played with has been drafted so far. Locker did turn the Huskies program around with the bowl game and win over Nebraska. Now Locker is hoping to add himself to the names of Warren Moon, Chris Chandler and Mark Brunnell who were successful Husky quarterbacks in the NFL. I'll root on Locker no matter what and the Titans are now my favorite AFC team. First thing I'll do in the next couple of weeks is order my Jake Locker Titans jersey. I wish Locker nothing but the best! Locker will forever be a great Husky.

Patton's NFL Draft Chat

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Patton's 2011 NFL Mock Draft

By Patton Richard

1. Carolina Panthers: Cam Newton, QB, Auburn.

People will argue whether this is the right pick, all I can say is we don't know enough about him. If he LOVES football like Tebow or Locker does, then he can succeed. If he's more worried about establishing a brand, I'm not so sure. If Carolina picks him they've done their homework. It's not like they're passing on Ndamukong Suh for him.

2. Denver Broncos: Marcell Dareus, DT, Alabama.

This pick seems fairly certain at this point. Marcell Dareus isn't nearly as good as Suh, infact I'd have him ranked below Gerald Mccoy (who went 3rd last year) too. This pick is for sale (Arizona is who would want to trade up here as they want to jump Buffalo as they both have the same needs).

3. Buffalo Bills: Patrick Peterson, CB, LSU

My #2 rated player in this draft behind the guy who goes #4. I like Peterson, I think he's an elite playmaker. I ranked him above Joe Haden (the #1 CB last year).

4. Cincinnati Bengals: A.J. Green, WR, Georgia.

Cincinnati really needs a wide receiver. Although, don't be surprised if it's Julio Jones here. All I'm hearing about A.J. is that he's a superstar waiting to breakout, whereas Julio Jones is a football playing proffessional, who will run perfect routes and od the dirty things and not complain. We'll see who Cincinnatti takes.

5. Arizona Cardinals: Von Miller, LB, Texas A&M

Von Miller and Patrick Peterson are the two guys they want most. It looks like they'll get one of them.

6. Cleveland Browns: Julio Jones, WR, Alabama

I was told Julio Jones is the best blocking WR of the last 15 years. He's going to show up, and do everything you want him to do.

7. San Francisco 49ers: Jake Locker, QB, Washington.

I'm just going off what I believe to be true here. Jake Locker is a better fit for Harbaugh's system then Gabbert is. Also, Locker isn't guaranteed to make it past Tennessee, Washington, Minnesota or Miami so trading down makes it difficult. Robert Quinn could easily be the guy here too.

8. Tennessee Titans: Nick Fairley, DT, Auburn.

Tennessee needs defensive linemen and they just hired the DL coach from Auburn in Tracy Rocker.

9. Dallas Cowboys: Tyron Smith, T, USC.

I've been hearing it's him or one of the two corner backs.

10. Washington Redskins: Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri

I don't think they're actually happy about this at all. They wanted Locker or Juloi Jones and they're both gone.

11. Houston Texans: Robert Quinn, DE, North Carolina

It's tough here between Quinn and the CB needs. I think they'll address CB by Free Agency or trade up for Peterson if he drops.

12. Minnesota Vikings: Mike Pouncey, C/G, Florida

I've been hearing this for over a month now.

13. Detroit Lions: Jimmy Smith, CB, Colorado

I think Detroit goes CB here, but I'm not sure which one. I like Smith more and I keep hearing his off the field troubles aren't so troubling at all.

14. St. Louis Rams: Corey Liuget, DT, Illinois.

Liuget has huge upside, I'd love for him to drop to Seattle.

15. Miami Dolphins: Da'Quan Bowers DE, Clemson

Top 5 talent drops due to scary medical. Miami needs a passrusher.

16. Jacksonville Jaguars: Prince Amukamara, CB, Nebraska

Best player available, I guess. I'm not a huge Prince fan.

17. New England Patriots (from OAK): JJ Watt, DE, Wisconsin.

I keep hearing they want to trade up, but knowing them they probably want to trade down or out of the first round.

18. San Diego Chargers: Cameron Jordan, DE, California.

Scheme fit. People thought Cameron Jordan fight be a top 5 guy after his Senior Bowl. His stock is falling but not that far, he could certainly go before this.

19. New York Giants: Anthony Castonzo, OT, Boston College

I think he's the 2nd best OT in the draft, and he's gotta go at some point.

20. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Ryan Kerrigan, DE, Purdue

They want a pass rush, Kerrigan is a high floor low ceiling type player

21. Kansas City Chiefs: Phil Taylor, NT, Baylor.

Trusting a source here, saying Romeo Crennel wants a nose tackle. But lets be honest, KC now runs the same way NE does, so who knows.

22. Indianapolis Colts: Nate Solder, OT, Colorado

Rarely does Bill Polian come out and say exactly what it is they need, so I trust they'll go OT here.

23. Philadelphia Eagles: Aldon Smith, DE, Missouri

This is a tough pick to narrow down, I know they'd love a CB here. I feel like it could be Danny Watkins here too.

24. New Orleans Saints: Gabe Carimi, OT, Wisconsin.

There right side was bad, and Carimi is a fantastic run blocker. I think he fits the system well here.

25. Seattle Seahawks: Mark Ingram, RB, Alabama

This is a weird spot, and I think Seattle would trade down. When writing this spot I wrote down these names: Mark Ingram, Danny Watkins, Marvin Austin, Muhammad Wilkerson, Stephen Paea, Kyle Rudolph, Jonathan Baldwin, Titus Young, Jerrell Jennigan, Aaron Williams, and Colin Kaepernick. This is why we need to trade out of the first round, I decided to go with Mark Ingram for a few reasons. Yes, I think this is a luxury pick. I know RB is not our biggest need. His 10 yard burst at the combine was fantastic, so ignore his 40 time. Secondly, he runs angry like he's going to hurt someone. Third, everyone hated Lynch and our RBs until the Saints game, but he wasn't great, or even good, last year. I think Ingram can be a probowler right away, and we need talent everywhere. I'm surprised this pick came this way.

26. Baltimore Ravens: Brandon Harris, CB, Miami (FL)

This seems like somewhat of a reach, but Ozzie Newsome is the best drafting GM in the league. They always look towards what they're going to need, and they're going to need more corner backs now and later.

27. Atlanta Falcons: Kyle Rudolph, TE, Notre Dame

This is the perfect fit, but somewhat of a luxury pick. They would love a WR here too. I don't know which one they'd prefer.

28. New England Patriots: Danny Watkins, OG, Baylor.

Probowl caliber olinemen goes to a team where he can start right away and everyone will ask "Why didn't we take him earlier?"

29. Chicago Bears: Derek Sherrod, OT, Mississippi State

They need oline help badly.

30. New York Jets: Marvin Austin, DT, North Carolina.

They need Dlinmen badly, it's either him Wilkerson or Paea.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: Adrian Clayborn, DE, Iowa

He's tough, feels like a Pittsburgh pick.

32. Green Bay Packers: Muhammed Wilkerson, DE, Temple

They're going to go after a passrusher, maybe Brooks Reed here?

Round 2

33. New England Patriots (from CAR): Ryan Williams, RB, Virginia Tech

They need a runningback, I think they might take Ingram at #17.

34. Buffalo Bills: Ryan Mallett, QB, Arkansas

In order to be a QB you have to have a STRONG arm. Mallett has that, although I keep hearing he might slip out of the 2nd ala Colt McCoy.

35. Cincinnati Bengals: Andy Dalton, QB, TCU

I'm told Jay Gruden loves Dalton and thinks he's a good fit for the WCO.

36. Denver Broncos: Akeem Ayers, OLB, UCLA

They are taking Defense throughout the entire draft. He's the best one on the board

37. Cleveland Browns: Brooks Reed, OLB/DE, Arizona

I think he's the hybrid type that will work for Cleveland.

38. Arizona Cardinals: Jerrel Jernigan, WR, Troy

I love Jernigan, and I think Arizona needs more targets.

39. Tennessee Titans: Christian Ponder, QB, Florida State

I think the Titans would prefer getting Dalton over Ponder, but we'll see.

40. Dallas Cowboys: Ras-I Dowling, CB, Virginia

Dallas would love to take another CB, that's why I'm hearing it could be Jimmy Smith or Prince in the first, I think they'll settly with Dowling here.

41. Washington Redskins: Rodney Hudson, OG, Florida State

Fits the scheme well.

42. Houston Texans: Aaron Williams, CB/S, Texas.

He might be a CB, but I think he'd be a safety.

43. Minnesota Vikings: Jonathan Baldwin, WR, Pittsburgh

Big wide receiver to replace Sidney Rice if he walks this year.

44. Detroit Lions: Mason Foster, LB, Washington

I think they go DE or LB here. Foster, Martez Willson and Bruce Carter are my highest 3 left.

45. San Francisco 49ers: Stephen Paea, DT, Oregon State

I feel like Paea is a Harbaugh type of player.

46. Denver Broncos (from MIA): Cameron Heyward, DE, Ohio State

It's all defense.

47. St. Louis Rams: Titus Young, WR, Boise State

Tough to place him over Torrey Smith, but I think Young fits Mcdaniels better.

48. Oakland Raiders: Stefen Wisniewski, C, Penn State

Everyone has been saying this is Oakland's target, but Torrey Smith sure does run fast...

49. Jacksonville Jaguars: Colin Kaepernick, QB, Nevada

Just a hunch here.

50. San Diego Chargers: Torrey Smith, WR, Maryland

Wide Receiver here I guess, I mean San Diego had the #1 Offense and #1 Defense last year.

51. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Rahim Moore, S, UCLA

This seems to be a good fit for Moore and for Tampa.

52. New York Giants: Mikel Leshoure, RB, Illinois

A lot of people have Leshoure has the #1 RB in this draft, and he falls this far.

53. Indianapolis Colts: Ben Ijalana, OT, Villanova

They're going to take olinemen at every chance they get.

54. Philadelphia Eagles: Martez Wilson, LB, Illinois

Good LB that fits a need.

55. Kansas City Chiefs: Bruce Carter, LB, North Carolina

Fits the system.

56. New Orleans Saints: Drake Nevis, DT, LSU

He's a big big boy.

57. Seattle Seahawks: James Carpenter, OT, Alabama

Again I wrote down 5 names: James Carpenter (OT, Alabama), Edmund Gates (WR, Abilene Christian), Greg Little (WR, North Carolina), Christian Ballard (DE, Iowa), Jurrell Casey (DT, USC). I wanted to place Greg Little here so badly, but wussed out. I think Carpenter is the best OL left.

58. Baltimore Ravens: Christian Ballard, DE, Iowa

Good DE. I'm not quite sure on the scheme fit, but I like him.

59. Atlanta Falcons: Randall Cobb, WR, Kentucky

A playmaker for the offense that wants/needs them. He's like Mccluster and will probably go way earlier than this.

60. New England Patriots: Jabaal Sheard, LB, Pittsburgh

New England is just taking the highest rated player that falls.

61. San Diego Chargers (from NYJ): Johnny Patrick, CB, Louisville

I really don't know what to do with San Diego.

62. Chicago Bears: Jarvis Jenkins, DT, Clemson

Chicago needs to replace Tommie Harris badly.

63. Pittsburgh Steelers: Curtis Marsh, CB, Utah State

They would love to get a CB earlier, but Curtis Marsh is a physical player.

64. Green Bay Packers: Jurrell Casey, DT, USC

I think he should go before this. Green Bay won the superbowl with lots of players on IR, they draft depth everywhere and Casey will play in the NFL for a long time.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Mavs win 93-82 to take 3-2 series lead over Blazers

By Kshell

The Dallas Mavericks led by Tyson Chandler's offensive rebounding held home court advantage defeating the Portland Trail Blazers 93-82 to take a three games to two lead. Now the Mavericks are just one game away from winning the series. For the Blazers this is the third straight year they trail three games to two. The previous two years the Blazers lost game six which they are hoping to avoid this year. The Mavericks got over the game four collapse by rebounding the ball. The Mavericks had 20 offensive rebounds while attempting 35 free throws including 31 in the first three quarters. The Mavericks played physical with the Blazers who couldn't buy a bucket either to prevail in game five. Tyson Chandler scored 14 points and grabbed 20 rebounds including 13 offensive rebounds to keep several possessions alive for the Mavericks. For the Blazers nobody had a stand out game as they will travel back to Portland hoping this wasn't their last game in Dallas. For the Mavericks they hope to close out the series in Portland on Thursday night at the Rose Garden.

In the first quarter the Blazers knew they were facing a wounded soldier in the Mavericks. The Blazers took the crowd out of the game when trailing 15-12 closed the quarter on a 8-0 run to lead 20-15 end of the first quarter. The Mavericks had a ton of nervous energy in the arena from the game four collapse and previous playoff failures. The Mavericks made just 6-16(37.5%) shots from the field while making just two of six free throws. Only thing keeping the Mavericks in the game was Tyson Chandler who scored seven points and grabbed seven rebounds. Dirk Nowitzki scored just four points on two for five shooting. While the Blazers whot 10-21(47.6%) from the field but didn't attempt a free throw. The Blazers were led by Wesley Matthews who wcored six points on three for four shooting. Gerald Wallace came out aggressive scoring four points on two for four shooting. LaMarcus Aldridge came out slow scoring just two points on one for three shooting. The Blazers did want they wanted to do which was take an early lead and try and take the crowd out of the game. Then in the second half the Blazers let a big opportunity slip away.

The Blazers extended their run to an 11-0 run to take a 23-15 lead over the Mavericks. The tension in the building for the fans you could feel just by watching on t.v. The Blazers had a chance to put the Mavericks away with a good run instead the Mavericks made the run. The Mavericks went on a 14-4 run to take a 29-27 lead. Then with the Blazers leading 43-37 the Mavericks ended the half on a 7-0 run to take the lead 44-43 heading into halftime. In the quarter Nowitzki eight points as he made four of five free throw's. Jason Terry scored seven of his nine points in the second quarter as well. The Mavericks for the quarter shot 10-19(52.6%) from the field and was perfect on eight free throw attempts. The Blazers still shot well making 10-21(47.6%) from the field. The Blazers at halftime had just one free throw attempt while the Mavericks had 14.

For the Blazers despite outplaying the Mavericks found themselves trailing at halftime by a single point. The Blazers were led by Andre Miller with nine points on four for eight shooting including a three point. Miller also dished out five assists. Nicolas Batum came up big in the first half scoring nine points on four for seven shooting with a three pointer. Matthews had six points all from the first quarter. Aldridge had six points along with Wallace who also had six points. The Blazers had shot 20-42(47.6%) from the field while making three of eight from three point range. The Blazers had to be feeling good about their shooting but the Mavericks were more aggressive going to the free throw line 14 times to the Blazers one.

For the Mavericks they were led by Nowitzki who scored 12 points on four for eight shooting including four of five from free throws. Chandler scored seven points on two for two shooting with three of six free throws. Chandler had nine rebounds at halftime. Shawn Marion scored eight points on three for seven shooting. Terry scored nine points on four for seven shooting including a three pointer. The Mavericks shot 16-35(45.7%) from the field and two for five from three point range. The key was making 10 of 14 free throws. In the third quarter the Mavericks would go on a run that would stretch into the fourth quarter to put the Blazers away for good.

In the third quarter started off back and forth as both teams scored 12 points apiece for the Mavericks to hold a slim 56-55 lead. After that the Mavericks ended the quarter on a 19-8 run which for the second straight game destroyed the Blazers in the third quarter. Unlike the last game the Blazers didn't have the home crowd to help them back in the game. The Mavericks outscored the Blazers 31-20 in the third quarter. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored 11 points in the quarter on three for seven shooting while making five of six free throws. Nowitzki after three quarters had 23 points on 7-15 shooting and was 9-11 at the foul line. Chandler was big in the quarter scoring six points while grabbing four rebounds to give him 13 points and 13 rebounds. The Mavericks shot 13-14 from the free line that quarter and scored 31 points despite not making a single three pointer. The Mavericks would extend their run into the fourth.

The Mavericks put the game away in the fourth quarter by starting the fourth on a 14-6 run to lead 89-69. The Blazers would finally start scoring when the game no longer mattered. The Blazers technically won the quarter 19-18 but the Mavericks had already did the damage winning 93-82. The Mavericks as a team shot 32-78(41.0%) from the field while making just 3-17(17.6%) from three point range. The Mavericks won the game due to making 26-35(74.3%) from the free throw line. The Mavericks outrebounded the Blazers 49-37 with 20 offensive rebounds. The Mavericks were led by Nowitzki who scored 25 points on 8-18 shooting while making 9-11 from the foul line. Terry scored 20 points off the bench on 8-18 shooting while making a three pointer. The X-Factor was Chandler who scored 14 points on three for four shooting while making 8-12 free throws. Chandler also grabbed 20 rebounds including 13 offensive. Marion was big scoring 14 points on 6-14 shooting with four steals and two blocks. Then Jason Kidd who shot bad had a good all around game scoring four points but dished out 14 assists with seven rebounds. For the Mavericks they held homecourt and know at the very worst there will be a game seven at home.

For the Blazers they probably felt like they let one get away. The Blazers outplayed the Mavericks in the first half then got run off the court in the second half. The Blazers were led by Miller who scored 18 points on 8-14 shooting with seven assists. Then Wallace scored 16 points on 5-11 shooting with nine rebounds. Aldridge had just 12 points on 6-15 shooting. He has played poorly the last two games. Batum scored 12 points on 5-12 shooting. Game three hero Matthews had just eight points and two points after the first quarter. While game four hero Brandon Roy had just five points on two for seven shooting. Now the Blazers must return home hoping to win the first game six of Nate McMillan's career. The home crowd should help out with the free throw disparity.

Overall, the Mavericks rebounded nicely from the devastating loss in game four. The Mavericks just controlled the glass especially by Chandler who had 13 offensive rebounds considering the Blazers as a team had just nine offensive rebounds. Chandler is keeping possessions alive and the Mavericks needed that as they didn't shoot very well. The Blazers return home knowing just one more loss and their season will end for the third straight year in the first round in six games. The Blazers will have Rose Garden rocking and hope Brandon Roy can play well at home like he did last time. Typically at home you shoot more free throw's and your role players step up more. So far in this series that has been the case. For the Blazers they have to box out better or they'll be going on vacation sooner than they had liked.


- Well I had praised the play of LaMarcus Aldridge this series but he has been downright terrible the last two games. Today Aldrdige had just 12 points and nine rebounds on 6-15(40.0%) shooting from the field. He didn't attempt a single free throw either.

His scoring has decreased each game this series. For the series now Aldridge is averaging 20.2 PPG while shooting 42-90(46.7%) from the field and just seven rebounds a game. In the last two games Aldridge is averaging just 15.0 PPG, 7.5 RPG while shooting 12-31(38.7%) from the field. For the series Aldridge has attempted just 20 free throws(4.0 attempts per game) which shows he isn't being aggressive at all. Aldridge started this postseason off hot but lately he is looking like the soft Aldridge of old.

- Where Brandon Roy goes this team goes it appears this series. In the Blazers two wins which were both at home Roy has averaged 20.0 PPG on 15-23(65.2%) shooting from the field. While making three three pointers. In the Blazers three losses which have all been on the road Roy is averaging just 2.3 PPG while shooting 3-15(20.0%) from the field.

Now Roy is a former all-star so he isn't one of those good at home while being bad on the road type of role player. I think Roy at this point in his career will show you flashes of 2009 Roy like he did in game four while also showing that is still not healthy like the three losses. The Blazers will need Roy and Aldridge to play their best game in game six to stay alive.

- Tyson Chandler was the big X-Factor today scoring 14 points while grabbing 20 rebounds. Heading into the game today he had scored just 16 points for the series. Chandler got to the line 12 times making eight of them with his 13 offensive rebounds. Going into today Chandler had averaged 3.8 offensive rebounds a game which is pretty high but not 13 high.

Chandler won't score that much again but when he rebounds the Mavericks win and when he is in foul trouble like he was in Portland the Mavericks lost both games. Chandler in the Mavericks three wins is averaging 7.3 PPG and 13.0 RPG. In the two losses Chandler averaged 4.0 PPG and 5.5 RPG with 5.5 fouls a game. So if the refs let Chandler play he will dominate this Blazers team. If the refs call a tight game on Chandler then the Blazers will have a chance to win.

- Nate McMillan's playoff record on the road falls to 3-14 which obviously has to improve if the Blazers wish to advance in this series. McMillan is also 0-3 all-time in game six which is a bad sign for the Blazers. Today nothing McMillan did was the "wrong" move as the Blazers were just getting dominated on the glass. Perhaps he should have played Marcus Camby more than 20 minutes or Chris Johnson more than six minutes. Ultimately the Blazers couldn't box out or hit any shots. McMillan is hoping to get out of the first round for only the second time in his 11 year coaching career.

All in all, the Blazers will return home where they are 4-0 on the year against the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavericks are hoping to close out a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2009 when they beat the Spurs in five games. The Blazers will need their stars like Roy and Aldridge to step up to have a chance. At home the Blazers crowd will be into it. Eventually going forward the Blazers know they have to defeat the Mavericks in Dallas which they are now 0-5 against. For now it's one game at a time as the Blazers season is now on the line. The Blazers are trying to avoid being eliminated in the first round for the third straight season. The Blazers have only advanced past the first round twice since 1993 so history is against them. All the Blazers have to do is win at home then play a game seven which anything can happen. No time to hold back it's do or die for the Blazers. Game six at the Rose Garden will be rocking hoping the Blazers will be joining the Mavericks on the flight back to Dallas.

Seattle Mariners weekly review: April 18th-24th

By Kshell

The Seattle Mariners completed another losing week as they dropped two of three to the Detroit Tigers then split four games with the Oakland Athletics. The Mariners should be thankful for the A's as they are 8-15 on the year but 4-3 against the A's. The Mariners saw some good pitching this week but other than one 13 run outburst saw little to no hitting. The week saw Felix Hernandez bounce back while Michael Pineda continue his dominating start to his career. The week also saw Ichiro get back on track which was good to see. The Mariners had some bullpen meltdowns this week costing them two games. The Mariners once again continue to draw poorly as they at one point had seven consecutive games dating back to the Toronto series where they drew less than 15 thousand fans. The Mariners will now head on the road to Detroit then Boston this week. This season continues to be a work in progress. As I've done in the past I'll break down the good, the bad and the ugly for the week.

The Good:

Well from the starting pitching staff there was plenty of good this week. In seven starts the Mariners pitchers gave them five quality starts including back to back shutouts by Felix Hernandez and Michael Pineda. The Mariners busted out against the Detroit Tigers in their one win of the series they scored a season high 13 runs. The Mariners saw plenty of great pitching this week it was hard to pick just three good pitchers so I went with five and felt like I snubbed a few. As for the hitting Ichiro had a big week this week along with Adam Kennedy. The Mariners are at least competing now just need to find some offense as the pitching staff has been pretty good so far.

Hitting Leaders:

Ichiro: 13-30(.433), 3 RBI's, 4 runs, 4 SB's
Adam Kennedy: 7-23(.304), 2 HR's, 4 RBI's, 3 runs
Michael Saunders: 6-21(.286), 4 runs, 3 doubles

Pitching Leaders:

Felix Hernandez: 1-0, 7.2 IP 0.00 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 8 K's
Doug Fister: 1-0, 12.1 IP, 2.18 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 12 K's
Michael Pineda: 1-0, 6.0 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 5 K's
Brandon League: 2 saves, 2.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 1.28 WHIP
David Pauley: 5.1 IP, 0.00 ERA, 0.38 WHIP, 2 K's

Michael Pineda on the season is now 3-1, 25.1, 1.78 ERA, 1.07 WHIP with 21 K's.

The Bad:

The bad was the Mariners having another losing week which seems to be the theme for a team destined to lose over 100 games. The Mariners still can't score any runs. After erupting for 13 runs the Mariners the next five games scored just 10 runs. I feel as if I keep putting the same people on the slumping list and that is mostly true. For pitching I had to stretch to put people on the slumping list. For the hitting it was hard picking just three guys. This week saw the slumping Josh Lueke sent down after he blew up this week yet Chris Ray is still on the roster. Jack Cust who provides nothing is still on this roster somehow which I don't understand. Hopefully his time as a Mariner ends very shortly.

Hitting Slump:

Jack Cust: 2-19(.105), 2 RBI's, run, 8 K's
Miguel Olivo: 3-16(.188), RBI, 5 K's
Chone Figgins: 5-25(.200), 3 RBI's, 5 runs, SB, 4 K's

Pitching Slump:

Josh Lueke: 0-1, 1.1 IP, 47.37 ERA, 6.77 WHIP, 2 K's
Jason Vargas: 0-1, 11 IP, 6.54 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 7 K's
Aaron Laffey: 0-1, 4.2 IP, 5.79 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, 3 K's

Josh Lueke like I mentioned was sent down. On the year Lueke was 1-1 in 6.1 innings pitched. He had a 17.05 ERA, 2.84 WHIP and struck out eight batters.

The Ugly:

The hitting of Miguel Olivo, Jack Cust and Chone Figgins has just been awful all year long. All three guys OPS is around .400 which is awful and all three guys are Jackie Z signings. For all the excuses of what Bill Bavasi did which is very true and valid he isn't helping his cause. The three worst hitters on the team were signed by Zduriencik and have been total busts.

Ugly Hitting:

Jack Cust is hitting .171/.326/.186 on the season. The Man was brought in for power and is slugging below .200 which is awful. He has just one extra base hit on the season.

Chone Figgins is hitting .160/.207/.247 on the season. He was supposed to get on base along with Ichiro and create runs. Instead his on base percentage is barely above .200 again awful. Plus his defense has been horrible as well.

Miguel Olivo is hitting .164/.224/.180 on the season. I know Olivo failed in Seattle six years ago maybe he'll succeed again? Nope! Olivo like Cust is slugging worst than Figgins who is terrible. Olivo's OPS is .404 which is horrible considering John Olerud and Edgar Martinez would have on base percentages higher than that.

Seattle Mariners as a team is hitting .226/.309/.320 which for a single player is a terrible season. For a team this could be historically awful this year. Maybe paying 27 million a year to two leadoff hitters isn't a good recipe to score runs after all. The fans will continue to ignore this team at this rate and I don't blame them.

AL West Standings:

Texas Rangers: 14-7 First Place
LA Angels: 12-10, 2.5 GB
Oakland A's: 11-11, 3.5 GB
Seattle Mariners: 8-15 7.0 GB

We all knew this was going to be a long year. I'm sure Eric Wedge had an idea that this team wasn't going all the way when he was hired. When Justin Smoak was gone this week due to a death in his family this lineup was awful. Pretty sad that the team leader in home runs is Ryan Langerhans with just three or that Ichiro is second on the team in RBI's with nine. The Mariners have some nice young pieces that will be exciting to look forward to. Unfortunately this year just like last year is going to be painful. I wouldn't let the Mariners waste your summer days go out and have fun in the summer. There is no need to waste three hours of your day on this team. Unless Pineda or Hernandez is pitching this isn't a very fun team to watch. So the week has finished and the Mariners find themselves already seven games back after just 23 games. Pretty incredible how a team can burry themselves after just one month. Well when you feature three every day hitters who can't even hit .180 that is going to happen.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Roy helps Blazers overcome 23 point deficit to win game four 84-82 over Mavs!

By Kshell

The Portland Trail Blazers were getting destroyed on their home floor 67-44 to the Dallas Mavericks then everything changed. That is when former three time all-star Brandon Roy put the Blazers on his back to even up the series at two games a piece. Roy led the Blazers on a 40-15 charge scoring 21 of his 24 points over the last 13 minutes of the game. Roy looked like the Roy of of 2009 hitting one clutch shot after another. This is why sports is so great you just never know what is going to happen. The Blazers looked about as helplessly out of a ballgame I had seen. The Blazers had one of the worst quarters in NBA playoff history in the third quarter followed by one of their best in franchise history. That mostly due to Brandon Roy hitting one tough shot after another in the fourth. Roy after tying the game up with a four point play would then hit the go ahead bucket to put the Blazers up 84-82 with 39.5 seconds left. Now the Blazers will fly to Dallas with the series tied. For the Mavericks this will be one of the longer plane flights home for a franchise who has choked many times before.

The first quarter reminded people of the 2011 college basketball national title game. Both teams were pretty horrible hitting shots especially the Blazers. The Mavericks led 16-11 after one quarter due to the Blazers shooting so poorly. The Blazers had just two guys score with Andre Miller scoring six points and Wesley Matthews scoring five points. LaMarcus Aldridge had missed all four field goal attempts. The Blazers shot just 4-16(25.0%) from the field in the first quarter. The Mavericks were led by DeShawn Stevenson who scored six points while making two three pointers. Dirk Nowitzki for the fourth straight game struggled in the first quarter scoring just three points on one for five shooting. The Mavericks made 6-19(32.0%) from the field but did make four of seven three pointers. In the second quarter would feature more scoring by both teams.

In the second quarter the Mavericks sprinted out to a 33-23 lead on the Blazers determine to put the Blazers away. The Blazers would respond by going on a 10-2 run to end half down just 37-35. For the Mavericks they shot 10-23(43.4%) for the quarter. They were led by Nowitzki who scored six points on three for four shooting. The Mavericks for the half were led by Nowitzki scoring nine points on four for nine shooting. Jason Kidd had scored six points on two for three shooting including two three pointers and two steals. For the half the Mavericks had shot 16-42(38.1%) from the field and 5-10(50.0%) from three point range. The Mavericks had a chance to put the Blazers away but let the Blazers pull within two points.

For the Blazers that 10-2 run gave them momentum going into the second half. In the second quarter the Blazers shot much better at 7-15(46.7%) from the field and were 10-10(100.0%) from free throws. The Blazers saw Gerald Wallace, Miller and Aldridge all score six points. For the half the Blazers were led by Miller who scored 12 points on four for six shooting and was perfect on four free throw attempts. Matthews scored seven points while making a three pointer on three for six shooting. Aldridge continued to struggle scoring six points on one for seven shooting but had three block shots. In fact the Blazers had seven block shots in the first half. Wallace scored six points on two for five shooting but grabbed seven rebounds. The Blazers defense and free throws were saving them as they were 12-12 from the foul line in the first half. The Blazers who had momentum would play their worst quarter of the season in the third quarter.

The third quarter was a disaster for the Blazers as the Mavericks looked to put them away this game and for the series. The Blazes missed their first 12 field goal attempts of the quarter. The Blazers didn't make their first field goal until 1:32 left in the third quarter. The Mavericks came out on a run leading 54-39 then their largest lead of the game 67-44. The Blazers would end the quarter on a 5-0 run including a Roy three pointer to close the lead to 67-49. At that point the game and the series for that matter appeared to be over. The Mavericks had outscored the Blazers 30-14 in the third quarter. The Mavericks shot 10-17(58.9%) from the field and made four of eight from three point range. The Mavericks were perfect on six free throw attempts. To that point Nowitzki had scored 16 points on 6-14 shooting. Shawn Marion had scored 10 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. Peja Stojakovic had made two three pointers that quarter to give him six points. For the Blazers they had shot just 3-18(16.7%) from the field. They were led by Miller who had 12 points and Aldridge who had 12 points on just 3-12 shooting. The Blazers game four hopes looked done then Brandon Roy took over.

The fourth quarter was pretty magical to see Roy lead the comeback. I had text my friend throughout the whole game. He was optimistic and mentioned how this could be like Celtics-Nets game three of 2002 when the Blazers had pulled within 73-62 and Roy was going off. The Mavericks who to that point were shooting 26-59(44.1%) from the field couldn't buy a bucket. While the Blazers who to that point were shooting 14-49(28.6%) from the field couldn't miss. The Blazers who were trailing 80-72 with under three minutes to go continued the late charge. Then with under a 1:15 left in the game the Blazers trailed 82-78 Roy hits a three pointer and was fouled by Marion. Roy sank the free throw to tie the game up at 82-82. The Rose Garden crowd to that point was going crazy. Then after a defensive stop the Blazers put the ball in Roy's hands once again and he delivered. Roy hit the mid range jump shot just inside the free throw line with 39.5 seconds left to give the Blazers an 84-82 lead. After a Kidd missed three the Blazers had a chance to put the game away. Roy would miss the three pointer but would get back in time on defense to cover Jason Terry who missed the potential game winner as time expired. The Blazers had pulled off the comeback win 84-82. For the quarter the Mavericks shot just 5-17(29.4%) from the field and made just one out of eight three point attempts. For the Blazers they shot 15-20(75.0%) from the field as Roy scored 18 points in the final quarter. The Blazers had pulled off the miracle win to even the series now.

For the Mavericks this loss has to hurt and for the next 48 hours their previous playoff failures will be brought up. To this date the Mavericks have been mentally weak and now they return home knowing they blew a golden opportunity this series. The Mavericks had a 2-0 series lead and a 23 point lead in game four. Now the series is tied at 2-2 which has to be a shock. For the Mavericks they were led by Nowitzki who scored 20 points on 7-17 shooting but had just two rebounds. Then Marion had a good game for the Mavericks scoring 12 points on 6-11 shooting while grabbing 11 rebounds. The key was both Kidd and Terry had bad games. For Kidd he scored nine points while making three three's but didn't make a shot in the fourth quarter. For Terry he had 13 points on 5-16 shooting and had the worst +/- on the team with a negative 15 in his 32 minutes of playing time. For one team suffering that means another team is jumping for joy which the Blazers have to be doing right now.

For the Blazers to pull this comeback off in basically a must win was impressive. The Blazers have all the confidence in the world plus their former all-star is playing like an all-star the last two games. Roy after scoring just two points the first two games has scored 40 points the last two games. The Blazers were led by Roy who scored 24 points off the bench on 9-13 shooting while grabbing four rebounds and dishing out five assists. Aldridge had a nice fourth quarter finishing with 18 points on 6-16 shooting but was three for four in the fourth quarter. Miller continued his strong playoffs scoring 14 points on 5-10 shooting while Matthews scored 11 points on 4-10 shooting. Then Wallace who 10 points on three for nine shooting also grabbed 11 rebounds for the double-double. Now the Blazers will fly to Dallas knowing Roy is back and have all the confidence.

Overall, it will be interesting to see how both teams react to this comeback win by the Blazers. Will the Mavericks give up on the series and let this lose carry over to game five? Will the Blazers have a false sense of hope now? Should be interesting as game five is a very pivotal game especially for the Mavericks. If Roy is playing like this the Blazers might be the second or third best team in the Western Conference. That is the key for the playoffs they are a solid team without Roy now and if he is the Roy of 2009 they are tough to beat. The Mavericks have to be worried as the playoff choke jobs of 2006,2007, and 2010 will be brought up yet again. For one team this will be a great flight to Dallas while for another team they will be in shock as to what exactly happened. Should be a great game five to see how both teams react.


- I felt Aldridge had a poor first three quarters but once again still managed to score 18 points. Aldridge started the game off missing six of his first seven shots and six of those shots were long jumpers. Then in the fourth Aldridge managed to score six points making three of four jumpers. Aldridge is having a nice playoff series as I've talked about before. The good news is when Roy is playing well Aldridge doesn't have to averaged 25+ points a game.

For the series now Aldridge is averaging 22.3 points per game while grabbing 6.5 rebounds a game. He is shooting 36-75(48.0%) from the field for the series. The key is unlike the first two games he isn't getting dominated by Nowitzki in fact he is actually outscoring Nowitzki in the fourth quarter unlike the games in Dallas.

- After the game one loss fans called in to 1080 the fan on the post game show and complained how Roy played too many minutes. Then after game two when Roy complained about a lack of playing time again fans complained how he was "selfish". Those same "fans" are probably praising him right now which is nothing new for Roy. While Greg Oden and other Blazers constantly get a free pass those same "supporting" fans seem to do the same for their only all-star in the last 10 years.

Roy put the team on his back scoring 24 points on 9-13 shooting. Roy scored 21 points during the Blazers 40-15 run in the final 13 minutes to win the game. Roy tied the game with his four point play then won the game on the next possession. Roy also made it so Terry had to shoot a tough shot on the final shot of the game. Roy after struggling down in Dallas the past two games in Portland both wins by the way has averaged 20.0 points per game on 15-23(65.2%) shooting from the field. If Roy continues to play like these two games in Portland the Blazers will win this series in six games.

- Nate McMillan improves his playoff record to 14-18 and is now 5-1 all-time in game four's. In game five's he is 2-3 all-time and 0-3 on the road. McMillan got on his guys about the effort at the end of the third quarter and once again trusted Roy. In the fourth when Roy was on fire he didn't even try to rest Roy he let Roy be Roy. Now McMillan can only hope that this Roy comes to play for him down in Dallas. This is the Blazers ace up their sleeve. McMillan pressed all the right buttons at home but now must find a way to win on the road which he is only 3-13 all-time on the road.

In conclusion, I think this game really will come back to win two games for the Blazers. I don't think the Mavericks are mentally tough enough to overcome a defeat like the one they experienced today. The Blazers know all the pressure is on the Mavericks in game five at home. The local media is going to be talking about the Mavericks previous playoff failures for tomorrow and game day. While the Blazers will be relaxed knowing they have nothing to lose this game. The Blazers also know if they win coming back home up three games to two the series is over. The Blazers just have to hope for Roy to keep playing like he is playing and they should be fine. While the Mavericks have to find a way to get Nowitzki involved in the fourth quarter. Nowitzki down in Dallas averaged 16.0 points per game in the fourth quarter while in Portland he scored 6.5 points per game. The series now goes back to Dallas and now becomes a best of three games. For the Blazers they'll gladly take that while the Mavericks have to wonder what happened. Game five should be interesting to see how the Mavericks react. Just remember if Roy is back to being 2009 version of Roy the Blazers will not only win this series but they'll push the Lakers the following series. Now the Blazers just hope Roy can deliver once again down in Dallas.