Thunder 94, Timberwolves 92...
Thunder-Timberwolves, Box...
Wolves' Love, Thunder's Collis...
ROSTER REPORT 2010-01-20...
NOTES, QUOTES 2010-01-20...
Thunder-Timberwolves Preview 2...
Presented By: 2010-01-19...
ROSTER REPORT 2010-01-19...
NOTES, QUOTES 2010-01-19...
Thunder's blueprint to success...
Links to possible OKC team log...
Howard Schultz drops Sonics su...
OKC signs Kyle Weaver...
OKC team announces basketball ...
Web viewing of NBA games may s...
Brand has surgury
Brand has surgury
Brand has surgury
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
Add to Google
Add to My Yahoo!
Subscribe in NewsGator Online
Add to Windows Live
News » These guys are just pooped

These guys are just pooped

These guys are just pooped
SUMMARY: The All-Star break can't come soon enough for the Blazers,

many of whom are nearing career highs in minutes played

These guys are just pooped The fatigue

is more than

just physical


TUALATIN --The NBA All-Star break is just three days away, but please, oh please, don't remind the Trail Blazers.

The team has crossed the 50-game mark of the season with its best standing in six years --a 31-19 record and fourth in the Western Conference. But before it starts to relish this success and scatter for the much-desired All-Star break, there remains a significant obstacle: back-to-back games against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Golden State Warriors.

"It's tough to play those last few games before the break because, well, it's like the last day of school, almost," veteran center Joel Przybilla said. "Everyone's thinking about the summertime and thinking about the break and everyone is mentally and physically ready for a break (from the season)."

Indeed. The Blazers have just finished up lunch in the quad --coach Nate McMillan gave them a day off Monday --and are about to head to fifth and sixth periods. They're trying to keep their focus on the final exams awaiting them in their last two classes (Oklahoma City, Golden State), while trying to ignore that imminent, alluring summer vacation (the All-Star break.)

And if ever there was a team in need of a break, it's this Blazers group. Although they have won six of their last eight games --a drastic improvement over their pre-All-Starbreak record of a year ago (3-7) --the Blazers' focus has been tested. They've trailed by at least 13 points in each of their last four games and have played some of their poorest defense of the season over the last week.

The Blazers, like every team in the league, are facing a mix of mental and physical fatigue.

LaMarcus Aldridge (1,826 minutes) and Sergio Rodriguez (834 minutes) have logged more playing time than at any point in their brief careers through the first 50 games of the season. If not for a four-game absence because of a hamstring injury, so too would Brandon Roy (1,719 minutes). And that doesn't include the contributions of rookies Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez, Nicolas Batum and Jerryd Bayless, who have played more Basketball the past seven months than at any other time in their lives.

Add Travis Outlaw (1,329 minutes) and Przybilla (1,097 minutes), who are on pace to approach their career-highs in minutes played by the end of the regular season, and everyone in the Blazers' playing rotation is at or near his career-high in minutes played.

"I've been inside the gym since August," Rodriguez said, smirking and pointing around the Blazers' practice facility in Tualatin on Tuesday after practice. "And I want to get away a little bit and try to relax. I'll be with my girlfriend and I'll be with some friends I have in San Francisco. It'll be nice to relax, it'll be nice to get away and I think everybody needs this break."

But, Rodriguez was quick to add: "We have to make sure we win the next two games first."

The good news is that the Blazers shouldn't have any trouble finding motivation for tonight's opponent. The Thunder thumped them last week in Oklahoma City, building a 22-point lead en route to a 102-93 victory. The Thunder racked up 52 points in the paint and 13 fast-break points, while shooting 50 percent from the field --including 58.5 percent in the first half.

McMillan on Tuesday called the loss "embarrassing."

"They kicked our butt last game, so we just have to make sure we go out there and play much better defense and we'll give ourselves a good chance to win this game," Roy said. "These two games are really important to us. All-Star break will come . . . after the game Thursday. But right now, we gotta come out ready to play (Wednesday)."

So, if for only three days, the Blazers will ignore their upcoming vacations. Przybilla will try to temporarily forget a trip to Milwaukee, where he lives in the offseason and where his wife, Noelle, and son, Anthony, have already traveled in preparation for Anthony's third birthday. Rodriguez will ignore urges to think about four days of vacation in San Francisco. And so on and so on.

There's two classes left in school and the outcomes of these final exams will go a long way toward determining whether the Blazers finish the school year with an A (by making the playoffs) or an F (failing to make the playoffs).

"We come back (from the All-Star break) and I think we have 30 games and it's going to be a dogfight," Przybilla said. "There's nine teams fighting for eight spots and the margin of error is going to be very slim. You can't let any games slip away. We have to get everyone on board because these games are very important. They could make or break our season. Seriously. If we drop these next two games, it could be two games that (keeps) us out of the playoffs."


Aldridge missed Tuesday's practice with a right hip injury but is probable for tonight's game against the Thunder. The Blazers' starting power forward suffered his injury when he dove for a loose ball Sunday against the New York Knicks. . . . Starting point guard Steve Blake, who has missed 11 of the last 12 games with a separated right shoulder, practiced Tuesday with the team and will be reevaluated today before the game. McMillan said he was doubtful.

Joe Freeman: 503-294-5183; To read his Behind the Beat blog, go to behindblazersbeat/

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: February 13, 2009


Copyright ©, Inc. All rights reserved 2019.