SH Blog: Aldridge rushing return; Kobe calls out Shaq; Bosh says Big 3 will return to Miami; Westbrook uncertain of playoffs minute restriction

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AldridgeLillardSH1As teams continue to jockey for position in the Western Conference — and fight for 50 wins just to get in — one of the early season darlings continues to sink.

That would be the Portland Trailblazers. Once the talk of the NBA, the Blazers have hit a rough patch at the worst possible time, losing nine of their last 13 games and are now just a half game ahead of the Golden State Warriors for the 6th spot in the West. 

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Lillard, Aldridge and Blazers defiantly winning with their brand of basketball

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AldridgeLillardSH1Portland is a unique, interesting and unconventional city to say the least. That unique and unconventional nature extends to their basketball team, where the Portland Trail Blazers are winning games at a high rate doing things their own way.

While the league is trending toward discouraging players from long two-point shots, Portland embraces it. Portland plays their starters more than anyone else, hit more threes than anyone else and lead the league in free throw shooting. Is their defense lacking? Sure, but the surprising Blazers have the fifth best record in the league at the 50-game point in the season. And they’re not here to apologize for the way they play.

SH Blog: Kobe Announces His Return; Heat Talk Trade; Rose Not Ruling Out Playoff Return

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kobeIt’s official, Kobe Bryant is returning to the court this Sunday against the Toronto Raptors after an eight-month recovery from a torn Achilles that sidelined him during last years playoffs.

While that technically is the “news” of the day, it sure isn’t the talk of the town. That is because Kobe announced his comeback with an extravagant, two minute video via Facebook titled “Seasons of Legend.” The video entails nothing more than Kobe’s jersey flapping in a windy sky. For two minutes. 

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Sprung: Freedom, chemistry behind Trail Blazers’ early success

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BROOKLYN – Portland Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts doesn’t run any crazy offensive scheme. He just tries to get the most out of his talented players. Often this season, that has meant letting his shooters shoot with the rest taking care of itself.

Wesley MatthewsSo far, that has been a major key to the success of the NBA’s hottest team. It seems simple, but in a sporting landscape where coaches like to exert influence or control, sometimes giving individuals freedom can get the most out of a ballclub.

A prime example took place in the first quarter of Portland’s 108-98 win in Brooklyn, when Wes Matthews hit four 3-pointers without a miss over the first six minutes.

“After the first one went in, I started hunting a little more,” he said. “The second one went in and I was definitely hunting for it.”

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StatBox Free Agency Breakdown: Grizzlies hope Fab Melo amounts to something after Celtics give up

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In a seemingly minor trade, two former first-round picks from Syracuse were swapped for one another Thursday. Boston sent 2012 first-rounder Fab Melo to Memphis for the non-guaranteed contract of Donte Greene. This trade has relatively minor implications, but an impact nonetheless that will be laid out.

Screen Shot 2013-08-16 at 11.45.28 AMIt would be a surprise if Greene plays a single minute for the Celtics. The former Sacramento King didn’t play last season after breaking his ankle last summer. This was after a 2011-2012 season where he shot 40.6 percent from the field (exactly his career average) and a horrific 23.8 percent from the arc.

Even with this ghastly percentage, Greene still managed to hoist two 3-pointers per content in 53 games. Perplexing. Despite being nearly 7 feet tall, he has averaged just 5.1 rebounds per 36 minutes over his four-year career.