Before the Portland Trail Blazers decided to become an offensive juggernaut and take the Western Conference by storm this season, they spent the summer wondering whether their longtime partnership with All-Star big man LaMarcus Aldridge would work out.
Now that he's looking like a top-10 player and the Blazers are winning, all is obviously forgiven, and Aldridge seems happier in Portland now. Ben Golliver of Blazer's Edge has the quote from The Jim Rome Show, which Aldridge appeared on earlier this week:
It was just me being overly emotional at the time. Nobody wants to lose. I'm in my prime right now. At the time, I was a little emotional about not winning or what not. After I had time to talk to Neil and the team, I knew they were going to make some moves, bring some guys in.
During the offseason, instead of trading Aldridge, Portland loaded up by adding Mo Williams, Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright and Thomas Robinson. Under new coach Terry Stotts, the Blazers are 17-3 this season -- the best record in the Western Conference.
Aldridge is averaging a career-high 23.4 points and 10 rebounds in 36.8 minutes per game this season.
TV ratings blowing up in Indiana
With the Indiana Pacers playing great basketball and little else going on in the Midwestern state, TV ratings for the team's live game broadcasts on Fox Sports Indiana have reportedly skyrocketed. As Tom Lewis of Indy Cornrows writes, "FSI reported a 113 percent ratings increase over a year ago with the best ratings in November since 2005."
Back in 2005, the Pacers were one of the top teams in the East thanks to Jermaine O'Neal and Stephen Jackson. However, the Malice at the Palace in November 2004 drastically changed the team's fortunes in the coming years, causing fans to turn their attention elsewhere.
But now that Paul George and Roy Hibbert have led a resurgence for Pacers basketball, fans have flocked back. The team's recent road game against the Charlotte Bobcats was the most-watched broadcast of the Pacers since April 20, 2005, when the team played Chicago. This game was against the Bobcats! The Bobcats!
So as the Pacers keep winning, it looks like Fox Sports will win, too.
Luol Deng out Saturday night
Chicago Bulls forward Luol Deng did not participate in practice Saturday afternoon and will be sidelined for the game against the Detroit Pistons on Saturday night. As ESPN.com's Nick Friedell reports, Deng has been dealing with a calf injury of late.
Head coach Tom Thibodeau spoke about his status after practice, when he was considered a game-time decision:
"It's just some tightness or stiffness that he has so he doesn't know exactly when it happened," Thibodeau said. "(The training staff) is working on him. We're also looking at where we are in the schedule. We'll see."
As Blog a Bull notes, Deng has been playing fantastic since Derrick Rose's season-ending injury, but he'll have a tough time avoiding his own nagging issues given the minutes he logs. Some rest might be enough for him to get right.
Gordon Hayward embraces bigger role
With guys like Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson playing their basketball elsewhere, the Utah Jazz needed guys to step up and take on that scoring load. So far, nobody has done more to expand his game for the struggling Jazz than wing Gordon Hayward, who's played a league-high 760 minutes this season.
As he explains to Jeff Zillgitt of USA Today, he's enjoying the new role:
"It's a bigger role, and I accept the challenge for sure," Hayward told USA TODAY Sports. "It's exciting to have that opportunity in front of you. I'm doing a better job facilitating and making plays for others. I just haven't shot the ball well this season. Hopefully that picks up and I'll be doing all right."
After putting in about 30 minutes per game during the previous two seasons, Hayward is up to 36 minutes per contest in 2013-14. As a result, he's averaging career-high per-game numbers across the board -- 16.4 points, 5.2 rebounds, 5.0 assists and 1.4 steals a game.
Unfortunately, that higher usage has taken a toll on Hayward's efficiency so far this season. He's shooting a career-low 39 percent from the field and just 28 percent from three-point range. Last season, he shot 44 percent overall and hit 42 percent of his threes.
Knicks won't consider trading Carmelo Anthony
If dire circumstances call for desperate measure, one might suggest the New York Knicks consider trading star forward Carmelo Anthony. However, it doesn't look like that'll happen, even as Anthony talks free agency amidst a flailing season in New York.
"The Knicks, sources say, have zero intention of trading Anthony no matter what he says about next summer," writes Brian Windhorst of ESPN.com. "Not only did owner Jim Dolan personally seal the deal to bring Anthony to New York, but the front office realizes it has one of the most talented players in the league and won't be able to get fair value in return."
Who knows what the trade market for Anthony might look like if he were available. We probably won't get to find out, though he's set to hit free agency next summer.