Media Row Report (Preseason): Blazers 110, Jazz 90

The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz, 110-90, during their preseason opener at the Rose Garden on Monday night.

The evening was logistically derailed by Portland Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen's surprise decision to take questions for more than a half-hour from a small group of media members one hour before the start of the game. As such, I barely watched any of the action. It would be unfair for me to write about it. Instead, wade deeply in Allen's rare, direct public communications and check Dave's piece below.

The Game
  • Read Dave's recap of the actual game here.
A Brief Note Of Correction
  • Blazers forward Kurt Thomas signed a 2-year, fully guaranteed contract according to Acting GM Chad Buchanan. I previously reported the second year was partially guaranteed per Thomas, which apparently was a miscommunication, although after re-listening to the tape of that interview I honestly have no idea how it happened or what he was talking about. Regardless, Thomas is on the veteran's minimum for 2 fully-guaranteed years. Sincere apologies to all six of you that care.
  • Forward Craig Smith says he is on a one-year deal also believed to be for the veteran's minimum.

Nate McMillan's Post-Game Comments

Thoughts on first game

I thought it was a good start. I liked our defense. I thought we were active. The second quarter we started to give up some offensive boards. I think we gave up 10 offensive boards with that second offensive group but I liked the defensive intensity. And then early offense, I thought those guys did a good job pushing the ball, our spacing was good, we had good ball movement, we should have had more points but we didn't knock down more shots. 6-23 from the 3-point line and I think 10 of those threes were wide open looks so we're going to have to knock down those shots but I like the start, especially on the defensive end of the floor. Really active in our pick-and-roll defense and our rotation was good. Lot of guys played well.

Not that sloppy

I thought they did a nice job. Our guards did a good job, Raymond and Crawford and Nolan Smith, Armon, those guys did a good job of getting to the tempo we want. It starts from the defensive end of the floor and offensively they pushed the ball. They called good sets for the most part. They did a good job of recognizing where the ball needed to go and they called their own sets. They did a good job.

Surprised it wasn't more sloppy?

I thought our conditioning looked OK. What we talked about a week from today we'll be playing our opener. Don't save yourself, push yourself, work yourself into shape. I thought those guys did that. We came in with our bench and played a lot of guys. It wasn't really a lot of drop off when we substituted.

Luke Babbitt fell in front of bench and 8 guys helped him at once. Team chemistry developing?

They've been good. They've been like that throughout training camp. Supporting each other. Coming in and working. Just trying to compete and everybody knows that they want to play and they're competing for time but they're supportive. They've been a team throughout training camp. What you saw tonight has been the atmosphere from day one.

Jamal Crawford at the one

I thought he was good. He got a little winded. We started him at the two with Raymond and then brought in Nolan and moved him to the two, we flip-flopped in the second half to give Elliot some time and moved him back to the one. He can play both spots comfortable, and we'll take advantage of whoever is matched up with him. I thought he did a nice job, he got his second wind in the second half, even though he was winded the first half he was able to make some shots. He did a good job of controlling the tempo again the second half.

Nolan and Elliot competing for minutes?

They all want minutes. I thought both guys came in tonight and played well. Nolan was good the first half. The second half I wanted to see Elliot with Crawford. I thought Babbitt made some plays tonight. Crisp. Everybody really played a solid game.

Wesley going to the basket more?

Well, yeah, from the team. We want to take the open shot but we want to win the free throw line. That's our game every single night. Win the free throw line. When you attack the basket, whether you penetrate or you go through the post up, it's going to open up the perimeter. We don't want to settle for jump shots. Tonight we had good spacing, our guys attacked the basket when the defense collapsed they kicked the ball out and we had open looks. We want everybody being aggressive going to the basket and not just settling for contested j's.

What do you want to see fixed on Wednesday?

I'll look at tape tonight. What we want to do is build. Build, condition ourselves, don't save yourself, hopefully we'll have LaMarcus and we'll be able to see him in that starting lineup, then have Nic coming off the bench. We still have to look at our guys in different combinations but I'll play the same way. Play a lot of guys, trying to condition guys to play the style of basketball we want to play. I thought tonight that first unit established how we want to play defensively, we came up with steals, I think we had two steals to start the third quarter. We didn't convert but we came out very aggressive.

Frontcourt depth

Very active. We're going to need all of our guys to play and I thought they all played well. Chris was very active, blocking some shots, playing around the rim. Smith came in and gave us another, a different look. A guy that can post up and you can give him the ball. It gives us a versatility with these bigs. I thought Kurt was good knocking down his 18-foot jump shot. We just need to rebound the ball. That was the thing that really hurt us I thought tonight.

New bigs will help Aldridge

I hope they continue to get better. We're going to need that because the number of games we're playing in a short period of time. We're going to have to rest L.A. and try to keep his minutes down where he can be productive in maybe 35, or if we can get him to 30, that would be great. Those guys can step in and give him some time. I think they can.

Small line-up can pressure opponent's defense

As long as we rebound, if we can rebound with that unit we'll play it. But sometimes you can get pounded doing that. I thought Gerald was really active, Okur we felt like was a pretty good match-up for Gerald tonight. He normally is playing on the perimeter and not in the post. Gerald came up with a few traps guarding him. We'll go to that combination of players where Gerald is at the four and Nic is at the four. The main thing with that lineup, they have to rebound the ball with Camby and Kurt at the center, and even LaMarcus at the center, we've got to rebound the ball. That was the area we didn't do well at tonight.

Message from Paul Allen to Nate this year

I know his challenge for me and I challenge myself to try to take this team farther than we did last year and improve and get better. He has made it where we could add some help to our roster by allowing us to spend a little money. [Grins] He knows that he wants to win. So do I. We've been able to put a team together that we think can give us a chance to win.

-- Ben Golliver | benjamin.golliver@gmail.com | Twitter

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