No Brandon, No LaMarcus, No Rudy, No Martell, No Channing, No Steve. Other than that, this afternoon's scrimmage against the Jazz featured all sorts of great action. In today's bizarro world, Greg was the only one of our original projected opening night starters that actually played. Could anyone have guessed that 3 weeks ago?
The team has this entire week to lick its wounds and get some serious practice time in, and it's a good thing. Not that much could have been expected from the tatters of our lineup tonight against a Jazz team that featured both Deron Williams and Carlos Boozer, but there were definitely some areas that could use some correction: offense, defense and turnovers among them.
Some brief thoughts:
Nic Batum: greatest small forward ever, or THE greatest small forward ever? He won his position against Andrei Kirilenko tonight, hands down. When those two get together it's like 18 feet worth of arms. Anyway, given the size of their contracts, it must have made the brain trust smile to see Batum do what he was doing. Nic shut him down, stayed with him, out-worked him and contested every shot, except one alley-oop dunk in which he got fooled on a back cut. Also, when guarding Korver, Batum unveiled a vet's trick (no doubt taught to him by Monty) of grabbing KK's back while coming off a screen. Ref couldn't see it so it didn't happen. Nic you're a quick study. The radio guys are pushing for him to start in lieu of Martell's injury and Travis's comfort in leading the bench unit. That is a longer-than-long shot but there's a poll at the bottom so that you can vote on this.
Sergio did better than expected against D-Will. He did sail one pass into a pack of Jerry Sloan's friends near the beginning of the game, and he did get his pocket picked clean for an and-one layup during the 2nd half. Otherwise he was solid. Especially given the talent that was surrounding him tonight. He is tracking nicely into the backup point guard slot. How many minutes that spot gets once the season starts, well, we'll have to wait and see.
Bayless is dealing with the cold reality of being a rookie. The player on media day who said that he wasn't afraid of anyone is not the same player who found himself sitting on the ground at the end of the team's bench tonight, frustrated look fixed on his face. He was in full-on predator mode on the court tonight; Dick Bavetta, you're lucky to be alive. We all are.
Random Game Notes:
-- UW coach Lorenzo Romar was in the building, sitting about 8 rows in front of us. His daughter and wife have the exact same haircut. Literally, exactly the same. Awk-ward.
-- Rumor has it that at least one important member of the Blazers brain trust is solidly in Shavlik Randolph's corner. Quick has already reported that Nate has hinted that Steven Hill will be the guy at spot #15. Don't call it a chasm. With 43 power forwards on the roster and only 2 centers, it still seems like the safe money is on Hill. But, I guess this can continue to be a debate...
-- Shavlik fun facts... he is named after his grandfather who was also a big time basketball player... His brother is named Dexter... He wears #42 because his grandfather wore #84... so that's like half, right? I see what you did there, Shav. At least you didn't go square root on me.
-- Is Sergio rubbing off on Jerryd? After an airball, Jerryd looked down at both of his hands in disbelief.
-- Travis finally found his jumper, thank goodness. It must have been hiding from his green car.
-- On the plus side, Jerryd and parents did convene the first meeting of the Blazers Sartorial Club (name pending) with team President Larry Miller after the game tonight. No two people in the organization floss harder than those two. Tonight, Jerryd's shoes appeared to be Italian leather and are worth more than my life.
-- Ike Diogu. You're killing me.
-- Nate was a little bit terse at the post-game session today, answering questions with a slight annoyance to his voice that normally isn't there. I know I get pretty antsy whenever Brandon isn't around too, so I understand and sympathize.
-- Ben (email@example.com)