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Summer League Game 4 Recap: Blazers 74, Suns 73

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I have to admit, even though these games don’t matter it feels darn good to win. And it was nice to have an exciting finish, as well as an exciting Finnish. Shame on anybody who left before the fourth. Let’s start the usual review of the guys with a future in Portland…

Jerryd Bayless

Let’s begin with the dismal part. Bayless started the game as the point guard. That lasted all of three minutes before he had to give up and start taking it to the hoop. He got pulled for a couple of minutes and when he came back he was a shooting guard once again. He didn’t acquit himself that well at the 1. You can tell the difference between him and Koponen instantly. Petteri dribbles with his head up the whole time, seeing the floor. Bayless has his head farther down and appears to mostly see one option. The Suns also sagged off Bayless, employing a technique sure to be repeated when the regular season starts. He started the game hoisting from distance, inducing frustration from everyone involved.

Now let’s get to the good part. Bayless was superb as a shooting guard. What he did in the fourth quarter bringing this team back was amazing. He eschewed the jumper and employed an incredible assortment of drives. He had more buckets than a KFC and more twists on his moves than TominHawaii’s panties. After he had established the drive he returned to the jumper and it fell. The portion of press row that is friendly with our little contingent is cursing everything having to do with Portland right now. One of our future bench guys scored 36 in legit NBA style. I’m not willing to go quite as far as they but the kid showed a ton tonight. Clearly his best game so far. Word is he will not play tomorrow because of his commitment to the NBA Select team but his summer-capping performance should easily earn him All-Tournament honors.

Petteri Koponen

We shouldn’t forget the guy helping to set up Bayless during much of that late run. Koponen’s passes, energy, and defense to force the game-deciding over-and-back made this win possible. Like Bayless, Petteri struggled early on. He put up a lot of jumpers which looked decent until they hit the rim. He did have some aggressive drives but he only converted 2 of 13 attempts. His 5 assists and 1 turnover will be the place where he hangs his hat for this game. There was plenty of admiration for him along press row as well, albeit from different places and on a different level.

Nicolas Batum

Batum came out of his shell early…the only one of the Big Three who succeeded in the first quarter. In this case “success” looked like a couple rebound, some hard-fought defense, and a plethora of aggressive drives. Unfortunately he couldn’t finish those drives and ended up only 2-8 for the game. Still this was his most active effort yet.

The Supporting Cast:

For the first time this summer the supporting cast actually contibuted in a meaningful way that led to a win.  Of note were Bernard Robinson's 7 rebounds, the 33-36 overall rebound deficit (only 3 on a night we were outmatched in the frontcourt talent-wise), and the 27 points the other players contributed to the overall total score.  Nice job.

Random Notes on the Big Three:

--Petteri moves well without the ball and cuts quickly.

--If Summer League is any indication Bayless takes a while to warm up in a game. He won’t have that luxury in the Show, coming off the bench for limited minutes.

--Both Bayless and Batum can RUN. WOW. They are quick!

--Koponen doesn’t give up on plays. I like that about him. He fights every minute.

--Bayless moves like lightning, but Batum flows like water. If he can ever get a finishing move or two down (plus some meat on his bones) he could be amazing to watch.

Some post-game quotes from Summer League Head Coach Monty Williams:

“It was big for us not just win this game but to win it the right way.”

In response to a question about whether he was talking to Bayless more than he usually would: “He (Bayless) is our priority. Him and Petteri and Nicolas are the reason why we’re here. If we don’t have those draft picks people aren’t standing up and cheering…Our motivation is to make them better players.”

In response to whether it was a strange feeling of getting standing ovations at Summer League: “Naw, that’s just Portland, man. I heard about Blazermania when I was at other places. Now that I’m here I see it and feel it. The people of Portland are great.”

--Dave (blazersub@yahoo.com)

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UPDATE: Here's some postgame video of Coach Monty.  Turn up the volume on this one, sorry for the arena noise.  Basically: Monty loves Mr. Bayless. -- Ben (benjamin.golliver@gmail.com)