Missing every single member of their starting core, the Portland Trail Blazers fielded Ryan Arcidiacono, Shaedon Sharpe, Matisse Thybulle, Trendon Watford, and Drew Eubanks at tip-off against the Chicago Bulls on Friday. Predictably, they lost in spectacular fashion, 124-96.
But the game was good training for a lot of players who would not usually log such heavy minutes. Particularly Sharpe, who played a team-high 38 minutes and scored a team-high 24 points.
After the game, Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups was asked what the young guys got out of this blowout, and he had the right answer.
Experience. Obviously, for Shae, I thought offensively he was pretty good. Defensively he wasn’t bad, but tough matchup for him. That’s the reason why I wanted to put him on Zach (LaVine), you know, he needs to see what it’s like in the fire. And Zach is a tough matchup for anybody. If I can recall, I remember last year we played him here, I think he had 46 or something on us. But he’s just that good. I thought it was good to challenge Shaedon with those tough matchups. I’ll continue to do that because it’s the only way he can really learn, but, otherwise, shoot, some of our other guys played okay, we just couldn’t make a shot. But just there’s no continuity with those units out there, so it was tough sledding the whole time.
LaVine contributed a game-high 33 points to the Bulls’ victory, but, ultimately, you can’t ask for more from Sharpe at this point of the season. Heavy minutes, a green light on offense, and a tough assignment on defense is what we want to see for the rookie every night through the rest of the regular season if Portland openly tanks.
The team now has a record of 32-41, still good for the No. 13 spot in the Western Conference standings where they seem to have settled for the long haul.