This was one of those games you watch because you missed basketball so much. As it were, I fell asleep somewhere mid-third quarter and woke up to a Paul Allen transcript. So, yeah, it wasn’t exactly the most compelling game. Anyway, the Blazers looked like a positively veteran squad against the Utah Jazz tonight after beating them 110 to 90 in a super easy, blowout win.
Perhaps the Blazers looked veteran because they are, in fact, a veteran squad. Before the game even started Nate indicated to the media at the Rose Garden that he wanted the starters to play at least 20 minutes. Total face-palm moment reading that, let me tell you.
Wesley Matthews: he’s still the hustle machine we all know and love. He finished with 17 points (game high) in 23 minutes, turned the ball over just once, snatched 2 steals, and had a total of 4 rebounds. He was clearly intent on making himself known as the team’s go-to-the-basket guy now that Roy’s out of the picture. All in all, this guy looked just like a more mobile and non-hobbling version of last season’s Wesley Matthews, not a bad thing, not a bad thing what-so-ever.
Nicolas Batum: looks like he has improved tremendously, especially in ball handling and court vision. I can’t quantify either of those statements, but for the first few quarters this guy was everywhere, moving gracefully off the ball, cutting effortlessly by defenders, dumping the ball to the right man in exactly the right place, and penetrating the defense with his newly confident handle. And I mean, he looked so confident, too. Batum finished with 13 points, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and two blocked shots.
Elliot Williams: we missed you!!!! I fell asleep before Williams got a chance to play (I’m glaring at you , Nate), but looking at the box score it looks like Williams was 3 for 3 from the three point line and finished with 13 points after 12 minutes. OKAY, MR. WILLIAMS! GLAD TO HAVE YOU ON THE SQUAD, AND YES , I’M TYPING IN ALL CAPS BECAUSE I CANNOT CONTAIN MY EXCITEMENT. JORDAN SWAG INDEED.
Jamal Crawford: everyone knew he was a shooter. But a passer, too?! Yes, please. Crawford finished with a team high 7 assists. But, the shooter bricked every attempt from the three, in fact, he had much more success midrange and at the basket than anywhere else on the floor. Overall, he finished with 8 points. Decent game from the newest Blazer. I am hoping to see a lot more from him when these games begin to actually count.
Nolan Smith: welcome to the NBA. In Smith, the Portland Trail Blazers look to have finally drafted a guard with some real potential. Phew, about.damn.time. In just over 12 first half minutes, Smith notched just four points. But both of those shots looked clean, well executed and complex enough to render him a player (perhaps the player on this Blazers team) with immense upside. I know he’s a four year guy, that he’s probably closer to the finished product than other young guards in this league, but the moves to the basket, his shot, his command of the offense really speak to his level of basketball IQ and range. I’m really excited about Smith this season, this guy will be a lot of fun to watch.
Chris Johnson: clearly knows this is his best chance at making the team, and he rebounded and hustled like a man possessed. I think he makes the team because he is willing to do that dirty work. Tonight he grabbed a team high 6 rebounds, and he was able to score a few buckets as well. One thing to note: his length next to Batum is outrageous. That’s what she said. I’m talking about wingspan, of course.
Gerald Wallace: turned in a very meh performance. I think he should shoot less from long range and work more off a screen and/or high pick and roll, gods know Nate loves that high screen. He made 10 points and grabbed just 4 rebounds, I guess I just expect a lot more from Wallace.
Raymond Felton: took a couple really ill advised shots way too early on the shot clock. I think I speak for all of RIP CITY when I say, “stop that, NOW.” He finished with just 4 assists (ugh) and 9 points. Do better, Felton, do better. For what it is worth, he doesn’t look quite so bloated , that has to be a good thing.
Luke Babbitt: played 26 minutes tonight. Twenty.Six.Minutes.Of.Babbitt’s.Black.Socks. I swear, when he wears those socks he looks like he forgot to take off part of his Morticia -of -the- Addams -Family costume. Seriously, his skin is that ghostly pale. Against dark socks, his legs look dead. My word.
Coincidentally, this is the precise look I gave my television screen when Babbitt entered the game.
In sum, this game means nothing, and thus, I would advise against taking any real stock in what we have witnessed here tonight. The Jazz are not a great basketball team, they’re rebuilding and have a lot of developing pieces and a guy in his first full season as head coach. They’re not exactly the OKC Thunder, youknowwhatimsayin.
The Blazers, for the umpteenth time, should be giving our young guys a lot more run. Enough of this let’s-play-the-starters, crap. Because clearly that bunch is totally fine together. I want to see more from Armon Johnson, Elliot Williams (MOAR WILLIAMS PLEASE) , Chris Johnson and Nolan Smith on Wednesday. This is a protracted pre-season schedule, the Blazers should use the games wisely, and give players with less experience what they need: experience!!