Man, I was so pumped for the Blazers to finally play a game and then they did. Ugh. I guess I forgot how dull exhibition games can be.
Sorry folks, but there’s no way you can draw meaningful conclusions from that game. I’d like to tell you I agree with the consensus that the Portland defense is improved — but there wasn’t a lot of evidence of that. The players that the Clips put on the floor just weren’t good enough to test that theory.
It didn’t merit a mention in The Oregonian today, but the fact is, the best two Clipper players — Baron Davis and Eric Gordon — did not suit up for the game. Yes, Portland held Los Angeles to 43.8 percent shooting. Well, that’s OK, I guess. And they “forced” 26 Clipper turnovers. Yeah, except that they didn’t really force anywhere near that many. A good many of those turnovers were unforced errors, just stupid plays made by stupid players.
Look, I’m not trashing the Blazers. I’m just trying to be honest about the game. The Clippers have a new coaching staff and several new players. And they left their best two guards — and their two toughest players to guard — on the bench. Just don’t go too crazy over the Blazer “defensive improvement” or anything else.
And really, you’re always going to look pretty good when you make 59 percent of your three-point field goals. And you have a pretty good chance of making a lot of threes if you’re standing, wide open, at the three-point line. The Clippers were disorganized on defense and simply not yet ready to play a real game — at least with that squad.
The big story for the Blazers was the continued good play of Rudy Fernandez. In just 22:46 he hit five of eight shots, including five of six from long range, grabbed five rebounds and had three assists. He was basically terrific.
It’s hard to believe this guy is pining to go home. But he’s apparently as firm as ever in the stance that he wants to bail out of here for Spain. By the way, we’ve scheduled his European agent, Gerard Darnes, for an appearance on the Morning Sports Page (95.5 The Game) this morning at 8 o’clock and you better give a listen because agents don’t go on the radio — don’t ask to go on the radio — unless they’ve got a pretty important message to put out. We expect it to be an explosive segment.
Brandon Roy, by the way, didn’t shoot the ball real well but the guy’s ready for the season. I’d not play him all that much in the exhibition season. The guy looks to me to be in the best shape he’s ever been in as a Blazer and I think I’d allow him to go easy before the counting games.