Friday, October 31, 2008

New at the Rose Garden tonight

If you haven't been around the Rose Garden in a while, you might be surprised to know that some changes have been made. If you're coming to the game tonight, you'll certainly know what I'm talking about.

First off, we've got a new "Rise With Us" banner (seen above) just installed on the grain silos off Interstate Blvd. Looks pretty sharp if you ask me.

And while we're on the topic of large images on the side of buildings, there will be a giant Blazers video projected onto the side of Rose Garden where the "Fans" jersey hung last year. Be sure to check that out as well.

Two new places to buy stuff as well. The new fan shop is now complete, providing even more apparel and accessories than ever before. The shop is also now open every day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., so you can get a hold of new Trail Blazers gear even on non-game days.

The Widmer Brothers Fan Haus also opens as well. Designed to replicate the Gasthaus Pub, the Fan Haus will serve an array of Widmer Brothers beer, as well as wine and spirits. Directly adjacent, the Fan Haus II concession will serve pub fare to complement the award-winning craft beers.

And especially since it's only in town for the night, be sure to check out the NBA on ESPN RV near the Essential Forces fountain. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that's the RV that they used to shoot those commercials with Jeff Van Gundy. That'll be in the Smithsonian someday.

Martell Webster signed to contract extension

News just out of One Center Court that Martell Webster has been signed to a contract extension. Terms, as always, were not disclosed.

No big surprise that Martell was signed given how high the team is on him, but good to hear nonetheless. Below is the press release.
The Portland Trail Blazers signed guard/forward Martell Webster to a multi-year contract extension, it was announced today by General Manager Kevin Pritchard. Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

“Martell has worked extremely hard to become the talented player that he is,” said Pritchard. “He’s only 22, so we expect to see even more from him as he gains experience and continues to improve. Martell exhibits all the things we expect from a Trail Blazers player, both on and off the court.”

Webster averaged career highs of 10.7 points, 3.9 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 28.4 minutes in 75 games (70 starts) last season. He was 123-for-317 (38.8%) from 3-point range in 2007-08, pacing the team in 3-pointers made.

“I’m so excited and honored,” said Webster. “Knowing that I’m going to be a part of the Trail Blazers family for many years to come is very important and special to me.”

Portland selected Webster in the first round (sixth pick overall) of the 2005 NBA Draft out of Seattle Prep. The fourth-year player holds career averages of 8.2 points, 3.1 rebounds and 0.8 assists.

Webster ranks No. 7 on the Trail Blazers’ all-time list of 3-pointers made with 279.

Video: Nate McMillan after shoot around

Most of the guys beat feet out of the practice facility today, but Nate McMillan was kind enough answer a few questions. In the video below, McMillan talks about getting more aggressive, executing the offense in the face of physical play and dishing out some physicality of their own.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

A wish and a lift

It's been a rough couple of days for the Portland Trail Blazers. The combination of getting blown out on opening night and Greg Oden's foot injury seemed to take the wind out of this team's sails. But today at the practice facility a friend of the team helped shed a bit of perspective on the things that are most important in life.

Cody Wippel, a life-long Trail Blazers fan, has osteosarcoma, the most common type of bone cancer in people ages 10 to 25. It's a life-threatening condition, one that has forced Cody to endure chemotherapy, surgeries and weeks in the hospital. It's a tough fight, but it's one Cody seems to be winning.

So today in Tualatin, Cody was invited along with a friend to watch the Trail Blazers practice, something that few people outside of the organization ever get to do. That in and of itself is pretty cool, but the big surprise came after practice when head coach Nate McMillan called Cody to center court and presented him with two season tickets which were donated by the team to the Make-A-Wish Foundation to fulfill Cody's wish. It was an act that was meant to lift Cody's spirits, but according to Nate McMillan, having Cody at practice lifted the team's spirits as well.

"I met Cody last year," said McMillan. "He's a huge Blazers fan and it's great to see him doing good.

"It was really a lift for the team. We were a little bit down. We need to get fired up and get ready for this game tomorrow and Cody brought a smile to the guy's faces today. It's nice to see him doing well."

Sometimes we put so much thought and energy into this team that we need to take a step back and realize that there are bigger things at stake than the game. Having Cody around today seemed to help the team realize that.

Video: Greg Oden speaks

Here's some video from Greg Oden's comments after practice today. The big guy seemed to be in pretty good spirits, all things considered.

10.30.08 Edition of the Podcast

Hey folks, it's the first podcast of the regular season! Now it counts.

This week's edition of the podcast featuring Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of is now available for podcasting.

This week we discuss Greg Oden's mid-foot sprain, the debacle of a game that was the opener in Los Angeles, the backup point guard position all while making fairly obvious poker analogies. It's totally aces.

Download the podcast (43.9 MB).

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Postgame quotes from Staples

Sorry for the tardiness of these quotes from last night's game. A late arrival home and a busy day will do that.

Trail Blazers’ coach Nate McMillan on his team’s loss:

“We were a little nervous. I’ll take some of the blame for this. A lot of it was trying to keep guys healthy, be careful and cautious. The play went up tonight and we weren’t ready for that. Out execution wasn’t quite there.”

Nate McMillan on the Lakers’ aggressive performance:

“The Lakers came out and they were on a mission. They were the aggressors. We needed to be the aggressors. They jumped on us and kept the pressure on. We couldn’t run our offense and get in there defensively, we couldn’t run our schemes. It was just total domination.”

Nate McMillan on Rudy Fernandez’s performance:

“Rudy was the one player that was pretty aggressive out there tonight. He made some shots and went to the basket hard. He did some nice things and he seemed pretty comfortable.”

Nate McMillan on what to take away from Tuesday’s game:

“We have to work. Tonight we saw what it was like to play in the West against a team like the Lakers. We have to get back to practice, look at film tomorrow and keep in mind the intensity is only going to get higher.”

Channing Frye on the Trail Blazers’ effort:

“They did what they needed to do. They disrupted our whole offense and our whole system. They completely threw us off and they definitely proved a point tonight. We have a lot of work to do but we have to remember this game. They were on a roll.”

Brandon Roy on his performance:

“I felt like I was ready for the game, but once the game started I was too excited and everything fell off. I did a terrible job tonight especially for opening night when my teammates expect a lot out of me.”

Roy on Greg Oden’s status:

“I don’t know what the situation is; I just can’t wait until Friday. It doesn’t matter whose playing, we have to do a good job to bounce back because this is disappointing. I talked to him (Oden) and he said his foot was bothering him a little bit.”

LaMarcus Aldridge on the Trail Blazers’ performance:

“I think we now know what we have to improve on such as executing and communicating on the court. Tomorrow we need to have a good practice.”

Aldridge on Greg Oden’s performance:

“Unsure … scared … I don’t think was really scared but everyone was passive. I can say for myself I think my whole mentality was to play off of Greg which is a different mentality I possessed from last year, so I felt like I was playing passive as well.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oden to have MRI today

UPDATE: More on Oden's foot. It's being called a mid-foot sprain. X-rays inconclusive. Oden will undergo an MRI tomorrow.

Word is the injury occurred when Oden was fouled by Andrew Bynum in the first quarter.

We've just learned that Greg Oden injured his right foot and will not return to the game. X-ray's are being done. Nothing about this night is going the way we had hoped.

(Ed. note: I've changed the headline of this post to reflect the change in the timing of the announcement.)

Taking it to Kobe

Just a few minutes from tip, so I don't have time to say anything clever or pointion. Nevertheless, I wanted to share with you what Brandon Roy had to say this afternoon regarding Kobe. Take it away Brandon:

"For me it’s just a matter of forcing Kobe to earn every shot he takes tonight. There’s things you can’t do because he’s so talented and can adjust so well, but for me, it’s my job to make his game tough tonight.

"Offensively I need to put a lot of pressure on him so he’s not saving all of his energy to go at me. I’ve got to try and return the favor and go at him. So it’s forcing him into tough shots and expecting some help from my guys."

Enough talk and typing. It's time to take it to the floor. Go Trail Blazers!

Video: Nate McMillan pregame

As promised, here's the video of Nate McMillan's pregame comments to the media. McMillan discusses Greg Oden, the decision to start Travis Outlaw and what he told his team before the game. Give it a look before we set it off here at the Staples Center.

Trail Blazers to the fans: 'We feel you'

Just an hour away from the tip here at Staples. Nate McMillan just got done with his pregame media availability and hopefully, technology permitting, I'll have that up before gametime.

But in the interim, lets discuss anticipation. Or rather, lets let the players discuss anticipation. I asked some of the players and coaches about their thoughts on the build up to tonight's affair. No surprise that all mentioned the positive vibes they've been getting from you, the faithful Trail Blazers fans.

Brandon Roy: “I feel it from the fans. But I think the good thing about this team is that we’re not over-excited for it. It’s like, this is our business. It’s great for the fans to be excited, great for the media to be excited but we’ve got a job to do and that’s to take out time, go out there and play the best basketball.

But we are excited. It’s Game One. We’re happy about it, but it’s a long season and we’ve got to be prepared for it.”

Kevin Pritchard: "People are excited. Every team in the league right now is looking like, ‘Man, I can’t wait for this season!’ But it’s the teams that know this is a marathon and not a sprint. And so, it goes back to: Are we a better team at the end of November than we are at the beginning of November. And if we are and we can say that every month, I feel very confident we’re going to get to where we want to go.”

Travis Outlaw:
"Well, this is the most anticipation since I’ve been here. I’ve heard the playoff days were crazy, but since I’ve been here, yes. You can’t even walk around without people saying, ‘We can’t wait for the first game!’ It’s a big difference."

LaMarcus Aldridge: "I definitely feel it from the fans. Going to the store, being out and about, the atmosphere is better. People love seeing you out, the love talking to you. They always say, ‘I got season tickets’ or ‘I’m going to be at this game or that game.’ So I think you can definitely feel a different atmosphere right now.

"Everybody is excited to play. Guys are ready to play. It was a long offseason, so guys are ready to play."

Nate McMillan: "I’m ready to get going, start playing so our guys can get out there and see what it’s all about. As far as expectations and our goals that we’ve set and people having expectations and you having expectations of yourself in a time where you can basically shape the future of this franchise."

Video: Oden, Roy at shootaround

About two hours from tip here at the Staples Center and the place is electric. More media than you could shake a microphone at. Bill Plaschke is taking about the World Series being irrelevant. And he's wearing the same outfit he wore on Around the Horn earlier today.

Here's video of Greg Oden and Brandon Roy talking to the media (which in this case was me and two L.A. television crews). The video with Nate McMillan is right below this here post. Still more to come!

Video: Nate McMillan at shootaround

Brandon Roy couldn't be more ready

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Brandon Roy is nails and ice all rolled up into a 6-6 combo guard package. In fact, I think he might actually be exuding confidence, literally. If I can get a sample of B.Roy's sweat, I'm sending it to a lab for testing because whatever has gotten into that man needs to be harnessed for the betterment of mankind.

It sounds like gushing (and to a certain extent, I guess it is) but I can't think of a better way to describe the way Roy is carrying and conducting himself these days. He's like a Buddhist monk with a jump shot. Supreme confidence coupled with unflappable tranquility. He's just so ... ready.

"Honestly, I’m excited about tonight’s game," said Roy, "but this is the most relaxed I’ve been going into a big game in a long time. Last night I thought about (the season opener) but after that I talked to my parents and it was kind of in the back of my mind."

And even though I've got a suspicion that he might be a futuristic cyborg sent back through time to change the destiny of one NBA franchise, Roy's explanation as to how he's gained such self-assurance is bit more realistic.

"I just think it's experience and a sense that I’m prepared," said Roy. "I’ve done everything that I can up to this point and now I’m just trying to relax.

"I think the thing is, we have a good team. We have a team that can win. We just can’t get too excited about it or go out there and be nervous. We have to relax, and I feel like that’s what I’ve done. I feel confident. For the first time (the season opener) wasn’t on my mind really heavy last night. It was something I thought about and then it was like, alright, I can’t wait until the game."

Neither can we.

Outlaw gets the starting nod

Nate McMillan is messing with your mind.

After declaring yesterday that Nicolas Batum, the summer league disappointment turned preseason defensive wunderkind, would get the start versus the Lakers, McMillan decided to mix it up. Travis Outlaw, the longest tenured Trail Blazer, will get the start, with Batum moving to the second unit.

"After sleeping on it, I've decided it's just the right thing to do," McMillan told The Oregonian's Jason Quick. "There are a number of reasons, and one of them is Travis is at the point now that he needs the opportunity to show what he can do."

Outlaw practiced with the first unit at shootaround today, so unless Nate takes a nap between now and game time and has another change of heart, expect TO to be in there come the opening tip.

Greg Oden rides the bull

On the eve of his first real game in the NBA, Greg Oden made sure to keep it mellow. Or to be more specific, Greg's mom made sure her son would be well fed and rested before his debut at the Staples Center.

"My mom threw a dinner," said Oden. "My dad came out and a couple of people that I’ve know for years -- she got them all a suite -- so I went out to dinner with them. Then I came back to the hotel and watched TV all night."

But what does a 20 year old with the world at his fingertips watch on a Monday night in Santa Monica? The George Lopez Show and The Fresh Prince of Bel Aire. What else would you expect from G.O.?

Greg's night got even more exciting from there.

"I passed out quick," said Oden. "Drank a Red Bull before I went to sleep and just crashed! Crashed in 15 minutes."

But don't most people drink Red Bull to, you know, stay awake? Maybe so, but that ain't Greg Oden.

"I always get a sugar high, then I crash," Oden explained. "Before I go to sleep when I’m at home I eat a sweet bowl of cereal, like Cap’n Crunch, so I get a sugar high and then I crash."

Family dinner, reruns and Red Bull. Not exactly glamorous, but good enough for G.O.

Link it up: Tuesday

Greetings from Los Angeles. Santa Monica to be specific. We'll have lots of original content for you to consume today, but lets start the day off with what others have produced.

• First up, a video preview of tonight's game from

Jason Quick, The Oregonian: Two days before the Trail Blazers' first practice, and one day before the team would greet reporters for its annual media day, a season of potential took its first significant step.

It was somewhat of a secret start to the season, as coach Nate McMillan invited the cornerstones of the franchise -- Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden -- to his West Linn house for dinner.

"The whole hype," Roy said, "was that Coach Nate was cooking."

Throughout the night, they talked finances. They talked football. But mostly, the subject of conversation was themselves: to one another, about one another, for one another.

In Trail Blazers parlance, it was a meeting of the Super Heroes.

Chris Colston, USA Today: Oden, who does not wear a knee brace, says the toughest thing about the surgery is answering the same question over and over.

"I've just heard that so much — how's your knee?" he says. "It doesn't get on my nerves, but it's like, 'I just answered this five minutes ago.' "

Oden estimates that, before surgery, he could leap as high as 12 feet, 4 inches.

The best he can do now is touch the top border of the shooter's square on the backboard. But that's been good enough.

Bethlehem Shoals, The Sporting News Blog: The NBA starts now -- well, later today -- and already, two major storylines will waft pass our noses like so much burning cinnamon. I'm not talking about Mo Williams era in Cleveland (they're playing Boston), or the debut of Derrick Rose (platoon, anyone?). No, the game we're all waiting on tonight is Lakers/Blazers, which features the next two great true centers in battle. Forget Kobe, we want to see the return of Andrew Bynum and, finally, Greg Oden in an NBA setting.

Brian Hendrickson, The Columbian: Batum may hold the greatest potential to offer unexpected value that could create big changes on this team. The Blazers knew essentially what to expect from newcomers like Oden and Fernandez. But Batum was supposed to need a couple development seasons before becoming a significant contributor. A solid preseason has altered that view, though, and Batum’s long wingspan, quick feet and activity on the floor give Portland new defensive options at small forward for pressuring on the perimeter, rebounding and constricting passing lanes. If Batum proves capable of earning a spot in the rotation, he could add an unexpected dimension to Portland’s defense.

Broderick Turner and Mike Bresnahan, The L.A. Times
: Is the Lakers' rotation set yet?

"Um, not even close," Derek Fisher said, smiling.

That's because the Mad Scientist, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, still is in his laboratory tinkering with his formulas.

The team has played eight exhibition games and yet nothing is definitive.

The Lakers open the season tonight at Staples Center against the Portland Trail Blazers, and Monday, Jackson still wasn't forthcoming about his starting lineup.

"No, I won't say I've settled," Jackson said, "but I have a good idea, a real good idea."

Mark Heisler, The L.A. Times: It's still early for Greg Oden, 20; Brandon Roy, 24; LaMarcus Aldridge, 23, and today's young Trail Blazers, but the place once known as Rip City pulses with the old fervor.

"[Coach] Nate McMillan and I talk about this all the time," General Manager Kevin Pritchard said. "We know we have a young team. We want to get better every single month and hopefully by April, we'll see where these young guys are."

In the best part, the young players aren't just good, they're nice, so fans can again watch the news without fear of heartbreak of embarrassment.

The Tacoma News Tribune: With the NBA no longer in our backyard, those longing to quench their pro hoops thirst need to drive two hours south to Portland.

That’s the bad news. And that’s probably fine for some Sonics fans, who understandably would like to tell NBA commissioner David Stern to take his league and stick it where the sun don’t shine.

However, there’s good news for us pro basketball addicts looking for our NBA fix. We’ll get our money’s worth in the Rose City.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Link it up: Monday

New feature. Links without comment. Blatant TrueHoop ripoff. Call it what you will.

Wendell Maxey Jr., Hoopsworld: When the Portland Trail Blazers open their regular season against the Los Angeles at the Staples Center on Tuesday night, rookie small forward Nicolas Batum will have more on his mind than either starting or coming off the bench for Portland.

He'll surely be thinking of his Dad.

Henry Batum had a dream for his son – to play in the NBA. A 6-7 forward, Henry played 10 years professionally in France until a tragic event on the court took his life in his early thirties. Henry died at the free-throw line of a massive heart attack. Nicolas was only two years old. Now 19-years-old and a day before his first professional game, Batum's journey to the NBA – along with his father's dream – has always been at the heart of Nicolas' story.

Joe Freeman, The Oregonian
: Jerryd Bayless' confidence has not wavered, his work ethic has not waned and his focus has not wilted. But one personality trait has been pushed to the max for the Trail Blazers' touted rookie point guard as the reality of the NBA has set in: Patience.

"It's tough," Bayless said. "I've always been in a position where I'm The Guy on the team. And now I'm in a position where I'm taking a back seat to a lot of guys. I'm totally fine with it. I've talked to Coach about this; I'm totally fine with it. It's just a different situation. I'm up to the challenge and I'm going to keep on working, keep on getting better and hopefully be a part of this team and help us win."

Kerry Eggers, Portland Tribune: Starting center Greg Oden says he is trying not to get too geeked up for the opener.

“I’m pretty calm,” he says. “Talk to me five minutes before I go out there Tuesday night, it might be a different story. It’s going to be fun. It’s going to be exciting. But I’m trying to keep myself composed.”

Art Thompson III, Orange County Register: Oden, who looks much older but actually is three months younger than Bynum, 21, graduated from Lawrence North in Indianapolis in 2006.

Oden's was the first high school class affected by the NBA rule that required graduates to wait at least a year before being declared eligible for the NBA draft. So he spent one year at Ohio State before being drafted first overall in 2007 by the Trail Blazers.

Microfracture knee surgery forced Oden to miss the entire 2007-08 season, so Tuesday's opening-night game at Staples Center between the Lakers and Trail Blazers will be their first meeting since …

”Sixth grade in AAU,” said Bynum, who recalled that although they both are listed as 7-footers now, Bynum recalls Oden being 4 inches taller back in the day. The mature-looking Oden, who was sporting facial hair as a college freshman, wasn't shaving back then, though.

Although there promises to be a lot of interest surrounding their first meeting as professionals, Bynum downplayed the significance of it, citing the talent, including All-Star guard Brandon Roy, surrounding Oden.

“It's definitely going to be more than just Greg Oden and me,” Bynum said.

Greg Oden responding to a question about his beard: "I'm going to hold it up. I've got enough (beard) for everybody. Keep it lined up and it's all good."

Brian Hendrickson, The Columbian: The Blazers never expected the transition to be that easy, but Fernandez has certainly made it look that way. He led the Blazers in steals (2.6 a game) during the preseason, and ranked third in assists (4.0 average) and fourth in scoring (12.0 average). And if Fernandez continues to play with that level of comfort, then his quick, smooth transition could pay big dividends.

Fernandez holds the potential to do for the Blazers’ reserve unit what rookie center Greg Oden is expected to do for the starters, adding a new dimension to an already effective lineup.

He provides a dynamic threat as a scorer and passer to a unit that was viewed as a key to last season’s success.

With Fernandez, the reserves could be explosive on fast breaks. But they could also attack with kickouts to Channing Frye or Sergio Rodriguez in half-court sets, set up one-on-one plays to Travis Outlaw, or run Fernandez off pick and rolls to capitalize on his exceptional court vision and passing skills.

“He’s a playmaker,” Outlaw said of Fernandez’s affect on the bench. “He picks up the tempo. When he comes in there’s going to be energy. He can spread the floor and shoot the three very well. And his passing game is crazy.”

Dwight Jaynes, The most interesting aspect of the season will be Oden’s rate of improvement. It’s hard to predict how fast he’ll pick things up and how quickly he’ll regain his explosiveness. The fortunate thing for him is that his teammates are talented enough that the team will win a lot of games without needing a huge contribution from Oden. They’ll need him to stay on the floor (not get hurt and not constantly foul out), grab some rebounds, be a defensive presence and score once in a while.

Even though the most undeveloped part of Oden’s game is his offense, he’s going to be a factor because — unlike a lot of big men who aren’t natural scorers — he is so powerful you just have to double team him. In only very rare cases is one man going to keep him from bulling his way to the basket. Double teams on Oden mean open shots for others.

Jeff Rabjohns, Indy Star: They were friends. They were rivals. They battled on playgrounds and in state playoffs. They ended each other's seasons and created moments they'll remember forever. Sometimes they had to beat a future NBA player -- or two -- to get through the second round of the postseason.

Indy's own Magnificent Seven.

"It's crazy," Greg Oden said. "I was thinking about that when the draft was going on. There were a lot of us in that little area that are here now."

Rodney Carney started the run. He arrived in the NBA in 2006. Oden, Mike Conley and Josh McRoberts followed last year. Eric Gordon, Courtney Lee and George Hill joined the league this year. All seven were selected in the past three NBA drafts, six in the first round. Only 12 cities have produced more current NBA players; only Los Angeles has produced more recently.

Mike Kahn, Best rookie: Greg Oden, Portland Trail Blazers

As long as Oden stays healthy, there will be so much focus and he'll have so much help from his talented young teammates, he'll be the guy that everyone falls in love with — particularly if they make the playoffs. The irony is, the second-best rookie may very well be his teammate Rudy Fernandez, the 23-year-old star from Spain the Blazers bought.


Most improved player: LaMarcus Aldridge, Portland Trail Blazers

With all the attention Greg Oden is getting and will continue to get on and off the court, it will open up the entire floor for Aldridge. He averaged 17.8 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.2 blocks last season, and his numbers may not get much better. But at 6-foot-11, 240 pounds, he has dominating capabilities with the ball that will be apparent in every game.

Marc Spears, Boston Globe: The team of the future. After years of "Jail Blazer" turmoil and disappointing seasons, that's what the Portland Trail Blazers are being called since they now have one of the greatest collections of young talent the NBA has ever seen. With an All-Star guard, a projected All-Star forward, the most heralded rookie since LeBron James, and much more on the roster, the excitement in Portland is reminiscent of the days of Clyde Drexler or Bill Walton.

Coach Nate McMillan, however, isn't quite ready to take a deep gulp of this red Blazers Kool-Aid just yet.

"All this potential," McMillan said. "That's what it is. We don't know. It's just potential. No one has seen it. You're taking guys that [need] two or three years to get a feel for this league."

Video: McMillan, Aldridge post-practice

(Seems as though we had some trouble yesterday with this video. Hopefully we've got the bugs worked out.)

A little over a day until the first game of the season and everyone seemed pretty loose at practice today. Guys don't seem to up or down, which is the only way to get through an 82 game season.

Here's what Nate McMillan and LaMarcus Aldridge had to say after practice. Next up, it's on the plane to Los Angeles. Anticipation builds. More to come.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Greg Oden doesn't mind a good bounty

The minimum yearly salary of an NBA player is somewhere around $440,000. Not a bad paycheck for 99 percent of us. But despite that fact, guys in the league are still looking for a way to make a quick buck. And recently, the most popular way for NBA players to try and stack a little extra green is to collect the Greg Oden dunk bounty.

Kevin Martin collected a cool grand courtesy of John Salmons for dunking over G.O. in Sacramento. Ricky Davis put up $500, which went uncollected, for any Clipper who could jam on the big man's dome. I'm sure these wagers aren't anything new, but this is the first I've ever heard of such things in the NBA.

I don't know the exact reasoning, but guys seem dead set on getting paid at Oden's expense. Maybe it's a way to spice up what can seem like a long and relatively meaningless preseason. Maybe in these tough economic times even the high-end wage earners among us are hard up for some quick cash.

Whatever the motivation, G.O. wants you to know he doesn't mind being the object of the bounty. In fact, he takes it as a compliment.

"It's kind of flattering," says Oden. "People respect my defense enough that they’re actually paying money to see if somebody can dunk on me.

"I’ve got a bull’s eye on my back, so I guess guys are coming after me."

As previously noted, the results of those "coming after" G.O. have been mixed. Oden flipped the script on the Clips, dunking ferociously over and over again on the other team from L.A. while avoiding any attempts at posterization. Kings guard Kevin Martin threw one down while Oden was rolling late from the weakside, sparking a minor controversy as to what exactly constitutes being dunked on, but according to Oden, Martin's jam qualifies.

"I mean, I was in the vicinity," said Oden. "I’ve had this argument a lot. When you’re in the vicinity; if you’re in the picture, you got dunked on."

So the big man knows how to take his medicine, but let it be known that when it's Oden's turn to play pharmacist, the same formula applies.

"I’ll (dunk on) a couple of guys, and they don’t have to be in front of me. Even if they’re behind me, I’m counting it."

Thursday, October 23, 2008

G.O. collage

So many good pictures of our friend Greg Oden from last night that I decided to throw together a little action collage for your viewing pleasure. You can click on the image to get a larger version.

By the way, this photo from last night is my favorite shot so far this season.

Photos: Blazers 87, Clippers 75

Not a bad effort from the Red and Black last night. Wasn't the prettiest of wins, and the Clips weren't at full strength, but you can tell that things are starting to come together for the Trail Blazers, and especially for Greg Oden. Chris Kaman ain't no slouch, but that didn't stop G.O. from taking it to him to the tune of 14 points and 13 rebounds. That's a great night.

Here are some of the photos from Staples last night. Some great shots from the folks down in L.A.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

10.22.08 Edition of the Podcast (plus radio audio!)

Today marked the end of our podcast preseason, as next week we'll have games that count to talk about. Very exciting. This week's edition of the podcast featuring Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of is now available for podcasting. Gavin's the voice, Dave's the intellectual and I'm the company man.

This week we discuss the change in LaMarcus Aldridge's game, the ice that runs through Brandon Roy's veins, the potential restricted free-agents and Gavin's success in the radio ratings. What could be more exciting?!?

Download the podcast (43.9 MB).

And if you missed it this morning, the podcast crew made an hour-long appearance on the Morning Sports Page. The podcast of that segment is available as well. That's almost two full hours of Blazers talk. Where else are you going to get that kind of coverage?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Joel Przybilla is a man of patience and understanding

You've surely heard by now that during last week's scrimmage at Cleveland High School, Greg Oden's elbow collided with Joel Przybilla's eye, resulting in a new shiner and a couple stitches for "The Thrilla." So just to recap, that's a rookie cutting a grizzled vet in a scrimmage. One could assume said rookie was going to have hell to pay.

But that's not how Joel Przybilla rolls. Rather than taking out any residual aggression on his fellow center, something more than a few veterans around the league would be happy to do, Przybilla is content to shrug it off as one of those unavoidable job-related hazards.

"I’ve been cut up before," said Przybilla. "I just took an elbow to the eye. It happens."

Przybilla would know. Aside from the most recent infirmity, Przybilla has had to deal with a hematoma in the groin region, a broken finger and a case of bronchitis, which might prompt some to question whether bad luck is following the Minnesota native.

"If I could change my luck I would, but there’s nothing I can do about it," said Przybilla. "I’ve been playing in the league nine years. I’ve been lucky enough to do that, so something is going right. A couple of injuries here and there don’t bother me.

"It hurts. It doesn’t look like it’s too bad, but still. That night it hurt, I ain’t going to lie. But I just suck it up and deal with it. What’s complaining going to do? There’s nothing you can do about it."

What's more, Przybilla, despite ending up on the business end of Oden's chicken wing, takes full responsibility for (get this) jumping into GO's elbow.

"I was the one who jumped into his elbow to tell you the truth," said Przybilla. "He was going up for a rebound and I kind of jumped into him. My eye went into this elbow and that’s about it. There’s not much to it.

"He apologized. He felt so bad. That’s the way he is. He’s a good-hearted kid."

It takes a big man to pay a compliment to a guy whose elbow just poked a hole through your monocle.

But what say you Greg Oden? Aren't you getting off a bit light here?

"I apologized like 30 times!" said Oden. "I didn’t mean to do it. Me and him were talking before the scrimmage and he was like, ‘Yeah GO, be soft. Ain’t nobody getting hurt. We ain’t trying to use no energy.’ And when it happened I was like, man [shakes head].

"I didn’t think I jumped over him. I thought I had a clear path and he kind of came where I was coming down at. It was a scrimmage and nothing was really supposed to happen but I still feel bad about it. He made me feel good though. He was like, ‘It happens.’"

Letting a rookie off easy after he sends you to the ER for stitches? That, my friends, is chemistry.

10.21.08 Kevin Pritchard on The Morning Sports Page

In case you missed it, here's the audio from Kevin Pritchard's appearance on The Morning Sports Page with Gavin Dawson. Vintage KP.

Download the podcast (9 MB).

Highlights from Trail Blazers v. Kings

Get an eyeful of the highlights from last night's 112-98 victory against the Kings in Sacramento. has the better cut, which includes a nasty Sergio-to-Rudy alley-oop. If you've only got 10 seconds to watch video today, skip forward to the 1:30 mark in the link above. You won't be disappointed.

Here's ESPN's attempt to retell last night's game visually. Not nearly as impressive of a package, and what happened to their embeddable player?

Monday, October 20, 2008

You can't steal an Outlaw

Gavin Dawson, one leg of the Podcast tripod, often comments that Trail Blazers fans over-value their favorite players. He uses Travis Outlaw as an example. I believe Gavin to be incorrect in his assessment, but it's a valid argument nonetheless.

So today I'm going though my Google Alerts when I notice an Outlaw mention in the Toronto Star that illustrates both of our points. Beat reporter Doug Smith answers a question about the possibility of the Raptors making a move for Outlaw in exchange for Anthony Parker, which speaks to Travis' perceived value and also the notion that fans over-inflate the quality of the players on their own roster.
Q: Don't you think the Raps are missing a certain 'je ne se qua'? I think the addition of Travis Outlaw would be great for the Raptors, he would bring intensity on both sides of the ball and he can play the 2 and 3 positions well. The Blazers have 7 players going into free agency and the cap will be a problem for them. Do you think trading AP to the Blazers would work? They could use a veteran on the team, or how about Moon and Graham?

Sam E, Toronto

A: Actually, with Martell Webster hurt, the last thing the Blazers are likely to do is move Outlaw. Almost as unlikely as they’d move him for a three-year vet (Parker) or Moon and Graham, neither of whom are any better than Outlaw.

See how that proves both Gavin's and my own points? At least one fan in Toronto thinks Anthony Parker, a full-time starter for the Raptors the last two years, or a combination of Jamario Moon and Joey Graham, could net Travis Outlaw. A crazy notion to we Portlanders and to Smith, but seemingly legitimate to a Raptor fan. That's Gavin's argument.

My argument, that Travis is better than Gavin thinks, is illustrated by the fact that, despite being a bench player on a small market team, he's still coveted by other teams (or at least their fans). Granted, "Sam E." from Toronto seems to have a few outdated notions regarding Outlaw (Trav really isn't a 2, for example), but Smith has been reporting on the Raptors for the totality of their existence and even he thinks the proposed trade is rubbish. That speaks to Outlaw's better-than-average value, which is my argument.

So I guess, at least to an extent, we're both right.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

10.15.08 Edition of the Podcast

Greetings Trail Blazers podcast fans. This week's edition of the podcast featuring Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of is now available for your listening pleasure.

I'd give you a recap of the show, but I just got done sweeping up hair for the last four hours, and I'm a bit forgetful as to what it is we talked about. I remember it being interesting, though. Listen, live and let die.

Download the podcast (27.4 MB).

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Video: Nate McMillan post-practice

Strange doings today at the practice facility.

A crazy amount of equipment (including a mini hot air balloon) and actors (including a Kevin Garnett look-alike) preparing to shoot a commercial, Nicolas Batum working out with the first team, Steve Blake and Channing Frye returning to practice for the first time since the start of training camp, zone defense drills and a fire alarm going off (which I assume had something to do with the commercial) made for an eventful afternoon in Tualatin.

Here's what Nate McMillan had to say about Batum's stint with the first unit. You can tell McMillan doesn't want anyone to read too much into it, but there's really no way that's going to happen.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Audio: Magic talks Trail Blazers

Magic Johnson, former Laker, current NBA analyst and forever a member of the Hall of Fame, has some great things to say about the Trail Blazers in the clip below. I'm not sure exactly the origins of said clip, but who care? He's saying nice things!

UPDATE: The clip is from a conference call during which ABC/ESPN announced that Magic would be joining the World Wide Leader as an NBA analyst. Jay Allen, he of 95.5 The Game fame, hopped on the call and asked about the Trail Blazers. A wise decision.

Download the clip (1 MB).

Thanks to Jay Allen and 95.5 The Game for the clip.

Video: Batum, Oden post-game

If for some reason you still want to think about last night's loss to the Jazz, then you'll love this video featuring rookies Nic Batum and Greg Oden talking about their respective performances. Oden is old hat when it comes to having cameras and microphones stuck in his face, but Batum is still learning the tricks of the trade, such as making the media wait until you've got a shirt on before answering questions.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Video: Post-game comments after loss to Jazz

At this point, I think everyone is happy to just get this week over with. Four games in six days is a difficult way to start out the preseason. Factor in the first two games being back-to-back and the third being in Kansas City and you've got a recipe for one tired team. At least we've got eight days to rest before taking on the remainder of the preseason schedule.

Here's some of what Nate McMillan had to say after the game.

Photos: Jazz 93, Trail Blazers 80

In game observations: Jazz vs. Trail Blazers

A few missed shots later and this one is done. Jazz 93, Blazers 80. The only stat you really need to know: Jazz out-rebound the Blazers 47-28.

See you in the regular season.

There's still 53 seconds left, but this one is cooked. Jazz 93, Blazers 79. The final buzzer can't come soon enough.

Luke Jackson calls his own number, ends up with a bucket and the foul. Another three point play brings the score to 89-75 Jazz.

Joel Przybilla gets the lucky bounce on the putback, and a foul! Joel makes the freebie, which is nice for a guy battling bronchitis. Utah 89, Portland 72.

Gerry McNamara, he of Syracuse fame, checks into the game for the first time tonight. I wonder if he can Carmelo still talk.

Ike Diogu all but shoves the ball in Kirilenko's gut, and that's an easy dunk for Andrei. At 83-67 Jazz, this one is starting to get away from the good guys. Batum is still putting in work though, getting yet another block (against AK-47 of all people) and hitting a mid-range jumper. To quote a fellow journalist here in press row, "That kid can play."

In summer league, almost every time Bayless attacked the rim, something good happened. So far in the preseason, every time Bayless attacks the rim, he ends up on his can and without free throw attempts.

Jerryd Bayless shakes Kyle Korver with thanks to some fancy dribbling, but he loses the handle while blowing by Ashton Kutcher Jr. Korver ends up getting a three on the ensuing possession. You could cook a London broil on Bayless' head right now.

End of the quarter and it's Jazz 69, Blazers 59.

Batum, aka the Double Snowman (as in, No. 88) shows again why he's not about to settle for spending the season in the D-League. Batum makes an athletic play to get to the rim, misses the layin, but gets his own board and the putback. He's filling up the stat sheet.

For some reason the shot clock keeps malfunctioning. The preseason for the clocks, too.

Nic Batum, the official Frenchman of the Center Court Blog, hits a baseline three to bring the Red and Black to within two. Thin No. 88 is the MVP so far of this one. He's got 12 points, 2 rebounds, 2 steals and 2 blocks. That's yeoman.

We've hit quite the lull here in the 3rd quarter. Not many open looks or made shots. C.J. Miles gets a couple of free throws, and that puts the Jazz up 50-48 with 5 minutes to play in the quarter.

Travis Outlaw seems to have broken out of his preseason slump. He's 5-for-8 with 12 points so far tonight, which is like Christmas compared to his last three outings. Utah leads 46-45 with a little under 8 minutes to play in the 3rd quarter.

Shavlik jumps on Carlos Boozers' back in an attempt to corral the offensive rebound, but he's called for the foul. I salute Duke-on-Duke aggression.

End of the first half, and the score is Portland 38, Utah 35. It hasn't been pretty, but it has been quick.

It's an old joke, but I'm not busting out my A-Game until the regular season, so I'm going to go ahead and throw out the old "Welcome to the block party, Mr. Randolph." Shav gets the Blazers 8th stuff of the night, then draws a charge, then hits an open jumper. That's hustle.

Nic Batum is having the preseason game of his life (that's not really saying a lot, but you get the drift). He hits a three to put the Red and Black up three, then stuffs Kirlenko on the ensuing defensive possession. That's at least two blocks this afternoon from our friend from Le Mans.

G.O. gets his first big dunk of the night. He's missed two jump hooks since then, but hey, he's still learning.

By the way, I'm going to have to start pulling out the video camera every time it looks like Greg is going to get a dunk. He's going to break that backboard one of these days, and I want to be the first guy in town with the youtube footage. Big money.

Batum, continuing his torrid play on defense, blocks 7-footer Kosta Koufos. No man is safe from the long arms of the Batum. 27-27 with 5:40 to play in the half.

Nic Batum, who's ankle seems to be fine, just elevated over Kyle Korver for a putback. For my money, Batum has easily been the surprise of the preseason for the god guys.

Joel Przybilla gets hit with a technical for giving Andrei Kirilenko a slightest of elbows after the play was blown dead. Even the technicals are easier here in the preseason.

Looks like Nic "The French Connection" Batum rolled an ankle in the waning moments of the first quarter. He finished out the quarter, but he didn't look comfortable. At the end of the first quarter, Jazz lead 19-18.

And another comment, this time from "eazy"
I cant believe the beavers lost to stanford still. either way the blazers will dominate tonight
Thanks eazy. Personally, I can completely believe that the Beavers lost to the Cardinal. In fact, I'm never surprised when the Beavs lose on the road. OSU often looks unbeatable at home, but when they get out of Reser, it's always a toss up.

As for the Blazers dominating tonight, I'd be surprised if that happened considering the Jazz are playing their first-stringers.

As promised, lets check out and answer some reader submitted comments.

Mery Blazers Fan asks ...
Is Rudy Fernandez going to play tonight?
Thanks for the query. No, Rudy will not play tonight. The ankle is feeling better, and if this were the regular season, you'd probably see him tonight. But as a precaution, Rudy will stick to the bench tonight.

Sergio drains a three, Oden stuffs a Deron Williams layin attempt, Travis Outlaw steals a cross court pass, and the Blazers are well on the way to making this game real respectable like. Shavlik at the line shooting two, makes one, and the score is Blazers 8, Jazz 7 with 6:26 to play in the first.

Trail Blazers come out looking crazy sloppy. We're less than four minutes in and the Blazers already have four turnovers. Greg Oden was called for a highly suspect offensive foul, Sergio Rodriguez threw a phantom pass into the second row and Nate McMillan calls a timeout. Not too hot of a start.

Pregame hoopla is in full swing, which means we're just a few minutes away from tip. Should be an ... interesting afternoon here at the Rose Garden, if for no other reason than we'll see some unorthodox lineups from Nate McMillan tonight. If you're a guy trying to get that 15th roster spot, tonight would be a good time to show your stuff.

The matchup of the night features two Duke power forwards at the height of their careers. Carlos Boozer laces 'em up for the first time this offseason, and Shavlik Randolph, coming off a 9-for-9 performance against the Hawks, gets his first start as a Trail Blazer.

Here are the starters, by the way

Utah Jazz

C.J. Miles
Mehmet Okur
Carlos Boozer
Ronnie Brewer
Deron Williams

Portland Trail Blazers

Travis Outlaw
Luke Jackson
Greg Oden
Shavlik Randolph
Sergio Rodriguez

UPDATE: Sunday at the Rose Garden

I've got some updates from Nate McMillan's pregame presser.

First off, Brandon Roy, LaMarcus Aldridge and Rudy Fernandez will not play tonight. Roy and Aldridge are being held out simply to rest, and Fernandez, though McMillan said he probably could play if he had to, is being held out as a precaution. Sounds like the ankle is just about back to 100 percent.

The starters tonight will be Sergio Rodriguez, Luke Jackson, Travis Outlaw, Shavlik Randolph and Greg Oden. McMillan said he's keeping Jerryd Bayless in the second unit because the Blazers are limited at guard due to injuries. Joel Przybilla, who's battling a case of bronchitis, is available and will probably play around 15 minutes.

As for Steve Blake, McMillan said he ran through some offensive sets at practice on Saturday, and should be close or ready to go by the next preseason game.

Greeting Blazers fans. I trust you're all enjoying a pleasant, early autumn weekend in the Northwest. Leaves are changing, pumpkin futures are through the roof and preseason basketball is in the air.

This afternoon marks the final home game of the preseason, meaning the next time you'll get to see the Red and Black Attack in person (assuming you live in Portland-metro area and don't plan on traveling to distant locals for preseason games) will be on Halloween night in the regular season opener.

Today's Sunday matinee pits the Utah Jazz (1-1) against our Portland Trail Blazers. It's an act of futility at this point to guess who will and won't play tonight for both teams, but I think it's safe to say both Nate McMillan and Jerry Sloan would rather get out of this afternoon's game healthy than win a win.

Since there's no television coverage of today's game, I'll be providing some updates in this here blog for your reading pleasure. If you're following along, throw some thoughts in the comments section, and we'll get a good old fashioned web dialog going throughout the game. It'll be fun, I promise.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Motivation for tonight's game

Do players have a hard time getting up for preseason games? I don't know the answer to that question, but I wouldn't be surprised if they did. Sure, there's pride and competitive nature, but lets be real; there are 82 games, at a minimum, that actually count, and this ain't one of them. I could see how it might be difficult to psych yourself up in the exhibition season, especially on a neutral court with half of the team already injured.

But here's some motivation, at least for Brandon Roy: In a head-to-head comparison in Hoop Magazine (the official mag of the NBA), B-Roy is topped by Joe Johnson, for reasons that I'll let Hoop explain.

On defense:
Johnson has never been asked to check the opponent’s perimeter stud (that duty usually fell into the hands of Josh Childress), but with J-Chill off to the Mediterranean, Johnson might be asked to step up his defensive role. He certainly has the size to even match up against LeBron James; however, JJ’s problem will be against the smaller guards who rely on speed and quickness (think Dwyane Wade), where his lack of lateral quickness will be exposed. Because Johnson has the luxury of having a shotblocker like Josh Smith behind him, he can gamble for steals (he gets about one per game).


This is the one area of Roy’s game that still needs plenty of work. He has pretty good size for a guard, but his foot speed isn’t good enough to keep up with the NBA’s more explosive slashers. He has, however, improved on his ability to at least channel his opponents into the paint for the bigs to contend with, something that will no doubt be an attribute with Greg Oden finally joining the frontline—a bunch already plenty big and versatile—this season.

Advantage: Johnson
Uh, excuse me? Joe Johnson is a better defender than Brandon Roy? Did the world just start rotating backwards? Is there another Joe Johnson who plays for the Hawks that I'm unaware of?

I find it strange that the writer starts the graph about Johnson's defense by stating "Johnson has never been asked to check the opponent’s perimeter stud." Who do you think Brandon Roy is checking? And on top of that, why do you think it is Johnson doesn't take the tough defensive assignment? Maybe because he can't hack it or is unwilling to put in the work. Either way, that's no argument for Johnson's defensive prowess.

Not only is the Brandon Roy that I know an above average defender, but he also managed to shut down Jo-Jo last season for a W. Sure, one stellar defensive performance isn't all encapsulating, but if you're going to compare the players head-to-head, should you at least consider how they played head-to-head in the clutch?

And speaking of clutch, the folks at Hoop Magazine also gave the edge in that category to ... Joe Johnson?
Atlanta is full of budding stars, but when the game is tight, the gameplan is usually simple: get the ball in Johnson’s hands and clear out. We saw it often during last season’s tightly contested seven-game playoff series against Boston, when JJ was unafraid of the big moments. In his Game 4 performance, he put up 35, including 20 in the deciding fourth quarter to put a legitimate scare into the eventual champs. That showing only raises his confidence level heading into this season.


Despite the aforementioned pedestrian percentages, Roy almost always seemingly hits shots when he needs to. He imposed his will on several opponents last season, especially during the Blazers’ early-season 13-game winning streak. And he possesses an astonishing ability to get to the rim for a high-percentage layup, even when the defense is geared up for him. He still has no playoff experience, but we wouldn’t be surprised if that bell is answered this season thanks to Portland’s seemingly loaded roster.

Advantage: Johnson
Johnson is undoubtedly a heck of a player, but with the game on the line, is there any coach who would rather have Johnson over Roy? I've trying to be as objective as I can, and there's no way I see anyone taking Johnson over Roy late in the game. The first 46 minutes of the game, especially if you need scoring? Yeah, I could see that. But the last two minutes in a tight one? No chance. You go with Roy.

So if you're reading this Brandon, go out tonight and show 'em the error of their ways.

In preview: Hawks vs. Trail Blazers


In one of those strange twists that only arise during the preseason, the Portland Trail Blazers (1-1) play host to the Atlanta Hawks (2-0) in ... Kansas City, MO. Maybe the league decided to host the game in Kansas City because it's a rough midway point (though significantly closer to Atlanta) or maybe it's because the Sprint Center is a new upscale arena (tonight's game will be the first NBA game ever played in the venue). Whatever the reason, the Trail Blazers are the designated home team, which, along with general manager Kevin Pritchard's history in Kansas City, might tip the scales fan-wise toward Portland.

The Trail Blazers are coming off a turnover-laced 110-95 loss to the Golden State Warriors, while the Hawks enter tonight's contest having beaten the Suns 100-96 in Phoenix.

Head coach Nate McMillan intended on giving at least one of his regular starters the night off, but injuries to Martell Webster (foot), Steve Blake (hamstring), Rudy Fernandez (ankle), Channing Frye (ankle) and Joel Przybilla (bronchitis) leaves McMillan in the unenviable position of potentially having to play his regulars for extended minutes just to field a team.

Portland has faced Atlanta once in the preseason in its 39-year history, a 102-89 win in 2007. The Trail Blazers have won five of the last seven preseason games against Eastern Conference teams dating back to 2004.

The Trail Blazers went 2-0 against Atlanta last season, going into overtime once and having a combined margin of victory of just three points.

Tipoff is scheduled for 5 p.m. Pacific.

Probable Starters


Marvin Williams, SF
Josh Smith, PF
Al Horford, C
Joe Johnson, SG
Mike Bibby, PG


Travis Outlaw, SF
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF
Greg Oden, C
Brandon Roy, G
Sergio Rodriguez, PG

Matchup of the Night

For the night's featured matchup we look to the shooting guards. Joe Johnson and Brandon Roy bring similar skills to the table (as noted in his comparison) though they utilize those skills in different ways. Johnson tends to focus more on scoring, relying on his steady jumper for the bulk of his points. Roy, while an effective scorer in his own right, tends to act as more of a distributor, often initiating the offense toward the end of games.

Pulling Quotes

Marvin Williams prepared to be target for Hawks, Sekou Smith, Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
With five returning starters from a playoff team, someone has to be the target of opposing teams.

Someone has to be identified as the weakest link, the one player on the Hawks’ roster who can be attacked — physically and perhaps even schematically — in the hope that he will break down and the entire team will falter.

Wednesday night in Phoenix the Suns targeted Hawks small forward Marvin Williams. And Williams made them pay, outlasting the rest of the starters on both teams in the final minutes with plays that helped the Hawks secure the 100-96 victory.

Williams finished with a team-high 19 points to go with six rebounds, four assists and a body full of sore muscles courtesy of the pounding he took from Suns reserve power forward Louis Amundson, who spent most of his night trying to get under Williams’ skin.

“I don’t know if that was the case, and I don’t feel like they were trying to hurt me or anything,” Williams said. “I used to play football, man, so nobody in this league is going to hurt me. Physically I’m not worried about getting beat up out here.

Broadcast Information

No television for tonight's game, or any of the remaining preseason contests. Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey will have the call on the radio side on the Trail Blazers Radio Network.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

10.09.08 Edition of the Podcast

Welcome back all of you podcast fans out there. It's a pleasure to provide you with all of the archived audio you can handle. Please to enjoy this week's edition of the podcast featuring Gavin Dawson of 95.5 The Game, Dave Deckard of Blazer's Edge and myself, Casey Holdahl, of

This week we discuss the first two preseason games, the implications of various injuries, Greg Oden's future as an assist man, trade scenarios (both realistic and outlandish), the awesomeness that is Joel Przybilla and Gavin pleads for fans to stop overvaluing their favorite Blazers. It's really a nice little podcast, if I do say so myself.

Download the podcast (42.5 MB).

We're not in Kansas City anymore

The Portland Trail Blazers are probably in the sky right now flying to Kansas City, MO for a home game (good luck figuring that one out) against the Atlanta Hawks on Friday night.

Not everyone is making the trip though. Rudy Fernandez (left ankle sprain) and Joel Przybilla (bronchitis) are staying staying behind to heal. I haven't heard about Martell Webster (broken bone in foot) or Steve Blake (pulled hamstring), but I bet they're not on the trip either.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Video: Post-game comments

Sorry for the delay on the video from last night's post-game presser. For some reason my Mac didn't render the audio. I don't know, maybe Mac didn't like what he heard.

So you've got Nate McMillan, Rudy Fernandez, LaMarcus Aldridge and Greg Oden talking about last night's "game" against Golden State. I'd advise you to forget everything about yesterday's debacle as soon as possible, but if you're glutting for punishment, go ahead and give the video a look. Heck, maybe you'll even learn something.

Photos: Warriors 110, Trail Blazers 95

In game observations: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers

They say you can't win them all, and tonight is definitely proves that adage. The final will end up 110-95 Warriors. Personally, I just hope that Rudy is ok. I'd take a million preseason losses in exchange for a healthy Fernandez.

Ugh. Rudy stays down on the floor after turning his ankle. Looks like he stepped on Sergio's foot. Hopefully it's not to serious, but he's on his way to the locker room. My guess is he's done for the night. Warriors lead 106-93. This one is slipping away.

Travis Outlaw gets his first field goal of the game with 5:40 left in the game. He's 1-for-9 on the night. They'll need more from Travis with Martell out of the lineup.

Not a very good quarter for the Blazers thus far with just five points in the quarter to Golden State's 17. Lots of turnovers and not to many high percentage shots for the good guys. Blazes are going super small out of the timeout, with Rudy, Bayless, Jackson, Outlaw and Diogu taking to the floor.

Nic Batum is again looking nice, especially on the defensive end and in transition. Same goes for Rudy (natch). The good guys take a 78-77 lead going into the final frame.

An Aldridge dunk, a Batum layin (with a missed free throw), an Aldridge layin and a Batum layin gives the Blazers an 8-0 run. Still down 76-74 though.

Attendance tonight has been announced as 17,847. Not as many as last night, but still a great number for a televised preseason game. The home squad haven't given the home crowd much to cheer about in the second half though. Golden State leads 76-66 with three minutes to play in the third quarter.

Greg Oden and Andris Biendrins trade a few buckets before Bayless hits a three from the far baseline. Rudy with the assist.

Greg Oden gets the Blazers on the board in the second half with a (wait for it ...) power dunk. Young Oden has four dunks on the night, so far.

It took almost the entire first half, but Sergio and Rudy finally hooked up for an alley-oop with 4 seconds left in the quarter. LaMarcus set a pick for Sergio, which drew Rudy's defender in anticipation of the pick and pop. Seeing that, Rudy cut baseline, Sergio sent up the lob from behind the three point line, and the rest is highlight history.

It's a little sloppy out there as we close in on the end of the half. Rudy came real close to finishing a Sergio thrown alley-opp that would have brought the house down, but he couldn't get the handle. Luke Jackson did hit a few threes. Way to go LJ. 47-47 with 1:14 to go in the half.

Greg Oden, who has rejected a few shots in his day, ends up getting his own shot stuffed by Ronny Turiaf. Even he isn't immune to getting blocked every now and then.

Luke Jackson gets to the bucket for his first Trail Blazers points. The Duck fans in the crowd like that.

Joel Przybilla gets the kind bounce on the putback, and that gives the Blazers a 27-26 advantage at the end of the first quarter.

The Rose Garden is quite a bit sleepier tonight. Crowd looks a thinner and less lively. It's their preseason too.

LaMarcus Aldridge looks like he got the first game jitters out last night. He's making it happen inside out so far, leading all scorers with 10 points.

Corey Maggette is doing what he does, which is drawing fouls at a breakneck pace. Nate McMillan wants to talk it over, though I don't know there's anything you can do to keep Maggette from getting to the line.

I love Travis Outlaw. One of my favorite guys on the team. But he's making life hard for himself tonight on the offensive end. We know you've got ups Trav, but you can't just try to elevate for the jumper with a defender right in your grill.

Rudy finds Oden for a patented monster dunk, which is nice. The defensive three seconds on the ensuing play? Not so nice.

Tonight's game gets off to the same start as last night's, with Oden winning the tip, Blazers get nothing on the possession, then they commit a defensive three second violation.

Lets do it again lady and gents. Brandon Roy has the night off, and Martell Webster is out with broken bone in his foot, so tonight's game should look quote a bit different than last night's argle-bargle.

The injury bug bites yet again

If there's anything that can stop this franchise from achieving the highest of goals, it's injury. And today we find out another infirmity has stuck one of our starters. Martell Webster sustained a stress fracture in his left foot last night turning the Sacramento romp. It's a shame, especially considering how hard Martell worked in the offseason to get his game right.

Luckily, Travis Outlaw is up to the task of starting, but this one hurts. Martell is probably the best shooter on the team and a budding defensive force. We were already thin at point guard with Steve Blake's bad quad, thin at power forward with Channing Frye's bum ankle and now you can add thin at small forward to that list. In fact, outside of Outlaw, we really don't have a legit small forward on the roster. Roy can fill in at times. Maybe Rudy can, too, but it's just not the same.

No word yet on how long Webster will be out, but a broken foot is bad news for anyone, especially a basketball player. I don't know how long he'll be on the mend, but I bet it'll be longer than anyone would like.

Got any ideas on what we should do now? Does this give Luke Jackson the inside track on the final roster spot? How will the second unit look without Outlaw? How much more difficult does Webster's injury make that already brutal November?

In Preview: Warriors vs. Trail Blazers


The Portland Trail Blazers, coming off a stellar blowout victory against the Sacramento Kings, get no chance to rest with the Golden State Warriors already in town for tonight's contest at the Rose Garden. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

Both teams are playing their second preseason game, with the Warriors having lost 106-103 to the New Orleans Hornets on Sunday.

Golden State has won five consecutive preseason meetings dating back to 2002, including three straight in the Rose Garden. Portland is 19-21 vs. Golden State in the preseason, overall.

Golden State enters tonight's game with a lineup significantly different from last season. Corey Maggette, Ronny Turiaf, Marcus Williams and rookie Anthony Randolph join Stephen Jackson, Monta Ellis and Andris Beindrins in coach Don Nelson's high-powered offense. Nelson, by the way, has more wins against Portland than any other current head coach in the NBA, posting a 49-51 (.490) record. The 100 meetings is also the most of any current head coach.

As for Nate McMillan's squad, changes in the lineups are coming in the second game of the preseason, and reasons are twofold. First, McMillan wants to make sure his regular season starters, namely Brandon Roy, don't end up wearing themselves down coming off of injury. Second, McMillan is eager to tinker with different personnel combinations. In tonight's game Jerryd Bayless will start at point guard, Rudy Fernandez at shooting guard Travis Outlaw at small forward, LaMarcus Aldridge at power forward and Greg Oden at center.

On that same note, expect to see the players with non-guaranteed contracts (Steven Hill, Shavlik Randolph, Luke Jackson and Jamaal Tatum) get more playing time tonight.

Probably Starters

Golden State

Corey Maggette, SF
Al Harrington, PF
Andris Beindrins, C
C.J. Watson, G
Stephen Jackson, SF


Travis Outlaw, SF
LaMarcus Aldridge, PF
Greg Oden, C
Jerryd Bayless, PG
Rudy Fernandez, SG

Matchup of the Night

You probably wouldn't assume Andris Beindrins and Greg Oden have much in common, and to a certain extent they don't, but there are similarities. Both prefer to operate in or near the paint and neither sports a reliable midrange jumper. Both are decent passers at their position and both will block their fair share of shots.

But when it comes to style, the contrasts become evident. Beindrins, weighing in at 245 lbs, is a rail compared to the thick mass of humanity that is Greg Oden. That size and strength disparity won't do the Latvian any favors in the post, but with Don Nelson's offense predicated on speed up and down the floor, Beindrins might find himself not having to worry about getting pushed out of the block if he can beat young Oden to the spot.

Coach Quote

Nate McMillan on the new look Golden State Warriors.

"I think they'll play the same way. Coach Nelson has been about matchups most of his career since I've known him as a player and he will try to take advantage of where he feels he has an advantage.

Sometimes he tries to create matchups. he may play his small forward at center to try and force you to match up with him. We can;t worry about that. That's part of the adjusting we're talking about, adjusting to game, adjusting to what they're doing. It will be a battle of tempos tonight. Who can control the tempo? Can they get their game tempo going with the spread offense, isolation game? Can we get our tempo going with knowing when to run, when to set up and go inside and take advantage of our size?"

Pulling Quotes

Wright starting to show he has the right stuff, Janny Hu, San Fransisco Chronicle:
Coach Don Nelson spiced up the backup power-forward competition Tuesday by declaring rookie Anthony Randolph's superiority over incumbent Brandan Wright.

"It hasn't been close so far," Nelson said. "Randolph is clearly getting better every day and has earned a right to say, at least at this point, he's ahead."

Nelson essentially challenged Wright to pick up his game. Randolph has generated buzz with his confident play throughout camp, and Wright has been slowed by a toe injury that caused him to miss a night of scrimmaging last week.

"I don't know how much that's held him back," Nelson said, "but Wright needs to be more aggressive, there's no question. Show that he's a player. It's his second year. I expect more out of him. He's got to start stepping up."

Broadcast Information

Tonight's game is the only contest of the preseason that will be televised on locally. Mike Barrett and Mike Rice will have the call on KGW Channel 8 starting at 7 p.m. And as always, Brian Wheeler and Antonio Harvey hold down the radio side on the Trail Blazers Radio Network.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Video: 10.07.08 Nate McMillan post-game

Photos: Trail Blazers 110, Kings 81

In game observations: Kings vs. Blazers

This thing is just about over. Blowout city. Score sits at 110-78 with 35 seconds to play, so I think it's fairly safe to call this one. We saw everything you'd want to see out of the first game of the season. Should be another fun one tomorrow. See you then.

My main man Steven Hill gets on the board with two made free throws. You stay 100% from the line on the season and I'd bet you end up with a contract.

I don't really know what else to say about Rudy Fernandez tonight. Another alley-oop to Martell for another nasty dunk. Is he setting expectations tonight that he'll have a hard time living up to the rest of the season? I don't know, but for now, I'm just going to revel in the brilliance that is Rudy. Thank you Spain.

Rudy with another amazing pass to Webster for the dunk. This is some kind of introduction for Fernandez.

With 6:19 to play in the quarter, the Kings score for the first time in the fourth. That's domination folks.

G.O. finally gets the jumphook to fall, and that's 12 points for the big man.

On two consecutive plays, Nic Batum gets a sick block and a steal. That's the defense Kevin Prtichard envisioned when he made the move to grab our new French friend.

Spencer Hawes, you've officially been Odenized.

Sergio just can't help himself. He gets in the lane, passes it with two hands behind his head to Przybilla for the dunk. It's showtime.

Nic Batum gets in on the highlight reel with a powerful jam. This is getting to the point that Coach McMillan might have to call off the dogs. End of the third quarter and the Blazers have extended their lead to 85-63. That was a 30 point quarter for the good guys.

It's turning into an all Spanish And1 Tour here at the Rose Garden. Sergio with another alley-oop to Rudy, who this time finishes with the up-and-under off the glass acrobat. Each highlight seems to be better than the last.

Nic Batum joins the Trail Blazers books with a made free throw, the first points of his fledgling NBA career.

One preseason game in and Rudy already has a signature highlight. Rudy foul line extended threads a bounce pass to LaMarcus Aldridge through Jason Thompson's legs. Unreal.

Well, it took almost all of three quarters, but we have our first Sergio to Rudy alley-oop. Rudy cuts baseline, and Sergio fines him with the lob for the dunk. Again, lets hope to see more of that for the foreseeable future.

Oden and Roy work a textbook inside/out, resulting in an open tre for for Roy. Hopefully we'll see plenty of that for years and years to come.

Oden gets the second half moving with yet another dunk. He's got that down cold.

LaMarcus goes buckets for his first field goal of the game, at the buzzer no less. That's Blazers 53, Kings 50. Nice 16-5 rally by the good guys to get back into it.

A Sergio Rodriguez 3, then a Roy steal, resulting in an uncontested layin for Sergio gives the Blazers a rare lead. Kings tie it up again, but Sergio drains another three to take the lead back. Nice night so far for El Chaco.

After missing the first free throw, LaMarcus nets the second for his first point of the season. Bout time.

Martell Webster with a three and a fastbreak dunk gets the Blazers to within two. That's going to force Reggie Theus to call a timeout.

The surprise of the night so far has to be LaMarcus Aldridge without a point with 3:30 to play in the half. I figured he'd be holding court in this one.

Another dunk for G.O. That's 8 points, 3 boards and an assist for the big man. He did get out-maneuvered in the block by Kenny Thomas, but things like that are to be expected.

Oden with another missed jump hook, another successful dunk after missing said jump hook, and his first foul as a Trail Blazer. Having played as much as he has, the fact that he picked up his first foul with 6:37 to play in the second is impressive, maybe more so than the dunks, and certainly more so than the missed hooks.

Actually, scratch that last remark about pretty. Rudy just floated a a nice underhand layin for his first two of his Blazer career.

Ike Diogu gets his first two points as a Blazer. Wasn't pretty, but then again, nothing has been pretty so far in this one.

At the end of the first it's Kings 31, Blazers 21. I guess maybe I'm just out of game shape, but that quarter seemed to last forever.

Donte Green, who's sporting the close cut mohawk, makes an athletic move at the basket to get a putback two. Kings out-hustling and out-muscling the home squad.

Not a whole lot going on offensively for the Blazers right now. Between the missed free throws and mishandled passes, this one is rather ugly. Sacramento 24, Portland 18. Right on cue, Jerryd Bayless makes one of two.

And new Rudy Fernandez replaces Martell Webster. If Batum gets in sometime tonight the quad rookies will all have something to talk about tomorrow morning at shootaround.

Joel Przybilla and Jerryd Bayless check in. Welcome to Portland Jerryd, and welcome back from a broken hand Joel.

Greg is really going after it on offense. He hasn't found much luck with his jump hook, as it looks like he's over-rotating on his pivot away from the basket, but he's going hard after every miss.

The Blazers transition defense has been rather poor thus far. Mikki Moore, while svelte, shouldn't be beating every Blazer down the floor.

The Kings jerseys seem to be more purple this year. Must be a part of the rebuilding.

The crowd is roaring every time Greg gets his mitts on the ball. After a few failed attempts, G.O. gets a dunk and an And1 over Spencer Hawes. No away a guy Hawes' size can contain a motivated Greg Oden.

It's that time again. Back up in the Rose Garden with the resurrection. We've got a nice crowd on hand to see Greg Oden, Rudy Fernandez and Jerryd Bayless go NBA-style for the first time in their careers. Should be exciting.

Kings are playing without Kevin Martin and Brad Miller, so on paper, the Blazers should roll. I've heard they don't play on paper though.

Greg Oden wins an ugly tip, and the 2008-2009 season is underway.