Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

Kurt —  October 28, 2008 — 127 Comments

Records: Lakers 0-0 Trailblazers 0-0
Offensive ratings: Lakers NA Trailblazers NA
Defensive ratings: Lakers NA Trailblazers NA
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Vladimir Radmanovic, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Trailblazers: Steve Blake, Brandon Roy, Travis Outlaw, Lamarcus Aldridge, Greg Oden

Lakers notes: No better way to start off the season than with an old rival on the cusp of restarting said rivalry.

Off the court, the Lakers picked up the option on Jordan Farmar. That was the easy part, the harder part comes in the next couple of years as they figure out how much to pay him. But you don’t let an emerging starting PG walk away, so picking up his option year was obvious.

Not much else in terms of Lakers notes, as we just did the team preview. But if you want to read another good team preview, check out the one at SportsHubLA.

Links to Click: ESPN the Magazine reached out to some bloggers (the guys from FreeDarko, Basketbawful, The Painted Area, Hoopshype and many more) and asked about some of the big storylines for the upcoming season, and it is well worth the read. Here is my only printed response (really, the only good one I sent in), to the question: Can Mike D’Antono turn water into wine, or does that only work with fast-moving water?

“He can make wine out of water, but it’s going to be more Sutter Home White Zinfandel than Screaming Eagle cabernet. Great wine starts with great grapes, just like great teams start with great rosters. The Knicks are more Thompson’s seedless than old vine cabernet, but D’Antoni can make something entertaining that the masses in Madison Square Garden will enjoy more than what they have been served in recent years. Knicks fans—and more importantly Knicks ownership—need to remember that making great wines takes time and patience.”

Another link to check out (and frankly, thing to buy) is the new book from the brilliant minds at Free Darko. It hits the stores in a couple weeks, but there are widgets on the site where you can preview pages and chapters. Also, Henry has a glowing review up today at TrueHoop.

The Blazers Coming In: The Blazers have a lot of potential and that has their large fan base pumped up. The Blazers following includes one of the best sets of bloggers in the NBA (including what’s-his-name at ESPN). One of my favorite NBA bloggers period is Dave from Blazers Edge, who does some of the most insightful NBA writing out there. And he consented to answer a few questions from me.

1) There is a lot of hype around the Blazers, and in some quarters growing expectations. What are reasonable expectations for this team this season?

The hype is justified, but timed too early (as most hype is nowadays). The Blazers are going to be superb one day. They’re too young and are integrating too many new players to be superb this season no matter what you think of their talent. A reasonable expectation would be for the Blazers to struggle through a horrific early schedule, take some bruising to their confidence and shuffle the rotation a time or two, then pour it on after New Year’s to fight hard for a low playoff seed. With the turmoil surrounding most of the mid-level West teams right now Portland has a decent chance to get one of those spots. Winning a seven-game series against any of the conference’s elite teams would be too much to reasonably hope for. This will be Portland’s year to experience what a meaningful stretch run and (hopefully) playoff battle are really like, in preparation for when they do it for real down the road.

2) The team played last year without Oden, how are the players meshing with him through the preseason? How are Aldridge and Oden playing next to each other? Has it been better on offense or defense?

We haven’t seen the full Oden Effect yet and probably won’t through a good part of the season. I was in Las Vegas the summer when Amare Stoudemire was recovering from his knee surgery and played in Summer League to build his way back. I literally thought his career was done. He looked nothing like the Amare we had seen before or have seen since. I’m fairly impressed Oden can affect the game as much as he does having undergone surgery himself and having not played for a year. Aldridge and Oden will be fine together on both ends of the floor though. They are near perfect complements. Aldridge likes to play on the wings and use his fluidity and soft touch to score. He can score in the low post but it’s never been his favorite. He’s a new-breed power forward all the way. Oden is all about the post and bulling people over. His strength and size are scary down there. Aldridge will keep enough of his post game and Oden will develop enough of a jump hook to have that chocolate-in-my-peanut-butter synergy, but they won’t interfere with each other as much as two old-school big men would have. Both will be mobile on defense as well once Oden is up to speed. Basically one will stop his man while the other will swoop in from the other side to block the shot. Aldridge is one of the best perimeter defending big men I’ve seen in a long time and Oden fills the lane. Not much conflict there either. Of course a six-game pre-season run isn’t enough to work the kinks out and to learn timing and rotations but you can already see each carve out their territory.

3) What can we expect to see in terms of style of play? What do the Blazers need to do to win?

1. Get the ball inside on most possessions. That doesn’t mean Oden has to shoot or score, but the ball should penetrate to move the defense around. Oden is a willing passer if not an accomplished one yet, which will put pressure on the opposition even if they double him consistently. Last year the Blazers spent 3-4 passes to get a semi-covered jumper. This year those 3-4 passes should yield more dunks, lay-ups, and open threes.

2. Rebound, rebound, rebound. The Blazers were a poor defensive rebounding team last year. They had to send all five men to the boards to be sure of the possession which meant killing any semblance of a fast break or easy points. The Blazer forwards and centers need to own the ball off the glass and get it out.

3. Create more easy buckets. This is the aftermath of the rebounding thing. Brandon Roy and Steve Blake aren’t runners but if you look at the rest of the squad–Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, Travis Outlaw, Martell Webster, Lamarcus Aldridge, even Greg Oden eventually–these guys either naturally belong on the break or are faster than the man guarding them most nights. Portland doesn’t have to install a Mike D’Antoni offense but they do need those six points off of lay-ups they were missing last season.

Mix aggression with reliability on defense. The Blazers were a fine percentage defending team last year. They chose intentionally not to let men by them and did whatever it took to keep shots covered. This meant playing off of guys a lot, sticking to individual assignments instead of roaming passing lanes, and making emergency big man rotations a huge priority. All of that combined contributed to the weakness in eventual rebounding position. Plus the Blazers couldn’t force a turnover against a blindfolded kindergartener with Crisco on his hands. Again, you don’t need a Golden State-type defense but you do need more disruption, more risk-taking, and more confidence in your backstop if those risks fail.

Check out his preview of tonight’s game.

Keys To The Game: Everyone is talking about the Bynum v. Oden matchup. I hope this is the opening bell of a 10-round (year) battle between two real heavyweights. But Reed brings up a good question: Since Bynum has done battle at the NBA level with Shaq/Howard/Yao, is he better positioned for tonight to take advantage of the rookie? I think Bynum could have a good night.

However, the real key to tonight’s game — and the most fun part — will be when the two benches are on the floor. Both teams have a starting five that is good but more deliberate in style, then they go with the change of pace bringing in a deep bench. The Blazers bring in Rudy Fernandez, Sergio Rodriguez, Channing Frye, Travis Outlaw and Joel Przybilla. When the two benches are on the court, this is going to be an up-and-down shootout that should be very entertaining. If one team can gain the advantage there, it will be huge.

Last season the Blazers took 75% of their offensive shots from the perimeter (as jump shots). Dave from Blazers edge said that the goal this year is for Portland to be an inside-out team, and with Oden and Aldridge. The Lakers need to not let them establish an inside presence, to force them back into being a jump shooting squad.

The Lakers cannot leave Blake, Bayless and the Europeans alone to shoot the three, they need to close out on those guys on the wing.

Where you can watch: TNT has the exclusive broadcast rights. So, I’d be shocked if: 1) The game starts on time; 2) Barkley doesn’t make me wince at least once.



127 responses to Preview & Chat: The Portland Trailblazers

  1. You guys see this?

    The Celtics really did beat up Kobe in the Finals.

  2. I haven’t stopped smiling all day. I’m amazed I haven’t peed a little in my seat. It’s opening night!!!

    Did you read Bill Simmons’ last two columns? The guy should be considered a national treasure. And he’s right: every team in pro sports should have a VP of Common Sense. Someone who says “you do not want to see your picture in the paper tomorrow announcing this decision.” I nominate Kurt and Reed.


  4. (comment, at least)…

  5. Here’s the thing that struck me writing this preview:

    The Blazers are basically a younger, less experienced version of the Lakers. Very similar make up — shooting guard is the go to option, big guy in the middle, four that is hard to guard, change of pace with speed off the bench, deep roster.

  6. Happy NBA day!

    The games tonight should be awesome. Have been waiting all summer for my Inside the NBA fix. Really excited to see Bynum vs Oden. Cavs vs the Celtics. Anything is possible!

  7. Can’t wait. Can’t wait. Can’t wait…

  8. I, too, noted the huge similarities between Portland and LA. Go-to crunch time player (and best overall) at the 2. Solid, not spectacular PG. Tall, finesse-driven 4’s that have previously played center. Strong, bursting-with-potential upcoming centers. Deep benches, each team has its own form of the Bench Mob.

    The differences? The 3 spot for Portland isn’t defined yet (and technically, it hasn’t been strongly defined for us either, so maybe that’s another similarity). Very similar teams, lead by highly respected coaches.

    Another overlooked similarity: great chemistry on both teams. I have a LOT of respect for this Blazers team and organization.

  9. I’m glad to see my enthusiasm for the season is shared by my FBG bretheren. I’m lookin forward to tonight, here are a couple things I feel are key:

    1. Win the battle in the paint. On offense this means both getting the ball in the post, and attacking from the perimeter. This will get us easy hoops, and Portland in foul trouble. On defense, quite simply, this means controlling the glass.

    2. Do not allow Aldridge to get in an early rhythm on offense. Last year we all saw Aldridge get his face-up game from 17 feet going against Lamar. Pau must play him tight and not let him get hot from mid-range, he is a key weapon for them on offense.

    3. Aggressive Kobe defense. He can disrupt Roy, hopefully the refs let the teams play defense.

    4. Our 3pt shooting. This will keep Portland honest, and open up space for Drew and Pau.

  10. Happy days are here again! Going home early to smoke a cigar and celebrate…

  11. 7 – Very, very true, eery similarities. Except for the part about LA’s shooting guard being one of the top 10 greatest players of all time and Portland’s probably never being on an all nba first team.

    I love Portland’s roster. I would place big money on them winning a title in the next 5 years. But unless one of their players (Oden or Roy) becomes a legitimate mvp level superstar, I think they will struggle along the “Pistons path” — often coming close but struggling to break through against a superstar who has a strong supporting cast. Can Oden or Roy rise to the level of past title-drivers (Duncan, Shaq, Kobe, Wade, Jordan, Olajuwon, Isiah, Magic, Bird, etc.)? That’s the missing piece to me. Oden certainly has the potential. But what if he “only” becomes Alonzo Mourning in his prime? or Ewing? Is that enough, given the team’s depth? It’s an open question, not an argument against.

  12. Let’s get the party started already! Sporting my kb24 jersey at work today!

    I still haven’t seen Oden in a full game yet. Looking forward to watching him again Drew Bynum. Let’s see what all the hype is about tonight!

  13. And, we are four and a half hours before game time, and Barkley has already made me wince with this quote regarding the Knicks:

    “I think they have a better coach. This coach probably won’t try to kill himself.” […]

  14. “Did you read Bill Simmons’ last two columns? The guy should be considered a national treasure.”

    Sorry Bryan, but I couldn’t disagree more. Though I doubt this is really the time or place for a back-and-forth on Bill Simmons (I imagine it’s been done a time or two somewhere on these here intarwebs).

    Just wanted to pop in and say hello to everybody! Been a while, glad to see you all doing well. All the best to all Lakers fans (and other NBA fans as well, I suppose) for the upcoming 82 games.

    Go Lakers!

  15. This is the team that scares me most. They play great against the Lakers and have the pieces to match up.


    Bill Simmons is good sometimes, and the other times, he’s a complete fool.

    it’s time for me to get ready to watch real ball, so good luck fellow Laker fam, enjoy the game. i can;t post during games.

  16. for whatever reason, portland always plays well against the lakers. should be fun!!

  17. I think it’s a good time to reflect back on game 1 of last year:

    After the obvious tumultuous summer the Lakers entered the season cautiously optimistic. Several of the role players played above their heads during the preseason, including Vujacic, Bynum and Farmar, if memory serves. Kobe was removed from the pack, but wasn’t gone yet, so I hoped that maybe a strong showing to start the season would convince him to stay, though I was dubuious about preseason achievements.

    Sure enough, as we began the game against the Rockets, none of the role players even showed up, doing their best interpretation of their awful showings at the end of 07. Fisher was the only Laker other than Kobe to reach double digits. The team fell behind until Kobe turned it on, looking quite P.O.’d as he single handedly brought the team back and tied the game (maybe even took a lead), only to be devestated when Shane Battier buried the team with a buzzer beating 3.

    At the end of the game I text messaged a friend, “It’s going to be a looooong season.” I was sure this game proved nothing had changed and Kobe would be gone within the week. I prepared myself to wander the wilderness…

    The next game the Lakers creamed the Suns by 21 points with 8 players scoring 8 points or more and every role player turning in a solid showing.

    And we all know how the rest of the season played out. The moral: this one game doesn’t tell us a whole hell of a lot about anything that will be happening come April. Or even January.

  18. Oh, and on Simmons- he knows a lot of things about a lot of things, but never trust his analysis of the Lakers. He’s too invested in hating them to be non-objective. He either finds reasons to hope they will crumble or gets depressed and is convinced they’ll win it all because God hates him or something.

  19. Just wanted to drop a comment to support Kurt and the great work he does here. I can’t believe as a life-long Blazer fan I’m commenting on a L*kers site but I can’t resist quality work I guess.

    A heads up on the Oden thing. Already Portland observers have seen two kinds of what I’ll call “Oden Dumb”. The first came mostly from Portland fans this summer who claimed Oden would play like a fully mature Shaq or Hakeem this year. Hello? One year college player, rookie, knee surgery, hasn’t played in a year, conditioning is (understandably) flat, and Portland doesn’t need another leading scorer. That was never going to happen. The second kind we’re going to see soon, which is people who will see Oden a little slow right now, get a little lost sometimes (because he’s learning), get used now and then by more experienced centers, and only put up 12 and 9 or something like that. They’ll immediately label him a disappointment. This is dumb for all of the same reasons as the first.

    If you look close you will see flashes of jaw-dropping dominance from him…he already bends the court around him when he’s out there. The thing is, it’s two or three times a game right now and not 48 minutes. He’s going to need time to be great, but he IS going to be great. Portland has time to give him, so no worries.

    I’m laying about 70-30 odds that Bynum will look much better than Oden tonight. In many ways he should, having been in the league far longer. If that happens I’m not going to be that disappointed. I’m also betting that at least once tonight Oden will get the ball in position to make Bynum look like a rag doll trying to defend him. Those are the moments Portland fans are hanging their hats on right now.

    Enjoy the game. Good to be playing again.


  20. Dave- Thanks for not hurling epithets. You will find plenty of agreement with your statements here. We all fear Oden, but it’s the potential that’s scary. You guys always, always play us tough. Oden is another key cog in Portland’s ascent to the NBA elite. Good thing you guys didn’t do what Bill Simmons advocated, taking Durant #1 overall. Whatta logjam that would have been.

    If Bynum doesn’t look better than Oden tonight, us Laker fans are in for a long decade… He has three NBA years on Oden.

    Portland needs one more thing, in my opinion: a new coach. Not that McMillian isn’t a great guy and a good leader. I think with an elite coach (and Paul Allen has the dough to pay for one), Portland could be contending for the NBA title as soon as this year.

  21. The Blazers are an intriguing team. While I do agree that they have very talented team, I think they are too young for the hype that they are receiving. Next year will be their real rise in the West. That being said, they have the second deepest bench in the league only to our own. While in most games i expect our second unit to pull away from the other team, tonight i would put that burden on our first team. We have a much larger upper hand in the match up of 1-5 than 6 on down.

    Imagine a broadcast crew of Barkley, Bill Walton and Reggie Miller! I would be so afraid to mute that game out of fear of missing the funniest sports comments of this century!

    and finally…

    I was happy to see the world series rained out again because this is opening night for the NBA! Basketball was supposed to be in the spotlight tonight, and still is. Long Live Basketball!

  22. I’m excited about NBA starting up again.

    1. I want to see how Bynum and Gasol play together in a regular season game. I hope they can feed off each other a lot better. They each can be dominating but can they both play do it at the same time. To me it’s a matter of when this happens not if.

    2. I wonder if L.O. off the bench will be like Manu off the bench, or Barbosa or how will he play out? I think this can work real well for him. He is so versatile he can play with any of the starters and fill in spots with the reserve. I like our depth.

    3. This should be a fun game to watch. Like everyone else Bynum vs Oden will be fun. Bynum has bulked up a good amount so I don’t think there will be any bullying go either way physically. Skill set advantage Bynum. I didn’t realize this but Bynum less than 3 months older than Oden. 10 year battle, I completely agree.

    I definitely cannot stand Doug Collins anymore. Does he still have blond bleached hair? I will be watching Prime Ticket.

  23. the wait wasn’t as long as i feared, thanks to us going very far into the postseason and the olympics.

    still, it was a long wait!

  24. One lineup change for the Blazers, Outlaw will start at the three and Bantum will come off the bench.

  25. SWEET- Just got home to find my forumblueandgold shirt waiting for me. Perfect timing, no?

  26. I’m so excited about the season starting again!! FB&G got me through this long summer. Does anyone have a link to the game, since I don’t have TNT, or even any basic cable??!

  27. I thought it was Batum, not Bantum?

    Interesting choice either way, because shot-happy Outlaw makes much more sense with the 2nd unit, plus if you’ve read the Oregonian lately (I really like the Blazer beat writers) they’re going nuts over Batum.

    And more so than Oden, I’m looking forward to getting my first look at Fernandez.

  28. 29. It is, but I am typing on my phone and that didn’t work too well.

  29. is showing celtics-cavs right now and i’m pretty sure will keep streaming for the lakers right afterwards

    so excited for tonight… sooooo excited! lets go lakers!

  30. Is it just me, or do the Celtics get away with more fouls than any other team?

    They’re “sneaky” fouls, but it’s getting worse than Utah.

  31. Any other sites streaming the game?

  32. i think has better quality. Also is a stream from a Lakers fan, will definitely show the game.

  33. Ha. Of course Lamar gets in the first gaffe of the season. That was hilarious.

  34. GREAT pass by LO!

  35. Machine camp, shooot. From bench, no matter.

  36. That Odom play is going to be all over the blogosphere tomorrow.

  37. I don’t think Sonic has public health as their primary focus

  38. any other links for the game? those dont work

  39. Oden is big. He definitely seems naturally stronger than Bynum.


    You might want to go to They might streaming it.

  40. Hypothetical question.. if Sasha had shot that ball anyway, would he have gotten a technical?

  41. No other links so far.

    Is Oden out for the game?

  42. Tell me you weren’t surprised when Sasha didn’t take the wide open jumper…

  43. Farmar – Gasol…

  44. Love how aggressive Lamar is tonight. Hope it lasts.

  45. Is it too early to say I’m liking the effort on D?

  46. I love our defense right now. We’re being aided by the fact that Portland can’t hit a jumpshot, but we’re hedging hard on the P&R (and even switching sometimes), we’re pressuring the ball, chasing players through off ball screens, and rotating well on both the interior and perimeter. Our quasi-zone is pretty effective too. I like how our length is able to shut down the strong side while we’re still athletic enough to rotate on ball reversals. Good stuff so far…

  47. Kobe taking few shots. This team looks defensively impressive.

    Odom is killing the Blazers’ second unit…

  48. It’s good to see Tex at the game. After he was saying that his health was not as strong, I’m glad to see him behind the Lakers’ bench.

  49. Sasha denying Outlaw the ball. I love it.

  50. If Ariza keeps hitting those corner 3s watch out…

  51. It’s apparent Ariza worked on his shot while he was out last season and this summer. It’s looked pretty good since the Finals.

  52. The trade for this gasol kid may yet be judged a success

  53. Really going out on a limb there hastings…

  54. The Lakers have been very good tonight at exploiting the matchup advantages they’ve had. Gasol running the floor with Oden matched up on him, Lamar starting the transition off of rebounds, Ariza getting good looks off of his activity.

    and now Kobe is beginning to take over…

  55. So , Kobe has 5 assists already, and 7 rebounds. I know , I know. It’s only the 1st game, but like I said in in the previous posts. Kobe will average at least 8 assists this year. They’ll come easier than ever.

  56. 46, 58…. thank u soooooo much 🙂

  57. All Laker starters are at least +18 at this point.

    Kobe: 3-6FG 0-0FT 6pts 8rebs 5assist 1steal 2TO

  58. Portland is just overwhelmed by the swarming defense. Kobe’s not scoring much but has played an excellent floor game.

    Watching Gasol catch and finish everything after 2 1/2 years of Cakeboy is something to see…

  59. I’m really getting tired of this “missed Bynum in the Finals” carp. We made it there without him, and he didn;t playy with Pau at all, so I cannot and will not say we “missed” him. Can these analysts and writers cut it out.

  60. What’s up with this Staples crowd?

    “Are you not entertained?”

  61. Bynum looks a little disconnected. There’ve been 2 or 3 times people have looked for him for lobs but he either wasn’t ready or couldn’t get to it. He’s not getting great rebound position either. I don’t know, hopefully its nerves and they can get him more engaged.

  62. The Lakers are at times superb and scattered.

  63. Bynum and Gasol is running the floor great. Early offense and easy shots down low.

  64. Plus I like that the Lakers are penetrating the Blazer defense and not settling for the three.

  65. 66.

    Bynum will be fine, he hasnt played a regular season game in nearly a year, you have to allow for a little rust. The lobs will come, have faith.

  66. 66,

    I don’t think the lobs were good ones.

  67. Do we really need to be subjected to 3 minute long “NBA Live 09” videos with corny songs?

  68. These NBA Live ads are driving me nuts

  69. 73+74.
    the song is right. you cant stand it. neither can i.

  70. Bynun is just in gunner mode right now. The first shot he sees is the one he wants to take.

  71. Bynum needs to stop with the jump shots.

  72. Bynum looks much more engaged on D and setting screens, though these pull ups aren’t great to see…

  73. Bynum has been looking shot-happy since preseason…

  74. 74.
    I can’t stand the NBA Live ads either. I hate the song and the ad is too long, or seems to be. I think EA spends too much on advertising and not enough improving the NBA Live games. NBA 2k9 is great by the way.

  75. As they’re talking about Kobe’s pinkie, did anyone else notice that he doesn’t have his finger taped? It really must be fine if he’s not even having it secured anymore.

  76. I think everyone’s expectations of Bynum should be tempered. Hes going to be good, very good even…but he’s still learning the game and will still fall prey to the follies of youth. Drew gets caught up a bit too much in the excitement of big games and lets it rule his decision making. As he develops and learns to control that, he’ll be fine. Remember, Kobe went through the same kind of growing pains and he’s doing alright now.

  77. Question to anyone out there. Can we expect a lot of DNP-CDs for Luke Walton this season?

  78. Oden is out!

  79. Fisher’s in gunner mode too…

  80. Fisher’s always in gunner mode.

  81. I like it that at least he is going to the hoop instead of settling for threes.

  82. Kobe seems fine. Usual self. As for others… usual Vlad, usual Fish with his drives, usual Odom, slightly offkilter Gasol, but still good.

  83. Wow, man, our defense is good. Everyone is into it. Vlade is active, Odom’s calling out rotations. And Kobe is playing with what can only be described as Joy.

  84. Darius, I saw a Kobe interview where he pulled the pinkie down and it defineately looked like a torn off tendon. Who knows why it is not tapped tonight.

  85. 83:

    I think the DNP’s will happen for Walton, Mihm, Mbenga, Powell, the Lakers are just too deep.

  86. Another note on our defense: The communication is very strong right now. When we switch, it’s clear to all the players and everyone is then moving where they’re supposed to in order to cover the gaps in the D. This is leading to Portland never getting an open look off of strict ball movement and they’re forced to run down the shot clock down just looking for an opening. We’ve already forced 2 or 3 shot clock violations and forced them to take another 2 or 3 shots right as the buzzer is sounding. Portland’s most effective offense has come from Outlaw just going one on one and nailing that pull up jumper. I LOVE IT.

  87. 83,

    I think you will see DNP’s for Luke against really athletic teams. Luke would have nothing to provide against Portland. Outlaw would score at will on him. You’ll see Luke play tomorrow.

  88. I really love how phil is rolling out the 9 man rotation. Never a weak link. Always perfect balance and chemistry.

  89. 85 & 86,

    I cringe when it’s a fastbreak oppornity and Pau gives the ball to Fish after a rebound.

  90. DUDE! They totally cut off that commercial before I could find out when “Librarian: Curse of the Golden Chalice” was on!

  91. Reed,
    I couldn’t agree more. In reality, Phil probably thinks he has 9 starters. Fish, Kobe, RadMan, Gasol, Bynum, Odom, Farmar, Sasha, and Ariza. I mean, Odom started last year, in the pre-season Phil said that Ariza was a potential starter, Farmar already splits minutes with Fish for half the game, and Sasha was part of our closing lineup in close games down the stretch last season. That’s 9 guys that he implicitly trusts to perform well for us when called upon.

  92. Lakers getting sloppy. The look on Phil’s face said everything.

  93. they’re catching up through fernandez

  94. Yeah, Darius. Teams without strong benches will have to overplay their starters and risk getting worn down, or have our second unit crush theirs. We lose nothing when farmar, ariza, and odom sub in halfway through the first for fisher, radman, and gasol/bynum. Then at the quarter sasha comes in for kobe and soon thereafter pau/bynum subs in for the other. As the 2nd/4th progresses, phil can play matchups/the hot hand and bring back kobe to pair with a PG, two of odom/pau/bynum, and ariza/radman. 9 starters and endless options.

  95. Kobe is closing the show. Hope Phil gets him out of the game soon.

  96. 95

    Every time Fish brings the ball up on the break I get a little nervous…

  97. Reed, you know that Phil trusts Luke and Mihm enough to play them too, but they’re not good enough to crack the rotation. Cosidering that 4 years ago these guys started for us and tonight they’ll only get mop up minutes (if that, for Walton) and we’ve come a loooong way as a team as far as talent goes.

    On a side note, I feel really bad for Portland with this Oden foot injury. Hopefully it’s not really serious.

  98. Luke is in. Game Over.

  99. Even our garbage time unit is the best in the league.

  100. Really appreciate those game links guys.

  101. Mihm gets the block! Great start to the season.

  102. This Kobe fellow has some serious upside. Great motor too.

  103. Darius,
    “That’s 9 guys that he implicitly trusts to perform well for us when called upon.”

    I would add Walton to that list, and probably Mihm, after he gets a little more time to get rid of the rust, although those two will likely not get much in the way of PT.

  104. exhelodrvr,
    Yeah, I was mentioning that to Reed too. Phil’s really got some guys to turn to in the mold of his old Bulls teams. Now, even though guys like Wennington, Randy Brown, Jud Buechler, et al weren’t the most talented group, Phil trusted them to perform when he called their number. Now, with this team, he’s got that same trust with the players, but these guys (players 8-11) are better, imo.

  105. 109- That’s basically everyone we know, isn’t it? Others haven’t really been tested at all, so wow, that’s depth.

    i don’t see Luke and Mihm playing more than 5 minutes tho… although they can be counted on to play over 10.

  106. It’ll be a damn shame if Oden is out for an extended period. Here’s hoping not.

    Tons of positives to go over from tonight’s game. Mostly though, I was impressed with the quickness and effort defensively. Rotations were crisp and help defenders seemed to be covering up time after time. Great sequence in the 2nd half where Ariza recovered in transition D to get a monster block then Sasha flew in (as much as Sasha can fly) to save it. Of course, an errant pass lead to an immediate turnover… but that’s beyond the point.

    If the Lakers deliver nightly performances like this on the defensive end they will be on their way to home court throughout.

  107. Was at the game tonight. The expectations of this season were palpable in the energy of the crowd, that is, until it went back to normal when things got a bit sloppy in the third. Of course, by then we were up big and Kobe went out (that was weird that Phil brought him back in late in the 4th, any thoughts on why?).

    The Lakers’ defensive rotations were very intriguing to watch, defintiely some new wrinkles. The general activity on that end was very pleasing as I’m in full agreement with Kurt’s season mantra. That being said, Portland showed their youth and inexperience as a team, so that made it a little easier for the Lakers. Still, overall a good start to the season for the team and the fans.

  108. 113.
    Maybe PJ has kobe on his fantasy team.

    Our second line-up playing half-court offense looks kind of ugly. Farmar and Sasha threw up some pretty ugly shots. Could make things tough against teams with really strong team defense, especially Boston and Houston. Especially Houston, they have alot of solid defenders.

    Our defense looked good though. Or maybe it was just the Portland offense that was a little off. Bur in all fairness, they did expect to have Oden in for more than 6 minutes.

    How about Ariza’s shooting! He didn’t seem at all hesitant when he was open, and knocked down some decent shots in the first half.
    Also, Rudy Fernandez is hot man. I’m a little high off him.

  109. lakerade,

    There was still around 4 minutes left, and the Lakers were hitting shots and lazily opening the door for a real Blazer run. If there were 6-8 straight points, then next thing you know, it’s a game with 2 minutes left, and a young energetic team feeling confident. The Lakers were being sloppy. Phil could not allow that to happen, especially an upstart team like Portland. A win like that could propel them into the season.

    I think this Portland team can be very good, but they need a more structured offense. TNT was showing their poor stats from last year, and it’s apparent to me, that consistency would help. They seem to play by feel.

    I really hope Oden will be okay. Oh, and Joel Pryzbilla does absolutely nothing but cheap shot. Every time.

  110. SKipping 113 comments to reply to Aaron @ #5…

    Thanks for the love man. 😉 You would need be less and less this season. Lakers are a beauty to watch. We in the Phils were blessed to witness opening night blowout of the Blazers. Tomorrow (or should I say tonight for you guys…) we get to see the Clippers game as well. And to cap it off, Denver on Sunday.

    I’ll go back and read the comments now…

  111. ***oops…I meant the Blazers were hitting shots, and the Lakers were lazily……..

  112. 113 comments didn’t take that long… obviously, I silently joined all of your giddiness of the season. Our fix is finally here and its the expensive type this one is.

    I can definitely see the over-giddiness in the eyes of Drew to outdo himself. The young kid needs time (which he doesn’t seem to think) and he needs Kareem’s mentoring – this time, a psychological debriefing would be advisable. As the cliche says: He has to let the game come to him.

    Lamar Odom looked great – he showed us that he can fit in all this. Psychological debriefing… I bet he had a handful from Phil.

    Pau Gasol is simply flawless at PF. He is overplaying LMA, playing defense, running the floor very well and punishing the defender for not respecting his 15-footer. This fella is kinda good.

    Fisher looks like me shooting a layup. Plain and Simple Ugly.

    Sasha hit the Laker Lizard on that corner attempt. And yes he should have shot the Lamar Odom assist. I laughed my ass off. Never mind the ejection.

    Trevor Ariza was the game’s best player. Is it just me or can you see confidence in his face? He is no longer the tentative high-flier… and now he has that sweet jumper developing. Seriously though, with how high he jumps, he could lead the league in blocks with 35mpg. Promise.

    Farmar was as giddy as Drew. Overconfidence is indeed a key area. But with Farmar being our future PG, I like giving him a little dose of (over)confidence. Drew will get his later.

    And lastly, I wish there was a way we could land Rudy. OMG that kid will be starting in no time. Promise.

  113. the other Stephen October 29, 2008 at 8:37 am

    travis outlaw’s jumper is looking sweeter and sweeter. gosh, that guy scares me. i have never seen anyone jump so high that he airballed his dunk attempt:

  114. And, per my Celtics complaint ealier, I found this on TrueHoop (thanks Mr Abbott)

    Evidence is better than assertion.

  115. Kurt said he would be watchin the defense, so let’s talk defense:

    Who says Phil can’t coach defense? I loved the defense last night. I liked the effort on the PNR’s (hard show and recover, forcing the ball handler to go horizontal, not towards the hoop, trapping and playing the passing lane) and how we were denying wing passes.

    I also was feeling how FIsh, Vlad and Kobe would collapse on the ball when it went into the post.

    Also, the 1-2-2 zone we threw at Roy when he was gonna try to penetrate from the top of the key. We did this a little against SA in the playoffs, and I think with Bynum back, it will be even more formidable. Especially when LO is in at the top of that zone, this is where our length will really come in handy.

    I was impressed by Vlad’d overall game last night. He took good shots, ran the break and played a great defense game. He looked comfortable with the starters, and Odom and Ariza (save the exorbiant amount of turnovers) looked great with the 2nd unit…kudos to Phil.

  116. The Dude Abides October 29, 2008 at 8:41 am

    Greetings everyone. It was a long summer after that heartbreaking defeat in the Finals, but I had the Olympics and Manny to tide me over. I absolutely love our new defense. Having Drew and Pau down low lets our wing defenders gamble in the passing lanes. Vlad had 4 steals, and that’s a bonus because Kobe and Trevor would be the guys you’d expect to have a stat like that. Drew is still young, it’s his first real game back and as time goes on, he will improve. I think he’s a little bit anxious about the October 31st contract deadline, too.

    Trevor is simply awesome, I absolutely love watching this guy. Kobe is Kobe, and our second unit of Lamar, Farmar, Trevor, and Sasha will overwhelm the opponents plenty of times this season.

    As for the Blazers, I think they’ve assembled a great young core of excellent players and quality individuals. The problem? Their cornerstones are Brandon Roy and Greg Oden, perhaps the most brittle cornerstone combination in NBA history. They might win the championship at some point in the next five seasons after this one, but I can’t see them staying healthy for an extended period of time.

  117. trevor was the biggest positve for me last night, his overall game from his outside shot, solid free throws (seems to be very consistent), his slashing and slam dunks and the block and hustle on the D end. very impressive. I like the rotations of LO coming in first off the bench – gets some PT with the starters, (this gives either Pau or Drew the first blow, so they come back in a switch, so we have one of the 2 on the floor though most of the first half). then when trevor and farmar come in it’s off to the races. (I keep think of speedy gonzeles’ cry “yehaa, andelee, andelee, ariba!…and some way to tie in Ariza!)

    that LO pass to sasha when he was in sweats on the bench was hysterical.

    when Kobe got that hard foul from Prizbilla, and then went off for something like 12 straight points, THAT was impressive and his comments and laughing about it in the end of game interview was classic, I thought Kobe showed a lot of class, and “a real person” quality.

  118. Does anyone know where I can watch the entire game onlline, unfortunately I missed the game yesterday.

  119. Notes from the game last night:

    1) Not sure how it really came off on TV, but the crowd in the arena was jacked up for most of the game. Loudest boo’s for an opposing team I can remember. Also the reaction for the starting lineup was probably the loudest I’ve heard Staples Center, period. Also the first time Lamar came in off the bench the place went wild, good to see the fans haven’t really turned on him as it was starting to seem that way.

    2) Defense was absolutely great. Pau was banging w/ Aldridge, looking aggressive, getting out on shots, boxing out (for the most par), blocking shots. He looked like a man that wants to silence his critics. Kobe, Radman (who would of thought?) also notably looked good on the d-end.

    3) Few timing issues prevented this from really being over early. Missed alley-oops etc. I think we’ll see a lot of those start to fall in a few games.

    4)Oden/Bynum looked like two young guys trying to one up the other and both failing for the most part. Andrew had a nice help defense game but on the offensive side of the ball he looked very timid.

    5) No mention of Oden’s injury in the arena. It happened right in front of my seats and Oden really didn’t seem to let it on to the crowd. Perhaps he should have come out earlier as running on it probably wasn’t the best idea.

    Great win to start the season, defense was spectacular, offense was great and will get better as the season rolls on. Should be a good game tonight, seems like Phil did a nice job managing minutes on Kobe/Pau so they should be ready to rock.

  120. @123 It seems obvious but, Yeeha, andale, andale, Ariza, Ariza” works, right?

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