Archive for October 29th, 2008

Growing Pains

If the first half wasn’t a rude awakening for Portland, starting the second half without Greg Oden certainly was.

By the time I finished doing a radio spot for ESPN AM1420 in Honolulu just past tip-off, the Los Angeles Lakers had already built a favorable lead, Oden had just picked up his second foul and now all Greg has to show for his NBA debut is an injured foot.

“I don’t know. I’m trying to get some information right now,” Nate McMillan said after the game.

“At halftime he tried to run on it and it was a little too sore for him to return. He might have stepped on someone’s foot. I didn’t see the play. I did see him hobbling down the floor after the play.”

Portland is calling it a mid-foot sprain on his right foot. The X-Rays came back inconclusive and Oden’s scheduled to have an MRI done Wednesday morning. (update: the Blazers will have an announcement today after 5 o’clock)

Ouch. Not good. Not good at all.

When asked how afraid he is that it might be serious, McMillan said “I hope not. He’s worked so hard to get himself back. Here we are the first game and it’s a tweeked ankle. Hopefully it’s not anything serious and hopefully in a couple days he’ll be back.” 

Greg said he wanted to play. He was running, trying to get ready to go. Said it happened during the third play of the game when he stepped on Derek Fisher’s foot. Said he tried to play on and right now it’s a “little tender”.

“It sucks. Just gotta keep on working,” Oden admitted. “It’s just a little set back. It happens.”

First the knee, then the ankle, now the foot.

Stay tuned.

Aside from Oden’s injury, Portland’s bandwagon may be a little lighter today thanks to some blatant nervousness at the Staples Center. That’s certainly not the Blazers we’ve come to know during the preseason, but let’s be honest – this is the Lakers and they weren’t in the Finals last season for nothing. Such baptism by fire is actually a good thing.

So what positives can McMillan and the Blazers take from this painful loss?

There aren’t a lot, but here’s worth mentioning….

 Rudy Fernandez (16 points) made a legit debut. It was devoid of his “Pistol Pete-esque” stylings, but he kept the turnovers to a minimum (zero actually) which is always a good thing. He was active but not crazy. Rudy also looked like a natural fit when McMillan went to the Roy, Rudy, Outlaw, Aldridge and Oden combination during the middle of the second quarter.

 While Jerryd Bayless appeared the odd man out in the backcourt, he certainly played decent when he was on the court (14:36). With the game over early, it was wise for McMillan to get the kid out there in the second half. Same goes for Nicolas Batum (3:32) late in the fourth quarter.

  Joel Przybilla and the Kobe Bryant battle lives. These two had a heated run-in at the Rose Garden last season. Back then, when I asked Bryant about it afterwards, he said that’s what Joel gets paid to do. Przybilla earned a bit of that keep (11 rebounds) when he planted a shoulder into Kobe during the third quarter. Joel kept it real, kept it physical – unfortunately Kobe went off soon after. When asked afterwards if that got him going Kobe laughed it off, “Maybe a little bit.”

 Travis Outlaw – despite Portland’s slow start – finished strong (18 points). Maybe that was due to getting a start. Maybe that was enough to light Outlaw’s fire. Maybe he’ll keep this up come Portland’s home opener versus the San Antonio Spurs on Friday night.

 Brandon Roy had a little hibachi (14 points) going once the game got into the final two quarters. As the leader of this team, you know it had to eat Roy up to come out flat. But he bounced back. That says a lot about his perseverance.

pic via: getty images


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