Every kid in this league hits their rookie wall at one time or another. On Sunday night at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, Nicolas Batum broke through his.
In a game where Portland ran the table in the first half, only to return lackadaisical in the second half against the Lakers, Batum was the bright spot through 48 minutes for the Blazers. He did all the things – and more – that endeared him to the Blazer faithful the first few games of the season or even back in late November in wins over Miami at New Orleans at the Rose Garden.
He went for 15 and 12 points respectively in those two games. Sunday night he posted a career-high 17 points, 5 rebounds, 4 assists, grabbed a steal and went 6-6 from the field.
His defense on Kobe Bryant was trademark. Would have made Ruben Patterson proud. Real proud. Hustle, aggressiveness; the court savvy; the timing of it all.
With no Brandon Roy and Travis Outlaw struggling for his second-straight game, Batum did his part two-fold. And in Roy’s absence for the next 7 to 10 days – maybe more in the end – Portland is going to need everyone at their best, even Batum. This was his best.
It almost makes you forget Nicolas going “0-for” in eight of his 30 starts this season.
It’s normal for both Greg Oden and Rudy Fernandez to get their due praise, but you can’t pass up the chance to rain a little love down on Batum when it is well deserved. Despite another Portland loss, it’s games like Sunday where you see why the organization is so high on this kid. His name will get around the league before too long.
Then again, I think Pau Gasol knows his name already….
Update on David Lee: If you’ve read this blog before, or happened to catch Friday’s Talkin’ Ball on Comcast SportsNet Northwest, you’ve heard me talk about the Blazers and their need for the play of the New York Knicks David Lee.
Could getting a third team involved be the u-turn for Portland acquiring Lee? That’s being floated out there too, but the bottom line is this: the Knicks may not be ready to part with their double-double machine after all.
pic via: daylife