There is no longer an undefeated pre-season in the Portland Trail Blazers cards. They fell to the Sacramento Kings 121-106 on Sunday, the second game between the two teams in three days. Harry Giles put on a great show once again, delivering a double double with 19 points and 13 rebounds, adding three assists, two steals and a block in 26 minutes of move. Gary Trent Jr. came second in scoring goals overnight, scoring 17 points in 34 minutes. Derek Jones Jr. also placed 15 points, including going 7 of 8 off the free throw line.
Hoodie and Nurkic are back in action
Around midway through the first quarter, Rodney Hood entered an NBA basketball match for the first time in a year. In the second quarter, Hood posted Kyle Jay and hit a pretty makeover jump, and boy feels good. Hood finished with 2 points on 1 of 4 shots plus 2 rebounds and four assists in 12 minutes. It’s not a staple worth writing about, but for someone emerging from a tough injury, it’s nice to see there.
How Hood’s role is evolving this season will be interesting. Does he come off the bench as a fourth or fifth winger? Will he reach some of the semblance of the injury he was before Achilles was hit and regain the starting point or the role of the sixth man? Right now, it’s hard to see him gaining starter minutes with the other wings who are healthy and strong, but Hood will definitely be a steady player.
As for Youssef Norkitch, he also played for limited minutes and performed well with them. He only had four points and four boards in 13 minutes, but he also scored two blocks and redirected traffic in paint. He even got hit in the face in the second quarter, which is a true indicator of whether basketball is back or not. Nurkic wasn’t exactly in great shape during the bubble and was still pretty cool so seeing what he could do with an enhanced roster and full health would be great.
Giles is impressive again
Harry Giles continued loving the Blazers fans with another high-energy performance against his former team. It stuffed the stats sheet tonight – or at least as much as one could in the pre-season – and demonstrated a unique mix of sports and gaming industry. It also brought the enthusiasm back from the bench, even if there was a bit of blinking.
Steve Dewald did indeed touch on this after the last game, but it’s worth emphasizing that Portland will be hosting a fierce fight for some time at Backup Center. Arguably Canter was ahead of the season, but Giles appears ready to spend those minutes. It may be just the pre-season period, but it makes a big case for why it should be the replacement of the Five.
No lady, no CJ
Anfernee Simons was out of game with a hamstring injury, which meant Portland was on a backup. Although it’s common for Blazers to throw Dame or CJ with Unit Two to handle point guard missions, there’s little incentive to do so in the pre-season period. As a result, we get glimpses of what a seat would look like without a real backup guard.
This backup guard point was a position Portland would have expected to take during Free Agent, but instead they announced the Simons their reserve for the season. If Simons has to miss time occasionally – due to injury, COVID, or any other reason – then Lillard and McCollum will be the only point keepers available. During the regular season, one of those stars would always be with Unit Two if Simmons is gone, but what if one of those men gets injured or tests positive? Then who manages the violation? It’s an interesting thing that could play a big role this season.
The score is square
Portland will now travel to Denver to face the Nuggets. Their first match will take place on Wednesday with a tip off at 6 PM PDT.
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