Friday, July 17, 2009

Summer League Game 3: Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets

Not unexpectedly, the Trailblazers losing streak was extended to 3 as they fell to the Nuggets 111-93. The Blazers never were able to get into a rhythm without leading scorer Dante Cunningham, and though they cut the lead to single digits in the 4th quarter, they didn't have the firepower to match a late Nuggets surge. Jerryd Bayless: Everyone take a deep breath and relax and repeat after me, "It is only Summer League!" After a solid opening game to the Las Vegas Summer League, Jerryd has put together back to back mediocre performances. It's not as if he is doing anything necessarily wrong but how comfortable he looks running the show. There would be times where he looked like a point guard; breaking the Denver press by attacking the middle of the floor, but a few plays later he would get caught on the sideline and force a turnover. At least the mistakes he is committing, offensive fouls and carrying, are easily fixable, but still another 6 turnover game is frustrating to watch. The one major positive is how easy it is for him to score at will and, for the most part, is not trying to just take over every minute on the floor. Another solid shooting night, 8-17, for 19 points read the stat line is an encouraging sign. The jumper looks nearly automatic off of the pick and roll as defenders are going underneath the screen and daring Jerryd to pull the trigger. Although the transition to more of a play maker has been rough at times, the body language has always been positive and he is still making efforts to help the team out in other facets of the game, which can he seen by his 5 rebounds last night to hit his Summer League average. After viewing the first three games this summer, one question is left to be answered. When Jerryd gets that fire in his eyes and looks to score, can he differentiate between score mode and play maker? There was a sequence which epitomized this feeling. Bayless had just rattled off 7 straight points on three straight shots then was leading the fast break in which he had teammate Thomas Gardner behind him for the easy lay up if he just dropped it right off to him. Jerryd didn't keep his eyes open and forced a bad lay up, but on the next time down he found Gardner streaking for a great scoring opportunity, so he's learning, just inconsistent. For tonight's game vs. San Antonio, it would be nice to see him look to make plays, not just score or not just pass. Also, three straight 6 turnover games needs to stop! Overall Grade:B- Dante Cunningham: Unfortunately for the Trail Blazers, Dante Cunningham had to miss tonight's game due to a sore left groin. He is listed as day-to-day. Jeff Pendergraph: It was a tale of two halves for Pendergraph. In the first half, he was crashing the boards, making a couple of nice face-up jump shots, and playing very solid defense. It is easy to tell when he is and when he isn't in the game just by the team defense being played. The team defense improves drastically when he steps on the court. Again, his fronting of the post is amazing and a skill set he needs to use as his niche if he wants to stay in the league. The plays were nearly back to back, but by using his length and athleticism, Jeff was able to get 2 steals simply by moving his feet and using instincts to get to the ball. Outside of one made jump shot, there was nothing of note he did, good or bad. He hardly played at all in the 4th quarter, but maybe that was because Portland is in the midst of playing 3 games in 3 nights and wanted to preserve some of his energy for his battle with DeJuan Blair next. None the less, he still tallied 7 points, on 3-8 shooting, and 9 rebounds, but it would have been nice to see him more assertive on the offensive end since Dante was out of action. For next game, I would love to see his weak side defensive instincts come out more often. We've only caught a glimpse of it when he had a nice rejection against Houston. Overall Grade: C+

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