Roy will get plenty of work, even with crowd at the point
Let's not sentence the Trail Blazers to another 21-win season, or anoint them as a budding playoff team just yet.
But Wednesday's exhibition opener - a 99-89 loss to Seattle at the Rose Garden - offered an idea of what might be in store for Portland's NBA club over the next six months.
Some observations from the laptop of a newshound seated just a little higher in the arena this season:
• No, Brandon Roy's surname doesn't means his name is already engraved on the 2006-07 rookie of the year (R-O-Y) trophy. His NBA baptism came at the steady hand of Ray Allen, whom Roy watched closely and admired while playing at the University of Washington the last three and a half years. Allen schooled the rook with 11 points in the first 7 1/2 minutes in a head-to-head matchup as the game's starting shooting guards.
Coach Nate McMillan's appraisal of Roy's first outing - 3- of-10 from the field, 1-of-3 from the line, eight points, four assists and two turnovers in 33 minutes - was generous.
'He looked pretty calm tonight,' McMillan said. 'To play the first game of your career against an All-Pro, you would think (that player) would be nervous. I didn't sense that from Brandon. I like his pace. I like the way I feel with him on the floor. We just need to get him minutes, as much and as quickly as possible, so he can figure out the NBA game.'
'I wasn't nervous; I was excited,' Roy said.
Later, though, he allowed that 'now that the first-game jitters are over with, it's time to get better.'
Roy usually will be better than he was Wednesday night. With Martell Webster temporarily at small forward as Darius Miles works diligently to rehab his knee, Roy has the inside track on the starting 2 guard spot and will also serve as Jarrett Jack's backup at the point. He'll be one of the most important players on the Portland team this season.
• Zach Randolph looks like pretty much the same player.
The Blazers' power forward says the right things - 'I just want to win. … I want to focus on getting the other guys involved' - and he did have three assists in 36 minutes against Seattle. But he seems more intent on getting his 20 points (he did) than in setting up teammates (as he did on a nice pass to Joel Przybilla in the first quarter).
There was Randolph, hoisting up a 20-footer with 14 seconds on the shot clock - and draining it. There was Randolph, later in the game, putting up another outside shot that drew a few boos when it bounced off the rim.
'The fans are not going to accept certain things from this team,' McMillan said. 'Whether that's right or wrong, we're in that situation. We want to try to be sharp in what we do.'
Portland needs Randolph to score, especially down low. But a better sense of when not to bull blindly to the hoop and throw up an off-balance shot, of when to pass out of a double-team, will not only make Randolph a better teammate but will get him more open looks in the long run.
'We need to make it a little more clear what we want him to do,' McMillan said. For the 2,000th time, he means.
• Jamaal Magloire will wind up being the Blazers' second-best inside threat on offense. The 6-11 center made a couple of nice moves to the basket in the first half. He's not Shaquille or Jermaine O'Neal, but he's not Ha Seung-Jin, either.
'We need a presence inside,' Magloire said. 'That's going to open up things outside. The game's going to flow a lot easier for us.'
• Dan Dickau and Sergio Rodriguez were both impressive. At 28 and in his fifth year in the league, Dickau is a grizzled veteran on this team, and his experience and outside shot can help. Rodriguez, 20, has the same kind flair that Drazen Petrovic did when he touched down in the City of Roses more than 15 years ago. He can shoot and pass, but he also had two turnovers in six minutes, including a no-look drop pass on a fast break to … Seattle's Johan Petro.
Rodriguez has chutzpah, too. After hitting his second 3, he raised his arms skyward, encouraging the fans to cheer. Assistant GM Kevin Pritchard is so high on the spiffy Spaniard, he thinks he can help out this season.
But really, is there room for either Rodriguez or Dickau to play if Roy gets minutes behind Jack at the point?
• The Blazers made an effort to hustle. The loudest cheer all night came when four Portland players went to the floor for a loose ball.
'We need that kind of play for 48 minutes,' McMillan o fered.
• Blazermania remains AWOL. Attendance was announced at 14,073, but that's really the number of legs counted in the stands. The crowd was more like 7,000, and that was with a rash of freebies.
• Memories can grow short when losses pile up.
'Last year, we got beat by 30 in our first preseason game,' Randolph recalled.
Actually, Portland beat Seattle 82-75 in the 2005-06 exhibition opener. The Blazers' second game, though, was a 112-85 loss at Denver. There will be days like that again this season, though maybe not quite so many.