Blazers need more from Wallace, Wells
- Pamplin Media
- Portland Tribune - Sports
Observations three weeks into the Trail Blazer season:
Portland is far and away the top rebounding team in the NBA, with nearly nine boards per game more than its opponents going into Thursday's date with Sacramento. Why, then, have victories over lesser foes been like squeezing blood from a turnip?
'It's like it's too hard for us,' Damon Stoudamire says.
One thing stands out: The offensive woes of Rasheed Wallace and Bonzi Wells.
Through the first seven games, Wallace was shooting only .442 from the floor, and that included a solid 13-of-27 performance from 3-point range. On 2-point attempts, his percentage was .426. Against Toronto, he flung up three air balls in the game's first nine minutes. At the foul line, Wallace is shooting .565. The numbers suggest something is not right.
Then there is Wells, the epitome of a streak shooter, who has not yet hit a single good streak. He went into the Sacramento game shooting .363, with maybe five or six outside jumpers among his 33 field goals. He says he isn't worried, but of course he is. He's putting in extra time working after practice and before games.
Blazer coaches believe that this is at least partially due to the newness of the big lineup that features Zach Randolph at power forward, with Wallace at small forward and Wells moving from small forward to shooting guard.
'Bonzi has always liked playing the '2' (position), but some of the things he liked to do at the '3' aren't available now,' assistant coach Jimmy Lynam says. 'When you have more big players, they tend to be closer to the basket.There's more traffic in there, and Bonzi's drives to the basket are more contested.'
The Blazers will try to get Wells loose in transition for more easy baskets.
That might relax him enough for him to find his rhythm on perimeter shots.
'Right now, it's a little bit mental with Bonzi,' Lynam says.
As for Wallace, he's working on his dribble penetration, never one of his strengths. Blazer coaches will allow him to float outside, as he likes to do.
Maybe all the negative vibes surrounding him have affected his game. Or maybe this is merely a slow start to a long season.
'All of us have to be a little patient,' Lynam implores.
The absence of Ruben Patterson (Achilles' tendinitis) and Derek Anderson (bulging disk) has cut Portland's rotation to 71Ú2 players, counting Qyntel Woods as a half. Patterson should return Saturday at New Orleans. Anderson is out indefinitely. Woods simply isn't ready yet to help on a consistent basis, though he may get there sometime through the season.