This recap is going to be short, for two reasons. First, neither Brandon Roy nor Marcus Camby played, probably in an effort on Nate McMillan’s part to prevent more injuries to key players. Don’t be surprised if Camby sits the rest of the preseason. After all, with the news today that Jeff Pendergraph’s torn ACL from last night’s game in Utah will cost him the entire 2010-11 season, Camby is the only center Portland will have until Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla get healthy.
The second reason I can’t talk at length about the team’s strengths and weaknesses (mostly the latter) tonight is because I have no visual frame of reference. Like every other Blazers preseason game, this one was not on TV. I have no idea how, in the year 2010, any professional sporting event isn’t televised in some capacity. I don’t care if it’s a meaningless preseason game. Just show it somewhere. Even if it’s tape-delayed or whatever. But I digress.
There was no official stat monitor for the game tonight, so I can’t give a ton of specific stats for the players, but the two notable performances on Portland’s end came from Rudy Fernandez, who continued his revelatory preseason three-point shooting tear early, and from rookie Luke Babbitt, who fouled out late but still contributed a solid 18 points in 20 minutes. Dante Cunningham scored 15, LaMarcus Aldridge had 11 playing center for most of the game, and Jerryd Bayless and Armon Johnson contributed 10 apiece.
In the midst of all of the trade talk, Carmelo Anthony had a solid outing for Denver, scoring 24 points including 3 for 4 from three-point range. Shelden Williams, fighting for a roster spot, strengthened his case tonight, scoring 22 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Arron Afflalo added 18 points for the Nuggets, who controlled most of the last three quarters despite losing new signee Al Harrington to a (reportedly minor) hamstring injury early.
I can’t really bring myself to put a lot of effort into breaking down this game not only because it’s a preseason game that means absolutely nothing in the long run, but because two fifths of the starting lineup were sidelined, so I can’t even talk about how they played together. Sometimes, a two-minutes-slow radio feed doesn’t cut it.
Don’t be surprised if McMillan starts sitting other key players for the rest of the preseason. After what happened last night to Pendergraph, the Blazers can’t afford to risk too much on the important players in games that have absolutely zero long-term significance. If you want to play a Mills/Johnson/Babbitt/Cunningham/Sykes lineup for the rest of the preseason, knock yourself out, Nate.
One last note: Nathan Begley of Portland Roundball Society suggested on Twitter after the game that Babbitt’s permanent nickname should be “Dougie.” No explanation should be needed. I’m 100 percent on board with this suggestion. Take it as you wish.