The White team defeated the Black team 64 – 61 in the Blazers’ 2013 FanFest.
This game was less about seeing anything definitive and more about seeing how well the players moved, their intensity level, how well they worked with one another, and the like.
For my money, the best player on the court was Thomas Robinson who, not surprisingly, got the night’s MVP trophy. His contributions went beyond the 17 points, 12 boards, and 5 assists he tallied. From my fortunate second-row seat, Robinson was keyed in on defense, moving on both ends, and generally very engaged and full of energy. Its exactly what you want to see from him.
Also playing above their pay grades were Will Barton (20 points 7 boards and 4 assists, and if you’ve been keeping track, he does seem to shine in scrimmage-like conditions, perhaps benefiting from the frantic pace and lack of organization), Robin Lopez (14 points and 8 boards, and whose jump hook not only looks great but has near-perfect rotation– It just didn’t fall… I saw four that looked 90% in, but couldn’t be convinced to stay down), Victor Claver (13 points, who looked like a legitimate role player), and Dee Bost (15 points and 7 assists, making the most of his time on the court I fear it will be fleeting).
Missing in actions were LaMarcus Aldridge (still nursing his pulled quad), and CJ McCollum (who re-broke the fifth metatarsal in his left foot yesterday and should be out at least a couple months).
The play-by-play isn’t much to look at. Both teams played hard, with apologies to Rasheed Wallace. But seriously, everyone looked like they were playing with urgency that’s usually reserved for at least a few weeks into the regular season. It was refreshing. Barton and Robinson looked particularly aggressive, with the latter looking more legitimate and in control than the former. Barton’s tendency to take full advantage of his confidence serves him both well and ill. One sequence saw an aggressive Barton pick off the steal, and an equally aggressive Barton throw up a shot at the rim that careened out of bounds. Oh, BARTON!
Lillard looked composed and perfectly content to let his teammates get some run, finishing with 9 points. Batum looked very crisp off international play, but like Lillard was happy to play third fiddle and finished with 7 points and 3 dimes. Meyers Leonard looked… a little afraid of the competition… which I, for one, am really sick and tired of seeing. He did have a nice open-court windmill dunk. Dude’s coordinated. If he had half of whatever’s running through Barton’s veins, he’d be a starter, no doubt. He finished with 10 points.
All and all, it was a fun Fan Fest, although LaMarcus’ “rookie hazing” at halftime was uninspired despite good intentions: he pulled a fan whose birthday it was from the crowd to join the rookies at mid-court for a very off-key rendition of “Happy Birthday.” The GardenCenter is still much too loud for my ears, and I’m a drummer. That should probably tell them something right there. The 300-level was empty, but there had to have been somewhere in the ballpark of 10,000 people there, and it got boisterous. Portland has vocal fans, if nothing else.
Last note: my girlfriend and I arrived 2 hours early to get good seats. That ended up being a smart choice. After the throngs filled in behind us, and after Mo Williams personally handed me my program when the doors opened (!!!), I raced inside and stumbled upon an entrance that led to an area that was NOT reserved, and we snagged 2nd-row seats. Pretty damn cool.