Since you’ve probably gotten more than your fill of the usual recaps from Tuesday’s 101-116 loss to the Houston Rockets, I though I’d stick with a couple of observations from the first few games that held true yesterday, and that might turn into trends for the rest of the season:
Robin Lopez: Setting an example. Say what you will about the numbers: his presence has been felt, and he was sorely missed down the stretch last night when he got into foul trouble. Quick aside: I’m not sure why Coach Terry Stotts didn’t put Lopez back in with 6 or so minutes to go against the Rockets. When you get down to it, though, it was his decision to make (and frankly, his presence may not have affected the game’s outcome enough anyway).
Along with career-highs in both minutes (28.3 per game) and blocks (2.3) through the Blazers’ first four contests, Lopez brings a paint-clogging, drive-deterring presence the team hasn’t had since losing Marcus Camby. Make no mistake… he’s not Camby in his prime, or even 36-year-old Camby, but he’s better than the Blazers have seen lately. His scoring and rebounding are in the tank, perhaps because he needs to acclimate to the team, or perhaps because his contributions outside of manning the middle aren’t as crucial. If I were to bet, however, I’d expect his 36% field goal rate to tick up possibly 10 points toward his 52% career average, and for his rebounding numbers to crawl from “abysmal” to “pretty bad.”