The Other Side: Portland Trail Blazers


Way to go, Brandon. Reminded me of myself when I was younger. Okay, maybe not. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

The Wizards go from facing the Eastern Conference player of the week (New Jersey's Devin Harris) one night, to getting the Western Conference player of the week (Brandon Roy) the next. Roy and the Portand Trail Blazers make their lone appearance in Washington tonight, and they are on a roll. The Blazers and Wizards both had success in the New York metro area on Tuesday night, with Portland (13-6) extending its win streak to five games with a 104-97 victory at Madison Square Garden.

Portland has gone 9-3 since Greg Oden returned from a foot injury in the season opener, but that is almost coincidental. It's not that the 2007 No. 1 pick Oden hasn't had an impact, he's just been a solid, relatively consistent role player, averaging 7.6 points and 7.6 rebounds in just over 21 minutes per game. He had just 2 points and 7 rebounds in 19 minutes against the Knicks.

But nobody is complaining because Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge are playing well and Portland has another center that is playing pretty well (more on that later). It's still pretty amazing that only five of the 14 lottery picks from the 2006 NBA draft have amounted to anything thus far -- and the Blazers got two of them (Rudy Gay and to a lesser extent, Ronnie Brewer and Andrea Bargnani are the others). Here is some other information you should know about the Blazers heading into tonight's game:

Brandon Roy = Dwyane Wade Lite
1. After holding the red-hot Devin Harris to just 18 points, the Wizards have another challenge trying to contend with all-star Brandon Roy. Roy is averaging 20.6 points, 5.8 assists and 5.4 rebounds during the Blazers' five-game win streak. He had 23 points, six assists and five rebounds in New York last night, but the performance that sealed his player of the week award came Friday night, when Roy had 25 points and a season-high 10 assists against New Orleans.
That performance led Hornets Coach Byron Scott to offer some praise: "He's just a very, very good basketball player. Very smart. Very heady. He can do a little bit of everything on the court. As coaches, when we scout Portland we kind of put him in the same category as Kobe [Bryant], LeBron [James], Dwyane Wade. We treat him the same. He's that good."

2. Blazers Are on Fire
The current win streak has vaulted the Blazers into a first-place tie with the Denver Nuggets in the Northwest Division. Sports Illustrated's Marty Burns and ESPN's Marc Stein both have Portland ranked as the league's fourth-best team, while ESPN's John Hollinger has them ranked third. Things are going so well, that players don't even have to order chicken nuggets before games to eat them afterward anymore.
Roy and Aldridge have certainly been at the forefront, but the Blazers have gotten contributions from all over, including rookies Oden, the high-flying Rudy Fernandez, and Nicolas Batum, a 19-year-old who has started at small forward while Martell Webster recovers from a broken left foot. They've also spent ample time working on their defense.

3. Not Oden, Not Godzilla, Not Bootzilla, It's Przybilla, Baby!
He might not have the hype of being a former No. 1 overall pick, but Blazers center Joel Przybilla has one of the most difficult to spell but fun to say last names in basketball (It's pronounced Priz-BILL-a). And when the Blazers want to get funked up, they make their funk the P-funk. Przybilla averages just 6.3 points and 8.2 rebounds this season, but he has been invaluable to the team, helping it withstand Oden's early injury and providing timely rebounding and defense.

Przybilla has never been one to brag and boast, but could you imagine how any player in the NBA would react to shooting 82 percent from the floor (50-61) -- for the season? Shaq would be referring to himself as The Big Automatic, right? Przybilla had eight points, 14 rebounds and two blocks that changed the game against the Knicks.

To this day, the most fun regular season game I ever covered was when Rasheed Wallace made his lone appearance as a member of the Atlanta Hawks against the New Jersey Nets in February 2004. I think I was just so amazed to see Wallace wearing a Hawks No. 36 jersey. It was the first game after a post-All Star Game/trade deadline frenzy for the Hawks, who had also acquired Przybilla in a separate deal.

Anyway, during the fourth quarter of the game, Przybilla got tangled with Nets forward Rodney Rogers (who just had an unfortunate ATV accident). While Rogers was walking away, Przybilla hunted down Rogers like he wanted to fight and shouted, "Don't push me like that."

Wallace actually stepped in to serve as a peacemaker. But during a timeout, Wallace couldn't contain his excitement as he screamed, "That's what I'm talking about, Joel! Don't back down!"

Przybilla, Ernie Grunfeld's first pick as general manager in Milwaukee, started the rest of the season in Atlanta -- after hardly ever playing for the Bucks. He went on to find a home in Portland that summer.

By Michael Lee |  December 3, 2008; 2:05 PM ET
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Comments

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Play like they did last night, the Wizards have a good chance to take this one...

Posted by: poiuytr1 | December 3, 2008 2:10 PM

Here's to hoping the Wiz don't lay an egg tonight! They've gotta move the ball around like they did last night and make their threes! We've got to put a little winning streak together to get back into this thing, but, thank God, it's still early, Wiz just got to get into a good rhythm.

Posted by: rachel216 | December 3, 2008 2:41 PM

"I'm starting to think that bulletsfan78 and DCMAN are the same person. You guys must an absolute joy to be around.

Posted by: bryc3 | December 3, 2008 12:17 PM "

Sure Abe.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 3, 2008 12:58 PM

DC_MAN88,

Let’s take a page from the Dr. Norman Vincent Peale book The Power of Positive Thinking. All we need to do is start repeating the following before we go to bed at night and everything will turn out just right….

Gilbert Arenas will come back from his knee injury and average 40 points a night

Antwan Jamison will start playing defense so good that Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett will be not be able to score a point on him

Andray Blatche will decide one day he does not want to become Kwame Brown

Dee Brown is a true point guard

Darius Songaila will grow about 6 inches and his vertical leap will go from 2 inches to 10 inches

Antonio Daniels will retire

DeShawn Stevenson will learn LeBron James is the real deal

Oleksiy Pecherov will become the next Kevin McHale

And not let’s forget Abe will go over the luxury tax threshold and win a championship

bryc3 is that better?

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 3, 2008 2:55 PM

The Blazers are stacked. Long, deep, athletic, good shooting ... The Wiz can only win this one with defense, and I'm not convinced they have enough horses for this race. There are bad matchups all over the place for Washington.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 3, 2008 3:03 PM

Who would have thought that Steve Blake would make a better PRO player than Juan Dixon?

Posted by: fearturtle44 | December 3, 2008 3:06 PM

whenever is that not the case Kal??? when have you been sure going into a game that the Wiz would win? not sure we could even say that going into Oklahoma City this yr.

Posted by: gregskins | December 3, 2008 3:09 PM

fearturtle44

Steve plays the point guard position the right way and Juan is too short to be playing 2 guard in the NBA. How bad did the Terps play against Georgetown. We need a center on that team bad, enough with the 6'8" centers. They won with Baxter but he had some weight on him to push the taller centers out of the paint.

Posted by: bulletsfan78 | December 3, 2008 3:10 PM

"Who would have thought that Steve Blake would make a better PRO player than Juan Dixon?"

Over here.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 3, 2008 3:11 PM

Hey gregskins, take a look at their record then give me one good reason why I or anyone else should just assume they're favored to beat anyone (let alone a team as talented as Portland) for any reason other than blind fanboy faith.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 3, 2008 3:14 PM

@ Kalorama:
I still don't understand why there is a salary cap in place if there is no incentive to stay below it.

also, u shud join http://www.wizardsextreme.com . its like Wiz Insider only with fewer bamas, and better organization. kinda like Les Boules pre EG & ETab

Posted by: prescrunk | December 3, 2008 3:21 PM

Stevie Blake is a decent PG in the league, but I see Portland eventually going with Sergio Rodriguez since he's younger, cheaper, more aggressive, and pretty good also.

As decent as Blake's numbers are, the doesn't look fluid on the court....afraid to take a shot or call his own number.

Posted by: DC_MAN88 | December 3, 2008 3:35 PM

The Blazers are stacked. Long, deep, athletic, good shooting ... The Wiz can only win this one with defense, and I'm not convinced they have enough horses for this race. There are bad matchups all over the place for Washington.
Posted by: kalo_rama

whenever is that not the case Kal??? when have you been sure going into a game that the Wiz would win? not sure we could even say that going into Oklahoma City this yr.
Posted by: gregskins

Hey gregskins, take a look at their record then give me one good reason why I or anyone else should just assume they're favored to beat anyone (let alone a team as talented as Portland) for any reason other than blind fanboy faith.
Posted by: kalo_rama

kalorama, u just repeated exactly what gregskins said and tried to argue with him! What are you doing?

Posted by: bbachrac | December 3, 2008 3:45 PM

DC man, while i agree that rodriguez will be the future for portland, and he is certainly more agressive, when was blake ever a fluid pg...that's simply not his style- he's more of a john stockton, distribute the ball to whoever needs it kind of player, which is how he became the all time assists leader for md...he also makes open shots when you need him to-clutch!

Posted by: bbachrac | December 3, 2008 3:52 PM

Blake looks like he's trying out for the lead in a remake of "American History X" in that pic...yikes.

Posted by: VTDuffman | December 3, 2008 3:53 PM

Blake's "problem" such as it is, is that he's too unselfish. That's been the case going back to his days at Maryland. He would regularly penetrate into the lane, get to the rim, and instead of taking an easy layup he'd kick it out to a teammate. Which wouldn't be a problem except sometimes he'd be passing up an easy shot to create a tougher one. He's a guy who thinks more about getting others involved than his own stat line, which is generally a good thing.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 3, 2008 3:54 PM

I thought it was a bad move to let Blake leave as a FA and they should have resigned him knowing that AD was up in years. We'd have a "true" PG and Arenas could have spent more time at his natural postion. Blake was one of EG's few good draft picks, but Eddie never developed him in his time. If Blake had been re-signed, he would have been our starting PG the last two seasons with AD coming off the bench...hate to think of all the bad personnel moves of the Wizards in the last 15 years, but this was one of them.

Posted by: wizfan89 | December 3, 2008 5:22 PM

Even if they'd wanted to keep Blake, he wouldn't have stayed. He left to get more PT and be a starter, something he wasn't going to get with Arenas on the roster.

Posted by: kalo_rama | December 3, 2008 5:44 PM

I think Blake is gonna give us a show tonite!!!!

Posted by: dargregmag | December 3, 2008 5:58 PM

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