-If that’s what all the talk is about with Greg Oden a year finally back from micro fracture reconstructive knee surgery, then he should permanently change his name to Greg Olden. At least it would help explain the lack of production (no FGs, no Pts, 5 rebs, block, 2 fouls in 13 mins) before leaving a season opening 96-76 blowout loss to the Lakers with an ankle sprain with an MRI later today.
It looks like the Blazers former 2007 No.1overall pick is going to be rusty and more of a project than most expected. Especially with how poor his finishes were around the basket badly misfiring on four attempts while showing that his hands still need improvement.
For now, Portland might be more concerned with what the MRI reveals cause it’ll help determine how long the 20 year-old former Ohio State star will be out. They should heed on the side of caution based on what we saw.
As for the rest of his teammates who are expected to compete for a final playoff berth, they stunk it up against the defending Western Conference champs getting taken to school in both ends. Offensively, with the exception of promising Spanish rookie guard Rudy Fernandez (5-of-10 FG, 16 Pts, 4 assists), they were way too stagnant forcing up shots leading to the Lakers’ vastly improved transition attack which had good results.
Pau Gasol had some nice finishes in a strong first half netting all 15 while rating league MVP Kobe Bryant slowly picked apart the Blazers to the tune of a game high 23, 11 boards and five assists. With Metuchen, New Jersey’s own Andrew Bynum (8 pts, 3 BS) back healthy in the lineup, Christ The King product Lamar Odom came off the bench in a new Sixth Man role combining with ex-Knick Trevor Ariza and Jordan Farmar to help a strong Lakers second unit score 36 of their 96 total.
Not bad production from arguably the deepest bench in the league which is a big part of why they should go very far next Spring.
-In the other two league’s openers, the defending champion Celtics got past LeBron and the Cavs 90-85 on championship ring night in Boston. Paul Pierce made up for running mates’ KG and Ray Allen’s struggles by scoring 27 and got bench help from Leon Powe (13 big Pts including couple of jams) and Tony Allen (11 Pts).
LeBron paced the Cavs with 22, seven rebounds and eight assists with new teammate Mo Williams getting 12 including three treys.
-It was a much better debut for Derrick Rose, who helped lead the Bulls past former coach Scott Skiles’ Bucks 108-95. The 20 year-old former Memphis star who Chicago took No.1 overall finished with 11 points, nine assists, four boards and three steals in over 32 minutes leading a balanced attack which included Tyrus Thomas’ double double (15 and 10), Drew Gooden’s 13 and 8 (6 offensive) along with Ben Gordon’s 18 (three treys) and Kirk Hinrich’s 15 and 7 off the bench.
If they’re going to bring both Gordon and Hinrich off the bench, that’s going to be a huge edge for the Bulls because they could start on most teams. The move by new coach Vinnie Del Negro helped Chicago scoreÂ 46 bench points. Not bad.
Michael Redd paced the Bucks with 30 on 10-of-19 shooting including four from downtown. In his Milwaukee debut, former Net Richard Jefferson was held to 5-of-17 from the floor for 15 points, four rebounds and two assists in 38-plus.
-We haven’t made any league predictions yet but here’s one tip for Knicks and Nets fans. Your teams aren’t as good as the Celts, 76ers and Raptors. Loose Translation: Enjoy fighting for the Atlantic cellar with non-playoff rosters.
We’ll have some picks later with seeds and teams contending for the lottery. Stay tuned.