Practice Report: Batum (concussion) close to return
The Portland Trail Blazers took Saturday off after their win against the Utah Jazz in Boise on Friday. Nicolas Batum (concussion) has been out since October 8th and said that he is close to returning to practice. He said he was still experiencing headaches as of Sunday.
“Just running (tomorrow). I need to (do) treatment, then shooting, then I can have contact practice,” he said on Sunday in Tualatin.
Batum clarified his goal tomorrow is to go through running, undergo treatment, testing and some shooting. He is hopeful to return to full contact practice on Tuesday.
Back to work
The Blazers returned to practice in Tualatin on Sunday and Earl Watson (calf) and Dorell Wright returned to action, but it was a light day according to head coach Terry Stotts.
“Slowly but surely they are coming back. Today was a relatively light day, a lot of teaching, recovering a little bit. Tomorrow should be a really competitive practice,” Stotts said.
Stotts said they would “see” what Watson and Wright can do tomorrow in a higher intensity situation.
“Today was essentially a light day. We can get a lot accomplished and hopefully tomorrow will be a light energy practice,” said Stotts. “We still have things we need to cover at both ends of the floor. We just have to make use of the time and player availability that you have.”
The Blazers said that Joel Freeland hurt a finger on his right hand and that he will be further evaluated.
Forming an identity
A task for this Trail Blazers team in this training camp is constructing a new identity.
“Yeah, I mean it’s been two weeks now, almost two weeks of working together and we’re starting to see this team. We are new guys, we had to put in new guys. Some things are really starting to show up,” Batum said. “We have the same goal, we really want to win, we really want to put this team back in the playoffs and we want to be a defensive team. We put all our energy in that part of the game, I hope we’ll be okay.”
Stotts also sees that the identity is coming from the defensive end.
“We’re taking a lot of pride in how we’re defending. I don’t know if it’s obvious to you guys watching but our transition defense against Utah, for example, was excellent,” said Stotts. “We’re protecting and contesting the rim at a much higher rate and I think everybody is buying in to what we need to do from an individual and team standpoint.”
Damian Lillard was called for five fouls in each of the first two preseason games as he has made a point to become a better and more aggressive defender. Lillard told The Columbian he wasn’t too worried about the fouls and Batum said his defensive effort sets a tone Blazers on Friday.
“But compared to last year he really put some effort in defense and we see him put pressure on the point guard. Everybody behind that says ‘okay let’s do the same thing,’” Batum said. “I think that set the tone for everybody and the guy who comes off the bench does the same thing.”
Stotts said that the preseason’s officiating didn’t take away from what he wants the Trail Blazers to do on defense.
“Preseason games, it’s going to be called a little bit tighter to establish a tone and that hasn’t detracted from how we want to defend, off ball and on ball,” he said.