Blazer page No. 1

Profile of the Week

Name: Kaleb Canales

Position: Assistant coach

Age: 31

Years with team: 6

Resides: Tualatin, Ore.

From: Laredo, Tex.

Job description: “It starts with film in the morning. Film preparation, and that goes right into practice. And then the development phase with the guys after practice. And then at nights, coming back with Jerryd and LaMarcus (Aldridge), when they need extra shots.”

Working at night: “Obviously, the (practice) facility is open 24 hours a day. And what’s happened is these guys get into their routines where they feel comfortable. And over the years, guys like Brandon, LaMarcus and Jerryd have kind of built their routine by coming back at night. … Maybe if it’s just 100 (made baskets) or 100 free throws. Nothing too strong, because obviously they’re in the season. But it just keeps their touch and their routine going.”

Scheduling: “With guys like Jerryd, we set a time right after practice. Like, ‘Hey, let’s meet at 6.’ And then we’ll just come back and do it then.”

Joining the Blazers: “I applied for a video internship. I was working on my Master’s (degree) at the time. And my practical experience kind of went hand in hand with it.”

His job: “I’m living my dream. I’m very blessed and fortunate to be here and coach on a daily basis. It’s a total blessing; it’s a dream come true.”

Favorite part: “Everyday, man. … Everyday, just learning and being around basketball, and helping these guys get better.”

Trust: “Just like any relationship, I think it’s important. Spending time with these guys over the summer and on a daily basis, it just kind of builds from there.”

Favorite player: “All 15 guys. This is my sixth year, so I have a pretty great relationship with all of them.”

This season: “ ‘Resilient’ has been my word. I think I’ve kind of said it since the beginning. We just have a great group of guys, and they’ve just been really, really resilient. And that’s kind of been my keyword, my catchword. For me, it’s just their character and their resilience to get better and to keep pushing everyday.”

Report Card

Last week’s record: 1-3

Grade: B-

Recap: Technically, Portland’s record during last week’s four-game stretch should result in a D. But when it is considered that the Blazers played without All-Star guard Brandon Roy, Portland’s grade receives a boost. Moreover, two of the three losses (New Orleans, Houston) were by four points or less. And the Blazers’ 114-112 overtime victory over Dallas on Saturday — which included a career-high 52 points from point guard Andre Miller — proved once again that a resilient Portland squad should never be counted out.

Bright spots: The European connection. Blazers guard Rudy Fernandez (Spain) scored a season high and tied a career high with his 25-point performance while sinking 5 of 6 3-point attempts during a loss to Houston. Meanwhile, Batum’s return to the lineup paid instant dividends. Batum (France) averaged 11.3 points during his first three games of the season following shoulder surgery. And he set career highs in rebounds (nine) and assists (five) against the Rockets.

Low point: How about 21-2? A sleepwalking Blazers squad fell behind 12-0 to Utah on Wednesday. Soon, Portland was facing a 19-point deficit with 6 minutes, 18 seconds left in the first quarter.

In Focus

Opposing point guards: When the season started, the Blazers’ depth at the point guard position was supposed to be one of Portland’s primary strengths. Andre Miller, Steve Blake and Jerryd Bayless are all legitimate NBA starters, and their varying talents and skills often blend together to form a greater whole. While Blake and Bayless were their normal selves on the offensive end, Miller struggled mightily before breaking out with 52 points on 22-of-31 shooting against Dallas. But the trio all showed serious deficiencies on the defensive end while facing New Orleans’ Chris Paul, Utah’s Deron Williams and Houston’s Aaron Brooks — young, quick point guards who excel in transition and use their speed to create and exploit mismatches. The opposing point guards combined to average 27 points and 8.6 assists while shooting 52.8 percent (28 of 53) from the floor. After watching Paul, Williams and Brooks light Portland up during successive games, Blazers coach Nate McMillan was left to say, “The point guards the last few games have just blown by us. The weak side is not helping and we are not guarding anyone.” Help finally arrived Saturday, when Miller, Blake and Bayless combined to limit Dallas point guard Jason Kidd to 10 points during 40 minutes of action.

By the Numbers

Number of points in the paint Portland gave up to Utah (48) and Houston (52) during consecutive defeats.

Andre Miller’s shooting percentage during losses to New Orleans (1 of 8), Utah (2 of 11) and Houston (1 of 6).

Miller’s shooting percentage during a 52-point performance versus Dallas. He shot 22 of 31 from the field, and his 22 makes established a new franchise record. Miller also set a career high in points, and came within two of tying Damon Stoudamire for Portland’s all-time high.

Game of the Week

Saturday: Lakers at Blazers, 
7 p.m. at the Rose Garden (CSN, 37)

Key matchup: Los Angeles’ Kobe Bryant versus Portland’s Martell Webster and Nicloas Batum. Expect the Blazers to mix and match against Bryant, primarily turning to Webster and Batum in the attempt to hold Bryant below 28 points. If that happens, confetti should fall.

Key stat: Bryant’s field-goal percentage. The Blazers held the 2009 NBA Finals most valuable player to just 37.8 percent (14 of 37) from the floor during Portland’s 107-98 victory Jan. 8 at the Rose Garden. Bryant is shooting 46.2 percent this season, though, which is better than his 45.5 career average.

To win: Portland’s bench must continue to step up. Brandon Roy is expected to be back in the lineup for this game. But the Blazers must receive production from reserves such as Rudy Fernandez, Jerryd Bayless and Steve Blake to walk off the Rose Garden floor a winner.

Scroll to top