Wesley Matthews heading to L.A.

By Matt Calkins

Columbian staff writer

PORTLAND — We know this: At least one Blazer will be in Los Angeles for All-Star weekend.

It was announced today that NBA assistant coaches voted Portland’ Wesley Matthews into the Rookie-Sophomore game, officially known as the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge & Youth Jam.

The second-year guard is averaging 16.1 points per game and has hit 86 3-pointers, more so than any other sophomore. Not bad for someone who went undrafted two summers ago.

“Only God could create a story like this,” said Matthews, who found out via text message Monday night. “It’s a blessing and a tremendous opportunity…I think when people work, they get what they deserve.”

The game, which pits nine rookies against nine sophomores, will tip off Friday, Feb. 18, at 6 p.m. (Pacific) and will be broadcast on TNT from Staples Center.

The game is typically known as a showcase, and Matthews made clear that he can exhibit a little flash if the moment calls for it.

“I got that in my game,” Matthews said. “I got some stuff up my sleeve if need be.”

Matthews admitted that he may have felt somewhat snubbed when he wasn’t among the rookies last year, but he has since signed a 5-year, $34 million contract, a larger deal than anyone else in the game has inked. And based on his numbers, it would have been awfully tough to snub him again.

“He’s earned it,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “Wesley works hard, plays hard at both ends of the floor, and is a big reason we are competing for a playoff spot right now.”

Matthews said he still plans on putting on the “3 Goggles” even if there aren’t any fellow Blazers to reciprocate, but added that the game will only be so much about fun.
“When the fourth quarter hits, the flash will go out the window,” he said.
Current Blazers Brandon Roy, Rudy Fernandez, Greg Oden and LaMarcus Aldridge have each been voted into the game in years past.

Matt Calkins can be contacted at 360-735-4528 or matt.calkins@columbian.com

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