Practice Report: Thursday, Oct. 18
Once again, Portland Trail Blazers rookie point guard Damian Lillard sat out of practice. Lillard, on the coach’s command, took it easy on Thursday as he recovers from a bruised left foot he injured during the Oct. 15 game in Sacramento.
Head coach Terry Stotts said Lillard will be a game-time decision for Golden State on Friday at the Rose Garden. If the decision remains to rest the rookie, it would be Lillard’s second straight DNP; on Wednesday, Lillard missed the Blazers’ home preseason debut against the Denver Nuggets, a 97-80 win.
Through three preseason games, Lillard had averaged 16.3 points, 5 assists against 3.7 turnovers in nearly 29 minutes of play. On Thursday, Lillard expressed that if the “game-time” decision was up to him – he would be dressed and on the court.
“I said I want to play but I’m a rookie, so I guess I don’t have much say so,” Lillard said. “They chose to put me through more therapy (during Thursday’s practice.) I feel fine. It’s just up to coach on whether or not I play.”
On the matters of defense… Stotts noted that his team had three consecutive stops nine times against the Los Angeles Lakers (Oct 10), but it could not piece together three straight defensive stands more than four times against Phoenix (Oct 12) and Sacramento. Before facing the Nuggets, the defense became a priority.
“We have had two poor defensive performances against Phoenix and Sacramento and that was a concern,” Stotts said on Thursday. “It was a high priority coming into (last night’s) game, to play better defense with more energy and more effort.”
The injured backcourt of Ronnie Price (ankle) and Lillard has not tempted Stotts to rest his veteran starters against Golden State.
“I probably won’t sit them,” Stotts said, citing the two days rest before the Oct. 22 matchup against Utah and the fact that the Blazers have only seven preseason games. “No one’s really playing heavy minutes. It’s not that big of concern right now.”
Another non issue for Stotts? The slow starts that have defined Lillard’s three preseason appearances. In the “Flow” offense, there is a freedom but also a structure and responsibility to play solid basketball – ball movement, open shots, etc. To Stotts, it’s just a learning curve for Lillard to figure out once he returns to the court.
The Blazers will hold their Fan Fest intra-squad scrimmage this Sunday at the Rose Garden. The event is open to the public. For more information, click here