The challenge in preparing for Luis Scola


Before the Trail Blazers hopped on their charter to Phoenix today, the team held a 90-minute practice where the focus primarily was on (broken record alert) transition defense. Steve Nash may be in L.A. now, but the Suns still have a plenty good understudy in Goran Dragic at the point who can push the tempo.

Also, there’s the new addition of Luis Scola in Phoenix. Love him or hate him (and plenty NBA players would fall in the latter categoryhow do you provoke a man to step on your face?) you have to respect him because he’s got to be doing something right.

Look at how difficult he made LaMarcus Aldridge‘s life last year when the Blazers played Scola’s former team, the Houston Rockets. Aldridge was a 51% shooter all season but that percentage plummeted during the three Houston matchups.

  • Jan. 14, 2012: Aldridge 7-21 for 22 points, 2 fouls.
  • Feb. 8, 2012: Aldridge 5-14 for 13 points, 4 fouls. (tying a season-low in points in games that he played for more than 2 minutes)
  • April 9, 2012: Aldridge 7-15 for 20 points, 2 fouls. (his best game vs Houston)

Aldridge averaged only 38% vs Houston, his 3rd worst field-goal percentage among all NBA opponents. Grant it, I believe Jordan Hill‘s defensive presence in those first two games might have helped limit Aldridge but the other share of the credit has to go to Scola. … who also happens to be a matchup concern on the other end.

“He’s hard to prepare for because he’s a little unorthodox by American standards,” coach Terry Stotts said. “He’s got great footwork, he pivots, he has a variety of shots that you don’t see very often. He can make 15-18 foot jump shots with a quick release. So he’s a hard guy to prepare for with his versatility and his unique style.”

I asked Stotts about the other facet of his game — that skill that earned him this dubious recognition (If you didn’t click the link, just know it’s a photo of Scola reacting as if Aldridge had just shot a cannon at him).

So, is Scola a flopper? This is how Stotts tried to be diplomatic with his answer:

“In the past, he would uhmm … uhhh… let’s see how I want to say this,” Stotts responded. “He would sell a call.”

“He’s crafty. He played within the rules, (got) good positions. He was a smart player.”

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