Trail Mix: Assessing Damian Lillard’s defense, Wesley Matthews’ trip to the ER

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

The Portland Trail Blazers take on the San Antonio Spurs Friday night at 5:30. There’s been a lot going on with the Blazers from Nicolas Batum’s struggles to Wesley Matthews needing a hospital visit after a fall.

But first, we start with Damian Lillard’s defense. Dane Carbaugh of The Sporting News put together a nice video breakdown of Damian Lillard’s defense and how much he’s actually improved.

He’s much better at helping off the nail and in weak side situations. Many of his steals have come because he knows when it’s OK to sag off his own defensive assignment, something you see from good defensive guards.

That’s actually really important considering the Blazers have typically been at the bottom of the NBA when it comes to creating turnovers.

This was dope and the video is a must-watch. Earlier this season we addressed Lillard picking up the slack on the defensive boards as well.

Shooting guard Wesley Matthews reportedly made a visit to the emergency room due to pain in his ribs after a brutal fall at the end of Wednesday’s loss to the Clippers. From Casey Holdahl of Trail

But he wasn’t able to stay home for long. After the anger and adrenaline wore off, Matthews, who had grabbed at his midsection on at least one occasion during Wednesday night’s loss, started to feel enough pain on his right ribs that he called the team medical staff for advice.

“I came home after the game, was having pain, talked to (team trainer) Geoff (Clark) and decided I should go into the hospital,” said Matthews. “Got there at 12:20 am, I think I left there at 2:20 am. Wasn’t too happy about that.”

An examination and x-ray revealed no structural damage to his ribs, which Matthews thinks he hurt by landing on someone’s knee during that fall on the baseline.

“No fractures or cracked ribs or anything like that,” said Matthews. “Just deep bruising. More stuff to deal with.”

Sports Illustrated’s Ben Golliver, formerly of Blazersedge, talked extensively about the Blazers and Warriors with Eddie Maisonet on a podcast at It’s definitely a good listen and Golliver compares Nicolas Batum’s woes perfectly to the woes of former Yankees second basemen Chuck Knoblauch.

Speaking of Batum, the Oregonian’s Jason Quick went in-depth on Batum’s situation and whether the Blazers should consider giving his minutes to other players and what other factors may be playing into it.

In Friday’s Columbian we broke down his numbers to see that Batum is having his worst year as a pro on the offensive end.

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen

Erik Gundersen is the Trail Blazers beat reporter for The Columbian. He's a graduate of the Allen School of Journalism and Communication at the University of Oregon in addition earning a degree in Spanish. He's covered the NBA for four seasons. You can also occasionally find his work on's NBA section for their TrueCities series. He also fist-bumped with Kanye West once. Follow @BlazerBanter on twitter for more Blazers and NBA news.

Scroll to top