Trail Blazers

Did Derrick Jones Jr. and Robert Covington make a difference Friday? Check it out

Trail Blazers

A few leftovers from the Trail Blazers’ opening exhibition game in front of all those empty seats Friday night in Moda Center:

 
  • Harry Giles rightfully got a lot of attention for his play against his former team. But the most surprising thing that happened for the Trail Blazers was the shooting -- particularly the outside shooting -- of new forward Derrick Jones Jr. Jones made all six of his shots from the field and both his three-pointers. He came with the reputation of someone who couldn’t shoot from the outside (he’s a career 28.2 percent three-point shooter).
  • “You know how we are here,” Coach Terry Stotts said, when asked about Jones’ shooting. “We try to encourage guys to improve their shooting, but honestly, I think he has a good stroke. I like his mechanics. I think the ball comes off his hands well. And, you know, it wouldn’t surprise me if he has a career year shooting the ball here.”
  • A big question coming into this season will be how big of a contribution the two new starting forwards -- Jones and Robert Covington -- will make. And, of course, defense isn’t as easy to measure as offense. But check it out -- while those two were on the floor, the Trail Blazers played their best basketball. Portland outscored the Kings by 21 with Covington on the floor and by 19 with Jones out there. Those plus-minus totals were the two best on the floor.
  • Enes Kanter made only one of his five shots, but he did an Enes Kanter thing -- in his 22:39, he grabbed 11 rebounds, eight of them on the offensive end.
  • In just 23:07, Carmelo Anthony scored 21 points and made all three of his shots from distance. If he continues to play off the bench, he’s going to have a lot of games where he gobbles up some of the league’s second-unit players.
  • If somebody asked you which Portland player would play the most minutes in the first exhibition game, who would you take? I’m not sure how many people would guess CJ Elleby, the rookie second-round pick out of Washington State, who was on the floor for 29:20. He had four points and four rebounds.
  • “I think he has a good feel for the game,” Stotts said of Elleby. “He does a little bit of everything. He handles it well, he shoots it well. I mean, he's a good kid. He's young -- he's like a lot of rookies -- things are coming at him pretty quick and he's taking it all in. I knew tonight, especially with Rodney (Hood) being out, that he would have a chance to get a lot of minutes. It's a learning process for him. I thought he did well tonight.”
  • The arena experience was certainly different, but it seemed the Trail Blazers did everything possible to protect the few people who were in the arena. One small quibble, though. I don’t know how it sounded on TV, but the fake crowd noise didn’t seem very realistic. A lot of it sounded like the tide coming in at the beach. But perhaps you heard it differently on TV or radio than we did in the building.