Trail Blazers vs Clippers Tuesday, 10/05/10 AT 07:00PM

Matthews Shines Again As Trail Blazers Bounce Clippers

  1. Written by: caseyholdahl  / avg. rating: 5.0

    Wins in the preseason are nice, but when when the regular season arrives, everything goes back to zero. Improving is more important, at least this time of year, than wins and losses. But if the Trail Blazers first preseason game, a 115-86 romp of the L.A. Clippers, is any indication of where Portland stands, further improvement might not be necessary.

    "We can build off of that," said head coach Nate McMillan postgame. "We wanted to kind of set that tone, put everything in motion as far as our goals that we committed to each other at the start of training camp. I thought tonight, good intensity and good focus at the defensive end of the floor."

    Though ever Trail Blazer who saw time Tuesday night did their part in bringing intensity and focus, no one did more on either front than newcomer Wesley Matthews. Matthews followed up an eye-opening performance Friday at the Wells Fargo Fan Fest with an even more impressive display of both offense and defense Tuesday night versus the Clippers.

    "We’re trying to learn about (Matthews)," said McMillan. "We know defensively that he’s pretty solid, but we’re finding out offensively, he shoots the ball well. That combination of Rudy and Bayless with Wesley, I think that can be a group that can change the tempo and give us a different look. They’ve played well together. He’s shooting the 3-ball; he’s putting the ball on the floor; he’s offensive rebounding."

    Matthews finished the night with a game-high 20 points in just 20 minutes while also pitching in four rebounds and three assists. Matthews also got to the line 10 times, converting nine of those attempts.

    We feel good about (the win), but you've got to have a short memory," said Matthews. "We've got to go to Utah. It's still preseason but we still want to be good. We want to be on our game. We don't want to be sloppy. We had a couple sloppy occasions during this game, but that's expected."

    Matthews played in the second unit alongside Jerryd Bayless and Rudy Fernandez, which is a unit that McMillan thinks can give the starters a break while also creating mismatches against opposing defenses.

    "That combination of Rudy and Bayless with Wesley, I think that can be a group that can change the tempo, give us a different look," said McMillan. "They play well together. (Wesley) is shooting the three-ball, he's putting the ball on the floor, he's offensive rebounding. Tonight they had pressure on the point, so we switched Rudy and Wesley to the point at times. I think that lineup, we can take advantage of the fact that all those guys can handle, all of then can score."

    "Wesley played great," said Bayless, who finished the night with nine points, two assists and two rebounds in 15 minutes. "Me being the guard playing with him, I think we are developing a great chemistry. He’s running off screens and I’m trying to deliver it to him whenever he comes off so he can make plays."

    Fernandez, despite being less than pleased with his place on the Trail Blazers, played well alongside Matthews and Bayless. The third-year guard out of Spain went five-of-six from three to finish the game with 15 points. Fernandez also added 5 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals.

    While the bench shined, the starters held their own in building the lead that let the second unit see extended minutes. LaMarcus Aldridge finished the game with 17 points, seven rebounds and two assists, besting rookie and former first-overall pick Blake Griffin in the battle for power forward supremecy. Brandon Roy shook off a slow start to finish with 12 points, two rebounds, two assists and Nicolas Batum added 10 points to round out the double-digit scorers.

    The Trail Blazers will practice at home tomorrow before heading to Utah to face the new-look Jazz on Thursday. Tipoff for that game is scheduled for 6 PM.

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