Preseason Game A: Jazz 100 – Blazers 96

October 7th, 2010 | by Spencer Hall

Camby could be Hayward's father. Copyright 2010 NBAE (Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE/Getty Images)

It’s early October but if you squinted your eyes a bit it almost looked like the regular season was in full swing. And if the regular season brings more Dikembe-finger-wagging from Kyrylo Fesenko and entertaining finishes with strong play from new-comers, then I’m happy to ignore the calendar and get excited.

Game Notes:

Jeremy Evans is making a strong push for Fan Favorite status on a team full of likable players. Yeah, he’s 6’9″ and only 196, but the guy is just fun to watch. Even if only ever becomes the next Keon Clark, I’m ready for an elastic finisher who seems to be staring down at the rim when he storms in for the two-handed dunk.

Wesley Matthews was greeted with a loud ovation when he checked in to the game. He finished as the game-high scorer with 21 points and showed the kind of hustle that made him a fan favorite in Utah. Jerry Sloan was asked about watching Matthews and predictably said all the right things about “I can’t worry about players on other teams,” etc. But he couldn’t help continuing and giving some praise in Sloan-speak: “He played well. He’s one of those guys that works at his game. I had nothing but praise for him. He was here, did his job, went by the rules, signed as a free agent; that’s the American way.”

The arena went horribly silent in the second quarter when young Portland center Jeff Pendergraph went down with what looked like a very painful knee injury. Pendergraph was taken off the floor in a wheelchair and appeared to be in excruciating pain. He’ll have an MRI tomorrow and will obviously miss Portland’s next game at a minimum. Terrible news for Pendergraph. Nothing but good thoughts his way as he recovers.

Gordon Hayward went 2-5 and scored 9 points but earned some surprisingly high praise from Jerry Sloan after the game. “He did a good job. He just plays basketball, however you want to break that down. He takes the ball to the basket and makes [good] passes. He got lost a bit defensively, but that’s what a rookie has got to expect and learn how to fight through that. He’s certainly not afraid… this on-the-job training is tough sometimes.”

For his part, Hayward tried to play it cool but was clearly enjoying the moment after his professional debut. He also has the luxury of not being hazed very aggressively by the older players. “I don’t want to jinx it,” he said, ” but I’ve mostly just had to get the bagels, I have to get the towels, things like that. They might step it up when we get on the road.” Occupying a locker next to Fesenko should make Hayward’s rookie season especially memorable.

Raja Bell was also enjoying his first game back in Utah as well as back from injury. Bell missed most of last season with a wrist injury, so the return was extra sweet. “It felt great to be back out there. I had butterflies.”


ESPN.com recap | Boxscore

Next game: Mon, Oct. 11, 8pm at Portland (Memorial Coliseum)

Spencer Hall
Founder Spencer Hall has covered the NBA, Team USA and NBA D-League since 2007 and launched Salt City Hoops in 2009. Spencer is now the news director at KSL.com
Spencer Hall
Spencer Hall

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4 Comments

  1. Mychal Lowman says:

    Listening to it on the radio it sounded like Evans had some crazy highlights. Unfortunately KSL didn’t show the much talked about Millsap highlight of throwing it behind the back. This starting 5 sounds like a defensive machine. Now Okur just needs to get healthy so the bench is a solid bunch. To quote Carmelo, “Fesenko? Fesenko? Man…”

  2. Jefferson says:

    Listening on KFAN online while my two kids wrestled didn’t give me the best sense of what was actually happening. It sounded like, however, that the starting five were monster for the Jazz…excited to see a tough front line of ‘Sap, AK, and “Big Al” – if on-court chemistry is there, those three could be tough… How did Raja’s shot look? His wrist a liability this year?

  3. Glenn says:

    Raja’s hurt wrist in on his non-shooting hand, so I doubt it was problematic.

  4. r says:

    you should consider updating the color scheme to your blog, given that light blue (thankfully) is not one of our colors

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