After a week of practicing in relative secrecy, the 2013-14 Portland Trail Blazers showed the public what they had been working on during training camp at the 2013 Wells Fargo Fan Fest, with the White team defeating the Black team 64-61 in an inter-squad scrimmage.
“I thought we just wanted to finish out the strong week that we had the right way,” said Damian Lillard, who finished with nine points, three rebounds and two assists for the Black team. “I thought everybody competed this whole week. We got better this week. We tightened up all our plays, all of our sets and we got better defensively and I think we wanted to come out and not take steps back and I thought we did a good job tonight.”
White was lead by Thomas Robinson, who was playing for the first time on the Moda Center floor in front of Trail Blazers fans after being acquired via trade this offseason from the Houston Rockets. The 6-9 forward took home MVP honors with a 17-point, 12-rebound, five-assist performance, and while he was satisfied with his Moda Center premier, he said it was the support from the Trail Blazers faithful in attendance that was the highlight.
“I’m more happy that the fans came out and supported us,” said Robinson. “We could have been jumping rope and I think that many people would have showed up to watch us. I heard all summer about the fans and how supportive they are win, lose or draw. I really enjoy that. It makes me feel like you’re home and you’ve really got somebody having your back.”
Robinson started alongside Dee Bost, who finished the night with 15 points and seven assists, Wesley Matthews, Dorell Wright and Meyers Leonard. Victor Claver came off the bench for Black and finished with 13 points, four rebounds, and two assists.
The “White” squad was lead by Will Barton, who finished with 20 points, seven rebounds and four assists in the losing effort. Barton had been sidelined with a concussion, but was cleared to play at Fan Fest after passing the NBA-mandated protocols.
“I’m fine, I felt good, said Barton. “Couple days afterward felt like everything was going good, just had to finish some tests up, get my wind back up, start working out and see how it felt under game situation. Doing that I felt good, so translated it to the scrimmage today and I feel like I’m 100 percent.”
But while Barton was feeling better, many of his teammates sat out Fan Fest with various injuries. LaMarcus Aldridge (left quad strain), Mo Williams (right ankle sprain), Earl Watson (right calf contusion) and CJ McCollum (broken left foot) were all sidelined for the event and their availability for Monday’s preseason opener against the Clippers at the Moda Center is yet to be determined.
Even though he wasn’t able to play, Aldridge was satisfied with what he saw from his teammates.
“Played good, played hard. I thought everybody competed, said Aldridge. “I thought (Robinson), he gave the fans a little taste of who he’s going to be this year. Active, a physical guy, crashing the boards, things like that.”
With the Wells Fargo Fan Fest over, the Trail Blazers turn their attention to the Los Angeles Clippers, who’ll they’ll host Monday at 7 PM at the Moda Center. It will be a more intense contest that Sunday’s scrimmage, though the goals will be roughly the same.
“Preseason is still just as much of a learning curve as training camp is,” said Robinson, “the only difference is you’re doing it against other people. That’ll be good to go against somebody else finally. Just keep learning and get ready for later this month when the real thing starts.”