Nicolas Batum, With a horde of media crowded around his locker, knew the question was coming, so rather than waiting for someone to ask it, he just came right out with the answer.
"It's not my shoulder."
Fans of the Trail Blazers will know Batum was referencing his right shoulder, the same shoulder that caused him to miss the first half of the 2009-10 season and was re-aggrivated during last season's playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. But according to Batum, that shoulder wasn't the reason why he sat on the bench with an ice pack wrapped around the right side of his upper body during the fourth quarter of Portland's 90-83 victory against the Denver Nuggets.
Officially dubbed as a sore trapezius muscle by the team doctors, Batum said after the game that the injury was nothing serious and that he would have continued to play if it were a regular season game.
When I turn my head I feel it," said Batum, who finished the night with 11 points, two rebounds and two steals in 20 minutes, "but no big deal."
Batum said he "stretched it a little bit" while trying to take a charge, which is one of the many bittersweet moments that go along with playing preseason games.
You like to see a guy go out and give 100 percent, but you'd rather not see a player put himself in harms way in a game that doesn't count for anything.
In positive injury news, Marcus Camby, who was listed as out after practice on Wednesday, played and played well Thursday night against the Nuggets, grabbing a game-high 17 rebounds in 33 minutes.
"It felt good to get a win," said Camby. "Last night I got a call from coach about 9 PM, said they let (Raymond) Sykes and Big (Steven) Hill go and they needed me to go with LA being our only big. Came out here and we got the win."
Not that there weren't moments of trepidation for Portland's only healthy center. Camby, playing in his 15th season, took a couple of nasty-looking spills while patrolling the paint. And though he said he wasn't worried about take a few falls, he could tell some of the others in attendance weren't as carefree.
"I thought everybody else probably was (worried) considering what's been happening around this team," said Camby. "I'm fine. Got a couple day to prepare for Phoenix and everybody is looking forward to Tuesday night."