Trail Blazers vs Nuggets Wednesday, 10/17/12 AT 07:00PM

Practice Report: Nolan Smith To Start Against Nuggets

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

    The Portland Trail Blazers returned to practice on Tuesday in preparation for their first home preseason game of the season Wednesday versus the Denver Nuggets.

    • The big news out of Tuesday's practice is that Damian Lillard will miss Wednesday's game with a bruised left foot. According to Lillard, the injury was sustained in the first quarter of Monday night's loss to the Kings in Sacramento.

    “I think because I was warm and I was running around, it didn’t phase me until after the game,” said Lillard. “When I woke up, it was just sore.”

     Lillard says the injury isn't serious, going so far as to say that he thinks he would player were it a regular season game.

    • Nolan Smith will get the start at point guard with both Lillard and Ronnie Price (ankle) out for Wednesday night's game. Smith has averaged 5.3 points, 3.3 assists and 3.0 rebounds in the first three preseason games.

    "I'm just excited to get back in the Rose Garden in front of or fans," said Smith. "As far as starting, personally, just have to be ready to run the team, be the floor general and make sure our offense is flowing smoothly."

    One can safely assume that, with no other healthy point guards on the roster, that Smith will easily surpass his 18.8 minutes per game average. Who backs up Smith  at the point Wednesday night is anyone's guess.

    • Though he wasn't asked explicitly who would start at center against the Nuggets, head coach Terry Stotts reiterated that, when it comes to the regular season, JJ Hickson is still the favorite to start when the regular season kicks off on Halloween night.

    "I'd say JJ (Hickson) is in a position where, if we had to start a game tomorrow, it would probably be JJ," said Stotts of his options at starting center. "Meyers (Leonard) has come along and Joel (Freeland) has had his opportunities but I think JJ has been the most consistent in training camp and has a body of work coming into camp. Like I've said all along, JJ is the incumbent and he's played well enough to keep it."

    • Elliot Williams was at practice for the first time since undergoing surgery to repair a torn left Achilles tendon. Williams, wearing a protective boot on his left foot watched practice from the sidelines. He will miss the entirety of the 2012-13 season.

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