Mar 01

Przybilla Returns And Matthews Is Rejuvenated

By sarahhecht Posted in: JoelPrzybilla, WesleyMatthews
It was a night for returns in the Rose Garden on Thursday. The main attraction was Trail Blazers journeyman Joel Przybilla who triumphantly returned to Portland after nearly a year away. But while the crowd cheered on the veteran center his teammate Wesley Matthews quietly made a return of his own.

Though a 107-93 loss to the Miami Heat wasn’t the ideal Rip City debut for Przybilla, his performance was a different story completely. The seven-footer, who has had just one practice with the team since signing earlier this week, stepped in ahead of schedule to fill the back-up center role for Kurt Thomas who suffered a mild concussion in Denver the night before.

With basketball conditioning a question, Przybilla silenced all critics powering through 19 minutes, grabbing six boards, an assist and two blocked shots. He delivered on every aspect of what the Trail Blazers expected of him. Honestly, it was like the bruiser never left.

“First half was a little rough, but the second half I got my second wind and started feeling a little better,” Przybilla said. “I didn’t think I’d play much at all honestly. It felt good though. I’ll probably be a little sore and tired tomorrow, but we just gotta get ready for our game on Saturday.”

Head Coach Nate McMillan was pleased with the big man’s performance as well. The power, grit and physical toughness that Przybilla brings in the post have been missing for much of the season thus far and his injection into the rotation tonight invigorated the second unit.

“I thought he did some good things, things that we need at the five position,” McMillan said. “Setting screens, clogging the paint, he rotated over had a couple blocked shots. He forced guys to alter their shots a couple times, so I thought he did a nice job.”

Wesley Matthews was the other big returner tonight. He racked up 15 points on 4-of-6 shooting, including 2-of-3 from downtown and a perfect 5-of-5 from the charity stripe. Add to that his seven boards, four assists and a steal and you’ve got yourself a solid night from the struggling shooting guard.

During pre-game shoot around Matthews had some extra pep in his step. He sported one of his three goggles tees, teased the media and had a different demeanor than we’ve seen as of late. A change that signaled a turning point of sorts. A rejuvenation he credits to how he used his All-Star break.

Over the hiatus he spent some quality time with his grandmother. Time that allowed him to wrap his head around his new role and really reflect on what’s been causing his on court woes.

“We just hung out, just me and her. Didn’t really talk too much about basketball. Just talked about life and cleared my head. Put me in a different perspective,” Matthews said. “Im in a different role, you guys know that was tough for me and it still is, but it’s not a pity party, I still got a job to do and make the most out of it. That’s what I’ve always been doing, I made a career out of it and that’s why I’m here. I wasn’t drafted, so alright, I’ll make the most out of that. So that’s just what I’m trying to do and whatever I can do to help this team win.”

Although returning from the All-Star break hasn’t gone so well in the win column for the Trail Blazers, a change could be near. Hopefully the dual return of Matthews who found his stroke and ‘The Thrilla’ who is finding his stride can jumpstart a run to push Portland to the post-season.


  1. Good article Sarah

    I love seeing Joel he has been mt fave Blazer for some time. The blue collar work ethic is great, He doesn't try to show off he just does what is asked. I have always thought he was underrated, Ask shaq if he thinks Joel is a top notch center they had their share of battles.

    OK so we didn't win but come on did we honestly put this down as a win when we looked at the schedule i would say No. The problem is we need to step it up I know we have a tough road ahead but suck it up. My hope is now that Joel is back they will have that voice they have needed to get them inline. Him and Steve Blake were always good at that they didn't put up with sloppy play. Maybe some one needs to throw a chair in the locker room like Steve used to do. I see changes coming not sure what or who that will be but i can sense it. I think Joel will bring much needed leader ship to this team and i think we can still turn this season around the problem is Can any one really beat Miami I hope King James disappears in the play offs I would be happy with any one but them winning. Sorry i just done like what Miami has done to basketball over the past year. This game has become a Drama and of players that think they are to good for certain teams. I never like Jordan or Kobe but i respect them for sticking it out with their teams. And i am not saying players dont have the right to choose a team just be respectful about it.

    by Avgjoe28 on 3/2/2012 1:13 AM
  2. Hey Miss Sarah:
    I feel the same as you on the game, we lost, but what a performance by Pryz. I had asked if he was going to be activated, but never heard or read anything about it. I was just overwhelmed when he stepped on to the court, and that was before he did anything.
    I was glad to see Matthews play well, I was glad that Batum is still doing great. What I don't like is there off and on games, if we had played with any of the confidence and toughness that we played with last night, we would have easily beat Denver. It's like they play great against teams they respect and lose and play lousy against teams they have no respect for and lose. My wife often throws a gutter ball with her first ball at bowling, only to follow with a beautiful delivery that knocks all ten pins down. She often ask me what she should do, and I jokingly say throw your second ball first. But all joking aside this is what the Blazers need to do, switch the games they feel are important.

    by Hg on 3/2/2012 5:09 AM
  3. Avgjoe28: You pretty well hit all my feelings to the tee with your post. listening to the TNT announcers and listening to the Millers go on and on about the duo of James and Wade almost made me upchuck. I don't mind that they are great together, I don't mind that they are the best, but I just hate the attitude of king James. Yet, he doesn't understand that people dislike him as a person not as a player. Anyway, that is what I thought you were meaning about Kobe and Jordan.

    by Hg on 3/2/2012 5:19 AM
  4. HG
    My dislikes to Kobe and Jordan come from the early 90s and the early 2000s we all know what im talking about. those two player have stopped us when we were at our best. Every one says James and wade are the best in the NBA and not to give credit to Kobe but i still think he has a handful of rings. Kobe is still not Jordan but i think he is the closest to him. James attitude is what makes me not like him and the way he treats fans is just nuts. I am not talking about just Cleveland there is a handful of videos on you tube of him and a fan going at it. I dont like the person he is i dont think he is a very good human being i think stardom got to his head at a young age and his parents let it get out of hand. I think he takes it for granite.

    by Avgjoe28 on 3/2/2012 9:10 AM
  5. Joel certainly did not disappoint. it's said that he's not in game shape, and that may be the case (Tone says he needs to shed 10-12 pound to get there), but i swear what i was seeing last night was the Joel from about three to seven years ago. i mentioned this on Mike Barrett's blog, but i'm going to repeat it here as well: there is no player i love watching play defense than Joel (Nicolas blocking the shot from behind on the opponent's fast break is somewhat close).

    what he lacked in "game shape," he made up for in heart and intelligence. Joel knew where to be when he needed to be there and responded. during those 19 minutes, i honestly can't tell you who had the ball nor even who was on the court for miami when we were on the defense. my eyes were fixed on the part of the screen where Joel was patrolling. he was on his man, clogging the middle, double teaming, helping on either side and contesting shots. sentimentality aside, it was impressive to see someone who hasn't played in a year (and hasn't played significantly meaningful minutes in more than two), come out with such intent and heart. Joel did his job.

    at times, i'm a stat girl, and i thought i'd throw this morsel out there. miami backup center Dexter Pittman had an efficiency rating of -13 last night. Joel had a team-high rating of +10. what that tells you is that we were better on the court last night with Joel in there. i anticipate that only becoming more apparent as he plays more.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 3/2/2012 10:50 AM
  6. Great job Sarah,Joel has been my favorite for years. I am glad he came back to us.

    by WB456 on 3/2/2012 12:26 PM
  7. Sarah, I've missed what Joel brings to the court. It's so good to see him back out there doing some of the things we've been missing. Last night there was a difference when he was on the court.

    by BlazerFamily on 3/4/2012 1:17 PM
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