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In his first career start, Leonard compiled 12 points on 6-9 shooting, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2 steals, an assist, and 3 personal fouls in 36 minutes. Hickson sat out due to a shoulder injury he sustained that hasn’t gotten better since wrestling with Jared Jefferies for a rebound in the game versus Chicago. Batum also was ailing from flew like symptoms, but managed to play. He was clearly not himself. Phoenix routed Portland 114-87.
Meyers played Marcin Gortat straight up, who put up 22 points on the rookie on 11-14 shooting. Leonard has looked out of place many times on defense, he appeared to lack the ability to anticipate where he should be on the floor to put him in good position, and he struggled against savvy veterans in the post. Stotts certainly took notice, and said so in a post-game interview, “He [Leonard] needs to work on his individual post defense. Gortat scored on him, Jermaine O'Neal scored on him. He's trying, but right now, he's a poor post defender one-on-one.” Where’s the follow up questions? “Coach, why didn’t you throw any double teams at Gortat or O’Neal? Was Leonard supposed to guard Goran Dragic as well, after he had his way with Lillard getting to the rim? If Leonard had the only 2 blocked shots from the Blazers, what’s that say about Aldridge who was abused by Morris?" Like Leonard, Morris started in his first game this season and scored 19 points on 9-13 shooting and tied for the games leading rebounder.
Lamarcus didn’t have a single steal or a block, and shot a terrible 5-15 for as many points as Leonard (12). Am I missing the psychology here of calling out a rookie versus the All-Star on your team, or the point guard that committed 6 turnovers and was invisible on defense as far as Dragic was concerned? I have never heard of Jackson or Popovich calling out a rookie in their first career start when the stars on their team played terrible. And if that didn’t bother me, how about taking personal accountability as a coach, at least when you’re talking to the media?
Stotts has been an improvement for this team, and has implemented some great stuff, but calling out Leonard to the media was definitely a low point thus far in his Blazer coaching career. “It’s not all effort. It’s about being mentally engaged,” Stotts said after the game. Isn’t that your job as a coach to get them mentally engaged and keep them mentally engaged… Coach?
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