PORTLAND — Nate McMillan didn’t hesitate.
Brandon Roy’s been out with knee injuries. Wesley Matthews had scored a combined 50 points in the two games he filled in as the starting shooting guard. So the following was a more-than-fair question for the Blazers coach.
With a few seconds left, and the game’s tied, who are you going to?
“To our two best players, (LaMarcus) Aldridge and (Andre) Miller,” McMillan said. “Depending on how they’re (the opponent) playing them. You go to one or the other.”
Aldridge entered Saturday night’s game averaging 18.0 points and eight rebounds. Miller, whose last-minute fadeaway jumper iced the game against Memphis on Tuesday, averaged 13.8 points and 7.6 assists.
Longing for the good ol’ days
McMillan had emphasized Utah’s physical play, and said Friday that the game would be won in the paint.
At shootaround Saturday morning, he was asked what aspects of an opponent pose the biggest threat to his team’s defense. Height? Shooting range?
“Speed,” McMillan said.
He went on to point out that Miller has lost some quickness with age, but then ranted on how today’s rules prevent teams from playing truly effective, shut-down defense.
“With the rules of the NBA now, it’s really hard to guard. You can’t touch. You can’t put a hand on guys. It’s almost impossible to guard people,” McMillan said. “How can you guard the best people in the world when you can’t touch them? If you’re backing up and guarding and making them shoot jumpers, are you really guarding them? “How are you going to guard Chris Paul? … What I’m saying is that it’s very difficult. You have to mix up your defense. How are you going to guard Ray Allen? It’s really the same thing. If I could touch him little more like I could years ago, I could slow him down.”
Familiar faces going places
Former Blazers Jerryd Bayless and Jarrett Jack were involved trades Saturday.
Bayless and Peja Stojakovic were shipped from the Hornets to the Raptors in exchange for Jack, David Andersen and Marcus Banks.
Portland traded Bayless to New Orleans just before the start of this regular season in exchange for a conditional first-round draft pick. Jack, who entered the NBA in 2005, played his first three seasons with the Blazers.