TUALATIN, Ore. — On Monday night the Trail Blazers established the new floor for woeful 3-point shooting, so take a wild guess on what the team emphasized on Tuesday.
Near the end of the session, every guard and wing player who had participated in the previous on-court workouts lined up for a 3-point shooting drill. Even Nicolas Batum, who sat out Monday’s win over the Toronto Raptors with a sore back, joined in.
Batum moved well and showed progress, lending to the possibility of a return Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs. Batum back on the court would be welcome sight — so would his 49 team-leading 3-point field goals.
Batum and Wesley Matthews, the team’s third-best shooter from long distance, sat in street clothes while their teammates made history on Monday.
The Blazers finished 0 for 20 from beyond the arc and set an NBA single-game record of 3-point field goals attempted without a make. The 2010 New York Knicks held the previous mark (0 for 18).
As the resident benchwarmers, Batum and Matthews could only watch the futility. But what if Batum had played on Monday? Could he have made a 3-pointer? It’s a question Batum needed only a moment to ponder.
“Of course!” Batum said.
“I definitely would’ve made one — from sitting down,” bragged Matthews, who missed practice with injuries to his left hip. “I made fun of them about that. Bums!”
Coach Terry Stotts’ college basketball career might have predated the 3-point line, but even he cracked a smile and answered the hypothetical question in the affirmative.
“I would’ve made a three,” Stotts said confidently.
The Blazers seemed to embrace this dubious honor with a sense of humor — it also helps that in spite of the off shooting night, the team still won the game and improved to 9-12 overall.
So, laughs came easily in the postgame locker room and carried into the practice facility on Tuesday.
“Wes and I were glad,” said Batum, still smiling. “Wes and I may be the worst teammates ever because we were happy last night when we heard that there was an NBA record. We were like, ‘Oh yeah! We didn’t play. So I’m not a part of it!’ “
About those injuries …
Batum said he has seen a chiropractor about his back “five or six times already,” and expects three more visits before Thursday, when the Spurs will be in town for a nationally-televised game.
“Now I can run and move,” Batum said. “It’s too difficult for me to jump but I see improvement from the last game.”
The discomfort has waned, so Batum believes he could play Thursday.
“Yeah, I think so,” Batum said. “I’ve got 48 hours … so we’ll see what happens.”
On Tuesday, Matthews did some light spot-up shooting but “nothing crazy, just trying to get it active and mobile.”
A return to the floor remains as a question mark but Matthews has already absorbed the toughest blow by ending his streak of 250 consecutive games played in the NBA.
“The hard part was breaking the streak. The hard part was sitting out last night,” Matthews said. “I’m definitely not going to (start) a habit of missing games but if I broke the streak, I’d break it for something. … I don’t want it to be a recurring thing.”