A Daily Babble Production
Let's start by me promising never to write a headline that lame again. Done. Please excuse my inability to contain my inner nerd. Sincerest apologies. Moving on.
When I went to the IZOD Center on Thursday, I had my second chance this week to see a young player who is reputed to be something of a one-trick pony. For the second night in a row, the young player in question worked his specialty to near-perfection.
On Wednesday night, Nick Young turned Madison Square Garden into the host venue for his personal shooting exhibition, though his Wizards fell to the Knicks. Thursday, it was Jerryd Bayless' turn to shine, and he managed to do so in a win.
The Blazers' rookie comes plenty rough around the edges. He is a shoot-first combo guard in a point guard's body who likes to heave, doesn't always take care of the ball that well and doesn't play much defense. He even has the ability to help shoot his team out of a game, as he did on Wednesday with his 1-for-11 effort in Philadelphia.
But he is two and a half months into his NBA career, and there is time aplenty to work on the parts of his game that are lacking. What Jerryd Bayless can already do, however, is attack the basket. Hard. When the Blazers visited the Nets in the Swamp this week, he stole the show doing exaclty that.
Bayless spent his 25 reserve minutes on the floor taking it to the Nets. For the most part, when he had the ball in his hands, he looked to go. Once he decided he was attacking, he wasn't backing down from anything or anyone.
On several occasions, Bayless simply cruised right through the Nets' defense, breaking down quick-footed Devin Harris or back-up Keyon Dooling at the top of the circles and sailing down the midst of the lane to draw a foul or finish a no-backboard lay-in. Sometimes, the Blazers went to the high screen-and-roll, in which case Bayless dribbled around a pick and attacked from the left wing down the baseline.
Time and again, the diminutive guard drove with abandon, threw his body into harm's way and dusted himself off to go shoot his free throws. He knocked down all 11 of his attempts on the night from the charity stripe. In addition, he came up with the most exciting play of the night, a left baseline drive that ended with a thunderous two-handed slam while being fouled. That one brought the Blazers' bench to its feet and even elicited a few sounds of amazement from the typically disinterested IZOD crowd. It also extended the Portland lead from three to six with inside of three and a half minutes to play, a huge momentum-changer late in what would ultimately end up a 105-99 Blazers win.
Through it all, Jerryd Bayless' expression never changed. He wore that same confident scowl on his face from start to finish. It was the look that indicated that he was ready to take on all comers and wouldn't be backing away from any obstacle, no matter who it was. That scowl stayed firmly in place after Bayless finished a lay-up and drew a foul during his 11-point fourth quarter, followed by the rookie strolling toward the sideline after the play and screaming at the crowd. The chattering might not have been necessary, but it was emblematic of the swagger he played with all night.
Jerryd Bayless came pumped up to play to Thursday night in New Jersey, and he sure put on a show: a career-high 23 points on 6-of-9 shooting from the field to go with 11-of-11 foul shooting and just one turnover. You know it's a solid performance anytime someone can unseat now-perennial Babble favorite Brandon Roy for top billing in this space. This is especially true on a night when I got to see the Blazers' captain put up 29 points and look smooth as always in doing it. That's the way to take it to the rack, Jerryd.