Greg Oden, Blazers Squash Kings 98-86

One of these years, you're going to wake up in a strange bed in a strange room in a strange house next to a strange woman with strange eyes, and you're going to ask yourself, "How did I get here?" And then the strange woman is going to open her mouth to speak, but Greg Oden's voice is going to come out, and Greg Oden's voice is going to tell you to "shut up" and "go back to sleep."

And then you'll wake up. It was all a dream. Except the Greg Oden part, because he'll be in your nightmares, telling you to "shut up" and whatnot. And your name will be Spencer Hawes.

We joked last year about Oden's health and how he may never stay on the court long enough to dominate the Kings, but sheesh. He destroyed Hawes, so long as we trust the box score and every report out of Portland. Oden: 25 minutes, 18 points, nine rebounds, a +15 in the ledger. Hawes: 23 minutes, 5 points, 3 rebounds, -14. The time has come, I fear.

Coverage Hub | Boxscore

It's not so much the destruction of Hawes I fear as the general idea that the Kings, when we become good, will have a potentially game-changing foil. While I'll certainly be rooting for the Blazers to knock off the Lakers this spring, I don't want the Blazers to become too good, lest they become a sort of Less Evil Lakers From the North. I'd prefer every young Western Conference team to be "above average" at best, thankyouverymuch. No dynasties!

But Oden -- not Andre Miller, not LaMarcus Aldridge; Oden -- is the one kid who can make the Blazers special. That was a glimpse of it. And that worries me.

Onto the thumbs!

* THUMBS UP to Omri Casspi, who had a sweet little game by the looks of it: nine points in nine minutes on perfect 4-4 shooting (1-1 from three), with two rebounds (one offensive) and no mistakes in the box score. Overmatched rookies ain't supposed to give stable performances, right? Omri was the best small forward in Kings purple last night, according to the box score. In fact, let's rank them thusly:

  1. Omri Casspi
  2. Francisco Garcia (33 min, 7 points on six shooting possessions, seven rebounds, two assists, one steal, one turnover, one foul)
  3. Donte Greene (eight min, 0 points on two shots, one of which was a three, one rebounds, two steals, one turnover)
  4. Andres Nocioni (17 min, two points on eight shots, four rebounds, two assists, one block, four fouls)

* TYREKE EVANS got some shine in Sam Amick's gamer -- I (obviously) encourage a read. Here's a passage:

[Evans's] play continued to be predictable in all the right kinds of ways, with no one mistaking him for a pure point guard but nearly everyone recognizing the sheer impact he can have on a game.

"He looked like a veteran out there," Kings coach Paul Westphal said of the player taken fourth overall in the June draft out of Memphis. "He fit right in. For a first game on the road in a place like this against a team like this, there were a lot of good things to take away from it."

Evans did 12 points in 24 minutes, hitting 5-of-11 on two-pointers, 0-of-2 from three, and 2-of-4 from the line. That's not terribly efficient (it is in fact quite inefficient -- Kevin Martin shot 2-for-10 from the floor and thanks to FTs and a made three ended up with a more efficient line) but he showed (by the numbers) he can get in the lane and mix it up. Two assists with only one turnover is coolbeans, too. Five rebounds, a steal and a block is huge. Five boards in 24 minutes -- that's 7.5 boards in 36 minutes. My heart palpitates.

We'll have to wait for November to really assess this team's rebounding. But holding the Blazers (who basically lapped the league in offensive rebounding last year -- they were so good) to six offensive rebounds in 34 opportunities (17.6%) is bigtime. None for LMA, only two for Oden and Joel Przybilla. Well done, sirs.

* IF WE'RE KEEPING SCORE on the point guard race,

  1. Tyreke Evans will never come off the bench this season.
  2. Beno Udrih (9 points on 7 shots) is ahead of Sergio Rodriguez (7 points on 8 shooting possessions, three turnovers to one assist).

* SEAN MAY fouled out in 13 minutes, 44 seconds. Last season's quickest foul-out was executed by Josh McRoberts, who earned six whistles in just ... 5 min, 24 seconds. (Wow. Just wow.) May has some hacking to do if he wants that record this season.

* JASON THOMPSON has gone without mention, but how about a cheer for him? He didn't foul out in 25 minutes (which, given the leaguewide whistle-happy nature of the replacement refs is impressive), he scored 12 points on 12 shooting possessions, 7 rebounds, only 1 turnover, 2 assists, a block ... hurray for JT. Nice work, I think. (You see, I couldn't see the game, so I have no idea how good his work actually was.)

* MORE COVERAGE:

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