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SCORESHEET: Looking ahead for Lillard

Touching on sports people and issues:

• Who knew Jason Collins was … still an NBA center?

• Dwight Howard is a pending free agent — do you dare go after him?

If you're Neil Olshey and the Trail Blazers, I'd say certainly not in a sign-and-trade that subtracts anything from Portland's nucleus.

I'd much rather the L.A. Lakers hang themselves with a new $118 million contract around their neck and in Howard's pocket.

• Luke Babbitt is no Stephen Curry.

• Damian Lillard didn't talk much about defense Wednesday when it came to areas he'd like to improve in going after the NBA Sophomore Player of the Year Award (OK, that hardware doesn't exist).

But that's not so bad, especially if you subscribe to the Rick Adelman School of accentuating the positives of what a player can do. Because Lillard can do a lot offensively.

He's right about the need to better his shooting percentage, though. It was .429 from the field, 16th among NBA point guards, although that was slightly skewed by his 3-point attempts per game, second-highest for players at his position. Only three players — Curry, Ryan Anderson and Klay Thompson — took more 3s last season than Lillard.

That's no doubt one reason why Lillard spoke of the need to improve his mid-range game. He's tough enough driving to the basket and has enough 3-point range to become more productive off the dribble around the lane.

Nitpicking? Maybe.

But one of these years, the difference of one, two or three wins for the Blazers that you can credit to his growth as an even more versatile scorer might be what pushes Portland into the playoffs.

• Portland — the city, not the NBA franchise — produced another point guard who was Rookie of the Year. Native Damon Stoudamire won the award with Toronto in 1996.

The 5-10 Stoudamire was the No. 7 pick in the draft; Lillard was No. 6.

Both players averaged 19.0 points per game as rookies.

Stoudamire set a record for most 3-point baskets by a rookie, with 133; Lillard re-set the mark with 185.

Stoudamire shot .426 from the floor and .395 on 3s (133 of 337); Lillard was .429 from the field and .368 on 3s (185 of 503).

Stoudamire averaged 40.9 minutes per game; Lillard 38.6.

The Raptors finished 1995-96 with a 21-61 record. The Blazers were 33-49.

• Other past NBA ROY winners with ties to the city: Terry Dischinger (1962-63), Geoff Petrie (co-winner with Dave Cowens in 1970-71), Sidney Wicks (1971-72), Buck Williams (1981-82) and Brandon Roy (2006-07).

• Where was Kevin Johnson when the Portland Beavers needed him?

• Dear Seattle: Forget your pursuit of an NBA team— what you need to work on is a major league baseball team. The Mariners have been to the American League what the Sacramento Kings are to the Western Conference.

• How come the Oregon Ducks are so secretive that they can't open a spring football practice to the handful of media that attempts to cover them for their fans every day — but the Ducks can play a spring "game" for the whole world to see on cable TV?

Oh, yeah, somebody's paying them for their "news" content.

• Why doesn't some network have Greg Norman (or Steve Elkington, for that matter?) as its golf color analyst?

I totally agree with Norman's recent comments on the belly putter (thumbs down), Tiger Woods' gaffe at the Masters (he should have been disqualified), and his call for blood testing in golf (it should be required in all sports, too).

Golf Channel: Give the candid Norman or the also-outspoken and entertaining Elkington — or both — his own show.

• Matt Barkley vs. Michael Vick vs. Nick Foles vs. Dennis Dixon vs. G.J. Kinne: Which Chip Kelly quarterback candidate emerges as a deserving starter? And which eventually transfers to another school, er, the CFL? I'm not convinced that any of them will be taking all the snaps for the Philadelphia Eagles three years from now.

• I'm not sensing incredible excitement about the Pac-12 baseball race between Oregon and Oregon State — and this amazing feat by the Ducks and Beavers.

In most sports, the massive and lengthy playoffs have diluted the significance of conference races and regular-season results.

The Civil War series, May 17 to 19 at PK Park, will drum up some enthusiasm, but still, all in all, it is mere prelude.

• Going into Thursday's home game against New England, the Timbers are on pace to finish with 55 points, score 60 goals and post a 13-4-17 record.

Last year, Portland was 8-16-10, with 34 points and 34 goals. The year before, the club was 11-14-9, with 42 points and 40 goals.

• No guarantees, of course, but Winterhawks defenseman Seth Jones is expected to go to the Colorado Avalanche, who have the No. 1 pick in this year's NHL draft. Who Jones would play for is unknown — the Avs fired coach Joe Sacco on Sunday. Ex-Hawk winger Cody McLeod is one of several Colorado veterans waiting to hear about the future, too.

Happy birthday

May 5, 1941 — Terry Baker, Heisman Trophy winner, quarterback and multi-sport star from Jefferson High and Oregon State (age 72)

May 6, 1946 — Herm Gilliam, guard on the Trail Blazers' 1977 championship team (died in 2005 at age 58)

May 6, 1949 — Larry Steele, guard-forward on the Blazers' '77 title squad (age 64)

May 6, 1953 — Larry Andersen, Portland-born reliever who pitched for the Portland Beavers and had 17 MLB seasons, going 40-39 with 49 saves and a 3.15 ERA in 699 appearances (age 60)

Oregon sports history

May 8, 1946 — Portland native Johnny Pesky, Boston's No. 6, scores six runs in one game — still worth a share of the modern-day MLB record — as the Red Sox beat the Chicago White Sox 14-10 at Fenway Park. It was Boston's 13th consecutive win and gave the BoSox a 19-3 record. Pesky would go on to start at shortstop in the All-Star Game, and Boston would capture the AL flag.

May 2, 1983 — Former Oregon Ducks QB and NFL star player and coach Norm Van Brocklin dies at age 57.