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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS/Portland Tribune/Fans fill Memorial Coliseum to size up new Rip City roster

COURTESY PHOTO: DIEGO G. DIAZ - New Blazer Kent Bazemore is honored as MVP of Sunda'ys Fan Fest at Memorial Coliseum, with team radio play-by-play broadcaster Travis Demers making the presentation.Tossing out 20 observations on the Trail Blazers' Fan Fest intrasquad scrimmage Sunday at Memorial Coliseum ...

1) That's right, the coliseum, where Bill Walton won an NBA championship and Clyde Drexler took two teams to the NBA Finals.

Moda Center has been the Blazers' home since 1995 but it's the 50th anniversary year of the franchise, so the club moved the Fan Fest and Tuesday's 7:30 p.m. preseason opener against Denver to the old barn next door.

2) Love this annual tradition by the local NBA team, to offer their fans a free first look at the roster.

People — many of them kids — get to sit in seats they'd never be able to afford in a real game. A crowd of 7,336 was on hand for Sunday's exhibition, many of them squealing with delight at getting to see Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum up close. Bravo to the Blazers for continuing this custom.

3) There were four six-minute quarters and a running clock until the game's final two minutes. It was over quicker than a campfire in a driving rainstorm.

4) The Gray team, featuring Lillard and McCollum, beat the Black team 48-44.

Hassan Whiteside and Zach Collins were held out with minor injuries.

Pau Gasol, 39, sat out, too, presumably for load management purposes. I'll bet he hated to miss it.

5) Jusuf Nurkic is going to go stir crazy over the coming months, waiting for his broken leg to heal.

Before the scrimmage, the 7-footer sat on the Black bench, holding a clipboard and diagramming a play for Terry Stotts and Dale Osbourne. The coaches tried to look interested. Later, Nurkic wandered to midcourt to watch a "Score Four" promotion during a timeout.

Somebody get the Bosnian Beast a good book to read.

6) In an interview with Travis Demers during a timeout, 'Nurk' told Blazer fans that "we're going to be better than we were last year."

That guarantee will make bulletin boards from L.A. to Philadelphia.

7) What, they don't have bulletin boards anymore? What about dry erase boards?

8) Brian Koppang refereed the Fan Fest for about the 37th year in a row. I mean, he's gotta be 105 years old. Geez, Brian!

9) Then again, Koppang and his two partners called no fouls in the first quarter. Maybe that pregame prune juice took awhile to kick in.

10) McCollum sank a first-quarter sideline jumper, then looked over at the Black bench before he ran downcourt. Was Draymond Green over there barking at him?

11) Kent Bazemore looks like he is going to be a big factor off the Blazers' bench. The 6-5 southpaw hit 6 of 9 shots, many of them from the perimeter, and scored a scrimmage-high 14 points.

12) Anfernee Simons never met a shot he didn't like. The second-year guard scored 13 points but made only 4 of 13 shots from the field. There will be nights like that, young man. Keep firing away.

13) The knock on rookie forward Nassir Little is he can't shoot much, but he was the first to sink one from half-court during a teamwide halftime competition.

14) Little bears strong physical resemblance to Gerald Wallace, who played 65 games for the Blazers over parts of two seasons from 2011-12. Little is a bit of a throwback. I could see him in Jheri curls.

15) We saw in the Blazers' final regular-season game against Sacramento that Skal Labissiere can score points (29) and get rebounds (15). Now we know the 6-11 Haitian can also block shots. He had swats of Gary Trent Jr. and Simons on drives to the basket.

16) Mario Hezonja had an unremarkable game, but those high socks were classics. Chipper Jones would have loved them.

17) The 6-8 Hezonja was the No. 5 pick by Orlando in the 2015 NBA draft. The only Blazer drafted higher was Gasol, the third pick by Atlanta (and traded to Memphis) in 2001.

It's clear why the Blazers like Hezonja's skill set. He can handle and create for himself and others. We'll see if he can shoot this season.

18) Jaylen Hoard is the 15th Blazer, a two-way player who will likely spend the majority of his time in the G-League this season.

But the 6-9 rookie from Wake Forest is promising, with versatility and a decent handle. Hoard had 12 points and seven rebounds in the scrimmage.

19) If Hoard ever sticks in the NBA, his fans will be known as "Hoard-ers."

20 ) I could have sworn I saw the ghosts of Peter Verhoeven and Steve Colter peaking down at the action from the coliseum rafters. They had smiles on their faces.

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@kerryeggers


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