By Marc Stein
Just got word from the Los Angeles Clippers that lottery pick Eric Gordon, who has shown some nice flashes here in Vegas despite his struggles from the perimeter, will be sidelined for the remainder of the NBA Summer League with a strained left hamstring he suffered in Saturday's third quarter against the Charlotte Bobcats.
So we won't be getting what looked to be one of the better individual duels at UNLV: Gordon's scheduled showdown Wednesday with O.J. Mayo of the Memphis Grizzlies.
Gordon has missed 19-of-28 shots from the field in two games but has relied on his good strength, body control and undeniable confidence to get to the free-throw line 21 times (and making 16) in just under 60 minutes of court time, enabling him to average 19 points along with 6.5 rebounds.
Clippers summer-league coach Kim Hughes has been primarily playing Gordon at the two spot, where Gordon is likely to be deployed most as a rookie alongside Baron Davis, and told NBA.com: "I think once [Gordon] figures it out, he'll understand that he doesn't have to take the first available shot. When he uses the picks a little bit more, we'll send the ball to him weak side and he won't have to shoot the ball so quickly. I think he's got a good feel for the game, I think he can break his own guy down one-on-one and I think in transition he can be a monster."
The Portland Trail Blazers play their first summer-league game Monday night against Washington, but Blazers front-office chief Kevin Pritchard has squelched any notion that Greg Oden might make a cameo in one or two of the Blazers' five games.
When we checked on Saturday night just to make sure, Pritchard said that Oden is far enough along in his recovery from September microfracture surgery on his right knee to return to the Cox Pavilion. That's the same building where we last saw Oden in uniform for two games last summer before he underwent a tonsillectomy, but the Blazers see no need or upside to hurry him back onto the floor.
And who can argue?
As much as we'd all enjoy a big-name cameo -- with this July's rookie contingent in Vegas lacking the buzz factor Oden and Kevin Durant generated in 2007 and now without Gordon it's not as if Oden needs a big summer to secure a spot in the Blazers' rotation. You can safely assume Oden is up there with Mayo on the list of favorites to win the 2008-09 NBA Rookie of the Year award, which Oden is eligible to win after sitting out his entire first season with the injury.
"We like him, Pritchard said with a smile.