In a Nutshell
The Blazers prove too much for the spotty Jazz on both ends, easily equaling the output of Devin Harris and Paul Millsap--Utah's big guns for the night--and then destroying them with the supporting cast.
For once the Blazers played a game where pretty much everything went according to form and nothing eventful happened. No injuries, no huge gaffes, no enormous opponent runs, no serious threats to Portland's dominance. Utah had some success attacking the rim and offensive rebounding in the first period, likely due to the absence of Marcus Camby, resting from his neck strain in the last game. But Nicolas Batum and Brandon Roy kept the Blazers afloat with sharp cuts and jumpers respectively. Portland opened up a 27-18 lead after one and never looked back. The second period saw Portland's rebounding improve plus even more Batum scoring. The Blazers' relentless attack on the rim held off one of the few Utah runs in the game. Portland still led by 7 at the half. The Blazers got a little lazy at the start of the third and Utah surged forward again but Wesley Matthews' shooting snuffed them out like a cigarette butt and back-to-back dunks in the final minute off of turnovers pretty much tossed them in the trash can. Portland wins comfortably, 98-87, having never trailed in the game.
The Blazers bounced back nicely from the Golden State debacle. They played fairly smart and efficiently, taking advantage of mismatches and making theirs tell more than Utah's. Portland now holds 6th place in the West tenuously.
LaMarcus Aldridge had a tough time scoring against Utah's swarming bigs, managing only 6-19 shooting for 12 points and 0 trips to the line. But he helped even the rebounding battle Portland was losing early, grabbing 11 for the game.
Nicolas Batum got rolling early and never let up, shooting 9-13, 2-3 from distance, for 21 points. The TNT guys sang his praises loudly.
Brandon Roy was the other early spark, shooting his jumper like Old Brandon, ending up 5-8 on the night for 11 points. Once the Jazz had to pay attention to him it was over.
Wesley Matthews kept the Blazers running in the second half, shooting 8-8 from the foul line, 2-4 from distance, 4-7 overall for 18 points. 18 points on 7 attempts is not bad. He also grabbed 7 rebounds. He likes playing in Utah maybe?
Gerald Wallace is pretty much that guy in the Heineken commercial at this point. He does everything well and everybody loves him. He was the game's leading scorer with 29 points on 10-18 shooting, went 4-6 from distance, 5-5 from the line, grabbed 8 rebounds, had 2 assists, a steal, a block, some great defense, some great rim attacking...if he could just play the flute that endorsement deal would have been his. Heck, it should be his anyway.
Andre Miller only shot 1-9. Who cares? He had 12 assists picking apart the defense with almost impossible passes on those Batum (et al.) cuts.
Chris Johnson played 10 minutes and had 3 rebounds, a sparkling block, plus two points on a nasty put-back dunk. I kind of like this kid because you notice him playing.
Rudy Fernandez played 14 minutes and had 3 assists and 2 steals. That's the good news. The bad news? He went 0-4 and never really got a shot close to going down and added 4 turnovers and 2 fouls.
Stats of the Night
- Blazers 24 assists on 36 made buckets
- Blazers 14 fast break points
- Blazers 8-18 (44.4%) from distance
- In short, the offense looked easy tonight
Odd Notes and Links
Focus now shifts to the Lakers contest tomorrow. That should be a doozy. Preview soon.
SLC Dunk in a funk cuz of this junk.