Steve Dykes-US PRESSWIRE
The LaMarcus-less Portland Trail Blazers rode some hot shooting to a laugher against the Utah Jazz in the Rose Garden tonight. It was the perfect night for Aldridge to enjoy the view from the bench, as the close score was not representative of the blowout.
The Blazers were led by Nicolas Batum, with 27 points and "The Chalupa Shot". Damian Lillard (21 points, 8 assists), JJ Hickson (16 points, 8 rebounds), and Wesley Matthews (15 points, 5 assists) also had great nights. For the rooks, Meyers Leonard had a learning experience on D and Joel Freeland found his shooting touch. Coby Karl moved over Nolan Smith in the rotation and had a few solid early minutes.
In the first quarter, the Blazers had a slow start, giving Utah some easy looks. On top of it, Lillard ended up with two early fouls and left the game. But backup PG of the moment Karl was waiting to come in. The Jazz looked a little lackadaisical all quarter, and the Blazers took quick advantage, using some scary-hot shooting to push the lead to double-digits. Utah picked up the energy and kept in the game. However, 80% Blazer shooting left them with a 15 point lead.
Pres debate over. They didn’t mention the blazers at all
Utah tried to close the gap as the second quarter opened. Every time they got close, Portland would respond, such as Babbitt and Lillard hitting back to back three's. Then another Babbitt three, pushing the lead to 17. Free throws from Adam Morrison made it 20. The Jazz did everything but put their fingers together in a W to say "what-ever!". The lead reached 27 on another Lillard three, but Utah scored a few points late for a 70-46 Halftime Blazer lead. The Blazers shot 70% from the field.
Dang Lillard is playing like a boss!! Such a high percentage, hes very efficient
Stop me if this sounds familiar, but Utah tried to close the gap as the third quarter began. However, despite some sloppy Blazer play, the lead was stubbornly at 24 points with 6 minutes left. But as the clock ticked past six, Utah came alive, taking advantage of the sloppy play (every Blazer possession seemingly ended with an offensive foul or a turnover) to scoring 9 quick points to close to within 15. However, Wesley and Nic said "that's enough", and took over. The Blazers headed to the fourth leading by 21.
Can we go a single possession without committing an offensive foul? Please?
-- Roy Wonder
Terry Stotts removed the starters after a few minutes of fourth quarter play, giving the rooks some time to shine. They didn't really do so against some of Utah's vets (making the final score look closer than it actually was), but it was a quick fourth as the rooks ran down the clock to an easy victory.
The Box Score is here. The Blazers have one preseason game left, an untelevised Thursday night game in Utah. Stay tuned for Dave's analysis and Ben's report from the Garden. -- Tim