The Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz, 96-86, in a preseason game in Boise, Idaho, on Friday, improving their exhibition record to 1-2. Timmay's recap is right here.
Here's a round-up of coverage from the game.
Joe Freeman of The Oregonian writes that Damian Lillard did a nice job of defending Jazz rookie guard Trey Burke...
"Dame has made a very conscious decision to become, not just a better defender, but a good defender," Stotts said. "And I think you can tell with his demeanor on the defensive end, how he's pursuing plays, how he's fighting over screens. I think his knowledge of the league is certainly getting better, but I think his approach to the defensive end is to be commended."
Lillard's greatest growth has come in transition defense and in his pursuit of the ball in half-court sets. As a point guard, Lillard will guard opposing ball-handlers more than anyone else, so he will encounter pick-and-rolls more than anyone else. But unlike last season, when he collided into that screen and gave up, Lillard is clawing and fighting to get through picks and chasing the ball after he escapes.
"He's navigating the pick-and-rolls better, and on top of that, he's pursuing after the pick-and-roll occurs, chasing his man," Stotts said. "I think part of that is our changes in our coverages have kind of lent themselves to pursuing the ball, and I think ... again, the experience has really helped.
Chris Haynes of CSNNW.com also highlighted Lillard's defense with thoughts from Burke and Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge...
Lillard hounded, smothered Jazz rookie Trey Burke. Whether is was fighting through screens, pressuring the ball or playing the angles, Lillard was an effective defensive force resulting in the rookie going three-for-10 with no day light available.
"It's was a learning experience for me," Burke told CSNNW.com. "Obviously I was excited going up against him. He won Rookie of the Year. He's one of the best guards in the league. We were the first point guards taken. He told me it's preseason, I just got to keep working, and that's what I got to do."
"I already said if we're winning and playing defense, he's going to be an All-Star and I'm going to be an All-Star," Aldridge told CSNNW.com. "We're both trying to become better defensively in different ways, him on the ball more and me blocking shots. If we both take on the challenge to be better defensively and still remain dominate offensively, we'll both be All-Stars this year."
Casey Holdahl of Blazers.com writes...
The Trail Blazers were led by exemplary and efficient performances by Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge. Lillard finished the night with 23 points on eight-of-15 shooting, five assists and a rebound in 29 minutes. He also held Jazz rookie Trey Burke to seven points on three-of-ten shooting to easily win the point guard matchup for the Trail Blazers, who were the designated home team.
As dominant as Lillard was, Aldridge might have been better. The two-time All-Star had his way with Utah's bigs, scoring 20 points on eight-of-nine shooting while pulling down eight rebounds in just 18 minutes.
David Locke of Jazz.com writes...
The Lillard/Aldridge combo was too much for the Jazz to handle. Jeremy Evans got the start for the Jazz at power forward and Aldridge is a tough match-up. Early in the game the Blazers went to the post with Aldridge and the Jazz doubled to help but the Blazers were able to get looks out of the rotations. Then Lillard and Aldridge got the pick and roll game going and the Jazz didn't have an answer to stop it.
Jeremy had a really tough time with Aldridge but Aldridge is a top 10 scorer each of the last two years so everyone has a tough time with him.
In Portland, however, where Williams signed as a free agent in August, he found the owner of 25 more willing to negotiate. That's because it was his former Jazz teammate Earl Watson, who signed with the Trail Blazers earlier in the summer. Watson was willing to deal, but had one request.
"He decided in that conversation that he wanted to donate to my travel team," Watson said.
Mo Williams, proud sponsor of Earl Watson Pangos Elite, Watson's AAU team.
"In return," Watson said. "I said he could have No. 25."
Watson, in turn, accepted 17 as his new digits.
Jody Genessy of the Deseret News checked in with Burke's side of the story...
On Tuesday, the 2013 NCAA player of the year held his own against Steph Curry, but he didn't fare as well against the man who currently holds the title he covets. Damian Lillard, the 2012-13 NBA Rookie of the Year, scored 23 points with five assists and had his way offensively.
Burke finished with seven points on 3-for-10 shooting and five assists.
"Heck of a player. You can't take nothing away from his scoring ability, obviously," Burke said of Lillard. "He's a really good scorer and a really good distributor. I tried to do my best just to contain him."
The Blazers will continue their preseason schedule with another game against the Jazz, this time in Utah, on Oct. 16.
-- Ben Golliver | firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter