The Blazers were led by the two-pronged offensive attack of Damian Lillard (32 points) and CJ McCollum (26 points), with the rest of the scoring distributed fairly evenly across the other players. Ed Davis (13) and Meyers Leonard (10) finished in double-figures in rebounding.
Al-Farouq Aminu did not play; Blazers Coach Terry Stotts said after the game that Aminu was injured:
Stotts said Aminu worked out and had "something bothering him." Stotts said he didn't know what it was specifically, says it's not serious.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) October 19, 2015
Blazers calling Aminu's injury a left hamstring strain.— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) October 19, 2015
The big news of the night for the Trail Blazers was the return of Damian Lillard. Lillard's effect--inspiration and execution--seemed muted early as the Blazers alternated bad shots with turnovers and Utah streaked out to a 7-0 lead. Following a timeout Portland picked up on both ends of the floor. Decent defense allowed Mason Plumlee to streak down the court versus hefty Utah bigs and Lillard hit a couple "enough is enough" shots courtesy of assists from Meyers Leonard and CJ McCollum.
Portland couldn't keep up the pressure, though, with several areas of strength looking decidedly mediocre. Leonard couldn't hit an open three, the team gave up offensive rebounds, and mid-range jumpers spoke of offense stalled. Forcing turnovers saved Portland's bacon but it wasn't frying that hard. Utah led 24-20 after one.
The second period saw Portland's bench pick up where the starters left off, which is to say so-so. The Blazers couldn't defend the paint, which then led to problems defending the perimeter. Utah hit 6 of their first 9 shots in the second. Portland responded with a quick passing attack with plenty of backcourt scoring. Guards accounted for 14 of the Blazers' first 16 points in the period.
Lillard kept the Blazers afloat offensively in the first half, scoring a dozen. McCollum and friends pitched in too. But confused, disjointed defense plagued them throughout. It's hard to make backcourt points count when the opponent scores more of them than you are. Utah led 61-47 at the half
CJ McCollum and Meyers Leonard each hit three-pointers to open the second half, pulling the Blazers within 11 points and giving the Moda Center hope of a close game. But the Jazz responded with three consecutive three-pointers, and Utah's lead quickly reached 20. With Portland in "comeback mode", the Blazers started hoisting three-pointers, and the Jazz replied with the same. But both teams went cold. In the final four minutes of the quarter, each team scored two points, and Utah held a sizeable 85-66 lead heading to the fourth.
Coach Terry Stotts kept the rotation players in the game, and the Blazers went on a run to start the fourth. McCollum hit four consecutive shots to pull the Blazers within 10 points with over seven minutes remaining. The teams traded baskets for the next few minutes, and Vonleh continued to show off his rebounding skills. But at the halfway mark, the Blazer offense came alive. McCollum's elbow jumper finally cut the Blazer deficit to single digits with 5 minutes left. Ed Davis's offensive putback sliced the deficit to 7, then after another Jazz miss, Lillard swished a three-pointer. The Jazz took a timeout to discuss their now-four-point lead.
Portland had a chance to cut the lead to a single possession, but Lillard's mistaken behind-the-back pass led to a turnover and a Jazz three-point play. The Blazers fought back again, cutting the lead to three twice. With just over a minute left, another Vonleh tip-in pulled the Blazers within 1. But Utah found offensive rebounds down the stretch, and forced the Blazers to start fouling. This left Portland with 7.8 seconds left and possession of the ball, down 2. They went to Lillard, who was fouled on the drive with 2.6 seconds left. He hit both to tie the game. Utah missed a jumper, and somehow the Blazers headed to overtime for the second time in preseason.
Just one minute into overtime, the Blazers led by 7. A Crabbe jumper, Lillard three-pointer and Vonleh dunk on the break left the Jazz (substitutes) reeling. The lead reached 10 at 3:30, then 11 with three minutes left. Portland went cold after that, but the lead was too big for Utah to overcome.
The Blazers head to Los Angeles tonight, and will play the Lakers tomorrow. Kobe Bryant is not expected to play. In the meantime, stay tuned for more at Blazer's Edge later tonight.