The Blazers and Jazz played a close one in Las Vegas today, as Portland fans got a glimpse of the promise of second-round pick Jake Layman. He gave the Blazers a lift, and sophomore Pat Connaughton gave them the game-winner, and they finished their group round with a dramatic victory over the Utah Jazz. Noah Vonleh added a double-double. They now prepare for the upcoming Summer League Playoffs.
The Blazers opened the game with something unfamiliar to them in Summer League: a lead, after five quick points from Noah Vonleh. However, the Blazers got sloppy and gave up nine consecutive points to the Jazz. Unlike the two previous games, Portland responded. They swished back-to-back three-pointers as part of an 8-point run to regain control. Jake Layman showed off some nice moves in the post, and led Portland with six first quarter points. The Blazers looked far more relaxed than the previous two games. They led by 8 after the first quarter.
The second quarter opened with a Blazer three-point play, and a Cliff Alexander alley-oop dunk. Portland's lead reached nine, but multiple turnovers from their bench closed the gap again quickly. Things got increasingly chippy, as both teams started to look tired and started taking shortcuts, such as Layman holding onto the jersey on defense. Utah took the lead as Portland's shots kept bouncing off the rim. Right on cue, though, the Blazers scored four quick points, and Napier nailed a three-pointer as the clock wound down. The Blazers maintained a three-point lead at halftime.
Shabazz Napier did not return for the second half due to a strained shoulder, with Pierre Jackson taking the reigns. Utah took the lead, but CJ Fair helped Portland keep a small lead. Both teams kept things close through a very quick quarter, including a lovely alley-oop slam from Pat Connaughton, and Portland stayed ahead by two going into the fourth.
In the fourth, Portland jumped ahead by eight points halfway into the quarter, helped by a Layman three-pointer. Utah didn't fade away, hitting a three-pointer to keep the game within five with three minutes remaining. They followed it up with a layup to close within3 at the 2:30 mark. But again, Layman is ready, hitting a sideline jumper to keep Portland ahead. But Utah increased the pressure. Down three with 1:30 left, they hit a sideline fadeaway to cut the Blazer lead to one. Layman's three-pointer missed, but Utah missed one as well. Connaughton launched a three with 45 seconds left... and swished it. After two Jazz free throws, Portland ran down the shot clock, and Connaughton launched another... but air-balled it. Utah had the ball, down two with 16 seconds left. Vonleh blocked the Jazz attempt, but the Blazers were called for a foul. Utah hits both free throws to tie the game.
With the game on the line, the Blazers went to Connaughton, but his foot was on the half-court line, causing a turnover. The Jazz couldn't score, and the teams headed to a two-minute overtime.
Vonleh promptly scored in the post on Portland's first overtime possession. Three more free throws gave Portland a five-point lead with one minute to play. But Utah responded with a three-pointer to keep things close. After a Utah turnover, Portland went to Layman for three to seal the game... and it just rimmed out. Utah got the ball back, down two with 12 seconds to go. But the Jazz turned it over, and Portland hit two free throws. Utah went for a three and missed... but Montero committed a foul. Utah got their chance at the line. He hit the first two, and purposely missed the third... and improbably, somehow they tipped in the missed shot to tie the game at the buzzer. The two teams headed to sudden-death overtime.
With the "first team who scores wins" concept, things moved fast. Utah turned it over in their first possession, and Portland went to the one and only Pat Connaughton for a long three. Swish! And the Blazers celebrated their long-awaited first 2016 Summer League win.
This is the end of the group round, and the Summer League Playoffs start tomorrow. The Blazers will play at least two more games, but the schedule has not yet been released. They're expected to play tomorrow.