An eighteen-point first quarter from Jake Layman propelled the Portland Trail Blazers to a dominant, 116-83 preseason victory over the Phoenix Suns tonight. Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Evan Turner, and Gary Trent Jr were all inactive for the game, but the Blazers showed their depth by coming away with an emphatic victory over the Suns for the second time in less than a week.
The Changing of the Guard
It’s not often Blazer fans witness a starting lineup that doesn't included either Damian Lillard or CJ McCollum, but that was the case against the Suns. Both members of the star backcourt received a day to rest while Portland new comers, Seth Curry and Nik Stauskas, took their spots in the rotation. The duo got the Blazers off to a hot start, each hitting a three in the first period. Curry scored or assisted on 4 of the Blazers first 5 baskets and the duo combined for 17 points and 9 assists in 55 minutes of play.
Jake and Bake
Jake Layman was absolutely cooking tonight. He finished with a game high 28 points on 10-14 shooting and 5-7 from 3 point land in just 29 minutes. With Maurice Harkless still struggling with an ankle issue, the small forward position was open and Jake took advantage of the opportunity.
Defense has been the biggest obstacle to playing time for Jake, but there were some positive signs on that side of the ball. Jake lost his man a few times off ball that led to buckets for the Suns, but there was nothing not to like about his effort and energy. When he was focused on the defensive end of the floor, he caused some problems. Layman was active in the passing lane and picked off a pass for a dunk early in the first quarter. He later drew an offensive foul on a screen by pressuring the ball.
Taking a break
One of the most intriguing plot lines of the Blazers preseason has been the revelation to push the ball up the court, not just on steals and missed shots, but made shots too.
Transition offense seems to be a point of emphasis, at least during the preseason, as the Blazers ran every moment they could. Seth Curry especially pushed the tempo. Portland was able to get the ball up the sidelines in a hurry and were able to get a plethora of good looks in the secondary transition offense.
The Portland Trail Blazers will host the Sacramento Kings on Friday October 12th in the final game of their preseason schedule.