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Jazz Pull Away Late, Beat Blazers 123-112

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Our initial thoughts after Utah surged in the fourth to grab a preseason win in Portland.

Portland Trail Blazers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

In their first game in Moda Center, the Portland Trail Blazers gave the crowd lots to cheer about, but not a win. They fell to the Utah Jazz, 123-112. Don’t let the score fool you: Portland played well, and led for much of the night, but the Jazz made a big run late against the Blazer bench.

Here are a few essentials from tonight’s game:

  1. Still not quite healthy. Moe Harkless was expected to return, but was a late scratch. Evan Turner, who has been dealing with shoulder pain, also sat Sunday night. The Blazers’ starting lineup? Lillard, McCollum, Seth Curry, Aminu, and Nurkic.
  2. The Big Three in regular-season form. In the first quarter, Lillard, McCollum and Nurkic took care of business, looking like they didn’t need any more preseason games to be ready for the real thing. They combined for 64 points, shooting 25-33 from the field, including 9-13 from downtown.
  3. The bench? Not so much. With two rotation players missing, Portland’s deep bench played extra minutes tonight. And it showed. Portland’s lead yo-yo’d based on which unit was in the game. The bench didn’t look necessarily bad, as Nik Stauskas played well, and we’ll talk more about one of the Blazers’ rooks shortly.
  4. Nurkic had his “Happy learned how to putt. Uh-oh!” moment. Utah learned that you can’t leave Jusuf alone behind the three-point line. Because he’ll pull the trigger, and he’ll hit it. He nailed two open three-pointers while the Jazz ignored him on the perimeter.
  5. Say hello to Anfernee Simons! Simons wow’d the crowd with his moves, leaving them wanting more.

The Blazers are back in action Wednesday night against the Suns. Stay tuned, Steve Dewald has more analysis of tonight’s game later.