The Portland Trail Blazers started their 2020-21 season in ignominious fashion tonight, falling to the Utah Jazz 120-100. Rudy Gobert scored 20 points and garnered 17 rebounds in an all-but-unstoppable effort for Utah. Donovan Mitchell also added 20. CJ McCollum led Portland with 23 points on 7-19 shooting. Damian Lillard attempted only 12 shots for the Blazers, hitting one, scoring 9 points with 7 assists in 34 minutes.
The game started well for Portland as McCollum and Derrick Jones, Jr. scored early. Jones, Jr. and Robert Covington showed off aggressive, point-of-attack defense. But the tail end of Portland’s initial shift, followed by the first moments of bench play, proved disastrous.A 13-6 lead at the 8:00 mark of the first became a 32-25 deficit at the end of the period, courtesy of slow defense. The Jazz scored easily in the paint in their initial possessions, then hammered the helpless Blazers from the arc. The second period featured more of the same, but added poor rebounding to Portland’s Big List of Troubles. Utah’s lead ballooned to 19, then 29 as the game progressed. The evening was over by midway through the third period.
Lillard attempted only 5 shots in the first half, hitting none. Carmelo Anthony had the same mark in the first half, but went 5-7 in the second half to redeem himself somewhat. Evens Kanter went 7-7 on the night for 14 points and 8 rebounds, but couldn’t provide the kind of defense the Blazers needed to make a comeback.
Stay tuned for the extended recap from Steve Dewald breaking down everything that went right and wrong in this game.