The Portland Trail Blazers completed their 2022 Preseason Schedule by losing in an avalanche to the Golden State Warriors. The Warriors sat their starters, but still decimated the Damian Lillard-less squad.
Given the nature of the game, we’ll keep this recap short and relatively painless. Heavy on the “relatively”.
Both teams started hot, making baskets at a steady clip, but the Trail Blazers began to fall behind in the second quarter when their youngsters got some extended run. Normally, this would not be cause for concern, but the Warriors weren’t exactly fielding their best five either. The lead ballooned to as much as 18 before Portland reeled it in to 12 at the half.
It’s not the first time you’ve heard this—and only a miracle would make it the last—but defense was a problem. The Trail Blazers were largely unable to prevent dribble penetration and regularly lost track of players cutting without the ball, resulting in open looks at the rim for the Warriors. Moses Moody, in particular, gave them fits inside. Portland looked a half-step behind Golden State’s offense most of the night.
They also struggled to box out, conceding the advantage on the glass. This was compounded by the foul trouble of Jusuf Nurkic, who picked up five personals in 12 minutes. Without his anchoring presence in the paint as the game wore on, Portland’s lack of depth at center was exposed – foreshadowing a weakness to follow them into the regular season.
Neither Nurkic nor the rest of the starters checked back in after exiting the game in the third quarter, however, as the lead was already out of hand. At one point, the Warriors held a 39-point edge before the final period. It could have been respectably close had Portland’s offense held up, but the team was ultimately held to 38.6% from the field by the Warriors’ smothering defense.
Final score: Warriors 131, Trail Blazers 98
Anfernee Simons looked much more comfortable and less hesitant running the offense tonight, as he did in Damian Lillard’s absence last season. It was good to see him perform well, but does little to answer questions about how he will pair with Lillard as they learn to share the court.
Speaking of looking good, Shaedon Sharpe had a solid outing, posting 17 points and six rebounds.
Jerami Grant was fortunate to avoid injury after contesting a Moody lay up in the first quarter. He landed hard and appeared to be lightly shaken, limping gingerly away from the incident.
Jusuf Nurkic was the reason both teams were in foul trouble in the first half. He attempted a game-high 14 free throws, sinking 12, while committing the aforementioned five fouls.
Olivier Sarr sustained a right wrist sprain and did not return to action after exiting the game.
Regular season play is on the way! The Trail Blazers tip off their season against the Sacramento Kings at 7:00 p.m. PDT, October 19.