The Portland Trail Blazers, fielding a squad of players who are bound to become the answer to an obscure future trivia question, were utterly helpless against the healthy and battle-tested Utah Jazz, on Wednesday night, getting blown out (and then some) on the road, 123-85.
The Blazers were heavy underdogs to say the least. Utah came into the contest as near-20-point favorites and the Jazz had no problem covering that spread, almost doing so in the first quarter.
Portland has now lost 6 games in a row since the All-Star break, The team continues to forgo the scenic route and take the expressway straight down to the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
The Blazers were led by Trendon Watford’s 22 points off the bench. Bojan Bogdanovic had 27 points for Utah.
Portland didn’t waste any time letting the game slip away, going scoreless for the first two and a half minutes before Drew Eubanks broke the ice with an inside flip shot. The Blazers attacked the basket with the urgency of a pregame layup line, failing to gain any sort of advantage against Utah’s giant-like defenders.
The Jazz didn’t exactly take the cue and run with it. Utah took the adage of playing down to your opponent to its fullest extent, at least in the early goings, bricking their first four shots from the field and committing a careless turnover before finally finding a groove. Portland was courteous enough to hold the door wide open for them.
Donovan Mitchell and Bogdanovic were both able to find their shooting stroke with minimal resistance and it wasn’t long before the Jazz had built a double-digit lead they would never relinquish. Blazers trailed 33-15 after one.
Things went from bad to worse as Utah continued to flex its big brother-like size advantage on both ends. All the Jazz had to do was volleyball set the ball somewhere in the upper stratosphere of the paint and Portland would be faced with the split-second decision of allowing Rudy Gobert an easy, humiliating dunk, or hacking him to send him to line. The Blazers went with a little of column A and a little of column B.
Gobert didn’t make them pay from the line, making only 1-4 free throws, but his presence demanded attention that Portland just wasn’t physically equipped to give. It’s like that cartoon where a leak springs up on boat, and after the captain is able to cover it, two more spring up in its place. No matter how much Portland contorted to match up with the Jazz, it would only lead to more trouble.
More trouble took the form of Mitchell and Bogdanovic, who continued to have the hot hand. By halftime Utah had built a commanding 63-35 lead.
The second half was more obligatory than meaningful. The Jazz pulled their starters early and still put the Blazers through the wringer with their second unit. Utah outscored Portland 33-14 in the third quarter and threatened to deliver a potentially historical blow, taking a 96-49 lead into the final frame.
At this point, the Blazers were just fighting to avoid having their names put into the wrong side of the record books. It may have been more mercy than determination, but Portland managed to keep pace while the Jazz went through the motions to simply end the game as soon as possible. The Blazers actually outscored Utah in 36-27 in the quarter, so yeah. Little victories.
Stay tuned for extended analysis from the game, coming soon!
The Blazers will get a couple days off before hosting the Washington Wizards Saturday evening at 7 p.m. Pacific.