The Portland Trail Blazers’ tumultuous season is coming to an end and the team has one last chance to throw chaos into the mix of the division rival Utah Jazz. The team is also playing for a chance to give the city one last smile before a very long offseason at home. And even on a night when the Jazz played without several main rotation players, the Blazers hovered around the season-worst performances offensively.
The Blazers scored 80 points Sunday night. The Jazz scored 111. It’s the team’s 11th consecutive loss and 15th loss in the final 16 games.
The Blazers actually looked like they had a chance to play spoiler. Both teams struggled mightily to make shots, and the Blazers were just slightly better. The Blazers led by three at the end of the frame with a balanced scoring effort among the starting five (Brandon Williams, Keon Johnson, CJ Elleby, Didi Louzada, Reggie Perry). An 11-2 run pushed the Blazers out ahead and the teams played it relatively even until the end of the quarter.
The Blazers’ struggles continued but the Jazz’s did not. Jazz outscore the Blazers 36-21 to take a 12-point lead into the locker room. Utah went on a 14-0 run towards the beginning of the quarter to pull in the lead for good. The Jazz also showed how the team had something big to play for tonight, and despite not having Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic in uniform, were playing to improve their playoff standing. With their win this evening, the Jazz clinched the 5-seed in the playoffs and will face Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in the first round.
The Blazers continue their ice cold shooting and it’s simply going through the motions at this point. The lead surpasses 20 and it’s getting to the point where it feels like a 2:30 p.m. on a Friday night with nothing to do but you have to stay clocked into work until 5 p.m. The Blazers made just three field goals in the final 7:18 of the quarter, and one of those came on a Brandon Williams buzzer beater to end the third.
The offense improves slightly as the Jazz bring on their bench mob, as they narrowly escape another season-low scoring total for the second game in a row. The team drops 24 in the final quarter and gets to the 80-point mark. Biggest props should be given to Reggie Perry, who scored a team-high 22 points. He becomes the xth person to the lead the Blazers in scoring this season, joining C.J. McCollum, Damian Lillard, Norman Powell, Anfernee Simons, Jusuf Nurkic, Brandon Williams, Trendon Watford, Josh Hart, Ben McLemore, Drew Eubanks and Keon Johnson.
That’s 11 (!!!) different players to lead the team in scoring this season.
Stay tuned for analysis from the evening, coming up next!
The play-in tournament kicks off Tuesday and Wednesday, with C.J. McCollum’s New Orleans Pelicans facing the San Antonio Spurs.