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Sharpe Supermans Trail Blazers to Overtime vs Jazz

The Blazers Defense Was Not Enough To Pull Out Win in Overtime Against the Jazz

Portland Trail Blazers v Utah Jazz Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Utah Jazz tonight 118-113 in overtime after their comeback attempt fell short in the extra period. Malcom Brogdon and Shaedon Sharpe each had 25 points to lead the Blazers. Deandre Ayton put up a double double with 10 points and 11 rebounds and Scoot Henderson scored a career high 17 points off the bench.

The short-handed Jazz were led in scoring by Collin Sexton’s 25 points and Keonte George’s career-high 21 points. The Blazers trailed for most of the game, but fought back in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Portland forced Utah into 17 turnovers and converted those into 17 points. The highlights of the game came at the 2:55 and 2:03 marks of the fourth quarter when Sharpe and Toumani Camara had back to back posterizing dunks of Walker Kessler. Both dunks are worth going back to watch.

If you missed the game, you can find our quarter-by-quarter recap here. After you’ve read that, here are the details that defined the contest.

Defensive Identity

The Blazers left the Pacific Northwest over a week ago to embark on a tough five-game road trip, almost concluded tonight in Utah. During this road trip the Blazers found their identity; defensive basketball.

Leading the charge on this end of the ball is Toumani Camara. He can pick up full court, he can guard positions 1 through 5, and he can block shots with the best of them. If you missed the game, go to the final play of regulation when Camara recovered on Collin Sexton to block his layup attempt and force overtime. Camara’s motor and length makes him a force to be reckoned with on the defensive end of the court.

Portland’s ability to switch on defense is the other reason they have found their identity. It’s rare for a team most likely heading to the lottery to play defense at the level that of the Blazers. Deandre Ayton also plays a vital role in this defensive scheme because he can be switched out on the perimeter while applying elite level rim protection and disruption. This young team will compete night in and night out as long as the defensive principles remain sound.

Sharpe to the Rescue

It is safe to say Shaedon Sharpe’s offensive struggles are behind him. The Sharpe we’ve seen over the past two games looks like the Sharpe we saw at the beginning of the year. Particularly in the second half, Sharpe has put on Superman’s cape and carried the Blazers.

After Jerami Grant exited with an injury, Sharpe put together an array of layups, threes and a monster dunk on poor Jazz center Walker Kessler that had me falling out of my chair. The three-point shooting continues to improve but his calling card is for sure the athleticism. Sharpe draws contact on every drive to the hoop. If he stays consistent, he will one day lead the league in free-throw attempts.

Sharpe also seems to be unfazed by the moment in the game. He never gets too high or too low, which is what I want to see in a growing starting shooting guard. His leadership will develop as his role increases and matures.

Rookie v Rookie

Tonight’s matchup between the number 3 pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and the number 16 pick would normally have been the leading topic on any article. Scoot Henderson and Keonte George both set career highs in points with Scoot going 6-15 from the field for 17 points and George finishing 7-17 for 21 points. Neither of their field goal percentages were anything to write home about, but they each had memorable moments for their respective teams. Scoot had a pass to Doup Reath at the 1:34 mark of the third quarter that I had to rewind to see. Scoot also had a steal and dunk in the fourth quarter to keep the Blazers momentum going as they crawled back from a double digit deficit. George provided steady offense every time he drove to the hoop. Even at a young age, his ability to finish at the rim is elite.

The Blazers and Jazz have a long history of intense games against one another, with Scoot versus George looking to provide the next chapter.

Never Going to Keep Me Down

I am still amazed by the fight and resilience we see from this Portland Trail Blazers team. Down 40-56 with 1:14 left in the second quarter, this team should have packed it in for the night. Heading into halftime, it would be a tough task for any coaching staff to make a young team care about winning a December game in Utah on the back end of a road trip. But not this team. The Blazers used their full court press and switch everything defense to fight back into the game. At one point, the Blazers were shooting under 37% from the field, while the Jazz were above 52% shooting. But this team doesn’t care. The fought back to force overtime in a game that they should have lost in regulation. I know the end result was still a loss, but you have to feel good about where the team is heading.

Oh Brogdon

The biggest question mark facing the Blazers this season is, “What do we do with Malcolm Brogdon?” After watching the Blazers on offense when he plays versus when he doesn’t, it is no surprise he won Rookie of the Year, 6th Man of the Year, and was a vital piece to the Boston Celtics’ run last season.

Brogdon was huge tonight for the Blazers, finishing with 25 points on 8-17 shooting and 5-9 from three point range. He also contributed 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 2 steals, and 1 block.

Beyond the stat line, he is able to dissect the defense and find the open man. When the Blazers needed a basket, it was Brogdon who hit the big shot. Portland would be in a dark place without him.

With all that being said, Brogdon should be a top target at the trade deadline for multiple title contending teams. The Blazers wouldn’t mind picking up another first round pick and/or young talented player in return for the veteran point guard. However, he does look good in red and black. And if the Blazers were able to accelerate this rebuild, Brogdon would be a nice rotational player on a title contending Blazers team. I don’t know the answer, but it is a good problem to have.

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The Blazers will get a few more days off before wrapping up their road trip against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Pacific.