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Billups: Poor First Half, Rebounding Cost Trail Blazers vs. Jazz

The head coach discussed a “frustrating” Saturday night in Utah.

Portland Trail Blazers v Cleveland Cavaliers Photo by Ron Schwane/Getty Images

After coming out flat Saturday night against the Utah Jazz, the Portland Trail Blazers rallied back in the second half to force overtime on the road. The game included a great fourth quarter comeback and electric highlights from Shaedon Sharpe and Toumani Camara, but ultimately, Portland came up just short, losing 118-113.

After the loss, Trail Blazers Head Coach Chauncey Billups addressed reporters about what he called a “frustrating” loss.

The root of Billups’ frustration seemed to stem from Portland’s slow start against the Jazz, as well as a difficult performance on the glass. The Trail Blazers shot 34.1% from the field through the first half, while Utah shot 51.2%, resulting in a 56-44 halftime deficit. For the game, Utah out-rebounded Portland 56-40. That included a 16-11 advantage on the offensive glass that led to 24 second-chance points, doubling Portland’s production.

“We played a very poor first half that set us back, it really did. We’re not good enough to play those types of half and expect to win a game, to be honest with you,” Billups said. “And the rebounding disparity just crushed us. ... They are the best offensive rebounding team in the league. [We] talked about it, tried to prepare for it, they beat us.”

Those factors made a winnable game against a Jazz team missing Lauri Markkanen, Jordan Clarkson and Kelly Olynyk far more difficult. The young Trail Blazers still overcame the disparities to get back into the game, outscoring Utah 32-22 in the fourth during a run Billups said was sparked by defense.

“Our defense and our toughness and grit allowed us to stay in striking distance for one and then to get over the hump,” Billups said. “We started making a few shots. [Sharpe] kinda got going, made some shots for us. Malcolm [Brogdon] hit a couple big ones, and that afforded us the opportunity to try to win the game.”

In overtime, Billups again said offensive rebounds came up huge for the Jazz. On the offensive side, Billups said he liked his team’s drive to attack the basket, but players couldn’t cash in with points or free throws (Portland shot zero free throws in OT).

“We attacked the basket with ferocity and just couldn’t get on the line when it counted,” Billups said.

Billups also gave a brief word on the status of Portland forward Jerami Grant, who left the game early in the fourth quarter after getting hit in the face by Utah center Omer Yurtseven.

“I saw him in the locker room,” Billups said. “He’s doing OK, but not great.”

The loss against the Jazz dropped the Trail Blazers to 6-13 on the season and 2-2 on their current road trip. Portland closes out the trip against the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday.