The Portland Trail Blazers lost to the Utah Jazz 118-113 Saturday night on the road, but the organization’s highlight reel department won the day. The team left Utah with multiple sensational plays that should get shown on Portland hype reels for years to come.
Rookie forward Toumani Camara, already an early fan favorite, raised his stock even higher by making two of those electrifying plays that set NBA Twitter ablaze. After the game, Camara talked about the little things Portland needed to do ensure a win next time around, like rebounding, but he also talked about what led to the highlights late in the fourth quarter.
“[Shaedon Sharpe] started the trend, he just went up, so that hyped me up,” Camara said.
The “trend” Camara is referring to is dunking all over Utah shot blocker Walker Kessler. In the sequence that began with just under 3:00 remaining in the fourth, Sharpe lit the fuse by elevating over Kessler for a ferocious, physical slam. Then, less than a minute later, Camara took off from the runway to attack the 7-footer with a right-hand tomahawk of his own.
ISSA POSTER PARTY IN SLC !! pic.twitter.com/LcjKXfVzgR— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 3, 2023
When put side by side in synchronicity, the highlights form a beautiful visual of nastiness.
“I saw the clear lane, and I just gotta do what I gotta do when you got a great shot blocker like Kessler,” Camara said. “I got to go up strong.”
The dazzling sequence helped Portland claw back from a double-digit fourth quarter deficit. Then the play Camara made on the other end at the end of regulation saved Portland for the time being to force overtime. Isolated against professional scorer Collin Sexton, Camara stayed stride for stride with the guard and emphatically beat his game-winning layup attempt off the backboard as the buzzer sounded.
It was all a part of an effort to try to make winning plays, Camara said.
“It’s what basketball is — trying to make as many winning plays as possible, trying to play hard as much as we can and try to put ourselves in the best situation possible,” he said.
Along with the two big highlights, Camara contributed eight points, three rebounds and a career-high four steals. However, while the highlights and stats were nice, it seemed the rookie would’ve been most happy with a win.
“It was obviously not enough to win the game, but onto the next,” Camara said. “That’s all we can do right now.”