OK, now it’s time to worry.
Any hope that the Portland Trail Blazers’ two blasting losses in the preseason in Denver last week were a product of difficult new defensive schemes that integrated new players, a shortened training camp and All-Star Damian Lillard who missed one of the two games completely , was trampled Wednesday night.
Portland undoubtedly played worse against Utah at the Moda Center to open the season, falling 120-100 in a game that stopped being competitive in the second quarter.
And all of that happened after Portland (0-1) called back to some of the new defensive arrangements, had three more drills and had Lillard in an entire game.
Speaking of Lillard, he went goalless in the first half and finished with just nine points.
“It was just a tough night offensively and defensively for our team,” Lillard said. “But it’s a long season, as we always say, and we can’t let losing a game mean we lose two or three.”
WHAT IT MEANS
It’s way too early to completely turn around. Players on this list have fared far better than this over the course of their careers, and it’s a long season. Nevertheless, Portland has a lot of work to do, and a tough road trip awaits next week. This team should be better than it was last summer when the Blazers were the talk of the NBA bubble.
IT WAS OVER, WHEN …
Almost a lot at the break. The Blazers got off to a strong start, taking a 17-11 lead in the first quarter. Then Jazz just took off. A 17-3 run gave Utah a 28-20 lead with 2:11 left in the quarter. Bojan Bogdanovic, Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell all hit three during the race. Jordan Clarkson made two.
From there, it only got worse. Utah led 32-25 into the second quarter and at 4:55 mark led 54-35.
Portland went on a 5-0 mini-race to draw within 54-40. But that only made the seemingly angry Jazz, who responded with an 11-2 run to burst the game open at 65-42. The score is now 65-44.
Portland shot 35.6% in the first half, while Utah shot 48.1% from three-point range.
Portland never threatened to make the game interesting in the second half.
Utah led 94-68 at the end of the third quarter.
SHOWN AND SHOWED OUT
Portland guard CJ McCollum was the only starter to have a decent night. He led the Blazers by 23 points on 7-of-19 shooting. Center Enes Kanter came off the bench to produce 14 points and eight rebounds in 26 minutes. He made all seven of his field goal attempts.
Utah finished with seven players in double figures. Center Rudy Gobert had 20 points and 17 rebounds while making 8 out of 10 shot attempts. Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell also scored 20 points.
Utah finished 19 out of 50 (38%) on three-point attempts after cooling down slightly in the second half.
SHOWN UP AND FIZZLED
Lillard made just 4 out of 12 shots including 1 out of 7 from three-point range. Utah made a concerted effort to get the ball out of their hands by often sending two defenders his direction.
“They were not really doing something we had not seen,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “But we need Dame to be aggressive, and when the ball kicks out, we have to have guys ready to take shots and take shots. And to some extent, we did not end up as well around the curve as we needed to. ”
Aside from Edges, the other key bench players – Carmelo Anthony, Rodney Hood and Gary Trent Jr. combined. – only 9 out of 27 shots. Anthony scored 15 and Trent had 11. But their points mostly corresponded to empty calories.
BLAZERS UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Portland is scheduled to host Houston on Saturday night. However, the Rockets’ game on Wednesday has been postponed due to COVID-19 precautions. Several players either tested positive, came back with non-final tests or have been tracked by contracts for those with positive tests.
Next week, the Blazers start a four-game road trip in the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers and two games in the Golden State.
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