Another Road Trip Comes To An End With Another Loss

by Casey Holdahl
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SALT LAKE CITY -- At least the Trail Blazers play eight of their next nine games at home.

But before that, they had to close out a three-game road trip with yet another loss, this time by way of a 129-107 blowout loss to the Utah Jazz in front of a sellout crowd of 18,306 Monday night at Vivint Arena in Salt Lake City.

“It’s been tough because we’re such a different ball club on the road,” said Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups. “I think we play with this casualness a lot of times, with no urgency. That’s dangerous. At home, you can do that, teams make a run and you’ve got your crowd behind you and you can overcome a lot of times at home. On the road, you can’t do that.”

The Trail Blazers are now 10-11 overall and 1-10 on the road this season. With the loss, Portland has dropped their last four contests on the road.

While there have been variations here and there, Monday night’s loss played out in a similar fashion to most of Portland’s losses this season, all of but one of which have come on the road. After keeping the game close for the first half -- Portland led by as many as eight in the first quarter and went into the half trailing by just four -- the Blazers gave up a 16-3 run to start the third quarter that resulted in a 69-52 deficit midway through the third.

“I thought in the second quarter we had some good spurts but we closed the quarter really well,” said Trail Blazers head coach Chauncey Billups. “Just came out, had a tough third quarter. They started hitting some shots, I thought they exploited our coverage a few times and when they did we lost a little confidence in what we were doing even though I thought we were in good shape.”

A 13-2 run a few minutes later would give the Jazz their largest advantage of the game thus far at 83-61 with 4:33 to play in the third. Portland would get the deficit down to 10 before the end of the third and to nine early in the fourth, though it would never get more competitive than that. The Jazz would ultimately outscore the Blazers by 12 in the fourth to come away with the 22-point victory.

“(Utah), the kind of got going at home,” said Billups. “That’s kind of what they do. You make 19 threes, that’s tough to beat.”

Jusuf Nurkic shook off a rough start to go 9-of-13 from the field for 24 points to go with 10 rebounds for the double-double.

“I thought Nurk was really good,” said Billups. “In there battling with (Gobert), big night for us.”

Anfernee Simons was one of the few reasons Portland didn’t lose by more than 22, putting up a season-high 24 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field and 4-of-7 shooting from three. Simons also added two assists and a rebound in 29 minutes.

CJ McCollum went 7-of-17 for 19 points to go with six assists and three rebounds in 37 minutes. Damian Lillard played 31 minutes, finishing with 11 points, six rebounds and five assists.

Six Jazz players scored in double figured led by 30 points on 12-of-20 shooting from Donovan Mitchell. Jordan Clarkson had 22 points off the bench and Rudy Gobert put up 21 points and 16 rebounds in 31 minutes.

With another unforgiving road trip now complete, the Trail Blazers head back to Portland to host the Detroit Pistons in the second game of a back-to-back. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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