Blazers Blowout Jazz Behind Team Effort At The Moda Center
The Portland Trail Blazers played their only game over the course of nine days Wednesday night at the Moda Center, and by all accounts, they were more than ready for it.
Despite playing without starting center Jusuf Nurkić, who sat out Wednesday’s contest with right knee soreness, the Trail Blazers built a 20-point lead in the first quarter and led by as many as 33 points in the fourth quarter to defeat the Utah Jazz 132-105 in front of a sellout crowd of 19,393 Wednesday night at the Moda Center.
“A really good win," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "The offensive first half was really fun to watch – threes were going, the ball was moving, getting out in transition. And our defense got a lot better in the second half after a slow start in the third quarter... I loved our defense in the third quarter after kind of getting off to a slow start."
With the win, the Trail Blazers improve to 32-20 overall, 21-7 at home and 11-4 in the month of January. Portland has also now won eight consecutive games at the Moda Center.
Having not played since Saturday night, an eternity in relation to a typical week of the NBA regular season, one might have expected the Trail Blazers to come out a bit slow against a Utah team that entered Wednesday’s contest having won nine of their last 10.
But they looked rested rather than sluggish, and behind 20 points from CJ McCollum on 9-of-9 shooting from the field, Portland went on a 26-6 run to turn what was an early 13-10 deficit into a 36-19 lead.
"(McCollum) was terrific in the first quarter – I think he had 20 in the first quarter," said Stotts. "That’s why I didn’t even stick to the normal rotation, I left him in a little bit longer than usual."
A few minutes later, a Zach Collins three put Portland up 43-23 for their first 20-point lead of the night. The Jazz would cut the lead to 12 early in the second quarter, but with Damian Lillard, who had to sit out a large chunk of the first quarter due to foul trouble, going 4-of-7 from the field and 3-of-4 from three and Jake Layman adding two threes of his own, Portland was able to take a comfy 74-58 advantage into the intermission.
"I felt fresh, I think the last time I played was Thursday," said Lillard. "It's far along in the season now so my conditioning was still there. I worked out last night about 8 o'clock and I felt good, I was actually moving around. I actually felt good."
The Jazz would make various runs throughout the night, and got as close as 80-70 after outscoring the Trail Blazers 12-4 in the first four minutes of the third quarter. But Portland answered what would in effect be Utah's last gasp as a comeback with another run, this of the 17-0 variety, to take a 97-70 lead with 3:43 to play in the third quarter.
From there, all the Trail Blazers needed to do was attempt to get Damian Lillard the first first triple-double of his career and avoid any injuries. While the former didn’t happen — Lillard finished two rebounds shy of the statistical benchmark — the latter did, with Portland eventually coming away with the blowout victory.
“I didn’t want to chase it," said Lillard of failing to finish off the triple-double. "Coach left me out there a little bit to see if I can go get a few rebounds and do it. After a few minutes I came to the side and I was like, man just take me out. I don’t want to be out here hunting it this bad."
Damian Lillard led Portland with 36 points (12-21 FG, 3-7 3-PT, 9-9 FT) to go with eight re-bounds, 11 assists and two steals. It was his sixth double-double of the season. Lillard netted 15 of his points in the second quarter.
CJ McCollum scored 30 points (12-17 FG, 3-5 3-PT, 3-4 FT) to go with three rebounds, one assist, two steals and one block. It was his ninth game this season with 30-plus points. McCollum scored 20 of his points in the first quarter on 9-of-9 shooting (2-2 3-PT).
In his first start of the season, Meyers Leonard scored a season-high 16 points on 6-of-7 shooting (4-5 3-PT) to go with six rebounds and four assists. The four assists matched his career high (11 times).
“I thought Meyers played well," said Stotts. "When he makes his threes, when he shoots it when it’s open – a lot of times, unfortunately for him, a lot of times his game is defined whether he’s making threes or not, but I thought he played a solid game. He was physical inside."
Zach Collins tallied 12 points (3-8 FG, 1-2 3-PT, 5-6 FT), eight rebounds, one assist and one block in 23 minutes off the bench. Jake Layman recorded 11 points (4-8 FG, 3-5 3-PT), five rebounds and three assists off the bench. It was the seventh time in the last nine games that he scored in double figures.
Evan Turner finished with five points, four rebounds and five assists in 19 minutes. Seth Curry had eight points on 3-of-6 shooting (2-3 3-PT) to go with two rebounds. It was his third game in a row with at least two three-pointers.
Donovan Mitchell led the Jazz with 22 points (8-16 FG, 1-3 3-PT, 5-6 FT) to go with four re-bounds and two assists. It was his 13th consecutive game with at least 20 points.
• Portland matched its season high in scoring with 132 points (Nov. 1 vs. New Orleans). Portland has scored at least 120 points in five of its last seven games.
• The Trail Blazers scored 45 points in the first quarter, marking their highest-scoring quarter of the season. Portland’s 74 points in the first half matched the team’s highest-scoring half of the season.
• The Trail Blazers improved to 2-2 against the Jazz for the season, marking the third straight year that the two teams have split the season series.
• The Trail Blazers outscored the Jazz on the fastbreak, 21-9.
• Portland’s bench outscored the Jazz reserves, 42-30.
• The Trail Blazers outrebounded Utah, 45-36, while the Jazz outscored Portland in the paint, 54-48.
• Portland shot 53.3% from the field (48-of-90) and 50.0% from the 3-PT line (16-of-32) while holding Utah to 44.7% shooting from the field (38-of-85) and 32.4% shooting from deep (11-of-34).
"That's what they said." -- CJ McCollum on Utah being "one of the hottest teams in the NBA" coming into Wednesday night's game
After considerably campaigning from his players, Terry Stotts agreed to give his team an extra day off if they beat the Jazz Wednesday night. With their end of the bargain secured, the Trail Blazers will take off the next three days before returning to practice Sunday to prepare for their next contest, a tilt versus the Heat Tuesday night at the Moda Center. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.