Trail Blazers Show Progress And Room For Improvement In Loss To Warriors

by Casey Holdahl
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After a week of training camp, the Portland Trail Blazers started off their four-game preseason schedule with a 121-107 loss to the Golden State Warriors Monday night at Moda Center.

Monday’s game had the typical highs and lows that come with a first preseason contest, especially one featuring a first-time head coach and six players getting their first minutes in a Portland uniform.

The good? Both Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 31 points on 18 shots, even with neither playing in the second half. A slimmed down Jusuf Nurkic put up a double-double while also going a nice job of playmaking in limited time and Anfernee Simons showed a level of comfort and expertise at backup point guard that had not been seen during his first three seasons in Portland.

But as you would expect in preseason play, the Trail Blazers also had their fair share of miscues and sustained a few injuries. Portland turned the ball over 26 times, more than double the number committed by the Warriors. The defense, an area of extreme emphasis at training camp after the team finished near the bottom of the league on that side of the ball last season, gave up 72 points on three-pointers and 121 points overall while only forcing 12 turnovers.

And worst of all, both Norman Powell (right hip discomfort) and Cody Zeller (nose) left the game with injuries and would not return. Neither injury seemed especially serious -- Zeller did take a hard elbow to the nose from Andre Igoudala -- though missing any practice time due to games that don’t count would be unfortunate.

Lillard led the Blazers with 19 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field and 5-of-7 shooting from three to go with four rebounds and two assists in 18 minutes. McCollum shot 50 percent from the field for 12 points to go with two assists in 12 minutes. Powell added 13 points, an assist, a rebound and a steal before exiting.

Nurkic tallied 15 points, 10 rebounds and four assists in 23 minutes. Simons scored 10 points and handed out a team-best six assists in 20 minutes and Dennis Smith Jr. added 10 points, three assists and two rebounds in 14 minutes.

Jordan Poole led all scorers with 30 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field and 7-of-13 shooting from three. Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins each finished with 13 points and Otto Porter Jr. scored 19 in 18 minutes.

The Trail Blazers will have nearly a week of practice and preparation before facing the Kings in their second preseason contest at the Moda Center Monday night. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.

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