Live from the Moda Center as the Portland Trail Blazers host the Utah Jazz.
First three game losing streak of the season? Check. LaMarcus Aldridge on the shelf for a week with a groin injury? Check. Backup bigs Meyers Leonard and Joel Freeland also out of action due to injury? Check. With all of these ailments troubling the Blazers, the basketball doctor has one simple prescription: a visit from the Utah Jazz.
Utah couldn’t be arriving at a better time. After being at the wrong end of three close games against the Spurs, Clippers, and Thunder, the Blazers need a win in the worst way. Even with LaMarcus Aldridge out and no backup center to speak of, there is no way Portland should lose tonight. As terrible as the Jazz are on offense (bad), they are even worse on defense (badder). Old man Richard Jefferson is logging meaningful minutes. Jazz Bear is better than half their roster. This team is a tanking mess, but it’s all by design with an eye towards the future. Enjoy that win, Blazers, you guys need it.
Is there a good nickname for the Jazz duo of Alec Burks and Trey Burke yet? Burks of a feather? The Burk Locker? Burkenstocks? This seems like a wasted opportunity that needs to be rectified immediately.
The trade deadline came and went yesterday, and for the first time since 2005 the Blazers made zero moves. With the recent swoon, and lack of healthy players over 6’7”, a move seemed like it could be an option. Brandon Bass? Jordan Hill? Jimmer?! Instead, Portland is rolling as is. It’s not a championship team, but it’ll do.
More important than all this real basketball talk is that SPACE JAM 2 IS A THING THAT MIGHT EXIST. Screw the trade deadline, today is like Christmas. I have been believing I could fly ever since I was in junior high, and one of these days I will touch the sky.
Alright, which of you jokesters scheduled the Jazz to be in town the same time as the Portland Jazz Festival? Kudos to you good soldier. Keep fighting the good fight.
It's a few minutes before tipoff and this place is just about half full. An Aldridge-less game against the Jazz on a Friday night isn't a good draw? Who knew?
Woah, Terry Stotts is bringing it tonight. In honor of Jack Ramsay's birthday, Stotts is rocking a crazy plaid blazer with a huge white collared shirt. He looks like my dad. He looks incredible.
11:39 - Gordon Hayward breaks the game open with a quick jumper. I guess staying up until 3am playing URBASEGOD431 in Starcraft didn't affect his play at all. 2-0 Jazz.
8:34 - Wesley Matthews just broke up a three on one fast break by knocking the ball out of bounds off of Marvin Williams' leg. I guess the Blazers have good transition defense when it comes against the terrible Jazz? Can Utah make the playoffs so the Blazers can play them in the first round? 6-4 Blazers.
6:39 - Damian Lillard's touch around the basket has improved mightily over the last few games. His field goal percentage inside the restricted area was a little concerning, but the ship appears to be righting itself. Dame just put in a circus layup over Hayward and is pacing Portland here early with six points. 10-6 Blazers.
4:26 - Matthews is trying to do work in the post against his former club, but so far he's just 1-4 from the field. The shots are there, they just aren't falling yet. 12-8 Blazers.
3:08 - The size difference between Rudy Gobert (7'1") and Thomas Robinson (6'10") is only three inches, but it looks like somebody is lying on their height chart. Rudy has at least five inches, probably more, and it's no surprise that the Jazz are starting to get some buckets closer to the rim. 14-12 Jazz.
1:40 - There are three dudes here in old school purple Jazz uniforms: knee high socks, short shorts, and headbands. If you're going to go all out, go all out. I learned that from Terry Stotts and his outfit tonight. 14-14 Tie.
0:14 - Will Barton sighting! That's how you know the Blazers are truly desperate for big bodies. 16-15 Blazers.
0:00 - Wait, is it really 16-15 after one quarter?! That offense. My eyes. To that half of you that choose to stay home tonight, you chose...wisely. 16-15 Blazers.
11:34 - CJ McCollum just had a beautiful behind the back bounce pass to Victor Claver who was three feet away from the basket, and Claver missed the hook shot by about three feet. Ah, so that's why it's such a low scoring affair. 16-15 Blazers.
9:30 - Hmm, so the Blazers are losing this game. They only have eighteen points so far. The players know the All-Star break is over, right? 21-18 Jazz.
7:51- There are a lot of things to like about CJ McCollum, but his ability to create offense when nothing else is happening has to be highest on the list. Dude gets buckets. 24-23 Blazers.
6:47 - Will Barton breakaway 360 dunk? Okay then. That will wake some folks up. See you later, Sportscenter. 28-25 Blazers.
5:32 - Lillard checks back in, Lillard immediately scores. The Jazz don't have an answer, and with the way the offense has sputtered early, he should just look for his shot every time out. 30-27 Blazers.
4:17 - Best moment of the night, by far. Dorell Wright went into the first row trying to track down a loose ball and spilled a drink all over a woman's face. The woman immediately said it was okay to Wright (so nice), and then Lillard came over and wiped her head off on his jersey to dry her off. He must have messed up her hair, because Matthews then came over to flatten out some loose strands. So good. They may not be playing great basketball, but they are having fun. 30-30 Tie.
3:26 - Mo Williams with Portland's first three of the night! Remember when the Blazers were one of the best three-point shooting teams in the league? Me neither. 35-30 Blazers.
3:10 - Allen Crabbe sighting! Woah! Nicolas Batum has been missing from the Blazers bench since the end of the first quarter, and there's no word yet on his status or where he is. So yeah, Crabbe! 37-33 Blazers.
1:16 - Crabbe was a little long with his first shot. Nervous jitters, for sure. 39-35 Blazers.
0:36 - So apparently the Jazz have decided to stop defending the paint. That was two open layups for Lillard and Matthews on back to back possessions. Moses parting the Red Sea open. This is a place I've never known before, it's called easy living. 43-37 Blazers.
0:00 - Well, it wasn't pretty. The Blazers hold the lead after one, but as bad as the offense looked it's nothing to feel too great about. Hopefully they can get it going in the second half. The Jazz are seriously bad at defense. Even without Aldridge, Portland should have sixty on the board right now. 43-39 Blazers.
11:45 - So Nicolas Batum apparently has gastroenteritis and is questionable to return. That means Barton is still on the court, and he just picked up Portland's first two free throws of the night. 45-39 Blazers.
10:05 - About that Portland lead? Trey Burke wants none of it. He's got the last five Jazz points and Utah once again has the advantage. 46-45 Jazz.
8:29 - Matthews is having a rough night against his former squad—he can't hit from deep, can't find his way in the post, and while he isn't shooting that poorly he just can't seem to find a good groove. If this were a game of hair fixing he'd be in the lead, but unfortunately his beautician skills don't count when it comes to basketball. 48-47 Jazz.
6:22 - As soon as I write negatively about Wesley, he hits a three. Of course. 53-51 Blazers.
5:46 - I don't think I've written Enes Kanter's name yet tonight, but he's beasting to the tune of 19 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists. The Jazz once again have the lead (ugh), and Stotts needs time. 54-53 Jazz.
4:54 - The Blazers are digging into their bench tonight with no Aldridge or Batum (or Freeland or Leonard), and it's showing. The Jazz are on a nice little run right now against Portland's B-Team. 59-55 Jazz.
3:08 - One extra pass from Claver leads to a wide open McCollum three. Good play, good execution, three more points. That looked like Blazer basketball. Even better, here comes Batum to the scorer's table. He's wiping his mouth with a towel and doesn't appear to feel well, but he's going to come back in and give it a go. Flu game! 62-60 Jazz.
2:17 - Not even Batum can save the offense tonight. Portland's first possession after a timeout is a twenty-four second violation. 64-60 Jazz.
0:40 - The Blazers are trying to guard Hayward with Lillard and McCollum. How are the Jazz not going to him in the post for every single possession? 72-64 Jazz.
0:00 - Blurg. Portland's offense is flat. Dead. I might have a better chance of scoring if they give me a jersey and throw me in there. This is not going well. I guess having an MVP-caliber power forward really does make your team that much better. 73-64 Jazz.
11:36 - Flu game! Batum draws on offensive foul on one end, drains a three-pointer on the other. Sickness for everyone! 73-67 Jazz.
10:50 - The Blazers finally realized they were playing a game! Will Barton had another highlight, this time a reverse layup on a fast break, and then Portland drew a twenty-four second violation on the next Jazz possession. 73-69 Jazz.
10:04 - A Lillard floater caps off a 7-0 run to start the fourth quarter, and the Jazz need time. 73-71 Jazz.
9:19 - Another twenty-four second violation for the Jazz followed by a three-pointer from Dame. 10-0 run, Blazers lead. 74-73 Blazers.
7:31 - Lillard thought it was the dunk contest, raising up for a one-handed jam, but Jeremy Evans body-checked Dame to the floor instead. It looked a lot worse in real time, but Dame appears fine and will get two freebies for his troubles. 76-75 Blazers.
6:10 - Dame. Goodness. After trying to save the ball from going out of bounds but tossing it to the Jazz on accident, Lillard went for a steal, poked the ball away, and hit the deck to get the loose ball and call time. It has been six minutes of play and the Jazz have two points this quarter. 78-75 Blazers.
5:23 - The Jazz may have scored two more points, but they gave up an epic alley-oop to Lillard and a three-point play to Wesley Matthews on back to back possessions. If there is such a thing as momentum, the Blazers have it. 83-77 Blazers.
4:09 - Lillard is taking this one over. Another three-pointer gives him twenty-eight points on the night. It shouldn't have been this close in the first place, but Lillard is going to make sure Portland does not drop four straight. 88-83 Blazers.
2:44 - The Jazz keep going to Hayward against Lillard (as they should), and he's keeping Utah alive. Both the Jazz and Lillard have fourteen points this quarter, and unfortunately for the Jazz the Blazers have four other players who are scoring well in this last frame. 90-87 Blazers.
1:03 - Mo Williams with the foul line jumper against his former team gives the Blazers a healthy lead late. With the defense the Blazers have been playing, that might be enough to do it. 96-91 Blazers.
0:25 - Another huge play for Mo. He missed a corner three, but was able to chase down a loose ball rebound that had been tapped out by Robin Lopez. Williams was fouled in the process, hit his two freebies, and the fans are headed for the exits to enjoy the rest of their Friday night. 98-91 Blazers.
0:14 - I don't know how the Blazers were able to crack 100 points in this game with the way their offense looked earlier, but a thirty-six point fourth quarter just gave the fans free McDonalds. 100-93 Blazers.
0:00 - An emphatic one-handed dunk from Robin Lopez to end it? Sure, why not? He deserves it after the work he did on the glass tonight.
FINAL: 102-94 Blazers. After starting incredibly slow, the Blazers were able to pick it up in the fourth to secure the victory. It was a little too close for comfort there for a bit, but like most great teams the Blazers kicked it into an extra gear when it mattered. Any win without LaMarcus Aldridge is huge, too, even if it comes against the lowly Jazz.
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