PORTLAND — There is no other way to paint this game. Preseason or not, the Portland Trailblazers simply dominated the Utah Jazz Monday evening. The final 120-114 score belies the way the home team comfortably handled the visiting Jazz squad.
Utah held a brief 10-4 lead to start the game. The Blazers rode a 14-2 run to take the lead and never looked back from there. Semi Jazz killer Nicolas Batum was impressive, tallying 27 points and three steals in just 28 minutes. Five Portland players made it into double-figures.
Jazz center Enes Kanter continued his fine preseason play, pacing the Jazz with 18 points (going a perfect 7 of 7 from the field). Five other Utah teammates also reached double digits.
The Real Deal: Jazz fans are naturally familiar with Weber State product Damian Lillard. He entered the NBA Draft as a sleeper and quickly shot up the charts as one of the most touted prospects. Monday, the 6’3” point guard showed he is absolutely legit.
Despite six turnovers, the young rookie displayed a certain calm and control. His 21 points were efficient (6 of 8 from the floor, 3 of 4 three-pointers, and 6 for 7 from the free throw line). He also chipped in eight assists, four rebounds, and a pair of steals.
Given that he will be handed the keys from day one, Lillard will most likely be a strong candidate for Rookie of the Year honors.
Bombs away: Portland started draining outside jumpers early on and kept them coming all night. Led by swingman Batum, the Blazers were torrid from the get-go. While they trailed off in the fourth quarter, Portland drained an explosive 12 of 25 (48 percent) on its treys.
Overall, the Trailblazers connected on 57.5 percent of their field goals.
- While it was a high-scoring affair, the matchup was rife with miscues. Despite its victory and perimeter marksmanship, Portland had 25 turnovers (to 22 assists). Utah did not fare much better, committing 21 turnovers of its own.
- Blazer guard Wesley Matthews was the only one of a trio of former Jazz men who saw action Monday. Neither Ronnie Price nor Sasha Pavlovic played.
- Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin seems to have settled into a preferred starting lineup of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward, and Mo Williams.
- Just four of the 14 Blazers who played were on last season’s Portland roster.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.