The Portland Trail Blazers' bench proved as deep as advertised Tuesday night in Game 1 of the Jazz-Trail Blazers playoff series. Cliff Robinson, Walter Davis, Danny Ainge and all the rest made for an impressive undercard in the Blazers' 117-97 win.
In 58 minutes of playing time, Portland's first four players off the bench - frontcourtmen Robinson and Mark Bryant and guards Danny Ainge and Walter Davis - combined for 32 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. They shot a collective 13-of-20 from the field and a perfect 5-of-5 from the free throw line.Ainge and Davis, both former All-Stars now playing back-up roles, were especially effective. Ainge was perfect, hitting all three of his field goal attempts and both of his free throws en route to nine points. His most significant shot came early in the second period when he landed a leaning three-pointer, giving the Blazers a 37-28 lead. He also had five assists.
Davis made six of nine field goals and both of his free throws in scoring 12 points. He also had four rebounds.
"I got some valuable time tonight. It's nice to have the crowd behind me. I want to take good shots and if I'm open I'm going to take shots," said Davis.
"Walter Davis came in and hit some big shots. He has to do that," said Coach Rick Adelman. "I want him to continue to relax and keep a positive attitude."
The effect was telling on the Jazz, particularly in the second half when the more well-rested Portland starters pulled away with a 21-3 run late in the third quarter. None of the Blazers' starters played as many as 40 minutes. Terry Porter played 39, Clyde Drexler 37, and Kevin Duckworth, Buck Williams and Jerome Kersey 34 minutes each.
Three Jazz starters, on the other hand, played in excess of 40 minutes. John Stockton played 44 minutes, Karl Malone 43 and Jeff Malone 41.
The Jazz's four main reserves - Thurl Bailey, Mike Brown, Delaney Rudd and Tony Brown - combined for 59 minutes, 21 points, nine rebounds and two assists - totals all well below Portland's bench. The bulk of this production came from Mike Brown, who played 27 minutes in place of foul-plagued Mark Eaton at center. He scored 14 points and had eight rebounds in another strong playoff effort.
Regardless of Brown's help, the Jazz were out-rebounded 55-41 - an area of concern for Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan. Portland has dominated the Jazz on the board all season.
"We knew going in we had to keep them off the boards but we didn't do it," said Sloan.