PORTLAND, Ore. — Jae Crowder made his Utah Jazz debut Sunday night against Portland three days after being traded from the Cleveland Cavaliers, and it couldn’t have gone much better.
Crowder scored 15 points in 29 minutes of action, including three 3-pointers as the Jazz didn’t miss a beat in winning their ninth consecutive game with a comfortable 19-point victory.
The 27-year-old Crowder entered the game at the 6:16 mark of the first quarter and immediately got an assist to Joe Ingles on a 3-pointer. He missed his first shot, a 3-pointer from the left angle, but made his first basket before the quarter was over on a 16-footer from just beyond the foul line.
In the second quarter, Crowder added a couple of more baskets, on a layup on a fast break and a 3-pointer from the left angle. He added eight more points in the second half and was on the court down the stretch when the Jazz were trying to hold off a late Portland rally.
Coach Quin Snyder downplayed Crowder’s contribution slightly, saying, “I saw a guy that’s part of the team that threw himself into the group. When you’re a smart player that has feel, it’s easy to blend in with a group of guys that play unselfishly, and that’s what he did.”
Rudy Gobert said, “He’s going to fit in pretty well,” adding, “he was great defensively and knocked down some big shots — he’s a smart player.”
Before the game, Crowder talked about how excited he was to join the team his father, Corey, played with in 1992, the year after Jae was born.
“I’m here and ready to have fun,” he said. “It was great, the day I got there I got my physical, met the guys at shootaround. It felt good to meet them and see familiar faces with Jonas (Jerebko) and a couple of other guys.”
Crowder had been traded from Boston to Cleveland during the summer, and he wasn’t surprised that the Cavaliers traded him after some of their recent troubles on the court.
“I kind of knew it was going down — I knew something had to give. It just wasn’t meshing the right way.”
A couple of days ago, Crowder posted pictures of himself on Instragram from when he was just a year old and wearing Jazz gear.
“I was excited to follow in my dad’s footsteps a little bit,” he said. “I’ve been a fan of the Jazz organization since I was a little kid, just like my dad. I was excited, my family was excited, and we’re happy to move.”
Crowder also hopes to be with the Jazz for the forseeable future.
“I truly believe this will work well,” he said. “Right when I came in the door and meeting with the people in the organization and the coaches, I felt this could be home for a long time.”
10-DAY CONTRACT: Naz Mitrou-Long, who has played on a two-way contract for much of this season, mostly with the Salt Lake City Stars. However, the Jazz signed the former Iowa State star to a 10-day contract Saturday, meaning he’ll be with the team for at least a few games.
“I’m taking it day by day, nothing’s guaranteed for anybody, especially when you’re in the D League,” he said. “You just have to learn to develop. My job is to come here and promote positivity and bring good energy. That’s my job, and anything other than that is a bonus. Always be ready.”
JAZZ NOTES: Utah returns home to play San Antonio Monday night at Vivint Arena. Then on Wednesday, the Jazz play Phoenix at home in their last game before the All-Star break. The Jazz wore their multicolored “city edition” jerseys in a road game for the first time. The Jazz defeated Portland 112-103 in overtime in the only other meeting between the two teams this year on Nov. 1. The Jazz will play Portland two more times this year — Feb. 23 at home and April 11 in Portland in the season finale for both teams.