The Utah Jazz haven’t been the easiest team to get wins against since Trey Burke got injured, but they didn’t have enough against the Portland Trail Blazers, easily relying on LaMarcus Aldridge who never disappoints, leading the team to their best start in over 20 years.
With 24 points, Aldridge let the Blazers to 105-94 win in Salt Lake City, his team improving to an 18-4 record. That’s their best start since 1990-91, when they won 27 of 30 games to open the season. The Blazers lost in the conference finals that season to the Los Angeles Lakers.
It’s weird to see two teams preferring to play half-court basketball, especially when these are mostly young players on the court. However, the Blazers shot just 3-for-8 in transition with one turnover while the Jazz did even worse, going only 2-for-9 with three turnovers, messing up some quite easy fast break opportunities.
We played sluggish tonight. We didn’t have that killer instinct in us tonight. Guys were just tired tonight. Every game can’t be great. I thought tonight was a good win for us because we came here and didn’t make shots, but guys still put it up.With our offense, I want us to be opportunistic with whatever the game gives us. If it gives us 3s, we knock them down. If it gives us the paint, that’s good too with LaMarcus on the block. One thing we’ve done well with offensively is we take what the game gives us.
Aldridge wasn’t the only effective weapon for the Blazers. Nicolas Batum had only 7 points, but he hardly tried shooting. He wasn’t far from a triple double, adding 8 rebounds and dishing out 11 assists. Damian Lillard followed Aldridge with 18 points, Wesley Matthews scored 16 without too much help shooting 3’s (the Blazers were only 6-of-19) and Robin Lopez scored 15 on a rare “big” scoring night from him.
The Jazz were left frustrated defensively on more than one occasion. On several possessions the Blazers had a hard time figuring out what to do against the defense in front of them, but time and time again it was some impressive last-second shooting from Lillard, Matthews or Aldridge that bailed them out. After a few of those, despair started sinking in among Jazz players, feeling that no matter how close they get, that next killer shot is just around the corner.
You play good D for like 22 or 23 seconds and they hit the crazy shots. It’s tough you know — that’s basketball. You can’t think about it. We just need to learn how to close games. I thought we were doing a better job out there than before. I thought execution on the offensive end is getting a lot better. We’re sharing the ball.
The Jazz are doing a better job in the second month of the season, no longer looking like a team destined to break some very bad NBA records. The Blazers have other goals in mind considering their incredible start, maybe even of the kind no one actually expected to be aiming for in Portland before this season began.