The Blazers head into Utah, a team they beat easily last week, 24 hours after beating a quality San Antonio Spurs team last night. Hassan Whiteside is a late scratch tonight and Caleb Swanigan gets his fourth career start. He’s going to have his hands full with Rudy Gobert tonight.
The Jazz are losers of five in a row
Damian Lillard hits a 32 footer to open up the game and then hits another thirty footer, bringing him to 39 shots made from 30 plus feet this year. He’s on another level. Outside of Stephen Curry he’s probably the best pure shooter in the game. CJ McCollum is also starting off strong tonight. It’s really good to see him get going right off the bat for the second game in a row. The Blazers are much better when he’s playing hot from the get go. It opens up guys like Carmelo Anthony and Trevor Ariza.
Lillard is just on another level. He’s four for four from three and has 12 points in the first six minutes of the game. He has not hit the rim once. As Kevin Calabro would say, “he’s left his body and is gone to a different plane.”
Anfernee Simons and Gary Trent Jr. have come off the bench hot again. These two are really picking it up at the right time. It’s getting to the point where anything that Trent shoots I think it’s going to go down and he doesn’t miss bad at this point either.
Simons was undercut by Royce O’Neale on a jump shot and landed hard on his back, with his head bouncing off the floor. He stayed down for quite a while after the fall. He was taken straight to the locker room after being helped up off the floor by the trainers. The Blazers cannot afford another injury.
The Blazers shot 75% in the first quarter, with Damian Lillard going 6-6 for 16 points in the quarter. Blazers have a 38-32 lead after one quarter. Mike Conley hit a three as time expired. Donovan Mitchell had a very quiet seven points in the quarter.
The defense for the Blazers was pretty solid in the first 12 minutes.
When Lillard is on the bench to start the second. Things tend to go a little off the rails for the Blazers in this portion of the game. For example, Trevor Ariza almost killing an official and getting kicked out. Then Mike Conley leading the Jazz back into the lead.
Mario Hezonja is probably going to have to play 30 minutes tonight now. That’s just great. The Jazz are now on a 17-4 run. Thankfully, Lillard checks in and immediately scores six points to get the Blazers the lead back. The Jazz are actively triple-teaming him now.
This really feels like game six of a playoff matchup. Guys are up in each other’s faces, lots of talk, lots of physicalities. I don’t think the Blazers have much of a shot to have a matchup with Utah in the playoffs this year. They are nine games out of the fifth spot and Utah is sitting in the four spot. If anything we’ll get a Lakers and Nuggets first-round matchup.
Mario Hezonja just beat Rudy Gobert on a jump ball, Gary Trent Jr. took the ball and beat everyone down the court for an easy layup. Trent then gets a steal on back to back shots. One led to a Lillard layup and the other lead to three by Hezonja. Blazers on a 14-2 at the end of the half. They only have seven guys tonight and are on the second night of a back to back.
You can really see the frustration of the Jazz coming out. They were 17-2 before losing their last five games. Blazers are up by 14, 72-58. Lillard has 28 points. Trent Jr. and Mitchell were called for technical fouls at the end of the half. This game is chippy.
Jazz open up with a quick eight points to cut the Blazers’ lead down to ten points. Joe Ingles and Mike Conley each had a three and Terry Stotts called a quick timeout to make sure the Jazz don’t get into much of a rhythm. Out of the timeout Lillard blocks a Donovan Mitchell shot and a steal on the next possession. He then hits a three from thirty feet.
Both teams are upset at the officials tonight. And they have every right to be. The officiating has been all over the map. They’ve let hammers go and then call something a foul that isn’t a foul. It’s happened both ways.
Carmelo Anthony is 1-7 from the floor tonight and off his last miss, Donovan Mitchell drains a three. Blazers lead is down to four, 79-75. Hezonja and Swanigan both have four fouls. Wenyen Gabriel might get some extended run tonight.
The Jazz go on an 8-0 run to cut the Blazer lead down to 84-83. The Jazz got away with a kickball that led to a Bojan Bogdanovic getting an easy basket. The Blazers have 12 points so far in the quarter and are missing some easy baskets. The tired legs might be starting to show here a little bit. Lillard has missed six in a row and his shots are looking short. Not sure how much the Blazers can let him rest to start the fourth.
This was bound to happen with how depleted the Blazers are tonight. If Whiteside is healthy and Ariza is playing the Blazers probably win this game by 20 points, but instead they head into the fourth quarter up 89-88. They were outscored 30-17 in the third quarter. The team looked tired. Melo needs to make a few baskets in the fourth.
Melo starts off the fourth-quarter passing up two open jumpers. He’s not feeling it and passing off now. That’s smart, but I’d like to see him knock down one to get some confidence. He then takes a shot through some tough Jordan Clarkson defense and misses his sixth straight shot.
Utah has opened up an eight-point lead halfway through the fourth. The Blazers look flat and tired. This was bound to happen. After losing both Simons and Ariza for the game there just wasn’t going to be enough legs for the Blazers to hang tonight.
The Blazers have missed a bunch of wide-open shots in the second half and yet they are still within striking distance.
Gary Trent Jr. has four steals tonight, his fourth steal led to a big three by CJ McCollum. The Blazers get a stop and Dame hits a big three to tie the game at 112. The Blazers have no business being in this place of the game right now. Lillard has 42 points for the night.
Donovan Mitchell gets a layup to put the Jazz up 116-114 with 19.5 seconds left. Lillard had a chance to tie the game, but Rudy Gobert goaltended the shot and the Jazz escape with a 117-114 win. Caleb Swanigan had a chance to tie the game as time expired, but his three barely missed.
THIS IS GOALTENDING!!!! pic.twitter.com/w3qxAvMbmt— NBC Sports Northwest (@NBCSNorthwest) February 8, 2020
The Blazers return home on Sunday to take on the Miami Heat.