Jazz vs. Blazers: Game report
Here are some stats from Utah's 100-96 win over the Portland Trailblazers:
Wes Matthews led all scorers with 21 points and five assists. He was Portland's best player tonight, and by far its most aggressive.
Deron Williams led the Jazz with 15 points, six rebounds and five assists
Paul Millsap, in his first game as a fulltime starter, had 14 points and eight rebounds. He also had three steals
Rookie second round pick Jeremy Evans had nine points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes
Rookie first round pick Gordon Hayward had nine points in almost 28 minutes
The Jazz outrebounded Portland 43-33
Sundiata Gaines played just the fourth quarter but hard eight points, was effective from the perimeter and off the dribble and made his case for more minutes as the preseason goes on
LaMarcus Aldridge made an interesting statement in the Portland lockerroom after the game, talking to another teammate.
"Utah's going to miss Boozer," Aldridge said. "They have no pick and pop game."
That was what Boozer was effective at, setting a screen for Williams and fading for the free throw line jumper. Al Jefferson and Millsap didn't display that on Thursday night, but the duo was tough inside defensively, and they rebounded and scored inside. Plus, it's well established that Jefferson can score on the block. Is there really the need for a pick and pop game? Only time will tell on that front.
Williams, when he was in the game, controlled the action and looks as if he's in complete command of the offense. He got by anyone he wanted, any time he wanted. He made shots, especially in the third quarter, and he put his teammates in position to score easily.
The Jazz look like they have the potential to be a much better defensive team than last season.....halfcourt that is. On Thursday, the Jazz were killed in transition as the Blazers scored on the fast break time and again. It's a weakness that Earl Watson touched on earlier in the week and he looked prophetic on Thursday night.
In all, however, it was a positive performance. Utah showed it could shoot out to an early lead, and the reserves proved they could win a game when it was on the line.
"It was good for us having been our first game," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "We got a chance to play some different people. The second group struggled a bit, but I wasn't going to put the first group back in."