PORTLAND — The Portland Trail Blazers came into Friday’s game against the Utah Jazz with as many wins as the Jazz had losses.
Nothing has changed.
Fueled by a record-setting three-point performance, the Blazers cruised to an easy 130-98 victory over the hapless Jazz at the Moda Center, moving the Blazers to 17-3 on the season.
The Blazers set an NBA record for three-point percentage Friday. Portland shot 17-of-23 on 3s tonight, good for 73.9 percent. It was highest percentage ever recorded by a team that made at least 15 3-pointers in NBA history.
The Jazz have been much better since getting back rookie point guard Trey Burke, who suffered a broken finger in preseason, and had gone 3-2 in their last five games.
They had been mostly competitive but that wasn’t the case tonight as the Blazers did anything and everything they wanted.
Damian Lillard went right at Burke to start the game, citing that the rookie would likely want to make an impression against a player of Lillard’s stature. Burke has drawn comparison’s to Lillard but Lillard made quick work of the rookie.
He scored 10 points in the first five minutes of the game and finished with 21 on the night.
“I was aware of him (Burke) coming in probably trying to come out and get the best of me,” Lillard said. “I wanted to make sure I was aggressive.”
The Blazers also didn’t want Friday to serve as a trap game with a game against a veteran Dallas Mavericks team Saturday night.
“It was a little bit of a trap game because they aren’t one of the top teams in the league right now, at least that’s what their record says,” Lillard said. “We don’t want to fall into that. We wanted to approach the game just as aggressive as we have the last two games.”
The Jazz clawed back from 17 down to make the game a little more respectable at halftime as they were only down by 11.
Alec Burks scored 11 points in the second quarter, but the run by the Jazz was also fueled by Blazers turnovers as they accumulated seven. They also weren’t very tight defensively as the Jazz shot 66 percent.
The Blazers started the second half on a 14-3 run and that effectively put the game out of reach as they just kept adding on to the lead.
LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be a force from the field and on the glass as he finished with 20 points and 15 rebounds while not playing any minutes in the fourth quarter.
Aldridge and Wesley Matthews, who scored 14 of his 24 points in the third quarter, helped fuel the Blazers to a 40-point third quarter.
The Blazers were also able to lock in defensively as the Jazz scored a mere 13 points in the third quarter.
The Blazers pushed their lead to 38 points in the third and were able to rest the starters.
Will Barton, who says he has been working on being more in control, scored four points, but also dished four assists and committed only one turnover.
The Blazers more established players were proud to see the young guys who have put in the work in practice. They’ve cited putting teams away as something they needed to work on and Dorell Wright said that the ability to do that is a sign of a playoff team.
“It’s very important,” Wright said. “Veteran teams and good teams, that’s what they do. Playoff teams, that’s what they do. I liked it when we were icing down, the young guys get an opportunity to play and really show what they’ve been working on as well.”
The win helps the Blazers take a full-game lead over the San Antonio Spurs for first place in the Western Conference.
• The Jazz came into Friday’s game with the worst record in the Western Conference. However, Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before the game that the Jazz’s record is not a fair indicator of the team they are. Since they got Burke back from a broken finger, their offense has been much better and they’ve gone 3-2 in their last five games coming in. Additionally, they’ve beaten the only two teams that have beaten the Blazers this season in the Rockets and Suns.
• The Blazers had a 17-point first quarter lead but the Jazz second unit chipped away at the lead in the second quarter, led mostly by Alec Burks. Burks scored 11 of his 13 first half points in the second quarter and the Jazz cut the lead from 17 to 11 at halftime.
• Nicolas Batum, the French son of Cameroonian parents paid tribute to the late Nelson Mandela on his shoes for tonight’s game. His left shoe said “RIP Madiba” and his right had “1918-2013.”
• Batum on Mandela: “Yesterday was a tough day for me. He represents so much for not only black people but especially for people coming from Africa. He’s gone but I hope people will never forget him.”