PORTLAND — Behind some big shots by point guard Trey Burke, the Utah Jazz improved to 2-0 on the preseason with an 109-105 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday.
For the Blazers their quest for improvement in the preseason and building towards the regular season would have to be done in shorthanded fashion on Thursday in Portland.
Prior to tip-off, Blazers coach Terry Stotts revealed the Blazers would be without Damian Lillard who missed the game due to what the Blazers are calling a “left ankle strain.”
“I think he had his left foot stepped on during the game in Utah. That’s bothering him so he won’t play,” Stotts said.
The Blazers went with Steve Blake and luckily for them, just about everything from an offensive standpoint was different after having 21 turnovers and missing 53 shots in their preseason opener in Salt Lake City.
Stotts changed his rotation, playing his starters more minutes than he did on Tuesday, which appeared to get some of them in a rhythm. And nobody seemed to be in more of a rhythm than LaMarcus Aldridge, who scored 22 points in 24 minutes of play along with five rebounds.
Defensively, the Blazers’ 19 turnovers didn’t help their efforts, but the Jazz scored in the high-teens in fast-break points for the second game in a row.
Wesley Matthews was also looking like he was more in a rhythm, scoring 13 points in 24 minutes on 5-for-11 shooting.
Blake led the Blazers in assists with seven on the night.
As far as players battling for rotation spots, it appears that Stotts didn’t establish any trends in that regard other than continuing to play Will Barton and CJ McCollum together off the bench with Chris Kaman.
As far as the younger big men, Thomas Robinson got the first look followed by Joel Freeland.
Meyers Leonard didn’t play until the fourth quarter, but that’s when the game started to turn up in intensity with the Jazz starters staying in the game against the Blazers reserves.
McCollum led the Blazers reserves with 10 points, but Leonard may have left a bigger impression scoring all nine of his points in the final period, including a three-pointer.
The Blazers next preseason game will be at 6 p.m. Sunday against the Los Angeles Clippers at the Moda Center.