SALT LAKE CITY -- If there was ever any worries about the Trail Blazers during this preseason, they should be put to rest after Wednesday's exhibition game at Utah.
With a silky shooting display from Damian Lillard, an all-around game from Mason Plumlee and an encouraging performance from Evan Turner, the Blazers looked as polished and ready as they have all preseason during an 88-84 victory over the Jazz. The Blazers open the regular season against the Jazz on Oct. 25 in Portland.
For the first three quarters, coach Terry Stotts used nine players -- the starting lineup of Lillard, CJ McCollum, Maurice Harkless, Al-Farouq Aminu, and Plumlee -- along with Allen Crabbe, Turner, Ed Davis and Noah Vonleh as the Blazers took a 72-60 lead. It is expected to be the starting lineup and similar to the regular season rotation, although Meyers Leonard (back) and Festus Ezeli (knee) were not available Wednesday.
Although the Jazz came back against many of the players at the end of the Blazers' bench, it was a night when the Blazers' regulars could boast they are ready for the regular season to start.
Lillard was electric, scoring 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, which included hitting 4-of-6 three pointers. At times, he had the Vivint Arena crowd oohing and aahing with his combination of hard drives and smooth jumpers.
Plumlee, meanwhile, was seemingly in the middle of everything. He had eight points, 10 rebounds and seven assists, and displayed his main offseason addition - a mid-range jumper, which he made twice while Jazz center Rudy Gobert sagged off him in the lane.
But perhaps the most encouraging sign Wednesday was the play of Turner, the Blazers' big offseason addition who has struggled with plays and his confidence as he acclimates to his new team. On Wednesday, Turner was assertive in looking for his shot, often using quick crossover dribbles to create space for a mid-range jumper, and he was confident in initiating the offense, at one point threading a pretty bounce pass in the lane to McCollum for a layin. He also hit his only three-point attempt off a penetrate-and-kick pass from Lillard. Although he still struggled with some ball-handling turnovers, it was Turner's best game since joining the team. He finished with 15 points on 6-of-13 shooting while adding seven rebounds and two assists.
Vonleh was also a bright spot, even though his four points and five rebounds don't jump off the statistic sheet. He twice scored inside on post ups, one with his left hand the other with the right, and used a between-the-legs dribble to set up his inside position for one of the shots. He also blocked a layin attempt and looked like he belonged as he played with the front line unit.
The Jazz (3-3), who played without Derrick Favors (knee bruise), Gordon Hayward (broken finger) and Alec Burks (knee rehab), got 16 points from new point guard George Hill and 15 points, 5 rebounds and three blocks from Gobert.