The Trail Blazers 2020-21 home opener is in the books.
With so much talk about Portland’s defensive changes (more on that later), it was the offense that looked different Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz and not in a good way.
Portland started the game in a groove offensively, but that quickly changed.
Trail Blazers All-Star Damian Lillard went scoreless in the first half.
Zero first-half points from Lillard meant he was finding his teammates and letting the game come to him, but that also meant the Jazz took it to the Blazers, taking a commanding 65-44 lead at halftime.
According to the Rip City Radio, that was the first time in six years that Lillard hasn’t scored in a half.
Utah now improves to 1-0 to start the season after defeating Portland, 120-100.
The Jazz found early success in the paint.
Utah started heating up from three in the second quarter. The three-ball from the Jazz didn’t let up, despite the Blazers getting more hands in their face in the second half.
Lillard made his first bucket 10:23 in the third quarter after six tries. The Blazers point guard hit his first three-pointer with under four minutes to go in the quarter. He finished the third with nine points.
Portland got off to a good start offensively, hitting half of its first eight attempts.
CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic had a nice two-man game working early.
The Moda Center was still able to have a good vibe on opening night with Trail Blazers fan cutouts filling a majority of the endzones near both team’s benches as the Blazers made the most of opening night.
Portland's defense had its good moments compared to their play in Denver. It was just too inconsistent to really matter. In an empty arena, once again, it was apparent that the Blazers were communicating more on that end than they did during the preseason.
After the first quarter, the Jazz really had their way with Portland’s defense for most of the night.
Both inside and out. Whether it was running a pick and roll at Carmelo Anthony and Enes Kanter or running Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, or Joe Ingles off screens to get free at the three-point line, Utah was having success from three and at the rim. Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts was forced to call a timeout with 9:12 to go in the second quarter after the Jazz went up 42-29 thanks to a Bogdanovic three.
Portland’s bigs mixed it up while defending the pick and roll, either dropping back or hedging. But the Blazers' defensive changes will, obviously, be an ongoing development.
Backup point guard Anfernee Simons missed the home opener after sitting out the final three-preseason games. Simons is continuing to deal with a hamstring strain that he suffered in Dec. 11th’s win over the Kings.
Early on when the Blazers' offense was clicking, Jusuf Nurkic served up the hammer past Rudy Gobert and over Donovan Mitchell.
Utah shot 45.7 percent for the game in big thanks to hot shooting from deep from who else but Bojan Bogndanovic and Joe Ingles.
Before the game tipped off, Coach Stotts addressed the unfortunate news of Houston and Oklahoma City not playing Wednesday night.
Next up: Portland is scheduled to host the Houston Rockets, Saturday, Dec. 26. The Blazers and Rockets are slated to tip-off at 7:00p.m. PST on NBCSNW.