The game started with C.J. McCollum, who literally couldn’t miss, and the game ended with Portland thumping the visiting Utah Jazz. The 132-105 victory marks the third straight win for the Blazers.
The first quarter was all McCollum. The Lehigh product shot nine-for-nine from the field in the opening period to push the Blazers to a 45-27 lead. As a team, Portland shot 18-of-24 from the field in the quarter.
Then, Damian Lillard joined the party. The star point guard scored 12 points on four-of-seven shooting in the second period. Utah closed the gap a little to end the half with a 13-4 run, but Portland still led 74-58.
The third quarter saw the Jazz (29-23) get close with a 10-0 run to cut the Blazer lead to 80-70. Portland didn’t like that one bit. The home team responded with a 17-0 run to go back up 97-70.
The Blazers (32-20) backcourt was sensational against the NBA’s fourth-best defensive team (based on defensive rating). McCollum finished 12-of-17 from the floor with 30 points. Lillard nearly messed around for a triple-double, but he finished shy on the rebounding numbers with 36 points, 11 assists, and six rebounds.
Starting center, Jusuf Nurkic did not play against the Jazz. He was officially listed out with a right knee soreness. Taking the Beast’s place in the starting lineup, Meyers Leonard was solid with 16 points–including four-of-five shooting from three–six rebounds and four assists.
The bench also got nice nights from Zach Collins and Jake Layman. The second-year Gonzaga big man finished with 12 points and eight rebounds. The high-flying third-year Terp also scored double digits with 11 points, while filling in the rest of the box score too with five rebounds, three assists and two blocks.
The win over Utah is the Blazers eighth straight home victory.
The Blazers take on the struggling Miami Heat (24-25) in the Moda Center next Tuesday.