Oct 23

Offense Clicks in Win over Utah

By mikebarrett Posted in: Blazers, Jazz
The focus to this point has been defense.  Terry Stotts has talked about it, his players have talked about it, and we've mentioned it since the first day of training camp.  Monday night at the Rose Garden the Trail Blazers, gave their coach, and their fans, plenty to get excited about in terms of offense.  They led by as many as 27, and beat the Utah Jazz 120-114.  The most points Utah had allowed, before last night, was 94.

It's difficult during the preseason to determine what's a true measuring stick of where you're at as a team, and what isn't.  Or, what will transfer over to the regular season and what won't.  But, given the Utah Jazz have been a very good defensive team so far in the exhibition season, and gave many of their regulars solid minutes in this game, this performance by Portland probably means a little more.  

Utah came into the game allowing its opponents, on average, just 86 points per game in the exhibition season.  Portland scored 41 points in the first quarter alone.  When you shoot 80 percent in the first 12 minutes of a game, it's not that difficult to score 41.  Of course, shooting 16 for 20 in any quarter is very rare.  So, yes, we should keep that in mind.  

The Trail Blazers were also without their number-one offensive threat in this game, as LaMarcus Aldridge was given the night off.  And, starting point guard Damian Lillard picked up two quick fouls and had to head for the bench before the game really even got started. Considering those two things, it's perhaps more remarkable what Portland went on to do to the Jazz.

Often, when a player picks up two early fouls and has to leave, it's very difficult to then come back in and immediately return to the flow.  Lillard was especially impressive because of the way he overcame his first two minutes of the game.  He scored 21 points on Utah, shooting six for eight from the field, and hit three of his four three-point attempts.  He also had eight assists and four rebounds.  To score 21 points on just eight shots from the field is pretty impressive.

Talking to my fellow broadcasters from Utah after the game, I heard what I've heard from others following a first look at Lillard during this preseason- "wow, I didn't realize he was that good." Hopefully we'll continue to hear that when the regular season arrives.

We were also hit with another fact, once again, following this game- the Blazers may have stumbled into something with Coby Karl.  Before camp, Karl wasn't given much of a shot, by anyone, of making this roster.  And, it's still going to be tough.  But, Monday's game was evidence again that he would be a very handy player to have around.  Anyone who can come in, following foul trouble to the starting point guard, and lead his team to a 41-point first quarter, with remarkable efficiency and a total command of the offense, requires a second, or a third, look.  

The Blazers do not currently have room on the roster for Karl.  But, of course, they could make it happen if they feel it's necessary.  Coby, to his credit, has put them in an interesting spot.  

Portland fans also had to love the fact that Nicolas Batum, perhaps feeling the need to take a bigger role in the absence of Aldridge, was much more aggressive with his offensive game. Batum had 27 points in 28 minutes in this game, and shot nine of 15 from the field, scoring effortlessly at times.  This is the Batum Portland wants to see on a regular basis.

We also saw the J.J. Hickson we saw in the last part of last season.  Again, without Aldridge on the floor, Hickson took a different approach to the game.  He ended with 16 points and eight rebounds, and was eight for nine from the field.  As we mentioned on the broadcast, perhaps Hickson would be better coming off the bench, where he can be more of the focus offensively with that unit.  But, that's for the coaches to decide.  He's valuable, that's for sure.  They just have to decide the best place for him on this roster.

Joel Freeland is probably the obvious choice to start at the center spot if they were to decide to bring Hickson off the bench.  Freeland had his best game of the preseason as well, and did it against Utah's impressive frontline.  He had 11 points in his 21 minutes, and showed his ability as a rugged defender.  He is going to struggle at times with some traditional centers in this league, but clearly looked more comfortable on this night.

Freeland fouled out.  So did Meyers Leonard.  That's going to happen to these guys as they learn the NBA game.  Both were called for moving picks out top, and that's going to happen. Leonard, like Freeland, was solid defensively, and Meyers also had 8 points and 4 rebounds.

On the negative side, the Trail Blazers were careless at times with the basketball, turning it over 25 times on the night.  The starting unit turned it over 20 times, with Lillard carding six, and Batum four.  But, again, when you shoot 58 percent in a game, it covers a lot of your mistakes. And, I like that Coach Stotts doesn't lose his mind over turnovers.  When you're trying to do a lot, sometimes you turn it over a lot.  Deal with it.

We're now down to just one final preseason game, and it's against Utah, again.  The teams will meet Thursday in Salt Lake City, and then get set for the games that count.  But, this game, in many ways, counted for the Blazers.  They showed what they can do offensively, even without their leader.  


  1. Hey Mr Mike:
    I never got to watch or lesten to the game, thank you for the post up on it.

    It was stated by you and agreed by me and several others that if you are going to fast tempo motion, open and transitional offense with a bunch of new players to it, which technically qualifies Nic, LMA and Wesley, you will have a lot of turn overs. in fact many teams has adventured to be a fast tempo team and gave it up because of pressure from the media and broadcasters of the sport, sorry about that Mike, If Stotts has the nerve to hold on to his theory then by the end of the year we will be a sensation; if he is willing to live with the nights that the 3pters are not falling and there will be some errant passes that might end up in the third row.

    I don't worry so much about the moving pick as you and the other Mike said they are calling that closer this year, and both Leonard and Freeland is new to the NBA, so they will learn quickly.

    It sounded like an exciting game and I know there will be plenty more just like it, with a few of your negitive games added in for flavor.

    Go Blazers

    See you tonight Jeffery, I will be picking your brain, be prepared.

    by Hg on 10/23/2012 10:41 AM
  2. Hope your cold is better, Mike!

    by dgpdx on 10/23/2012 5:18 PM
  3. I really hope they make it happen and keep Coby Karl. If he does end up being optioned to Boise, it will be interesting sine Karl does make his off season home there and he went to Boise St.

    For those who are interested, here are some Lillard highlights:

    And here is the general highlights of the game:

    by Shem on 10/23/2012 6:16 PM
  4. Excited to get the season started. I expect a roller coaster season with plenty of growing pains. Key word growing.
    Lill is the real deal. Meyers is a good kid. Lets see how hard he works to get better. Victor is still a question. I believe Stotts will find a way to get some production from him. Joel has caught my attention. He doesn't play like he comes from across the pond. He is "rugged". Not afraid to do some dirty work. He is a solid rebounder. His shots will fall. I like his blue collar style of play.
    Wes and Nic both look improved. JJ looks active. Will Barton will get his chance he needs to be ready. I keep waiting for Nolan to have his ahha moment. It has to come this year. Babbitt is rebounding much better. I like Karl has good court awareness. A solid handle.
    The west is much improved. There will be some tough stretches. It will be fun.

    by Divotking on 10/23/2012 7:29 PM
  5. Go Blazers I quit bowling Im going to join the NBA.... See you Tuesday HG

    by jyp300 on 10/24/2012 2:24 PM
  6. @jyp300: you are not going to quit bowling, to short to be a NBA Player, but could be LMA's real-estate broker. Or buy his house and invite your friend to clean the toilets LOL.

    by Hg on 10/24/2012 3:17 PM
  7. Ha Ha Ha I like that HG See you Tuesday .......... We will never quit bowling

    by jyp300 on 10/25/2012 10:02 AM
  8. Go Blazers on Halloween Night beat the Evil Lakers

    by jyp300 on 10/25/2012 10:04 AM
  9. it was a good win over the Jazz, then last night this work-in-progress had a 4th quarter letdown in utah. honestly, wins and losses in pre-season don't matter to me in the least anymore. used to think it was somewhat of a measuring stick, but not so much anymore.

    what stands out are the player performances and attitudes. Nicolas had a great game against the Jazz in portland, and his line last night was 17 points off 7-14 shooting, 9 rebounds and 2 assists (sorry, didn't look up blocks or steals). when it comes to Nicolas this year, the two things i really want to see solid improvement on is consistent shooting and rebounding last night, he shot 50% and had those 9 boards. that's the kind of performance which will make me feel he's earned his contract.

    Wesley needs to string together games and show some offensive consistency before i back off my position of seeking a trade. one game he'll be terrific, like last night, then the next game he'll lay an offensive egg. we've seen it for two seasons already. he says he's been working on getting better but, then again, 99% of the rest of the players in the league are saying the same things.

    real quick here: Sasha has impressed me and, without Elliot this season, i think he wins his roster spot over Karl. Morrison s out of luck. in fact, the Blazers opening day roster will be the same roster as before the training camp invites (though 2-4 guys may find work in boise with the Stampede. btw, some in the chat were advocating waiving Nolan and/or Luke in favor of Karl and/or Morrison. not gonna happen since Nolan and Luke's contracts are guaranteed this year and the others are not.

    ~ KMM

    by Kassandra on 10/26/2012 6:25 AM
  10. Go Blazers !!!!!!!!!!!!! We bowl you tomorrow night HG be nice to us see you then!!!!

    by jyp300 on 10/29/2012 2:57 PM
  11. Am really looking forward to this season!!!
    I do wish the Blazers would get a back up point guard who is not injured...and can play NBA basketball. Truly do think that Nolan Smith may still be suffering the effects of his fairly severe summer concussion. At least it appeared to be fairly severe. Concussions are no laughing matter. They can cause brain damage that lasts a life time...and in a sport that requires so much fine motor control and quick thinking..it's the only thing that can reasonably explain how poorly Nolan has played so far this year.
    Hopefully, Nolan will fully recover in time...and the concussion IS the cause of his on court problems.
    In the meantime...while I know Coby Karl isn't a remarkable NBA athlete..he's done much better in the pre-season than Mr. Smith. The Blazers have cut him and am sure they have good reason. I just hope they find someone else to be Lillard's back up. Maybe Barton?? Raw, thin, but he can dribble..can he guard other PGs? Will Ronnie Price be effective as a defender when he suffered a high ankle sprain ALREADY this season?? Will he even be able to play much?
    Will be interesting to see what develops.

    by natsthecat on 10/30/2012 1:15 AM
  12. Lakers in town. Opening night. Halloween night. Who's scared ?

    by Divotking on 10/31/2012 4:43 PM
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