ChrisHaynes, CSNNW.com NBA & Trail Blazers Insider
ThePortland Trail Blazers dismantled the Utah Jazz in the opening set ofa home-and-home matchup by defeating their rivals 120-114 in the RoseGarden.
Don't let the final score fool you, this game was over in the first half.
"The first half was fun to watch," Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. "We got a lot of flow, got a lot of rhythm at the offensive end."
The Trail Blazers scored 41 points in the first quarter, the most by any NBA team in any quarter this preseason and they did that without their best player.
WithLaMarcus Aldridge opting to rest, left a great opening to seehow Damian Lillard would perform as the go-to guy and that almostdidn't come into fruition when Lillard collected his second foul withless than two minutes into the opening quarter.
However,there was a second quarter and Lillard made sure he made up for thosemissed minutes. He went on a scoring clinic erupting for 11 points inthe quarter and finished the half a perfect 5-for-5 from the field.14 of his 21 points came in the first half. He also added eight assist.
Afterwards, Lillard gave an assessment on his performance.
"I thought I was efficient shooting the ball," Lillard said. "I probably tried to make a few more plays than I should have. I was a little aggressive with a couple of passes, but I thought I made some good plays also."
CobyKarl, not Nolan Smith, was called upon when Lillard ran into foul trouble and hissteady point guard play is what jump-started the Trail Blazers intothe evening that they had. His first half numbers of three points andtwo assist aren't that impressive, but it was his command of the game that made the biggest impact.
"He really did a great job when he got in there," Nicolas Batum said of Karl. "I'm happy for him because he works hard."
Batum led all scorers with 27 points on 9-for-15 shooting as he mixedhis game up coming off screens, running out in transition, andscoring down on the low block.
"That's my game -- moving around," Batum said. "I felt good out there because I tried to stay aggressive and consistent."
J.J.Hickson nearly had a double-double with 16 points and eight rebounds, Wesley Matthews punched in 15 points on 6-of-10 from the floor, and Joel Freeland provided 11 points off the bench.
Smith, who has played in every game this preseason and who is fighting for backup point guard duties, did not get his number called tonight along with Will Barton and Sasha Pavlovic.
Stotts said during his postgame conference, that the plan was to give Karl some time to play with the starters. And that meant Smith would be left out.
The Trail Blazers won't play again until Thursday in Salt Lake City.