For the second-straight game, the shorthanded Trail Blazers were just too short.
With a severe lack of size, the Trail Blazers were outscored 74-30 in the paint on the way to a 120-105 loss to the Utah Jazz in front of a crowd of 17,828 Wednesday night at Moda Center.
“We competed, obviously we shorthanded,” said Damian Lillard. “They got guys like Rudy Gobert and even Rudy Gay is bigger than all our guys so it’s going to be tough to get rebounds… Teams are getting twos and we shooting threes, we’re going to give ourselves a chance regardless of what happens. I think we was able to stick around some with that but the size was overwhelming for us.”
Portland is now 13-21 overall and 11-9 at home this season. They have lost three-straight and 10 of their last 12.
Even though they were able to sign forward/center Reggie Perry, who most recently played for the G-League’s Raptors 905, in time for Wednesday’s contest, Portland, with eight players in health and safety protocols, still entered Wednesday’s contest with no available players who measured taller than 6-8. That would be an issue against most any team — just as it was two nights prior in a 15-point loss to the Mavericks — but it was especially problematic versus a Jazz team featuring seven-footers Rudy Gobert and Hassan Whiteside.
“We’re undersized so I just try to keep telling the guys to compete, play hard, be aggressive and just find a way,” said Norman Powell. “Shorthanded so it’s kind of tough, they’ve got two, big seven-foot guys in the paint so it’s kind of tough to stop them every single time.”
While the Blazers were able to stay keep the game within reach in the first half thanks in largely to three-point shooting — they shot 56 percent from deep through the first two quarters — once those shots stopped falling, so too did their chances of pulling out a victory.
“We don’t have a lot of room for error and we’re going to have to make us some shots,” said Brooks. “I thought we did, but it seems like tonight we had opportunities. We got a couple stops but we couldn’t get shots to fall for us.”
So even though they were only outscored by five in the second half, shooting just 4-of-22 from three all but ended what little chance they had to mount a comeback.
“We’re still battling and that’s the key to me,” said Brooks. “I don’t want to sit up here every night and talk about moral victories and we played hard. Our locker room, they’re not happy with that either, which is a good sign. We want to play well, we’ve just got to play a little bit better next game.”
Damian Lillard went 10-of-23 from the field but just 5-of-14 from three to finish with 32 points, six rebounds and four assists in 36 minutes. Norman Powell also put up 32 points to go with two rebounds and two assists in 42 minutes.
Larry Nance Jr. came close to a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds and nine assists while also logging three steals in 31 minutes. Anfernee Simons came off the bench to post seven points, five assists and five rebounds in 29 minutes.
Both Gobert (22 points, 14 rebounds) and Whiteside (15 points, 11 rebounds) posted double-doubles while Rudy Gay came off the bench to score 21 points in 24 minutes.
Next up, the Trail Blazers now head to Los Angeles to face the Lakers on New Year’s Eve in the last game of the 2021. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
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