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Trail Blazers Close Preseason In Utah

10/25/12
  1. Written by: erikgundersen  / avg. rating: 4.0


    BY ERIK GUNDERSEN

    After six games over the past 15 days, the Trail Blazers will close the preseason against the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Thursday night. After missing their final home preseason game, LaMarcus Aldridge is expected to start in the finale. The Trail Blazers had their best offensive performance of the preseason against the Jazz and they look to end the preseason on a high note. With a win, the Trail Blazers would finish with a winning record for the preseason. The game will be available on the radio on 1190 KEX.

    In their previous game against these same Jazz, the Trail Blazers were lights out. Although the Trail Blazers did shoot a very high percentage of their shots, Coach Stotts believed it was a product of running their offense correctly to find those makeable shots. Nicolas Batum was the spark that got the Trail Blazers going, coming off screens, hitting threes and working off the dribble. Damian Lillard and JJ Hickson both had their best offensive performances of the preseason.

    Defensively, they were not as effective and will certainly look to remedy that as Utah shot near 50% for the entire game. Utah’s four best post players, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson, Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter all finished in double figures. Both of Portland’s rookie big men, Joel Freeland and Meyers Leonard fouled out in the same game. Another shot at this variety of talented, skilled big men is another fantastic opportunity for Leonard and Freeland to continue to improve before the Trail Blazers start playing for keeps on Halloween night.

    The Trail Blazers have yet to make their final roster decisions. In fact, Coach Stotts said he still had not figured out how he would manage his rotation as of Wednesday’s practice. However, he still had quite a bit of time to make those decisions. He said that Nolan Smith would “probably” be the first guard off the bench. Smith did not play in their win against Utah and Coby Karl was the first guard off the bench, sparking a first quarter run as Damian Lillard went to the bench in foul trouble. Will Barton and Sasha Pavlovic also did not play either but as stated above, the amount of time they will play has not been determined.

    Defensively, the Trail Blazers will look to improve against a very capable offensive team. It will be the final tune-up the Trail Blazers will have before they face the Lakers in less than a week.

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