After a four-game homestand and prior to a six-game homestand, the Portland Trail Blazers make a quick stop in Salt Lake City to play the Utah Jazz, their first game versus a Northwest Division rival of this season, Tuesday night at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m.
The Trail Blazers (4-3) enter Tuesday night’s game coming off a 99-856 loss to the Toronto Raptors Monday night at the Moda Center. Portland played one of their worst quarters in franchise history in the loss, missing 20 consecutive shots before scoring just six points in the second quarter.
“I think we really hurt ourselves in that second quarter,” said Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard. “We had 29 point first quarter, it was 29-29 at the end of one (quarter) and you score six points in the second quarter, you’re not giving yourself much of a chance.”
As for the Jazz (4-3), they’ve won their last two games, including a 104-89 victory versus the Dallas Mavericks Monday night at Vivint Smart Home. While the Jazz rank 29th in the NBA in scoring at 95.9 points per game, they are also tops in terms of opponent scoring at 93.1 points per game, which is the kind of defensive performance most have come to expect from the Quin Snyder coached squad.
“They’re a good defensive team,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts of the Jazz. “Their offense has been a little up and down but their defense has been pretty consistent. Gobert obviously anchors it and he’s a force inside. It’ll be another challenge for us. Obviously we’ve had our struggles in the lane so it’ll be a good test.”
Wednesday night’s game will be the first this season for Trail Blazers Noah Vonleh, who missed most of training camp, all of preseason and the first seven games of the regular season with a right shoulder strain. The 6-10 forward in his fourth season out of Indiana started 41 games for the Trail Blazers last season, averaging 4.4 points and 5.2 rebounds in 17.1 minutes.
“I think he’s very athletic, strong, he’s been putting in a lot of time in the weight room,” said CJ McCollum of Vonleh. “I’m happy to see him get back out there and compete. He can guard a lot of different positions, he can do a lot of things for us. It will be good to have him back.”
With Vonleh back in the lineup, center Meyers Leonard, who has a right ankle sprain, is the only Trail Blazers unavailable for Tuesday’s contest. As for the Jazz, they will be without Joe Johnson (right wrist tendon instability) and Dante Exum (left shoulder surgery).
Wednesday night’s game can be seen locally on NBC Sports Northwest with Kevin Calabro, Lamar Hurd and Brooke Olzendam. Scott Lynn, who is filling in for Brian Wheeler during his leave of absence, and Casey Holdahl will have the radio call on Rip City Radio 620 AM and on all of the stations of the Trail BLazers Radio Network.