The Trail Blazers opened their advance schedule with a decisive 127-102 victory over the Kings. Damien Lillard rolled things early and finished with 15 points in 22 minutes of action. As Portland progressed, they never looked back. Outside of Lillard, Harry Giles was out against his former teammate. Giles scored 18 points in the 25 minutes he played, a 14-point double-double.
Basketball is back. Before the second game on Sunday, here are the three storylines of Friday’s match.
Set the guilt and forget
The Blazers’ offense started the game firing on all cylinders. Inspired by Lillard’s exploits, the Portland snipers combined their first seven attempts beyond the curve. It was hard to justify buying stock in a hot quarter earlier season, but the Blazers ’movements and sets were ready for real competition. Ennes Cantor, Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. all starred brilliantly as screenwriters. Lillard and C.J. Both McCollum enjoyed more space in off-ball movements.
Inside the curve, Blazers showed Jones the initial structure of a lop-friendly approach in half sets. They don’t always connect, but Jones has the map to influence the game from above the edge. Outside Jones, Cantor and Giles showed off their passing chops throughout the game. Rejoice, the whiteside black hole is gone.
The most promising result from Friday’s finish was the score punch provided by the second unit. Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. took the place left in the bubble. The pair combined for 39 points off the bench. If their score is raised, the Blazers bench should move from a weakness to a strength in the 2020-21 season.
Bring new faces athlete
One thing was clear from the start of Friday: Blazers have length and speed on the front cover. Covington and Jones occupied passing lanes, blocked shots and closed gaps at the defensive end. Dangerously, Covington used his touches too much. The former Rockets forward is a decisive passerby and sniper. Along with Covington, Jones put pressure on the Kings. Notice, Blazers’ high-powered offense could open up a whole new level of performance with Covington and Jones.
Further down from the bench, C.J. Elebi took his places and persevered through a rough start at the end of the attack. Rookie from Washington State Do four points and four restarts in 29 minute activities.
Assign the big war
Hook, the competition for the first big man should be an interesting one in Portland. Inspired by 18 points and 14 restarts, Harry Giles looks to be a fierce contender for meaningful minutes in the cycle of coach Terry Stots. The former Duke was comfortable in big man offense, fought for loose balls and made positive plays at the defensive end. Condor, who showed up as a starter with four points and 11 rebounds, endured less nights than best at the end of the attack. Big Fella Balls struggled to defend passes and rebounds.
When Zack Collins returns, the battle will be tight for a few minutes behind Joseph Nurk.
The Kings are sticking to face the Blazers on Sunday.
“Introvert. Avid gamer. Wannabe beer advocate. Subtly charming zombie junkie. Social media trailblazer. Web scholar.”