The Trail Blazers tied for a pivotal 127-102 win over the Kings to open their preseason schedule. Damian Lillard got things rolling early and finished them with 15 points in 22 minutes. Once Portland was up, they never looked back. Outside of Lillard, Harry Giles competed against his former team. Giles scored a double-double with 18 points and 14 rebounds in just 25 minutes of play.
Basketball is back. Before the second game starts on Sunday, here are three storylines from the competition on Friday.
The Blazer offensive has fired the game at all cylinders. Driven by Lillard’s exploits, the Portland archers joined in on their first seven attempts from beyond the bow. It’s hard to justify buying stocks in a hot preseason quarter, but the blazer’s moves and sets seemed ready for actual competition. Enes Kanter, Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. . all of them performed admirably as screeners. Both Lillard and CJ McCollum enjoyed more space in off-ball movements.
Within the arch, the blazers showed the early framework of a praiseworthy approach for Jones in half-seat sets. They haven’t always connected, but the blueprint is there for Jones to influence the game from above. Outside of Jones, Kanter and Giles displayed their temporary chops throughout the game. Rejoice, the white black hole is gone.
Perhaps the most promising result from Friday’s result was the goal scored by the second session. Carmelo Anthony and Gary Trent Jr. . picked up where they left off in the bladder. The duo scored 39 points from the bench. If their score holds, the bank of blazers should transform from a weakness to a strength in the 2020-21 season.
One thing was clear on Friday from start to finish: the blazers have length and speed on the forecourt. Covington and Jones broke into fast lanes, blocked shots and quickly closed gaps on the defensive. Offensively, Covington made the most of his touch. The former Rockets forward is a crucial passerby and shooter. In addition to Covington, Jones put pressure on the Kings, with perfectly coordinated cuts on the edge. Warning, the blazer’s strong offense could unleash a new level of efficiency with Covington and Jones on the forecourt.
Further down on the bench, CJ Elleby took his place and held out with a difficult start on the offensive. The rookie from Washington state scored four points and four rebounds in 29 minutes.
Buckle up, the first big man off the bench competition should be interesting in Portland. Harry Giles, carried by 18 points and 14 rebounds, looks like a serious contender to secure significant minutes in coach Terry Stotts’ rotation. The former Duke Big Man felt comfortable on the offensive, fought for loose balls and played positively on the defensive. Kanter, who scored four points and eleven rebounds as a starter, experienced a less than ideal night at the end of the offensive. The big guy was trying hard to secure the ball from passes and ricochets.
As soon as Zach Collins returns, the battle for minutes behind Jusuf Nurkic will be close.
Portland Trail Blazer, Sacramento Kings, NBA, NFL Preseason
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