The Portland Trail Blazers picked up what has become a rare win last night, beating the Jazz 127-115 in Utah. It snapped a six-game losing streak and was just the Blazers’ third win in their last 10 contests.
Shaedon Sharpe and Trendon Watford both started and delivered huge performances, and Portland won by doing the exact opposite of what they’ve done for most of the season. Go figure.
Shaedon Sharpe shows off all-star potential
In just his sixth NBA start, Sharpe provided perhaps the best evidence yet that he’s an all-star, maybe even all-NBA, caliber player.
The 19-year-old finished with 24 points on 9-of-19 shooting and 4-of-7 shooting from three in 40 minutes. He added 9 rebounds and, critically, 4 steals. He showed far more than his usual highlight-reel plays.
“I did what the team needed me to do, which is to defend, lock up, score the ball and make plays for others,” Sharpe said via ESPN.
The Blazers rookie proved he deserves more minutes down the stretch – even if Portland decides it wants to win games.
Trendon Watford … shows off all-star potential?
Watford joined Sharpe in the starting lineup and was just as productive and perhaps more vital to the Blazers’ win. The second-year pro scored 21 points and had 9 rebounds, but it was his ability to keep the ball moving and find open teammates – he finished with 5 assists – that popped most.
At times, Portland just looks smoother and more cohesive on offense when Watford is on the floor. There were brief glimpses of that when the 22-year-old was forced into small-ball center minutes when Jusuf Nurkic was injured, as well.
It’s not the first time Watford has flashed this year. In his first start of the season, he put up 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting and had 5 assists in place of Nurkic. He’s scored in double figures in each of the last seven games he’s played and has finished with at least 7 rebounds in four of those, including a 12-point, 10-rebound double-double against the Boston Celtics on March 8.
Watford may not have Sharpe’s individual potential, but his potential to be a winning role player has been on display numerous times over the course of this season.
Too many turnovers, not enough bench production, not enough size, and too much dependence on Damian Lillard have been the common ingredients found in Blazers losses this year. In Utah, those ingredients led to a win.
The Blazers only turned the ball over 8 times, compared to 17 for the Jazz. Twenty-eight of their 45 made field goals were assisted.
Portland had four players score at least 20 points, with six in double figures. The bench combined to score 26 points, including 11 from Cam Reddish and 10 from Kevin Knox.
Despite Walker Kessler looming in the paint for Utah and Nurkic grabbing a grand total of four rebounds, the Jazz only held a 47-43 advantage on the glass at the end of the night.
It’s far too little far too late, but the Blazers righted most of their wrongs in Utah and left with a win.