The Utah Jazz lost both games of a two-game series with the Portland Trail Blazers in the second week of preseason play and continues to trim down its roster to prepare for regular season play.
Two lead changes on each side occurred late in the fourth quarter, but the Jazz couldn’t hold on and lost 88-81 to the Trail Blazers on Monday, Oct. 12 in Portland. The entire team had an off-night, making only 31.2 percent of its shots and 22.7 percent from the 3-point range. Gordon Hayward was 3-for-15 and Derrick Favors was 2-for-11 and had 10 rebounds. Alec Burks led the Jazz with 19 points.
“It seemed like everyone was a little tight for some reason,” forward Trevor Booker said. “We haven’t been practicing much before that.”
Trail Blazer C.J. McCollum received a flagrant 2 foul and was ejected from the game for wrapping his arm around Hayward’s neck as Hayward went up for a layup. According to the Jazz’s medical update, Hayward suffered a lower back contusion and did not play in the team’s open practice on Friday, Oct. 16.
Snyder said in a post-practice interview that Hayward was fine, but sore. He also said the guys have been going hard in practice and “gutting through it,” much like they do in training camp.
“I want our team to be not just healthy, but good legs and fresh and I don’t think we’re that right now,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said.
The Jazz lost again to the Trail Blazers 116-111 less than a week later, but this time at home in overtime. Hayward, Favors and Gobert did not play, so the Jazz utilized a variety of other players.
Trey Burke scored 22 points and Jeff Withey had 11 rebounds and four blocks. Trey Lyles, Raul Neto, Booker and Burks had three assists a piece. The Jazz starters shot 51 percent and were six-for-nine in 3-point shots.
“If you don’t execute, it doesn’t matter how many good plays you have,” Snyder said in an interview following the team’s open practice on Friday, Oct. 16.
Trail Blazer Damian Lillard did not play in the first game of the series due to an ankle injury, but scored 32 points in the overtime win.
The Jazz has trimmed its roster down to 17 players. NBA regulations state a team can have up to 15 players under contract on its roster. The Jazz waived J.J. O’Brien, Jack Cooley and Grant Jerrett. Cooley was traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Jazz exercised team options for the 2016-2017 season with Dante Exum, Rodney Hood, Trey Burke and Rudy Gobert this week. Exercising the team option means the Jazz determine what happens to the player during the stated year. If the Jazz exercises player options, then the player can decide whether to stay with his original contract or become a free agent and seek another team.
The Jazz will return home to play both the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, Oct. 20 and the Denver Nuggets on Thursday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m. (MDT). The games will be televised on Root Sports and the radio broadcast can be found on The Zone Sports Network (97.5 FM and 1280 AM) and the Utah Jazz mobile app.