Gobert dominant inside, Lillard struggles, Jazz rout Blazers

Utah Jazz guard Mike Conley, left, shoots as Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic defends during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, Dec. 23, 2020. (AP Photo/Steve Dipaola)

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Rudy Gobert had 20 points and 17 rebounds in a dominant season-opening performance, leading the Utah Jazz to a 120-100 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night.

Gobert controlled the inside and got plenty of support from the outside as Utah shot 19 of 50 from the 3-point line.

Mike Conley, Donovan Mitchell and Bojan Bogdanovic all made four 3-pointers and Joe Ingles and Jordan Clarkson knocked down three apiece. Mitchell also scored 20 points.

Damian Lillard was scoreless in the first half and finished with only nine points and seven assists for Portland.

Utah started quickly from outside and pushed its lead to 52-33 with 6:29 left in the first half. The Jazz led by as much as 23 before taking a 64-44 lead at halftime.

Lillard was held scoreless in a half for the first time in six seasons. Lillard broke the drought with a layup early in the third quarter. Perhaps no play summed up the night for Portland better than a 3-on-1 break that left Lillard wide open with 31 seconds left, before Lillard took a hesitation dribble and missed the 3-pointer with nobody around him.

The frustration extended to his backcourt mate CJ McCollum, who picked up a late technical foul arguing a call in the fourth quarter. McCollum led the Blazers with 23 points.

Utah’s held the Blazers to barely 40% shooting and had a 59-40 rebounding advantage. It wasn’t just Gobert, but the Jazz had four other players who grabbed at least six rebounds, including Clarkson with seven boards off the bench.

TIP-INS

Jazz: Bogdanovic played for the first time since March 9. He elected to have wrist surgery in May during the NBA’s hiatus and did not join the team in the NBA bubble. Bogdanovic, who averaged 20 points last season, finished with 15.

Blazers: Wednesday was the first game for Portland newcomers Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr. Both players are starters for the Blazers. Jones Jr. had a good night shooting the ball, hitting 3 of 5 3-pointers. Covington was 0 for 3 from the field and scoring only one point.

UP NEXT

Jazz: Hosts Minnesota on Saturday.

Trail Blazers: Host Houston on Saturday.

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