Blazers’ Lillard out to regain shooting touch against Jazz

NBA
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It won’t just be the Portland Trail Blazers as a team looking for a bounce-back night at Utah on Thursday. Guard Damian Lillard also will be searching for some personal redemption.

When the Trail Blazers face the Jazz for the first time this season, Lillard will be on the hunt for his shooting touch after going 0 of 10 from 3-point range at home Monday.

The typically dependable shooter, whose average of 3.2 made 3-pointers per game was 10th in the NBA heading into play Wednesday, has scored 26.6 points per game this season but had 18 in Monday’s 102-94 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

“There’s a lot that can happen in an NBA game and some nights it just doesn’t go in,” Lillard said. “But I think I’ve been scoring and shooting the ball well in this league for long enough to know that it’s not something that I’m going to go home and stay up over.”

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak by the Blazers.

“We had a chance to run this (four-game) homestand and have a (winning) streak going into Christmas so that was disappointing,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “I don’t fault the effort. Usually, if we can hold a team to 102 and 41 percent (shooting) we feel pretty good about our chances.”

The Jazz also will enter off a defeat, falling 107-104 at Miami on Monday. That loss ended Utah’s five-game winning streak and a run of six victories in seven games.

There is no shame in losing to a Heat team that is one of the best at home in the NBA at 13-1 in their own building. The Jazz are one of the better home teams as well, going 11-3 in Salt Lake City.

Thursday’s matchup with the Trail Blazers will be the Jazz’s first home game since defeating the Orlando Magic 109-102 on Dec. 17.

“We want to set the bar high, so we need to play better,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said after Monday’s defeat. “I think we’re a team that’s improving, but that’s not enough — and I don’t think any of our guys are satisfied with that. Miami’s a really good team, obviously. We did a lot of things that we need to do to win, but we’ve got to do more.”

There were things that are going to be hard to improve on, such as Joe Ingles’ season-best 27 points. And there were 18 points and a season-best 20 rebounds from Rudy Gobert. But Donovan Mitchell had just 13 points on 5-of-18 shooting, including a 1-of-6 effort from 3-point range.

Without guard Mike Conley for eight of the past nine games because of a hamstring injury, and with Jeff Green performing under expectations, the Jazz made a roster change.

Utah waived Green on Tuesday while also acquiring guard Jordan Clarkson in a trade from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Headed to Cleveland was guard Dante Exum and two future second-round draft picks. Clarkson is averaging 14.6 points per game. Exum was scoring 2.2 points over 11 games.

–Field Level Media

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