The Rundown: Jazz, Blazers off to 3-0 start

Published October 24, 2022, 3:00 PMMiguel Flores

The Jazz and Trail Blazers are the only undefeated teams in the West after three games.


Trail Blazers 106, Lakers 104

Hornets 126, Hawks 109

Cavaliers 117, Wizards 107

Jazz 122, Pelicans 121

Timberwolves 116, Thunder 106

Warriors 130, Kings 105

Suns 112, Clippers 95

What went down

The Utah Jazz were supposed to be horrid. After trading away franchise cornerstones Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert for young, unproven players and draft picks, there wasn't much hope for the Jazz to contend for anything this season. They were supposed to be the poster franchise for the Victor Wembanyama tank-a-thon.

For now, the Jazz are 3-0. After taking down the rejuvenated New Orleans Pelicans in overtime earlier today, Utah looks like a deep team that doesn’t rely on a single superstar to churn out a win.

The Pelicans seemingly had the game in the bag when CJ McCollum drilled his signature one-legged looper to put them in the lead with eight seconds left. But the Jazz, more specifically Kelly Olynyk, had other plans. When both hand-off options went awry, Olynyk took matters into his own hands in the game-winning play.

Olynyk finished with 20 points. Though there isn’t a bona fide star on their roster, the Jazz do have Lauri Markkanen. Spending his first five seasons as a fourth or fifth option on the Chicago Bulls and Cleveland Cavaliers, Markkanen has been thriving as the Jazz’s lead man, so far. He had 31 points on 9-for-17 shooting with 12 rebounds against New Orleans. For the season, the Finnisher is averaging 24.0 points on 52 percent shooting with 9.7 boards.

Is Markkanen’s brilliance sustainable? What are the chances the Jazz keep this up? At least Jazz fans can look back on this delightful start when they’re either trying to get Wembanyama or into the playoffs.

Further out West, it was Dame Time for the Portland Trail Blazers and panic time for the Los Angeles Lakers. Thanks to another big game from Damian Lillard (more on him later) and heroics from Jerami Grant, the Blazers escaped Los Angeles with a 3-0 record.

The Lakers, on the other hand, are in dire straits. They’re shooting 21 percent from deep and have looked static on offense. Despite a marvelous start for LeBron James this season, the Lakers are 0-3.

Big-time baller

Damian Lillard is doing everything he can to put his subpar performance last season behind him. He’s doing this by dropping 40 bombs on a nightly basis.

He dropped 41 on Phoenix two days ago then followed it up with 41 more on Los Angeles today. There are few shows more fun to watch than when Dame Time is ticking like this.

What he said

LeBron James has stated several times before that the Lakers really can’t shoot the ball to save their lives. They just don’t have the personnel for it.

That hasn’t kept the media from asking about it again so LeBron’s had to get more creative with how he describes their ineptitude from long range.

Did you see that?

It wasn’t quite Rudy Hatfield, but Robin Lopez got a nifty shot to go in as he was falling to the ground.

And we got some good news on Dikembe Mutombo's condition from his former Georgetown teammate Alonzo Mourning.

More than a week ago, news broke that Mutombo was set to undergo treatment for a brain tumor. The 56-year-old Hall of Famer has long been a staunch advocate of the NBA in Africa among other philanthropic endeavors.