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NBA: Trail Blazers fizzle late in road loss to Jazz

Published January 31, 2012 8:37 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

For three quarters Monday night, the Portland Trail Blazers controlled the Utah Jazz at EnergySolutions Arena.

Using their impressive length, the Blazers frustrated Ty Corbin's team on both ends, force-feeding LaMarcus Aldridge and bottling up Jazz forward Paul Millsap.

But NBA hoops is a 48-minute affair. So after the Jazz rallied for a 93-89 win — an important Northwest division victory at that — the Blazers could only wonder what caused Utah's rally.

"It's very frustrating," Aldridge said between heavy sighs. "We definitely had control and we let it slip away. But no excuses, you know. They kept playing, and they ended up coming back and stealing one."

Portland should've had this one.

The Blazers routinely led by double figures during the first half, and the Jazz looked like they couldn't deal with Portland's long arms and the height advantage.

Aldridge had his way with Millsap during the third quarter, forcing Corbin to assign Derrick Favors and then Enes Kanter to guard the 6-foot-11 power forward. Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum repeatedly made open jumpers from the perimeter, hurting the Jazz as they attempted to double team the post.

So where did it go wrong for Portland?

Aldridge, inexplicably, became passive. Instead of continuing his offensive onslaught, Aldridge passed to teammates on the perimeter, who in turn started missing wide-open looks from 3-point range.

"I was just making the right reads," Aldridge said. "I was a little tired after the third quarter as well. I wanted to get my teammates involved."

Sensing an opening, Utah took advantage, forcing turnovers and converting at the other end. It was Portland's misfortune that Jazz forward Gordon Hayward played better in the second half, scoring 12 points after going 0-for-8 from the field in the first half.

Earl Watson took over with his tenacity. Enes Kanter took over with his rebounding and, when Millsap finally started scoring, it was too much for the Blazers.

"They were the aggressors throughout," Portland coach Nate McMillan said. "Not only on the offensive part of the floor, but on defense as well. I thought Earl Watson was really good on the ball. Kanter came in and was really good defending the post, and they were the more physical team tonight. They earned the right to win this game."

Monday night's outcome is a chief reason the Blazers are 3-8 on the road this season. They had every chance to extend the lead and make the second half a moot point.

"We just didn't get it done when we needed to," Crawford said. "I have to go back and look at the video, but we needed to play better when it counted. We should've won this game."


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