Utah Jazz: Utah Jazz fall to Portland Trail Blazers
Portland, Ore. • It wasn't Mo Williams' thumb, Gordon Hayward's shoulder or Earl Watson's right leg, but, boy, this one hurt.
The Utah Jazz led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but squandered that lead and missed on opportunities to seize another one, falling 105-99 to the Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.
Randy Foye led the Jazz (26-22) with 23 points, but he went ice cold after making his fifth 3-pointer of the game with 6:05 left in the third quarter, putting the Jazz up 63-53. The Blazers scored the next 14 points, and closed the quarter on a 19-4 run.
Foye made his sixth 3, tying a season high, with 33.9 seconds left in the game to cut the Blazers' lead to 99-96, but by then, the damage had been done - whether you believe it was exacted by the Blazers (24-23) or self-inflicted - and the Blazers made their free throws to seal the win.
The Jazz battled back to tie the game at 79 on a 3-pointer by Alec Burks with 8:25 left in the game, but Utah was never able to reclaim the swagger - or, more to the point, shooting touch - that they had in the first half.
Paul Millsap scored 18 points, and was among five Jazz players to reach double figures. But all of them were once against outshone by former Weber State guard Damian Lillard, who fnished with 23 points and 8 assists, bringing his two-game total against the Jazz to 49 points.
Portland center J.J. Hickson finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds and small forward Nicolas Batum (12 points, 10 rebounds, 9 assists) was one assist away from his third triple-double in two weeks.
The result also spoiled a resurgence, of sorts, for Marvin Williams. The Jazz's starting small forward was 7-of-13 from the field and finished with 15 points, his highest total since Dec. 22 at Miami, when he finished with 16 points.
It was his fifth that seemed to hit an off switch on its way down. He was 5-of-7 at the time, and gave the Jazz their biggest lead of the game. But he missed his next three attempts, as he started creating his own shots, rather than catching passes in rhythm. To wit: His final made 3, the one in the third quarter that seemed so crucial, came after Al Jefferson fed an outmatched Jamaal Tinsley in the post. Tinsley, in turn, passed out of the collapsed defense to a waiting Foye.
The ultimate result was that the Jazz squandered and opportunity to give themselves even more separation from the Blazers. They entered the game with a 2 ½ game lead on Portland for third place in the Northwest Division after beating the Trail Blazers 86-77 Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Instead of using the rare home-away back-to-back to widen a gap which could prove crucial when it comes time to sort out playoff seeding, the Jazz found themselves even with a division rival.
It was just the Jazz's fourth loss in their last 14 games, a fact that was lost on few. Into their second month without Mo Williams, their second week without Hayward and into a whole new realm of uncertainty with Watson, the Jazz have risen up to each injury.
And that has forced coach Tyrone Corbin to get creative with his lineups.
On Saturday, Corbin found success with perhaps his most unconventional lineup of the season: Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap. That group brought the Jazz back from their deficit to start the fourth-quarter, going on a 10-3 run capped by Burks' 3-pointer.
Corbin likes to talk about the Jazz never wilting late in games, and on Saturday, they made a strong fourth-quarter push - except the Blazers wilted a little less.
A pair of free throws by Jamaal Tinsley cut Portland's lead to 90-87, but the visitors could then only watch as the Blazers swung the ball to the far corner and Nolan Smith buried his second 3-pointer of the game.
The Jazz weren't the only team lacking depth in their backcourt.
After suffering ankle injuries at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday night, former Jazz guards Wesley Matthews and Ronnie Price were both held out on Saturday.