Notebook: Jazz 112, Trail Blazers 102



Posted Apr 2, 2013 12:30 AM

Andrew Aragon, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: For the first time this season, the Utah Jazz have won five straight games -- and just in time for a playoff push.

The surging Jazz defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 112-102 to pick up their fifth straight victory and pull a half-game ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers for eighth place in the Western Conference. Al Jefferson had a double-double with 24 points and 10 rebounds, while Mo Williams had 20 points, six 3-pointers and nine assists for Utah.

Wesley Matthews had 23 points and rookie Damian Lillard chipped in 17 points for the undermanned Trail Blazers, who were without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge for the third straight game. Portland has lost five straight games.

Derrick Favors came off the bench to score 18 points for Utah.

QUOTABLE: "We're just playing like we want to be in the playoffs and that's the difference. We've just got to continue to play well. We've got a long ways to go."
-- Jazz center Jefferson on what's changed for Utah. The Jazz had lost four straight games and fell two games behind the Lakers before winning five straight.

THE STAT: The Trail Blazers saw how important it is to take care of the ball and keep the Jazz off the offensive boards in a loss to Utah in Portland last Friday. But they didn't apply the lessons learned. The Trail Blazers committed 16 turnovers -- the same number in the previous meeting between the two teams -- and the Jazz turned them into 19 points. Utah also had 10 offensive rebounds, compared to just three for Portland. The turnovers and offensive rebounds helped Utah take 83 shots -- 16 more than the Trail Blazers.

TURNING POINT: After building a double-digit lead in the first quarter and having most of it erased, it took the Jazz some time to put the pesky Trail Blazers away. They finally did during a 14-3 run that was bridged by the third and fourth quarters. Williams keyed the spurt by hitting two 3-pointers late in the third quarter, and Favors provided a highlight with a powerful put-back dunk. Alec Burks capped the run with a layup following an assist from Jamaal Tinsley to put Utah ahead 93-79 with 9:47 left in the game.

HOT: Williams shot 6-for-7 from 3-point range for the Jazz. Williams took the second-most number of shots for Utah, but he still ran the offense efficiently and finished with nine assists. Favors shot 6-for-7, scoring 11 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. Paul Millsap had 16 points on 7-for-11 shooting for Utah. Portland point guard Eric Maynor, drafted by the Jazz in the first round in 2009, had a solid game off the bench with 10 points on 4-for-6 shooting and a team-high eight assists. Victor Claver scored a career-high 12 points on 4-for-5 shooting and had five rebounds for the Trail Blazers.

NOT: Matthews shot the ball well (9-for-13) and led Portland in scoring, but had just one assist and no rebounds. Utah's DeMarre Carroll has had limited playing time in recent games and looked rusty against Portland. He shot 0-for-5 and didn't score in nine minutes.

QUOTABLE II: "We've got eight games left and we understand that L.A. is a really good team with potentially four Hall of Famers playing. We've just got to take it one game at a time and understand that we control our destiny and that if we do what we have to do we won't have to worry what the Lakers are doing."
-- Jazz guard Randy Foye on his team trying to hold the Lakers off for the Western Conference's eighth seed.

GOOD MOVE: The Jazz are getting the ball to Jefferson in his sweet spots, and he's delivering. Jefferson is tough to deal with when he gets the ball in the low post, and he's on a hot streak. He's scored 20 or more points and shot better than 50 percent in four straight contests. Few players in the league can handle Jefferson one-on-one, and when he gets doubled-teamed he's been passing effectively and getting his teammates good looks at the basket. When Jefferson makes good passes, it keeps defenses honest and helps the Jazz play inside-out.

BAD MOVE: The Trail Blazers were forced to play catch-up for most of the game after an awful start. On Portland's first six possessions, it shot 0-for-3 and committed three turnovers. In the game's first nine minutes, the Trail Blazers were a mess on both offense and defense. While falling behind 25-13, Portland shot 5-for-14, committed five turnovers and forced just one turnover. Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said before the game that Portland would play with a spoiler mentality for the remainder of the season, but it didn't come out of the locker room with any intention of knocking Utah out of eighth place in the Western Conference.

NOTABLE: Aldridge missed his third straight game because of a right ankle sprain. Lillard broke the all-time NBA rookie record for 3-pointers in a season. He made three against the Jazz and has 169 this season. He entered the game sharing the record with the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry, who set the mark during the 2009-10 season. Utah has won four of its five games during its current streak by double digits. The Jazz's average margin of victory during the streak is 12 points.

UP NEXT: For the Trail Blazers, Wednesday vs. Grizzlies, Friday vs. Rockets, Sunday vs. Mavericks. For the Jazz, Wednesday vs. Nuggets, Friday vs. Hornets, Saturday @ Golden State.