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Blazers Lose Second Straight, Fall to Jazz in Overtime

by Cody Sharrett

For the first time in the young 2017-18 NBA season, the Portland Trail Blazers (4-4) have lost back-to-back games as they fell to the Utah Jazz (5-3), 112-103, in overtime Wednesday night at Vivint SmartHome Arena in Salt Lake City. 

"That was a hard-fought game," said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. "I think Utah made more plays than we did at the end, which is why they won the game. When you have a six-point lead or whatever we had with two or three minutes to go you've got to make the plays to hold the lead and come out with a win. We didn't do that."

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 33 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Jusuf Nurkić scored 19 points to go with 11 rebounds, while CJ McCollum netted 16 points and 10 rebounds in the defeat. Ricky Rubio scored a team-high 30 points for the Jazz, and rookie Donovan Mitchell added 28 points for the home team. 

In a highly defensive first quarter, both teams shot 35% from the field while Utah’s five three pointers gave them the 22-20 advantage after 12 minutes. The rough shooting continued in the second quarter as the Jazz hit just two of their 18 attempts. Portland shot 6-of-19 to close the gap and go into halftime tied at 39-39.

Both sides experienced an offensive rejuvenation to start the second half with Just Nurkić’s 10 third-quarter points leading the Blazers to a 69-62 lead after three. Back-to-back threes from Mitchell and Rubio to cap a 12-3 run lifted Utah to a 74-72 advantage to begin the fourth. Though Lillard’s 13 points from a barrage of threes in the fourth had the Blazers up six, a mini-spurt capped by a Thabo Sefolosha corner three tied the game at 92 with 1:25 left. Lillard splashed a runner the following possession, while Jazz center Rudy Gobert cashed-in a pair of free throws.

The Blazers had multiple attempts in the final 30 seconds, aided by a traveling call on Rubio, but Lillard’s attempt in the final seconds was denied in the paint by Gobert. 

"They came back and hit back-to-back threes to tie the game up," said Lillard. "We still gave ourselves a chance to get the last possession, they made a good play defensively. I got past my guy and tried to get a floater up there and Gobert did what he does best."

In overtime, the Jazz came out of the gate to score on their opening two possessions to go up four, while the Blazers were shutout on their first offensive attempts. Portland couldn’t close the four-point gap in the overtime period as turnovers and a Rubio three with 30 seconds left iced the game for the home team. 

"It's tough to win an overtime game on the road," said Lillard. "We could have done a lot of things better. Our communication on the defensive end, it struggled in the second half of the game and they was able to get some open looks, a lot of miscommunications. We made too many mistakes down the stretch to take that game."

Overall, Portland shot 40% to best Utah’s 38% from the field. However the Jazz owned the shooting from deep, going 13-of-29 to top the Blazers’ 9-of-34 mark, and from the free-throw line, making 31-of-36 compared to Portland’s 20-of-27. 

The Blazers return to Portland Thursday night to host the Los Angeles Lakers at Moda Center. Utah hosts the Toronto Raptors Friday