SALT LAKE CITY – – A strong second-half defense helped the Utah Jazz open a tight game and extend their franchise-record home winning streak.
Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points to lead Utah to its 23rd straight home win, a 122-103 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.
Rudy Gobert had 18 points and 21 rebounds, Joe Ingles added 13 points and six assists and Utah dominated the glass passing Portland 58-41 while breaking a two-game skid.
âIt was a must see,â Mitchell said. “We’re sort of focusing on that, not letting three teams go to the playoffs.”
Damian Lillard scored 23 points and CJ McCollum added 19 to lead the Trail Blazers, who lost for the third time in four games.
âWe couldn’t get any stops,â Lillard said.
Utah surged up on offense in the third quarter when he erased a six-point deficit and built a double-digit lead while scoring 40 points on 57 percent shots from the field.
The defense seized the surge. The Jazz held Portland to 19 points with 32% shots in the quarter. They also had a 19-6 rebound advantage.
“Our defense was the most important thing,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “And our defensive rebound in the third quarter really opened the game.”
The Jazz went on a 25-4 streak over a six-minute period to take a 93-72 lead with 30 seconds left in the third quarter. Mitchell, Gobert and Ingles combined to make 10 free throws during that streak. Ingles and Mitchell also combined to score or assist on seven baskets in the deciding run.
âIt’s almost like we’ve gotten better throughout the game,â said Gobert. âCommunication has improved. Our aggressiveness has improved.
Portland trailed in double digits throughout the fourth quarter.
“We had a good defensive first half, obviously the third quarter was a bad offense and a bad defense, so that went with a bad quarterback,” Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Both teams struggled to generate a consistent attack in the first half. Utah shot 41% from the field and Portland shot 43%. Each team finally settled into a rhythm at the end of the second quarter.
The Jazz won 46-42 when Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets and assisted a couple more over a 2.5-minute period. Mitchell scored or assisted on 10 of Utah’s 20 baskets in the first half.
Portland responded with a 12-0 run and took a 54-46 lead just before halftime. McCollum and Lillard scored back-to-back baskets to finish the race.
Trail Blazers: Jusuf Nurkic played with a minute restriction after being absent from a game due to inflammation in his right knee. Nurkic finished with 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes. â¦ Portland dominated Utah 10-7 on fast break points.
Jazz: Jordan Clarkson did not play due to a sprained right ankle. It was the first game missed by Clarkson this season. … Derrick Favors passed Mehmet Okur for 10th place on the jazz career scorers list. Favors scored 7,527 points for Utah. He finished with seven points against Portland. â¦ Utah is now 9-1 in games with zero days off.
Utah shot 27 free throws against 18 free throw attempts for Portland. The disparity was more pronounced in the third quarter when the Jazz attempted 12 free throws compared to just three for the Trail Blazers.
Lillard, who committed a rare technical foul with 4:45 left in the fourth quarter, expressed unhappiness with the way the game was refereed. He thought the umpires were allowing Jazz to be too physical around the basket.
âThat doesn’t mean I could attack teams like I attack and teams defend me like I defend – (and) I just don’t get the whistle,â said Lillard. âI’m not a flopper. I play the game directly. It’s frustrating.”
The Jazz have improved to 29-0 this season in games where they have had a 10-0 run or better.
Trail Blazers: Host the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.
Jazz: hosts the Sacramento Kings on Saturday.