Just when it appeared a spirited comeback would fall short, the Jazz rallied again Monday night and defeated Portland, 93-89.
Utah trailed by 11 in the third quarter before tying the game, 70-70.
When Portland’s Nicolas Batum buried three consecutive 3-point shots, however, the Blazers regained the momentum with 9:10 remaining.
The Jazz suddenly turned the game around with a frenzied 13-0 run — the difference between a frustrating defeat and uplifting victory that left coach Tyrone Corbin with a wide smile on his face.
“Effort — our defense picked up — and we did a great job of pushing the ball up the floor,” he said. “The guys really ran the floor. ... But mostly I thought our effort on defense went up another level, which created offense for us.”
According to Corbin, the Jazz were not discouraged by Batum’s 3-pointers, which came against primary defender C.J. Miles.
Instead, a mix-and-match lineup that also included Earl Watson, Jeremy Evans, Josh Howard and Enes Kanter started the run that turned the game Utah’s direction.
“We weren’t satisfied with our defense,” Corbin said. “C.J. made a couple of mistakes, rotating off [Batum], not closing all the way out to him.
“He knows the guy is a standstill shooter — you want to make him put it on the floor. ... But C.J. wasn’t discouraged. He continued to fight and made some big plays for us.”
Miles scored three of his 15 points during the run, including the first basket on a slicing drive.
“I just kept playing,” Miles said. “Batum made a couple of shots. They set a couple of good screens on the baseline, and I got caught in the rotation.
“But I basically said, ‘I’m not going to leave him anymore.’ I stayed another step closer to him and we took away those open 3s.”
Portland helped the Jazz during the five-minute stretch by missing eight straight shots, including four 3-pointers.
“After that,” Miles said, “we were able to get up and down the floor. ... Everybody just got involved. Defensively, we were very active.”
Said Evans: “Just energy. Once you get energy like that and the crowd gets behind you, you feel like things are going to go your way.”
The most spectacular play during the run came when Evans slammed in a lob pass from Watson that trimmed Portland’s lead to 79-78.
“Earl told me a few minutes before he kind of lost the ball on one,” Evans said. “But he said he would still throw it up there for me and, when he throws it up, I’m going to go get it.”