Utah Jazz postgame wrap — Big Turkey's a defensive stopper, Watson wants playoffs
Jazz guard Jamaal Tinsley was still dressing when his chant began.
"Defensive stopper, down there."
"Defensive stopper, Big Turkey."
"Defensive stopper, down there."
"Great job, Big Turkey."
Utah center Enes Kanter shot just 1 of 8 and only recorded three points Monday during a 93-89 home win against Portland. But he collected eight rebounds — five offensive — and helped shut down Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge during a decisive fourth quarter. Aldridge was gold in the third, hitting 6 of 8 shots and extending Portland's lead to 63-52. In the fourth, L.A. was silent. He hit just 1 of 4 shots as he wore down, Portland only scored 19 points, and the Jazz used a thrilling 13-0 run to take control.
Kanter on wearing down Aldridge: I'm just trying to do my job. Coach Ty just said just go out there and fight and just [get] every rebound, touch every rebound, go guard him. And I'm just trying to do my job and do what coach tells me to do.
Learning how to play tough and use his body: It's just natural. That was my game even when I was little.
Using defense to set up transition points: When I get the rebound, I'm passing the ball. When they score, I'm just [happy]. Derrick [Favors} did a great job, Paul [Millsap] did a great job and Jeremy [Evans] did a great job. It feels great.
Understanding how he can make a difference on the court: I'm still trying to figure out my game. Everything is going to be so much better.
Earl Watson on the importance of the win: This is an amazing week for us. Playing Portland, Portland's a tough team. And they're a team, they're going to come out, they're going to fight you. They're going to grind it out. They're going to play aggressive. They feel like they're the toughest team in the NBA and that's like their edge, it's their angle. A lot of times they say, teams like that, you match their energy. I'm the opposite: make them match our energy and just keep pushing and pushing and pushing. And we got the W.
What changed during second half: We realized what we're playing for. We're playing for the playoffs. This is not just another game. This is not a preseason game. This is not another game. We all know in this league, after January the season fly by. So this game was monumental, it was epic, it was big for us to get some space.
C.J. Miles on the Jazz outhustling and outfighting opponents: We're tough. I think people look at a young team and don't expect us to be that way. I don't believe in that youth thing. I believe we have the talent, so we should be able to win games. Being young has nothing to do with the way we work. We come in and we play hard and we can beat anybody.
Five Utah players hit double-figures in scoring, led by Paul Millsap's 19 points and 15 rebounds.
Millsap might not make the All-Star team. But he again proved Monday he's one of the top power forwards in the Western Conference by outplaying Aldridge and again putting Utah on his back.
With Al Jefferson and Raja Bell out, everyone from Josh Howard and Favors to Evans and Devin Harris made significant contributions.
The first half was one of the Jazz's worst performances of the season. But Utah outscored Portland 24-11 overall in second-chance points and 20-8 in the fast break, while an 18-5 advantage in offensive rebounds said everything about the Jazz's second-half resurgence.
Howard, Miles and Gordon Hayward had off nights from the field, only shooting a combined 13 of 40. But each played key roles in Utah's comeback, while Harris scored nine points during a third quarter that saw the Jazz outscore the Blazers 30-25 and erase an 11-point deficit.
Portland should have been up by at least 20 at halftime. Instead, the Blazers settled and let up. They only took 13 foul shots, while 25 percent (20 of 80) of their field goal attempts were 3s.
Aldridge and Wallace combined to play 78:56.
Little production from Marcus Camby (six points, five rebounds) and even less from Wesley Matthews (six points, 3 of 12).
Brian T. Smith
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