Jazz blow key game with an embarrassing loss to Trail Blazers
Portland, Ore. » If only they could have flipped the calendar ahead by a day, the Jazz would have been able to excuse away everything that happened Tuesday night at the Rose Garden as an unfortunate April Fool's joke.
Instead, the Jazz were left with a 125-104 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers that was as alarming as it was unacceptable with two weeks left in the season, not to mention dropping them to seventh in the Western Conference standings.
The Trail Blazers shot 61.8 percent for the game and built a 19-point lead on the way to a 39-point first quarter. That embarrassment only led to frustration for the Jazz, with Carlos Boozer and coach Jerry Sloan both ejected in the third quarter.
"It just seemed like they wanted the game more than us," Deron Williams said. "They came out like it was an important game and we didn't."
The Jazz fell to 14-22 on the road and 3-15 in the second game of back-to-back sets. Williams said the Jazz were primed for Tuesday's loss by the 21- and 24-point leads they gave away in beating Phoenix and
New York their previous two games.
"You could kind of see it coming after those last two games," he said. "Even though we won, we disappeared in the second half. We came out tonight and we're not even ready to play."
With eight games to go, the Jazz's hopes of winning a third consecutive Northwest Division crown might have been extinguished Tuesday. They slipped 21/2 games behind Denver and a game behind Portland in the division race.
The division winner is guaranteed a top-four playoff seed and possible home-court advantage in the first round, but the Jazz played Tuesday as if content to do without. Afterward, Sloan was asked how concerned he was with such a loss late in the season.
"We played last night," Sloan said. "I think young teams sometimes have a tendency to run into those sort of things. It's just how fast they fight back."
Brandon Roy led Portland with 25 points and 11 assists while LaMarcus Aldridge had 26 points.
The last team to shoot such an astonishing percentage against the Jazz was Houston (62.7 percent) in a Feb. 2, 1995 game.
Roy ran wild in the first quarter, scoring 13 points as he got free for three-pointers and jumpers, beat the Jazz down court and flipped in a layup off a backdoor lob. Only 6:45 in, Sloan had seen enough and brought in Andrei Kirilenko for Ronnie Brewer.
"Ronnie had one foul playing a great player," Sloan said. "That's not going to cut it. He got two lobs on him right there under the basket where he wasn't even ready for the lob.
"Those are the kind of things that you learn when you're in grade school. You've got to get your body between your man and the basket and not let him have something like that."
The Jazz were so desperate that Sloan opened the second half with Matt Harpring taking C.J. Miles' place with the starters. Nothing worked, as Portland outhustled the Jazz at one end and dunked on them at the other in running away with the third quarter.
Even with the game in control, the Blazers refused to back down. Joel Przybilla was angered when Carlos Boozer flipped the ball at him on the ground after Przybilla had taken a charge and got in Boozer's face at midcourt.
Both players were hit with technicals, then ejected by Olandis Poole as they continued jawing.
Boozer was the Jazz's leading scorer, with 20 points on 10-for-12 shooting; Przybilla had one point and nine rebounds.
Boozer said he turned to walk away and didn't know where he threw the ball. He summed up the game aptly: "We didn't just lose, we got our butts kicked tonight, man. They beat us in every category. They got all the loose balls, they got all the rebounds."
Sloan watched the fourth quarter from the locker room as well. After Kyle Korver was fouled hard by Roy on the fast break, Sloan got in referee Ron Garretson's face and was ejected for the third time this season.
In short » The Jazz fall behind by 19 in the first quarter and are blown out of a critical Northwest Division game.
Key moment » Carlos Boozer and Joel Przybilla are hit with double technicals and then ejected in the third quarter.
Key stat » Portland scores 122 and 125 points in two victories over the Jazz at the Rose Garden this season.