Jazz: Perfect road trip
Portland, Ore. » As if a seven-game road winning steak, a perfect 4-0 trip and a season sweep of the Portland Trail Blazers wasn't enough, the Jazz threw in a comeback for the ages Sunday night that left the Rose Garden crowd stunned and staggered.
The Jazz refused to pack their bags even after falling behind by 25 points in the third quarter, forced overtime at the buzzer on Carlos Boozer's follow-up and went on to take a 93-89 victory, winning for the 17th time in 19 games in improbable fashion.
Boozer led with 22 points and a career-high 23 rebounds as the Jazz outscored Portland 33-16 combined in the fourth quarter and overtime. "You always have a chance if you stay with it," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said simply afterward.
The Jazz set an NBA record in overcoming a 34-point halftime deficit to beat Denver in November 1996. They trailed 64-39 with 7:08 left in the third quarter Sunday after LaMarcus Aldridge capped a 14-0 run for the Blazers with a layup.
"To be down the way we were and be able to fight back and hang in there speaks a lot about our maturity and just our ability to fight," Deron Williams said on a night the Jazz shot 39.8 percent and he went 4-for-15.
The Jazz's seven-game road winning streak equals their fourth-longest in franchise history. The last time the Jazz went 4-0 or better on a trip came Feb. 7-12, 1999 at the start of the lockout-shortened season. Yet those were mere footnotes Sunday.
In the final minute of regulation, Williams was fouled on a drive and sank two free throws with 30.2 seconds left to make it 83-81. Back on defense, the Jazz switched Williams onto Brandon Roy late, with Roy looking to drive on Williams and going nowhere.
Roy found Nicolas Batum in the corner for a three-pointer but Batum -- who had the highlight of the game in the second quarter chasing down Williams and blocking his layup bid from behind on the break -- couldn't connect with 6.9 seconds remaining.
The Jazz called timeout after Kyrylo Fesenko grabbed the rebound and put the ball in Williams' hands. Williams missed a jumper over Batum but Boozer saved the night by coming up with the rebound over Marcus Camby.
The Blazers controlled so many rebounds down the stretch that Roy managed to collect the ball after he missed two free throws with 2:43 left. Camby had two points, 18 rebounds and four blocks but not the one he needed after Williams' miss.
With his back to the basket and Camby swatting at his shot, Boozer swept the ball off the glass and in. "I didn't even see the backboard, man," Boozer said. "Honestly, I just got the rebound and tried to throw it over his hand. God kissed it in for me."
Roy opened overtime with a three-pointer but the Jazz found Fesenko, who had eight points and six rebounds, for a pair of dunks. Williams pulled up and hit a jumper with 1:54 left to make it 91-86, but the Jazz still had to survive from there.
Rudy Fernandez's three-pointer with 23.9 seconds remaining brought the Blazers within 91-89. Boozer then missed the second of two free throws with 12.3 seconds to play, giving Portland a final shot with the chance to tie.
The Blazers went to Roy out of a timeout, but the All-Star guard playing his second game back from a hamstring injury had his three-pointer over Williams rim out. Sloan credited Williams with his defense on Roy down the stretch.
"He was getting fouled a lot before I switched onto him," Williams said, "and I just wanted to try to play him as best I could without fouling him, be physical with him, make him shoot some tough shots."
The Blazers collapsed in making just 2 of 17 shots in the fourth quarter and 2 of 10 in overtime. Kyle Korver and C.J. Miles, meanwhile, opened the game 0-for-13 but hit three three-pointers in the fourth quarter as part of the Jazz comeback.
The Jazz made just 5 of 20 shots in the first quarter and trailed by 17 a minute into the second. The Blazers built their lead to 25 in the third quarter thanks to a 14-0 run that included three-point plays by Aldridge and Roy.
"It looked like a game that wasn't going to be winnable," Sloan said. "I thought the way we played, we should have been down a lot more."
IN SHORT » The Jazz overcame a 25-point deficit in the second half to take an improbable overtime victory over Portland.
Key moment » Carlos Boozer grabs the rebound from Deron Williams' missed jumper and banks in a shot at the buzzer to force overtime.
Key stat » The Blazers scored 16 points in the fourth quarter and overtime while making just 4 of 27 shots.