Utah Jazz dig deep hole in first half, fall to Trail Blazers 120-114
Portland, Ore. • Derrick Favors missed one dunk and didn't get above the rim on another. Randy Foye zipped a pass so hard on a 3-on-1 fast break that not even Enes Kanter and his turkey-sized hands could grab it. All the while, a familiar face was darting by, hitting 3-pointers and making life miserable for the Jazz, who were already doing a pretty dandy job of that themselves.
And somehow, the Jazz recovered nearly enough to give themselves a chance to win.
The Jazz spent most of the game facing 20-plus point deficits, but rallied in the fourth quarter before losing 120-114 to the Trail Blazers in front of an announced 19,150.
The Jazz ran into a hot-shooting bunch of Blazers, who played without All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge but did have former Weber State star Damian Lillard. Lillard finished with 21 points and eight assists, living up to every word of praise that made him the No. 6 pick in June's draft.
Portland shot better than 70 percent in the first quarter and finished the game at a 57.5 percent clip. While the Jazz had another balanced evening six players scored in double figures their efforts were essentially rendered moot by the Blazers.
"They came in they did what they had to do, took the lead up," forward Paul Millsap said. "We just couldn't recover."
The Jazz outscored Blazers 68-50 in the second half, behind a flurry of plays by Kanter, Alec Burks and the rest of the bench.
The Jazz were encouraged by the comeback bid.
"When a team's shooting that well in the first half," Al Jefferson said, "you know they're going to calm down. We start making shots and we start making shots and rebounds."
It was an exhibition game, so the things the Jazz did wrong can only fairly be greeted with as much concern as the amount of excitement allowed in response to the impressive victories.
"That's why it's preseason," Favors said. "We all experience different situations, and this time we were obviously down. But we fought back, so that was a good eye-opener for us."
In the seventh game of the exhibition season, the Jazz can only hope they got out of their system all the miscues, foibles and muck-ups that were nowhere to be found in the first six.
Blazers forward Nicolas Batum led all scorers with 27 points. Former Jazz guard Wesley Matthews added 15. Kanter led the Jazz with 18 points on 7-of-7 shooting.
As good as the Blazers were, the Jazz were clearly off from the beginning. They were whistled their first delay of game of the season after taking more than 90 seconds to report for tipoff. Still, they were not without encouraging moment in a game bruised by 49 combined turnovers.
Favors played perhaps his most complete game of the year, finishing with 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. The third-year forward who was the centerpiece of the Deron Williams trade in 2011 was ineffective offensively through the preseason. But against the Blazers missed dunks aside Favors seemed to find his stride. With 5:12 left in the game, he drove baseline on Blazers center Meyers Leonard and scored on an up-and-under move.
On another night, Kanter may have been his own story, battling for second-chance opportunities and once again showing some shooting touch just beyond the key.
It was the first time this preseason the Jazz were thoroughly outmatched in a game. In the first two weeks, they were never out of a game and recorded several encouraging victories, including two against the Lakers in Los Angeles.And while it would have taken a Herculean effort for the Jazz to earn a win, the night was salvaged from being wholly a loss.
"We were down 27 but still fought back and had a chance there," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But you can't just feel sorry for yourselves, we've got to continue to fight and work."
Storylines Jazz lose to Trail Blazers
R The Jazz fall to 4-3 in the preseason following a 120-114 loss to Portland.
• Former Weber State guard Damian Lillard records 21 points and 8 assists for the Blazers.