Jazz get past Lillard, Blazers
The Jazz probably wouldn't mind going a very long time without playing another game against Portland rookie Damian Lillard.
They'll get less than 24 hours, so it's good that the Jazz had so much success against the rest of the Trail Blazers on Friday night.
In Lillard's first regular-season appearance in Utah since being drafted No. 6 overall out of Weber State, the Jazz (26-21) rolled to an 86-77 victory in a game they didn't trail after the first quarter.
"I think we pretty much controlled the whole game," center Al Jefferson said. "They made a little run. We knew Portland was going to do that. I think we responded well."
Jefferson led the Jazz with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Paul Millsap added 15 points, and Derrick Favors scored 7 points and grabbed 12 rebounds. It was Favors' fifth game this season with double-digit boards but his first since Nov. 23.
The Jazz play at Portland (23-23) on Saturday night in their second home-road back-to-back against the same team this season. The Blazers were the only Western Conference team the Jazz had not played this season.
Lillard, who was named Friday the Western Conference's Rookie of the Month for the third straight month, scored 26 points on 10-of-23 shooting. However, 22 of those points came after halftime when the Jazz already led 51-36.
"He's an explosive scorer for these guys," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "He attacked us down the lane in the pick and roll situation. Got to do a better job of staying between he and the basket, making him make shots over the top. He's a capable 3-point shooter."
Outside of Lillard, however, Portland struggled to find scorers. All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 points and center J.J. Hickson added 11. But the Jazz bench outscored the Blazers' 28-10.
"You got to make [Aldridge and Hickson] play on both ends," Jefferson said, "and that's what I think that's what we did. We put the pressure on them, got in foul trouble a little bit, frustrated maybe a little bit. We just had to adjust to their offense."
The Jazz outscored Portland 46-36 in the paint and outrebounded the Blazers 47-40.
It wasn't one of the Jazz's best-shooting performances: They were just 43.2 percent from the floor. However, the Blazers were worse, shooting 36 percent.
The Jazz prevailed in a physical game that saw four players leave the court clutching a muscle or a joint. The Blazers lost their two former Jazz players, Ronnie Price and Wesley Matthews, to ankle injuries. Jazz backup point guard Earl Watson was limited to 12 minutes after injuring his right calf.
While the Jazz traveled to Portland Friday night, Watson stayed behind to have an MRI on Saturday morning. He was scheduled to fly to Portland following the test.
It would be just another blow for the Jazz backcourt, which is already getting by without Mo Williams and Gordon Hayward.
In the fourth quarter the Jazz went to a backcourt of Alec Burks and Randy Foye, a look that at times has yielded positive results. Foye, one of the NBA's top 3-point shooters, finished with 14 points but was just 3-for-11 on 3-pointers.
Portland cut the Jazz's lead to 80-75 on a 3 by Lillard with 3:57 left in the game, but the Trail Blazers failed to capitalize on consecutive misses by the Jazz.
Lillard missed another 3-point attempt and small forward Nicolas Batum missed a driving layup.
The focus for the Jazz now, becomes avoiding a second-night letdown against a team it so clearly dominated Friday.
Foye was asked following the victory if the Jazz would continue to run a focused effort through Jefferson and Millsap a recipe that has been effective in consecutive victories.
"Why not?" Foye said. "That's my question. Why not?"
Jazz 86, Trail Blazers 77
O Al Jefferson leads the Jazz with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
MORE COVERAGE • Portland guard and ex-Weber State star Damian Lillard doesn't disappoint in his regular-season return to Utah. > D7
Jazz at Trail Blazers
O At the Rose Garden (Portland, Ore.)
Tipoff • Saturday, 8 p.m.
TV • ROOT Sports
Radio • 1280 AM, 97.5 FM
Records • Jazz 26-21, Portland 23-23
Season series • Jazz, 1-0
Last meeting • Jazz, 86-77 (Friday)
About the Jazz • They have won nine of their last 12. ... They have beaten Portland five straight times, going back to last season. ... They are 20-6 when holding opponents under 100 points, but they allow an average of 101 points on the road this season.
About the Trail Blazers • They scored only 23 points in the first 17 minutes of Friday night's 86-77 loss at Utah. ... Their non-starters scored 10 points on 4-for-18 shooting during the defeat. ... F LaMarcus Aldridge has 22 double-doubles this season after scoring 16 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.