The Jazz had battled back to tie at 79 on a 3-pointer by Alec Burks with 8:25 left in the fourth quarter, but Utah was never able to reclaim the swagger — or, more to the point, shooting touch — that it had in the first half.
Paul Millsap scored 18 points, and was among five Jazz players to reach double figures. But each Jazz player was outshined for the second straight night by former Weber State guard Damian Lillard, who finished with 23 points and eight assists, bringing his two-game total against the Jazz to 49 points.
Portland center J.J. Hickson scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds and small forward Nicolas Batum (12 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) was one assist away from his third triple-double in two weeks.
The result also spoiled a resurgence of sorts for Marvin Williams. The Jazz’s starting small forward was 7 of 13 from the field and finished with 15 points, his highest total since Dec. 22 at Miami, when he finished with 16 points.
The result was that the Jazz squandered an opportunity to give themselves even more separation from the Blazers. They entered the game with a 2½ game lead on Portland for third place in the Northwest Division after beating the Trail Blazers 86-77 Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Asked whether any blame for the loss could be attributed to the peculiar scheduling, DeMarre Carroll said, "That’s kind of tough, but that’s what we get paid the big bucks for."
It was just the Jazz’s fourth loss in their last 14 games, a fact that was lost on few, particularly given their shortcomings in terms of personnel.
And that forced Corbin to get creative with his lineups.
On Saturday, Corbin found success with perhaps his most unconventional lineup of the season: Alec Burks, Enes Kanter, Derrick Favors, DeMarre Carroll and Paul Millsap. That group brought the Jazz back from their deficit to start the fourth quarter, going on a 10-3 run capped by Burks’ 3-pointer.
However, the Jazz weren’t the only team lacking depth in their backcourt.
After suffering ankle injuries at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday night, former Jazz guards Wesley Matthews and Ronnie Price were both held out on Saturday.
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