Utah Jazz fall to Portland Trail Blazers
By Bill Oram
The Salt Lake TribuneFirst published Feb 02 2013 11:06PM
Portland, Ore. • Paul Millsap went through his usual list of things that he felt cost the Jazz. The first one, though, caught the ears of nearby Al Jefferson.
"We did miss some layups," Jefferson said to no one in particular. "Gosh."
In the minds of the Jazz, their 105-99 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers had more to do with failing to do the little things than it did with missing their little guys.
The Jazz’s backcourt has been halved by injuries in recent weeks, and in their second game in two nights against the Trail Blazers, the Jazz were without Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward and Earl Watson.
Tyrone Corbin called the Jazz "outmanned," but his team still managed to build a 10-point lead when Randy Foye made his fifth of a season-high-tying six 3-pointers with 6:05 remaining in the third quarter.
But that teardrop 3-pointer may as well have flicked an off switch on its descent into the basket.
"They just outplayed us in the third quarter basically," Jamaal Tinsley said.
After Foye’s 3 put the Jazz up 63-53, the Blazers scored the next 14 points and closed the quarter on a 19-4 run.
The Blazers shot 64 percent in the fourth quarter and finished at a 50 percent clip for the game. And while the Jazz were outscored only 46-44 in the paint, they made just 43 percent of their attempts in the lane — the area the post-centric Jazz are expected to dominate.
The Jazz (26-22) missed four shots within 8 feet of the basket in the final 6:05 in the quarter — not an altogether bad stat until you consider that Foye, emboldened by his hot stretch, began bombing step-back and isolation 3-pointers, as well.
Foye led the Jazz with 23 points, but went ice cold during that stretch, missing three of his final four 3-point attempts in the quarter. It wasn’t until he made a 25-footer with 41 seconds left that he broke his skid.
That pulled the Jazz within 99-96, but by then, the damage was done, and the Blazers (24-23) made seven straight free throws to close the game.
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.