Aldridge has 24 to lead Blazers past Jazz 105-94

Blowing out Utah for a second time this month was not in the

cards for Portland. With the Jazz making a fourth-quarter rally,

the Blazers struggled to fight through offensive sluggishness and

escape with a win.

Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard provided the lifeline in the

final minute.

Batum drained a 3-pointer to beat the shot clock and Lillard

followed with another shot from long-range on the next possession

to lift the Blazers to a 105-94 victory over the Jazz on Monday

night.

”The ball bounced their way a few times,” Lillard said. ”We

knew it would be tough because we just played them two or three

days ago. They’re a better a team on their home floor. With us not

having the greatest offensive night, we just wanted to stay the

course and get the job done – which we were able to do.”

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 24 points and Damian Lillard added 18

to propel Portland to a bounce back win after a loss to Dallas on

Saturday snapped a four-game winning streak. Robin Lopez chipped in

15 points and 11 rebounds, and Wesley Matthews added 16 points for

the Blazers, who notched their second win over Utah in

December.

Reserve Alec Burks had 20 points for the Jazz, who dropped their

fourth game in a row. Enes Kanter added 19 points and Gordon

Hayward chipped in 17 for Utah, which trailed the entire second

half after nine ties and nine lead changes in the first half.

”I thought we were doing a better job out there,” Jazz coach

Tyrone Corbin said. ”I thought execution on the offensive end is

getting a lot better. We’re sharing the ball.”

Portland played clean basketball to build a second-half cushion

and hold off a late Jazz rally. The Blazers had 23 assists and shot

47.1 percent (40 of 85) from the floor, while committing just 11

turnovers.

Portland broke open a close game by making six straight baskets

to start the third quarter. Aldridge drained a jumper to start the

run and Matthews capped the spurt with a 3-pointer, giving Portland

a 64-51 lead at the 8:29 mark.

Kanter made a pair of baskets to shave the lead to 64-57. It

only set the stage for another Blazers run. This time, Portland

rattled off four unanswered baskets – capped by Lopez’s layup – to

extend its lead to 72-57 with 4:13 remaining in the third

quarter.

The Blazers shot a blistering 61.1 percent (11 of 18) from the

field in the third quarter. And they did it by finding holes in the

Jazz defense and attacking them with precision.

”With our offense, I want us to be opportunistic with whatever

the game gives us,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. ”If it

gives us 3s, we knock them down. If it gives us the paint, that’s

good too with LaMarcus on the block. One thing we’ve done well with

offensively is we take what the game gives us.”

Utah made another run at the Blazers midway through the fourth

quarter. Back-to-back jumpers from Hayward cut Portland’s lead to

single digits. Then, Trey Burke made a pair of free throws to bring

the Jazz within 89-82 with 5:45 remaining.

Utah cut the lead to seven several more times and pulled within

97-92 on a pair of free throws from Hayward with 1:28 left. But

then Batum and Lillard drained their consecutive 3-pointers to put

the game out of reach during the final minute.

”You play good D for like 22 or 23 seconds and they hit the

crazy shots,” Kanter said. ”It’s tough you know – that’s

basketball. You can’t think about it. We just need to learn how to

close games.”

Burke and Kanter put on a two-man show for the Jazz in the first

quarter. The duo combined for 13 of Utah’s first 15 points to help

the Jazz keep pace with the Blazers.

Portland created a small cushion late in the first half.

Trailing by one after a layup by Kanter, the Blazers scored six

straight points and took a 40-35 lead on a pair of free throws from

Aldridge. They extended the lead to 49-41 after Lopez dunked and

Aldridge scored an uncontested layup on back-to-back

possessions.

”We played sluggish tonight,” Aldridge said. ”We didn’t have

that killer (instinct) in us tonight. Guys were just tired tonight.

Every game can’t be great. I thought tonight was a good win for us

because we came here and didn’t make shots, but guys still put it

up.”

NOTES: Portland notched its first win in its last six trips to

Utah. The Trail Blazers are off to their best start since 1990-91,

when they won 27 of 30 games to open the season. Utah announced

that former coach Jerry Sloan will be honored with a banner raising

ceremony on Jan. 31. Sloan coached the team from 1988 to 2011,

recording 1,127 victories during his tenure. . Lopez had his ninth

double-double of the season. … Batum matched a season-high with

11 assists. . Burks is averaging 16.6 points per game in his last

seven games for the Jazz.