Jazz 93, Trail Blazers 89, OT
Carlos Boozer wasn't trying to disparage the rest of the NBA. Utah's star was simply impressed by the resiliency of his own team.
``We fought back. A lot of teams in this league probably wouldn't have done that being down 25,'' Boozer said.
Down 25 midway through the third quarter, the Jazz crawled back to force overtime on Boozer's putback at the buzzer, then pulled away to stun Portland 93-89 on Sunday night.
Trailing 64-39 with 7 minutes left in the third quarter, Utah staged a shocking rally by outscoring the Blazers 44-19 over the final 19 minutes to send what seemed like a sure Portland win into overtime. Boozer then scored underneath with 3:05 left in OT to give Utah a 87-86 edge and its first lead since it was 9-8.
It was all part of Boozer's stellar night. He finished with 22 points and a career-best 23 rebounds - eight on the offensive end - as Utah won its seventh straight on the road.
``To be down the way we were and be able to fight back and hang in there that speaks a lot about our maturity and our ability to fight,'' Utah guard Deron Williams said.
None of Boozer's efforts were bigger than at the end of regulation. Utah had turned a laugher into a one possession game with 5 seconds left thanks to a combo of strong defense and horrid Portland shooting. The Blazers made just 4 of 27 attempts in the fourth quarter and overtime.
Inbouding at midcourt, Williams got an open look from 19 feet. The shot rimmed off, but Boozer gained position on Marcus Camby. Boozer's looping right-handed follow over Camby beat the buzzer to tie the game at 83-all.
After giving Utah it's first lead in nearly three hours, Boozer slipped an interior pass to Kyrylo Fesenko for a dunk and a three-point lead. Williams added an arching jumper over the long arms of Camby and Utah was able to hold on when Brandon Roy's 3-point attempt in the final 10 seconds rimmed off. C.J. Miles grabbed the rebound and hit one free throw to secure the win.
``I always think you have a chance to win. That's what is fun about this game,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ``You put a lot into it and you get a lot out of it.''
Williams finished with 18 points and 12 assists as Utah swept the four-game season series with Portland. But this victory could be the most impressive considering what the Jazz were missing. Mehmet Okur missed his second straight game after the birth of his child and Andrei Kirilenko left in the first half with back spasms.
And it makes this loss tougher for Portland to accept. After getting routed by Boston on Friday, the Blazers rebounded by dominating for 2 1/2 quarters, then made numerous mistakes to let the Jazz rally.
Along with the horrid shooting late, the Blazers missed four free throws in the fourth quarter, all by Roy. The Blazers All-Star finished with 23 points in his third game back after missing 12 games with a hamstring injury.
``I've always felt that if you play with this game, this game will come back and get you,'' Portland coach Nate McMillan said. ``What I mean by that is if you lose your focus and don't play the game the right way, it will come back on you.''
Portland seemed to have victory secured with a 14-1 spurt to start the second half and took its biggest lead at 25 on a LaMarcus Aldridge dunk. Utah again went more than five minutes without a basket after watching Portland run off a 17-1 spurt in the first half.
Eventually, the Jazz started chipping away and pulled within 10 after scoring the first four points of the fourth quarter.
The lead continued to diminish as Utah's bench started to produce and Portland went cold. By the time Andre Miller scored on a scoop shot in the lane with 4:54 left, the Blazers lead was down to six.
Utah closed to 82-79 on Kyle Korver's second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter. Williams made two free throws with 30 seconds left to get within 83-81 and Utah had its chance when Nicolas Batum's open 3-pointer attempt rimmed out with 7 seconds left. Williams missed, but Boozer was there to clean up.
``He's so strong. ... You can't take away from his physical gift he has out there, his knack for getting the basketball,'' Camby said of Boozer.
Miller added 17 points and Batum had 14 points for Portland, all coming in the first half.
NOTES: Boozer's previous career high in rebounds was 21, set three times, most recently against the Blazers in 2007. Camby has 25 rebounds in his two games with Portland. ... Okur could be back for Monday's game at home against Atlanta.