The Utah Jazz started off hot and then closed strong en route to a 106-87 win over the Portland Trail Blazers Tuesday night in Salt Lake City.
The Jazz (48-30) have won four of their last five games and sit in fourth place in the Western Conference standings (one game ahead of the LA Clippers).
Utah played shorthanded (without Rodney Hood, George Hill, Derrick Favors and Raul Neto) but Gordon Hayward stepped up in a big way and carried the team on offense. Hayward was on fire from all over the court, finishing with 30 points on 12-for-20 shooting. He shot 4-for-6 from 3-point range and added four rebounds, two assists and a block in 35 minutes. It was his 12th game with at least 30 points this season.
Rudy Gobert added another double-double with 20 points and 11 rebounds in the win.
Danté Exum started at point guard and scored 10 points before leaving the game in the third quarter with a hip contusion.
CJ McCollum led the Blazers (38-40) with 25 points on 11-for-22 shooting. The Blazers are now half a game ahead of the Denver Nuggets for the Western Conference’s final playoff spot.
Gobert with a left-handed bank shot; Gobert with two free throws; Gobert with a layup; Gobert with a block; Gobert with a coast-to-coast, left-handed finger roll (with the Euro step) … and that was just in the first quarter! Just before halftime, he stuffed Portland’s Damian Lillard on one end and then sprinted down the court, grabbed an offensive rebound, and slammed home another bucket. Overall, Gobert finished with 20 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, one steal and three blocks. Portland tried to go big, and then they tried to go small—but nothing worked against the Stifle Tower.
The Jazz started strong by scoring the game’s first 11 points. Gobert banked in a hook shot; Hayward canned a three; Gobert made two free throws; Ingles juked his way to a scooping layup in traffic; and Gobert laid in an alley-oop from Boris Diaw. Portland shot 0-for-7 to start the game, and two of those misses came when McCollum got stuffed by Ingles and Gobert on the same possession. The Jazz kept things rolling through the end of the first quarter when Hayward drilled a three and then—after a Portland bucket—sprinted down the court with the ball and sank a pull-up jumper at the first-quarter buzzer. Hayward (12 points) and Gobert (10 points) scored 22 of Utah’s 24 points in the opening quarter.
The Jazz held a good-but-not-great lead until Joe Johnson drilled four 3-pointers (including one to beat the third-quarter buzzer) in a four-minute span to ignite a 16-4 Utah run midway through the second half. Jeff Withey added two buckets and Shelvin Mack bounced in a corner three to push Utah’s lead to 20.
Lillard scored 16 points but shot only 5-for-20 (25.0 percent) from the field. Exum (on the perimeter) and Gobert (at the rim) had a lot to do with the superstar’s off night. Lillard has now shot an ice-cold 20.5 percent (8-for-39) in Portland’s two trips to Salt Lake City this season.
Johnson (13 points, four 3-pointers), Mack (12 points, five assists) and Withey (10 points in 13 minutes) led the way as Utah’s reserves scored 44 points. The Blazers got 31 points from their bench.
Coach’s Quote of the Night
“There’s a number of things that are going on. One, there’s our health. Two, there’s just the confidence of playing well going into the postseason. And then there’s seeding and home court and all those things. The best thing for us to do is that the guys who are available to play will play. And the guys the aren’t need to work their tails off to get to the point where they are available. Those are the only things that we can control. Where we end up, we end up. Our goal the last couple of weeks has been to see if we can get better. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder
The Jazz have now used 22 different starting lineups this season. … Portland was coming off a 110-109 loss in Minnesota on Monday. … Utah shot 53.4 percent from the field and 56.5 percent (13-for-23) from 3-point range. … Portland shot 39.8 percent from the field and 23.1 percent (6-for-26) from 3-point range. … The Jazz owned the glass, outrebounding the Blazers 47-28. … Rookie Joel Bolomboy hit his first career 3-pointer with 1:14 left in the game. … The Jazz outscored the Blazers 50-38 in the paint.
The Jazz will stay at home for a matchup with the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday. Tipoff is set for 7 p.m. MT, and the game will be televised on ROOT SPORTS.