A night after being demolished by Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors, the Trail Blazers traveled to Salt Lake City looking to halt their losing streak at five games. The last time these two teams met, the Jazz managed to hold the Blazers to just 76 points, and came away with an easy win as a result of their suffocating defense. Early on in this game, it looked as if this contest was going to go the same way. The game started off at a similar pace, but fortunately for the Blazers, the final result was different.
In the first quarter, the Blazers scored a season-low 12 points while shooting just 26% from the field. LaMarcus Aldridge didn’t make a shot and there wasn’t a single Blazer with more than four points. Portland simply couldn’t make a shot and with the way that they’ve been playing lately, it wasn’t surprising.
The second quarter was a different story. The Blazers started the quarter with an 11-4 run, and finally drew even at 27 at the 6:25 mark. Portland still wasn’t shooting particularly well, but it was a whole lot better than the dumpster fire that ensued in the first. By the end of the half, the Blazers were shooting 40% from the field, 25% from three, and had a measly 37 points. Despite all of that, Utah’s lead was just two at the break.
The two teams picked up where they left off after the break, and we had a fairly even, back-and-forth game for a large part of the third quarter. At the 4:40 mark things completely fell apart for the Blazers. In that last 4:25 of the quarter, the Blazers shot 1-of-4 with three points and five turnovers, while the Jazz shot 7-of-10 with 15 points and no turnovers. All of a sudden the Utah lead had grown to 10 at the end of three quarters.
In the fourth (as the Blazers we know and love often do), Portland stepped on the gas as they attempted to come back from 10 down. The Blazers trailed 86-82 at the two minute mark of the quarter, but LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard combined for 9 points down the stretch, taking a lead that would ultimately hold up. Derrick Favors missed a three-pointer at the buzzer that would have sent the game to overtime and the Blazers managed to escape Salt Lake City with a 92-89 win that ended their painful five-game losing streak.
Damian Lillard led the way for the Trail Blazers, finishing with 23 points (13 of which came in the fourth quarter), 12 assists and eight rebounds. LaMarcus Aldridge’s first field goal didn’t come until the four minute mark in the second quarter, but he still managed to score 19 points and grab nine boards, including a few very important ones down the stretch.
With the win, the Trail Blazers move to 45-25 on the season and now hold a five-game lead in the Northwest Division after OKC’s loss to San Antonio.
- Shooting percentage: Portland 42% — Utah 44%
- Three point percentage: Portland 26% — Utah 25%
- Free throws: Portland 17-20 — Utah 15-23
- Rebounds: Portland 45 — Utah 43
- Assists: Portland 19 — Utah 12
- Points in the paint: Portland 42 — Utah 40
- Fast break points: Portland 21 — Utah 6
- Bench points: Portland 31 — Utah 17
- Damian Lillard’s 12 assists match a career high.
- Dorrell Wright’s 15 points match a season high.
- Portland now has a winning record (17-16) when trailing at halftime.
- Damian Lillard now leads the league in fourth quarter points with 401. LeBron James is second with 380.
- The Blazers scored as many points in the fourth quarter (37) as they did in the entire first half.
- Damian Lillard is the first Blazer with 23 or more points, 8 or more rebounds, and 12 or more assists in a game since Rod Strickland in 1996.
With the losing streak behind us, it’s time to look towards starting a new winning streak. With the somewhat weak upcoming schedule, the Trail Blazers certainly have a chance to do that if they play to the best of their abilities. The Blazers have tomorrow off before facing the Suns in Phoenix on Friday night.
Also Lillard dunkin’: