Blazers scorch cranky Jazz

Published: Monday, March 8 2004 1:15 p.m. MST

Raja Bell's frustration boiled over with just less than five minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Coach Jerry Sloan's followed postgame, when he scorched center Greg Ostertag.

The Jazz, though, were cooked long before all that.

Portland beat Utah 91-70 Saturday night at the Rose Garden, sending the 31-32 Jazz home for Monday night's game against the Los Angeles Lakers with temperatures flaring but playoff hopes fading fast.

"The aggressiveness," Jazz point guard Carlos Arroyo said, "was there for them — and, for us, I don't think we had it."

But the Jazz did have plenty of frustration.

The Blazers were up 81-62 when Bell lost his cool, leading to his ejection and a tantrum-throwing exhibition.

Bell was upset over a play that started with his turnover.

The Jazz swingman took a tackle-like swipe at Blazer Shareef Abdur-Rahim in a chasedown, and in turn Bell was pushed down as Portland's Ruben Patterson and Zach Randolph both rushed in.

That resulted in technical fouls for Abdur-Rahim and Patterson, and a type-2 flagrant with ejection for Bell.

"Raja looked like he fouled (Abdur-Rahim) pretty hard, which is what you've got to do in that situation after he'd gotten knocked down by the guy, then thrown across the baseline on the other end of the floor — just to let him know, 'I'm not afraid of you,' " Sloan said. "Then . . . I thought there was three guys (who) went after him: (Patterson, Randolph and Abdur-Rahim).

"I don't know if I'm right or not," added Sloan, who did not feel Bell should have been ejected for an open-court foul. "But that's what appeared to me happened."

On his way out, Bell sent a message stand and a cloth-covered railing to the floor in a Rose Garden hallway leading to the Jazz lockerroom.

"It's (expletive)," he said after exiting the lockerroom later. "You can print that in the . . . paper."

Not that any of it really mattered at that point.

The Jazz, who failed to take advantage of Denver's Saturday-loss to Detroit in the race for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff position, were out of this one from the start.

Portland, 30-32 and also fighting for the West's final playoff spot, opened with a blaze, jumping to a 30-18 opening-quarter lead behind 72.2 percent (13-of-18) field shooting.

At one point late in the first, the Blazers were up by 16, 28-12.

Looking for a way — some way, any way — for the Jazz to start the second half better than the first, Sloan changed things up.

He started the third quarter with Bell in at shooting guard over rookie Sasha Pavlovic, who was having a hard time with veteran Derek Anderson (six assists, five points and four rebounds at halftime), and ex-starter Michael Ruffin back at power forward over vet Tom Gugliotta, who had a tough time with youngster Zach Randolph (11 points before the break).

"I thought Raja was playing a lot harder," Sloan said of the Bell-for-Pavlovic switch. "We needed somebody who was gonna compete, not just shake their head if something went wrong."

The changes, though, didn't do the Jazz much good.

Anderson pushed his point total to 11 by the end of the third quarter, and pulled down three more boards in the period. Randolph kicked his scoring to 19 en route to a game-high 23. And Portland increased its half eight-point advantage to 15 at 71-56 going into the fourth.

Jazz All-Star Andrei Kirilenko, meanwhile, struggled to 10 points after 1-of-11 first-half shooting.

Kirilenko, though, wasn't Sloan's biggest headache.

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