PORTLAND, Ore. — Know that shooting slump C.J. Miles struggled through the past couple of weeks?
Yeah, it officially ended in a big way Saturday night.
If that wasn't clear after he drilled back-to-back 3-pointers in the first half against Portland, you might have had a clue his cold spell was over after he fired in a couple more long bombs in the third quarter.
After a sizzling fourth, the bottom of the snapping visitors' nets were simply calling out for mercy. That sympathy plea sounded like this: Swish, swish, swish, swish and swish.
By the time Miles was done tickling the twine and torturing the crowd, the Jazz's sixth man had drained a career-best seven 3-pointers, scored a season-high 25 points and shot his team to a 103-94 victory.
"He bailed us out big-time," Jazz point guard Deron Williams said. "He shot it and shot it well, especially when it counted."
Miles' five fourth-quarter treys helped spark Utah to yet another double-digit come-from-behind win on the road — the Jazz's sixth of that sort this season, if you're counting.
Struggling to get going a night after a lackluster loss to San Antonio in Utah, the Jazz fell behind the Trail Blazers by 11 in the second quarter.
But Utah closed that gap to three by halftime, and showed renewed signs of life.
Road, sweet road. Go figure.
"We were hanging in there," said Jazz fill-in coach Phil Johnson, who again subbed for a funeral-attending Jerry Sloan. "At halftime, I felt like we had a chance if we just played strong."
The Jazz saved their best for the final quarter, which is their specialty this season. The Blazers entered the fourth with a nine-point lead after a bizarre turn of events, which included Jazz assistant trainer Brian Zettler getting called for a technical, one of Miles' rare misses ending up resting on top of the backboard and Miles missing a dunk.
But it was all Jazz after that.
Utah surged to an 82-80 lead thanks to a quarter-opening 17-6 run, which included two of Miles' threes.
And he was just getting warmed up on his 7-for-10 3-point shooting night.
This coming from Miles, who missed 12 straight from long distance over three games earlier this season and who had only hit 4 of his last 29 from beyond the arc.
"It was tremendous. … He's a good shooter," Johnson said of Miles, who didn't practice earlier this week because of a sore lower back. "He's actually struggled this year. He's had some injuries and he's been banged up, but he came out strong and got after it."
Did he ever.
It helped that Miles felt like he was shooting through a hula-hoop after an early dunk and those first treys gave him a shot in the arm.
"The basket started to look big," Miles said. " It just started opening up."
Miles wasn't the only thorn inside the Rose Garden in this barnburner.
Backup point guard Earl Watson scored zero points but gave a gutsy effort in spearheading the fourth-quarter charge. Ronnie Price had five points and provided five times that much energy.
Center Al Jefferson, who was almost nonexistent in Friday's loss, bounced back nicely with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
Paul Millsap added 15 points, Andrei Kirilenko had 13 points and Williams contributed a double-double of 12 points and 11 assists.
"We had a tough loss last night and they accepted the challenge and came out," Johnson said, referring to the 94-82 clunker against the Spurs. "(Miles) shot the ball, a lot of guys really contributed. Al played tremendous tonight, coming back after a tough night last night."
And Johnson really appreciated the effort by Watson, who played much of the fourth quarter and had six assists, two steals and two rebounds.
"Earl Watson didn't score a point, played very well," Johnson said. "It's amazing how this game is. He defended, got us in our offense … a lot of guys contributed."
LaMarcus Aldridge ended up with 24 points for Portland, which got outscored 38-20 in the fourth quarter. Former Jazzman Wesley Matthews had 16 points on 6-for-16 shooting.
But, like so many other teams around the country have felt, they were left wondering what had happened and how they'd lost a double-digit lead to the 9-5 Jazz.
How does Utah do it?
"We get down, that's why," Johnson quipped. "It's either that or lose, you have your option. I said this all the time: We're a work in progress. We've got new guys. We have to bring them into the way we play basketball. It's going to be a long haul for some of the guys."21 comments on this story
Especially teams they play on the road.
And especially if Miles continues to shoot like this.