Momentum is on the Utah Jazz’s side. On a night where almost every other game on the league’s docket turned out in Utah’s favor, the most important one — their match-up against the Portland Trail Blazers — also benefited the Jazz. Utah soundly defeated the depleted Blazers, 122-91.
In the final round of the year, the game was tight through the first 12 minutes, but it was downhill from there for Portland. Utah blitzed them with sharp shooting, terrific teamwork and energetic effort. In concert with other game results, the Jazz now sit in the eighth and final Western Conference spot.
Big-time backcourt: Utah’s starting backcourt of Devin Harris and Gordon Hayward picked up right where they left off Monday against the Dallas Mavericks. Against a mix-and-match Portland guard line, Harris started out on absolute fire, scoring 14 points in the first quarter and finishing with 25 in the first half. While he only added two more points in the second half, he put the game out of reach early on. He added four assists and four rebounds.
Hayward continues his stellar play, scoring easily on a variety of smooth jumpers and sly moves to the basket. He hit 8-11 from the field en route to 23 points and four boards.
In addition to the starters, rookie Alec Burks tied a career-high 17 points. He aggressively drove to the hoops, getting several lay-ups and trips to the free throw line. In a well-rounded effort, he tallied five rebounds and five assists.
Much-needed rest: After the draining Utah-Dallas marathon, the blowout allowed Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin to sit his headliners more than usual as they continue their postseason push. Hayward played 34 minutes, but Harris (30), Al Jefferson (29) and Paul Millsap (25) watched the fourth quarter from the bench.
Treys and trifectas: After hitting 12 3-pointers their last outing, Utah continued their torrid perimeter marksmanship, connecting on 10-17 (58.8 percent) on Wednesday. Harris hit all six of his triples in the first half and Hayward hit 3-4 from downtown. Alec Burks made the final trifecta.
Conversely, Portland struggled, going just 6-20 on 3-pointers. Former Jazz guard Wesley Matthews made three of those treys.
- Al Jefferson’s free throws with 4:26 left in the third quarter stopped a streak of 135 consecutive minutes played without an attempt from the charity stripe.
- Due to various injuries, Portland was sans All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge, Raymond Felton, Jamal Crawford and Joel Przybilla. That quarter combines to provide 48.9 points, 17.7 rebounds and 12.3 assists.
- Every Blazer had a negative +/- stat with the exception of point guard Jonny Flynn, who was a wash with 0 +/-.
- Rookie center Enes Kanter had his sixth double-digit scoring game, finishing with 10 points.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.
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