PORTLAND — Late in a critical game at Portland, the Jazz (37-36) displayed what they haven't all season: resiliency on the road when they most needed it, beating Portland (33-39) 105-95.
Guards: The Jazz improved to 14-14 when Mo Williams dishes five-plus assists. (They are just 2-7 otherwise.) His 24 points (on an effective 10-of-19 shooting) marked his second-highest point total of the season, topped only by a 29-point outing in a Nov. 3 loss at San Antonio.
Williams was matched, however, by super-rookie Damian Lillard, whose 24 points and seven assists Friday only strengthen his case for Rookie of the Year.
Randy Foye's 1-of-5 outing — including 0-of-3 from distance — sure put a damper on his 18-of-29 stretch the past four games. GRADE: C+
Forwards: From his own stat box, Paul Millsap (25 points on 10-of-14 shooting, 10 rebounds) played perhaps his finest game of the season. He has scored more points only once this season: a 30-point outing Nov. 12 at Toronto in which he had a few overtimes to do it. Portland's J.J. Hickson (17 points on 8-of-11 shooting, 14 rebounds), however, did keep up.
Same goes for Nicolas Batum (17 points on 4-of-6 shooting) with regards to Gordon Hayward (10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, eight assists). Hayward's assist total was his highest of the season. GRADE: B-
Centers: Al Jefferson (22 points on 11-of-21 shooting, eight rebounds, four steals) definitely had one of his finer performances of the season — especially considering that Portland's rookie center Meyers Leonard (12 points on 5-of-11 shooting and just three rebounds in 32-plus minutes) was mediocre.
The Jazz could have used 15 good minutes from Enes Kanter, out with a dislocated left shoulder suffered after jostling with Hamed Haddadi for a loose ball during the second quarter of the Jazz's win Wednesday against the Suns. It certainly provided coach Tyrone Corbin an opportunity to feature Derrick Favors (13 points, 10 rebounds, 27 minutes) more. He would have seen more time had he not fouled out. Avoiding those situations is the next step in his career. GRADE: B+
Bench: It was a night for the starters. The Jazz bench nipped the Blazers' reserves by a lowly score of 15-13, as only Alec Burks scored outside of Favors. Utah's reserves did play 19 more minutes (73-54) than their opponents, however.
It remains strange that "The Junkyard Dog" DeMarre Carroll didn't play again. Friday marked his sixth game in the last eight that he didn't play after seeing 10-plus minutes in nine straight games. GRADE: C+Comment on this story
Overall: Since the Jazz were just 10-27 on the road entering the contest, one might have expected Utah to fold late — especially after trailing by seven with just more than four minutes remaining. It's a shocker, really, that this poor road team turned momentum its way in the final moments. GRADE: B-
Rhett Wilkinson studies interesting stuff at Utah State University. Co-founder of Aggie BluePrint (USU's first student magazine) and a two-time Deseret News intern, he now interns for Deseret Book's LDS Living. firstname.lastname@example.org or @wilklogan