The Jazz's evening in Portland was much like having an embarrassing dinner with a distinguished guest. All went well — except the few moments before and after you knocked juice on the floor.
Portland's 19-4 run over the final half of the third quarter did Utah in, giving the Jazz their ninth loss in the past 12 road games.
GUARDS: Jamaal Tinsley played poorly when the Jazz most needed him to succeed. He shot just 1 of 6, though his 6-2 assist-to-turnover effort was OK. Tinsley's 33 minutes were his most in six games and fourth-highest of the season, but he was clearly outplayed by rookie Damian Lillard (23 points on 9-of-17 shooting, eight assists), the former Weber State phenom.
Randy Foye is welcome to shoot even more from the outside when he makes 6 of 12 from beyond the arc. (He was just 1 of 3 closer in.) It marked the second time in six games that he made at least half of his attempts from distance after hitting the 50 percent or better mark in six straight previous contests. On all occasions, he notched at least three attempts. GRADE: C+.
FORWARDS: Collectively, Paul Millsap (18 points on 7-of-16 shooting, eight rebounds, five assists) and Marvin Williams (15 points on 7-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, two steals) were solid. So were their counterparts offensively in LaMarcus Aldridge (18 points on 8-of-18 shooting, 11 rebounds) and Nicolas Batum (12 points on 4-of-7 shooting, 10 rebounds, nine assists). They scored three and four points, respectively, less than their season averages. GRADE: C.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson (12 points on 6-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, five assists) and J.J. Hickson (21 points on 6-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds) matched up well, though Big Al has shot 42 percent or worse in four of the past seven games. Hickson continued his tear, now having shot 50 percent or better from the field for 10 straight games. He scored higher than his season points-per-game average in all but one of those contests. And perhaps Hickson's most important stat Saturday evening: he made seven free-throw attempts in a tight fourth quarter, making him 9 of 11 for the game.
Enes Kanter's 0 of 7 display in just 12 minutes was a killer. Consequently, he should have deferred those attempts to Jefferson or preferably Derrick Favors. His performance knocks this rating down a half grade. GRADE: C-.
BENCH: The Jazz reserves were edged 28-25 by the Portland bench. DeMarre Carroll was the highlight for Utah, scoring 11 points on perfect 5-of-5 shooting. Too bad he didn't play more than 15-plus minutes. Favors (nine points, seven rebounds, 21 minutes) also did a nice job, again hinting that he should see more action.
Second-year Blazer Nolan Smith was a thorn in the Jazz's side at the Rose Garden since his 13-point night on 5-of-7 shooting far exceeded the two points he averages per game. It wasn't a surprise, then, that he played 11 more minutes than he averages this season. GRADE: C-.
OVERALL: A six-minute Jazz lapse over the final six minutes of the third quarter was enough for the Blazers to capitalize. How nice it would have been to see Utah notch its eighth win in 10 games. Then again, it's quite difficult to win on the second half of back-to-back games. Jazz fans should still be encouraged that the team's recent success rate isn't going to wane tremendously. GRADE: C.
Rhett Wilkinson attends Utah State University and is the co-founder and an editor of Aggie BluePrint, USU's first student magazine. Previously an intern for the Deseret News, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter: @wilklogan
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