The same malady that affected the Phoenix Suns in the first round of the playoffs against the Jazz - lousy shooting - struck the Portland Trailblazers in Saturday afternoon's NBA playoff game.
After two games above 50 percent in Oregon, the Blazers managed only 37.8 shooting from the field, which happens to be their season average from 3-point range. In the third quarter, when the Jazz took control of the game, the Blazers were a horrific 20 percent on 4-of-20 shooting.With Game 4 set for today at 6 p.m., the Jazz are hoping the Blazers stay as cold as the Suns were in their two Salt Palace appearances last week.
Poor shooting, however, wasn't the only excuse for the Blazers afterward. For the second straight game, they were soundly outrebounded by the Jazz, this time by a 56 to 46 margin.
"We didn't play well offensively," said Portland Coach Rick Adelman. "We missed a lot of shots and they got more rebounds. That shouldn't happen. We didn't move the ball as well as we're capable and we didn't move their people around. If we play well offensively, we'll be OK."
The Blazers, who are known for their offensive spurts, could blame two awful offensive streaks which ended up costing them the game.
The first came midway through the second period when they scored just one basket in a stretch of seven minutes and nine seconds. During that time, the Jazz went from 3 up to 14 ahead.
Then in a six-minute stretch late in the third and early in the fourth quarter, the Blazers missed eight straight shots and went from 3 down to 12 behind.
"(Our shooting) really cost us throughout the whole game," said Clyde Drexler, who was a miserable 5 for 17 from the field.
One Portland player immune from the sour shooting was Terry Porter, who scored 28 points on 10 of 16 from the field. He said tempo was the key to the game.
"In games 1 and 2, we played our kind of tempo and won. Today they played their kind of tempo and they won," said Porter, while stretched out on a training table with ice taped to his left thigh, right knee and both ankles. "Most of it had to do with them outrebounding us because it stopped us from getting our fast break. That's going to be key to the series."
During the regular season, the Blazers were the second best rebounding team in the NBA, compared to the Jazz's No. 22 standing. So why have the Jazz outboarded the Blazers by 25 the past two games?
"We're shooting a lot more shots and when you shoot that many shots and miss, that's a lot of opportunities on the glass," said Portland's top rebounder Buck Williams. But why are the Jazz getting most of the rebounds? "We're not using our quickness," said Williams. "When we get into a halfcourt set, we play right into their hands."
Portland center Kevin Duckworth who only had 5 rebounds in 33 minutes, after getting 2 in Game 2, wouldn't comment, claiming his throat was too sore for him to talk. "I don't feel too good," he said, when asked about the rebounding situation.
With the Jazz seemingly having the momentum on their side, following Thursday's comeback near-win and Saturday's victory, the Blazers aren't panicking.
"It's a good indication for us that even though we played poorly, they barely beat us today," said Williams. "We didn't shoot well and they manhandled us on the glass and they still only beat us by six points. That's a good sign. If we can come in and do a better job on the glass, we'll win."
"We have a deeper team, so hopefully that will work to our advantage tomorrow," said Drexler.
Adelman added, "We were hoping to win at least one game here and we still have one more shot. We're going to go out and try to get it tomorrow."