PORTLAND, Ore. For a sixth straight time, the Jazz had a boatload of opportunity in the fourth quarter.
For a sixth straight time, they wound up under water.
Portland beat Utah 99-91 on Friday night, handing the Jazz their fifth consecutive loss on the road and sixth in a row overall their longest losing streak since March of 2005, when the string of ineptitude reached nine before finally coming to a close.
"I felt like we had a chance to win all six of them," Jazz power forward Carlos Boozer said after a 22-point, 12-rebound double-double. "But for some reason we can't win them. Maybe we're making the wrong mistakes and not getting the right stops."
It was the Jazz's second loss this week to the 11-12 Trail Blazers, who are now riding a six-game winning streak their longest since they won eight in a row way back in the 2002-03 season.
But enough about the Blazers.
In their last five losses, the Jazz crumbled at some point or another in the final six minutes. Such was the case again Friday, when the game still was tied with three-and-a-half minutes to go.
"We had the same result, it seemed like, to try to finish the game we made mistakes, and couldn't make shots," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said. "And we took a lot of quick shots.
"I mean, we couldn't shoot the ball fast enough," added Sloan, whose 13-11 club led by 11 with seven minutes to go in the third quarter. "Our patience is like I don't know we have to jump out there and try to score right away. And, boy, that played right into their hands. Obviously we didn't offensive rebound any of those, and they got the ball and pushed it down the floor and we got mixed up a couple times changing ends."
The Jazz went into the second half up one at 54-53, and used a 12-2 run early in the third quarter featuring four points from Andrei Kirilenko, and one bucket apiece from Jarron Collins, Ronnie Brewer, Boozer and Deron Williams to get some separation.
But the Blazers got back into it with an 8-0 run of their own Utah, in fact, came up blank on seven straight possessions and the Jazz went into the final quarter up just four at 74-70.
Portland took the lead for good when 29-point game-high scorer Brandon Roy hit a short jumper and made the free throw that followed, putting the Blazers up 87-84 with 3:24 to go.
The Jazz got back to within one when Paul Millsap made two free throws with 3:13 left, but they went dry on three of their next possessions as Travis Outlaw stole an Kirilenko pass intended for Williams and converted the two resulting clear-path free throws, Brewer missed a driving layup and Boozer couldn't get a 10-foot jumper to fall.
That helped Portland outscore Utah 15-7 in the final 3:34, leaving Sloan to wonder why his team is having such a hard time lately down the stretch.
"I think everybody has a tendency, when things get kind of hectic at times, (to think they) have to do it or wants to do it," said Sloan, whose Jazz play host tonight to Seattle. "That's, I think, pretty natural. But that's where we have to use a little bit more patience and try to get the ball inside and make them play defense more than two or three seconds.
"If you don't make them play any more than that," he added, "then here they come."MISC.: Backup point guard Jason Hart attended his maternal grandfather's funeral in the Los Angeles area on Friday and did not play Friday night, but the Jazz expect him to re-join the team in time for tonight's game against the Sonics. ... With Hart out, Utah Valley State product Ronnie Price backed up Williams and had three points in seven minutes. ... With starting center Mehmet Okur (sore left shoulder) sidelined for a second straight game, backup Collins opened at center. He got the call over reserve power forward Millsap, who started in Okur's place Wednesday at Phoenix and finished with a 20-point, 13-rebound double-double there. "I figured somewhere in there we'd probably have to try to guard them off the bench a little bit more, and maybe Paul can help us there if we go a little bit smaller when they bring in Outlaw," Sloan said in explaining the decision ... HE SAID IT: Jazz rookie center Kyrylo Fesenko, asked if he flew first class on his Thursday commercial flight from Salt Lake City to Portland after getting recalled from the NBA Development League's Utah Flash: "Southwest don't have first class." Fesenko made his first showing in Friday's game, and his second career NBA appearance, late in the third quarter ... Sloan, talking about the Jazz's mood taking a five-game losing streak to Portland: "Whether you're winning or losing, there's gonna be guys snipping at each other. It seems like the nature of this business. You know, some guys like to score, they like to have the ball when they want it. If they don't get it, sometimes they're a little outspoken about it."
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