PORTLAND — Paul Millsap led the Jazz (28-25) to a an inconsistent but comeback-themed 102-97 win over Portland (25-29) Monday night in Oregon. Former Jazz swingman Wesley Matthews scored 33 points to lead the Blazers.
Guards: Devin Harris provided nine points and four assists in nearly 14 minutes, but Earl Watson's 0-of-5 effort in less than 17 mintes wasn't much worse than Jamaal Tinsley's 1-of-4 shooting in 18. However, Tinsley provided six dimes. Hayward's 20 points (on 6-of-12 shooting) in 40 minutes didn't quite match the 33 that Wesley Matthews scored in the same amount of time. At least Portland's Raymond Felton shot 2-of-10, though he offset that with nine rebounds and eight assists. GRADE: C+
Forwards: C.J. Miles may have started, but he played just seven minutes, his lowest total since a four-minute contest at Golden State on Jan. 7. It was Derrick Favors who played starter's minutes, logging 35 while notching a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds. Millsap gave one of his finest performances of the season with 31 points on 14-of-20 shooting and 11 rebounds, though his Portland counterpart LaMarcus Aldridge scored 27 points on 11-of-22 shooting. Millsap tied his high point total for the season. GRADE: B+
Centers: With Millsap doing so much of the offensive damage inside, Al Jefferson took a back seat with 13 points, shooting just 6-of-17. However, with 10 rebounds, he far out-played Joel Przybilla, who went scoreless with three rebounds in 22 minutes. Jefferson's point total was his lowest since a March 15 win over Minnesota, 10 games ago. GRADE: C
Bench: The Utah bench outscored the Portland reserves 25-17 on poor overall play from both sides, led by Favors' 11. No one else scored more than six (Alec Burks, on 2-of-8 shooting). The Blazers' leading bench man for the game, J.J. Hickson, shot just 2-of-8 and had problems with Millsap and Favors, who shot 5-of-7. It was a refreshing bounce back offensively for Favors, who shot just 6-of-32 in the previous four games. Overall, Utah's bench shot just 10-of-26 from the field, though the Blazers were worse at 6-of-19. GRADE: C-Comment on this story
Overall: Millsap, Hayward and Favors gave the Jazz enough firepower to carry the rest of the club. Outside of those three, Utah shot just 16-of-45 (35.6 percent). Outside shooting remained a problem, as the team shot just 4-of-15 from 3-point land. They remained poor from the perimeter defensively, allowing Portland to shoot 12-of-22. Give the Jazz credit, however, for a road win after rallying from a double-digit deficit after the first quarter. The second and third periods couldn't have been much better. GRADE: C+
Rhett Wilkinson majoring in communications and political science at Utah State University. He has previously been an intern for the Deseret News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at Twitter: wilklogan