SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz look like a team with a definite mission in mind: a repeat trip to the NBA Playoffs. Using their size, athleticism and shooting to their advantage, the Jazz easily took care of the Portland Trailblazers 112-102 to capture their fifth consecutive win.
For the second time in three games, the Jazz were aggressive and sharp against division rivals the Trail Blazers. They did exactly what they needed to do to maintain their postseason push’s momentum – they took control of an inferior team sans their best player.
Utah strengthened its eighth seed standing as the season winds down, with every game becoming polarized in importance.
Formidable front court:
With All-Star forward Lamarcus Aldridge sitting out with an injury, the Portland front court had its hands full with Utah’s strong corps of big men. The trio of Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap and Derrick Favors dominated, setting the tone for Utah.
As usual Jefferson was a load on offense, punishing rookie center Meyers Leonard repeatedly with a litany of interior moves. Jefferson connected on 12-of-21 field goals en route to 24 points. He also added 10 rebounds, two blocked shots and two steals, doing all this in just 31 minutes.
Millsap added 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting. Favors also did well off the bench, hitting 6-of-7 shots for 18 points and seven rebounds.
All in all, they combined to shoot 25-of-39 shots and 58 points. Their counterparts, Leonard, J.J. Hickson and Victor Claver also shot well (12-of-19), but were overpowered by the Jazz bigs.
Odds and Ends:
- In a rare instance, Portland lost despite shooting better than the Jazz (58.2 percent compared to 54.2 percent).
- Utah recorded just six turnovers, compared to 26 assists – an impressive 4.33 assist-to-turnover ratio as a team.
- One game removed from Randy Foye’s historic 8-of-9 three-point night, teammate Mo Williams had a 6-7 night from downtown. Foye was 3-of-6. The rest of the team was 0-9.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.