Three days after the Portland Trailblazers handily dismissed the Utah Jazz, the two teams paired off again, this time in Salt Lake City. While the game was much more closely contested this go-round, the end result was the same, with Portland securing a 105-94 victory.
After a terribly one-sided affair where the Trailblazers dominated their opponents, Utah played a much headier game and executed much better on both ends of the floor. While Portland extended its lead to 15 points, the Jazz did not back down and were in it with one minute left in the game. The Trailblazer veterans made the correct plays down the stretch and Utah simply ran out of gas.
LaMarcus Aldridge once again paced Portland with 24 points. Big man Robin Lopez was huge, both literally and figuratively, for the Trailblazers. He finished with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Enes Kanter appeared much more energetic than he has the past several games, and he led Utah with 19 points.
Three-point daggers: After a historic 74 percent 3-point shooting outing Friday, the Trailblazers came back down to earth from beyond the arc. Yet it was a pair of late treys that sealed a hard-fought win over a scrappy Utah squad. With the Portland advantage sitting at a precarious five points, forward Nicholas Batum connected on a long 3-pointer as the shot clock expired. Weber State product Damian Lillard followed that with a trifecta of his own.
The Trailblazers finished with a very pedestrian 6 of 19 3-point shooting performance, but they made them when they were most needed.
Burks growing: Alec Burks continues to show improvement each passing game. Versus the Trailblazers, he hit 8 of 11 from the floor and sank all four free-throw attempts en route to a 20-point evening. He was confident and aggressive, taking the ball to the hoop often and finishing in the lane. His play off the bench has been a much-needed spark.
Despite his efficient shooting, Burks came out of the game with 8:44 remaining and did not return until there were just 21 seconds left.
This and that:
• Center Andris Biedrins was the first player off the bench for Utah and garnered seven rebounds in just 13 minutes. Rookie Rudy Gobert did not play.
• Batum had more assists (11) and rebounds (8) than points (7).
• Beyond Burks, the rest of the Jazz’s bench combined to shoot 1 of 8 from the floor.
• Portland forward Thomas Robinson, now on his third team in one year, was extremely active blocking shots and helping the rebounding battle.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also writes for Salt City Hoops. He can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.