SALT LAKE CITY — There was a celebration inside Vivint Arena on Monday, but unfortunately it wasn’t a victory for the Utah Jazz.
Utah had its six-game win streak snapped by the Portland Trail Blazers, 109-104, on Martin Luther King Jr. Day despite a late comeback.
Jazz floor general Ricky Rubio returned after missing the last six games with a mild right hamstring strain, but was on a undisclosed minutes restriction and played just 13:38.
Rubio ended with 12 points and two assists off the bench during his first game in two weeks.
“Felt good overall,” Rubio said. “Happy to be back.”
The Jazz’s defense allowed just 15 points in the second quarter as they entered halftime with a 51-44 lead, but fell behind 83-79 entering the fourth after allowing a 39-point third quarter.
“That’s a disparity that goes to our concentration throughout,” said Jazz coach Quin Snyder. “It wasn’t one thing. It was a lot of things that add up, whether it was transition, not keeping the ball on the sideline where we’re locked in pick and roll, not being in the rotation.
“Our execution defensively lost the focus that we had in the second quarter, obviously, and they made some shots but they were getting looks that they hadn’t been getting, and that just goes to our ability to execute on the defensive end,” he continued.
Donovan Mitchell continued his high scoring with 36 points, seven rebounds and five assists on the night on 12-for-28 shooting. The second-year Jazz guard has posted at least 24 points for nine consecutive games, while averaging 29.8 points, five assists and 4.2 rebounds throughout this stretch.
Utah fell behind by as many as 12 in the fourth, but Mitchell brought the Jazz within 106-100 after a driving layup with 1:35 left in regulation. He posted 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“Just can’t lose,” Mitchell said of his mindset in the fourth. “That’s really it. We were getting stops, we played well in the fourth but at that point you have nothing to lose. We got down six at one point so I was just continuing to attack.”
As a team, Utah went 7-for-25 from the field in the fourth and 1-for-10 from three.
Former Weber State guard Damian Lillard also contributed eight of his team-high 26 points for Portland in the fourth, including an 18-foot step-back jumper before Mitchell’s driving layup in the fourth at 1:17. Lillard dished out eight rebounds and eight assists in addition to his point total to help Portland defeat Utah for the first time this season.
The Jazz last beat the Trail Blazers on Christmas Day.
“It was a win that we had to go get, there was a lot of ups and downs,” Lillard said. “(There was) adversity over the course of the game where we were fouling. They were getting offensive rebounds and going on a run. Not getting stops and we kind of kept ourselves in the game. We stayed in it.”
Jusuf Nurkic also hurt the Jazz before fouling out in the final minute of the fourth. Nurkic was deadly in pick-and-roll situations with Lillard, contributing 17 of his 22 points in the third to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists and six blocks.
Jae Crowder posted 15 points with seven rebounds for the Jazz while Rudy Gobert finished with his 39th double-double of the season — which is tied for first place — with 10 points, 13 boards and four blocks.3 comments on this story
Utah has now fallen to 26-22 on the season and will host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday as they look to regroup from the holiday meltdown.
“We gotta pick up our defense,” Mitchell said. “We’ve had some games where we can kind of chill and relax with big leads and now we’re in a week where we need these games.
“We’ve got to stay locked in and stay focused and if we don’t then nothing will happen,” he said. “We can’t wait until the fourth quarter to kind of fight and then come back, we’ve got to be able to be locked in from the beginning.”