The Utah Jazz managed to notch their fifth consecutive win tonight in Portland. The Portland Trail Blazers have now lost three straight and the reason is obvious. Defense. The Jazz took advantage of Portland’s lack of defense all night long.
Both teams were missing some important players with the Jazz sans Donovan Mitchell while the Blazers were missing CJ McCollum and Jusuf Nurkic. Nurkic’s size and presence were badly missed by the Blazers.
The Blazers simply could not stop the Jazz from scoring. The scoring started out quick for the Jazz and never really slowed down. The Jazz got out to a quick 11-2 lead by the first break of the game. Midway through the first quarter, Utah was up 21-8 and was shooting 9/15 from the field while the Blazers had only made three shots at that point.
After that break Norman Powell and Damien Lillard really made their presence known as many guards tend to do against Utah’s perimeter defense. They led a run that got Portland back within 6 at that point. By the end of the first quarter, the Jazz found themselves up 7 with a score of 36-29. Powell and Lillard scored a staggering 21 of Portland’s 29 first-quarter points.
The second quarter was much of the same. Both teams managed to score a lot of points with Utah’s points coming from really balanced scoring while the Blazers leaned heavily on Powell and Lillard. Utah had 9 players log minutes in the first half and 8 of them scored.
Virtually anyone who wanted to score for the Jazz got a bucket with little to no resistance. By halftime, Utah was shooting over 60% from the field. The Jazz held a 10-point lead heading into the break. Powell was on fire for the Blazers in the first half scoring 25 points on his own.
The second half was when Utah really pulled away. The defense tightened up and although Lillard kept pouring in buckets, Powell’s scoring slowed down and he only managed 7-points in the second half.
On the other hand, Utah’s scoring did not slow down. They finished with six players scoring in double figures including Gobert (22), Bogdanovic (15), Conley (15), Gay (21), Whiteside (15), and Clarkson (19). Utah’s bigs feasted on Portland’s smaller lineup with Gobert and Whiteside having a combined 37 points, 25 rebounds, and 3 blocks.
Despite the game being within reach for the Blazers the majority of the time, they never held a lead.
One of the biggest stories of the game is Rudy Gay having likely his best game as a Jazz-man. In 24 minutes Gay had 21 points and was efficiently scoring inside and out hitting 61% of his shots. He led Utah’s bench in scoring that contributed 59-points compared to the Blazers' 22-points off the bench. Rudy Gay almost outscored Portland’s whole bench by himself.
Lillard and Powell finished with a combined 64 points accounting for roughly 61% of Portland’s total scoring. They needed a lot more help in this one which is why it ended up as a dominating victory for the Jazz.
The final score was 120-105 with the Jazz claiming their 5th straight win. This also happens to be Utah’s 8th straight road win and their 17th win in their last 21 games.
The Jazz will be in action again on New Year's Eve against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Vivint Arena.