The Utah Jazz had a rocky start against the Portland Trail Blazers in Friday’s 102-94 loss. The Jazz had several opportunities to push the ball in transition and get some quick points, but Portland hammered down on the defensive end and made big plays, forcing Jazz errors. Despite several turnovers, the Jazz managed to end the first quarter on a 9-4 run, trailing by just one point, 16-15.
The Jazz relied heavily on Enes Kanter and Alec Burks to stay in the game during the second quarter. Burks impressed with his acrobatic shots and athleticism while attacking the basket. Kanter contributed big by grabbing offensive rebounds and showing Portland fans his range by hitting several baseline jumpers.
Kanter’s jump shot gave Jazz fans a trip down memory lane in the first half, looking a bit like the Mailman with nice arch and nothing but net, Ultimately, Kanter’s shooting wasn’t enough to put Utah on top going into the locker room. The Jazz ended the first half shooting 38 percent and trailed by four, 43-39.
Despite Portland blocking shots and forcing turnovers, the Jazz stayed poised and executed well in a half court setting. Coach Ty Corbin must have given a nice pep talk to his team during halftime because they forced the Trail Blazers to slow it down and play Utah Jazz basketball. The Jazz outscored the Trail Blazers 34-21, ending the third quarter leading 73-64.
Portland opened the fourth quarter on a 7-0 run and cut the Jazz lead down to two points. The Jazz went ice cold from the field, lost momentum, and made mistakes down the stretch that cost them the game. Portland outscored Utah 38-21 in the fourth quarter and extended its home record to 20-7 on the year.
Derrick Favors missed Friday’s game due to a hip injury. The team is now 0-8 when Favors doesn’t play and 19-35 overall this season.
Two-time rookie of the month and rising all-star Trey Burke stepped up big in Friday’s loss, providing 21 points and seven assists for his team. Shooting guard Alec Burks stood out in the first half, contributing 12 points and four rebounds, but most of all, keeping the Jazz energized during a bleak first half. Grade: B+
Gordon Hayward and Marvin Williams struggled to get in a groove early Friday night. Hayward managed to shake things up in the second half with an explosive dunk and big 3-point shot, but it wasn’t enough to ward off the Trail Blazers in the end. Hayward scored mostly on defensive mismatches and added seven rebounds and seven assists to the game. His game looked a lot better on paper than on TV or in person, but Williams’ game was disgraceful overall. Grade: B-
Jazz fans had to tip their hats to Enes Kanter, who matched a career-high 25 points against a tough Portland team. Kanter got his 12th double-double of the season and made Jazz fans proud. Jazz nation can’t help but wonder what might have been different if Derrick Favors had played in Friday’s game. Grade: A
Coach Ty Corbin and his staff put on a seemingly average performance during Friday’s loss. Corbin took a chance on his backup guards by resting Trey Burke until late in the fourth quarter. Understandable considering the Jazz have a back-to-back and play the Minnesota Timberwolves Saturday. However, it proved to be a poor decision given Burke’s ability to manage the floor at the end of games and hit big shots. Also, Corbin arguably should have used timeouts earlier in the fourth quarter to stop Portland’s momentum but didn’t. Grade: C+
We’ve all heard the saying, “what’s fair is fair.” Friday’s game mirrored the statement quite well. The officials called an even game and didn’t seem to miss many calls. Granted, it’s the nature of any sports fan to be biased toward their own team, therefore, the referees surely must have missed a few calls here and there for both teams. Grade: A-
Portland Trail Blazers:
With an injured Lamarcus Aldridge, the Trail Blazers were missing a huge offensive player who also uses his length to irritate teams with his defensive play. What do you do when you’re missing a great asset? Give the ball to your former rookie of the year and 2014 All-Star point guard, Damian Lillard. Lillard put on an exhibition, giving fans a variety of floaters in the lane, 3-pointers, explosive layups and even a pretty alley-oop late in the fourth quarter. The Trail Blazers deserve a high grade for executing well down the stretch and putting the game away with free throws and defensive effort. Grade A-
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