Published April 27, 2012
| Sports Network
Salt Lake City, UT – Alec Burks put home 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting and the Utah Jazz used a fourth-quarter rally to overtake the Portland Trail Blazers, 96-94, in the regular-season finale for both teams at Energy Solutions Arena on Thursday.
Derrick Favors finished with 15 points and five rebounds, Jeremy Evans added 13 points and 10 boards, while Enes Kanter and Josh Howard contributed 12 points apiece for the Jazz (36-30), who ended the regular campaign with five consecutive wins. Utah will face the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in the first round of the Western Conference playoffs.
"What we wanted to do was to make sure that we played the right way," Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We knew it was going to be a bit of a relaxed atmosphere going in, so we just wanted to make sure that we played to get better."
J.J. Hickson scored a game-high 20 points and grabbed nine rebounds, Jonny Flynn added 18 points, while Nolan Smith and Wesley Matthews donated 16 and 14 points, respectively for the Trail Blazers (28-38), who lost the final seven games of the season and missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007-08.
Trailing, 88-84, with 7:12 to play, Utah ripped off 10 straight points, capped by an emphatic dunk by Evans, to go ahead 94-88 with 3:29 on the clock.
Hickson threw one down at the other end to make it 94-90 with 2:27 left, but Burks put home a reverse layup to give the Jazz a six-point edge.
Smith banked in a layup to pull the Blazers within two with 1:17 to go. DeMarre Carroll missed a deep jumper with 9.9 seconds left and Flynn grabbed the rebound and called timeout with 2.9 seconds left, setting up the final shot.
Matthews took the inbound pass at the top of the key and launched a three- pointer that hit off the back of the rim, sealing the win for Utah.
The game remained close early, with the Jazz holding an 8-6 advantage with just over four minutes gone in the opening quarter. Utah opened up a seven- point lead on 1-of-2 from the line by Devin Harris with 4:35 to go.
Hickson sank a layup with 3:50 left to make it a five-point game, but the Jazz kept the Blazers at arm's length and Favors buried an 18-foot jumper with 30 seconds left to make it 23-14, and they led 23-16 after one.
Burks put in two free throws to extend the Utah lead to 25-16, but the Blazers responded with an 11-2 run to tie the game at 27 with 7:45 to play before the break.
The Blazers, though, could not get over the hump and Howard drained a jumper to push the Jazz lead to seven. They held a 47-40 advantage at halftime.
Portland opened the third quarter with a 12-4 flurry to claim a 52-51 advantage early in the quarter, but a three-point play by Kanter sparked a 10-2 run by the Jazz to go ahead 61-54 with less than seven minutes to go in the frame.
Portland stayed close though, and Smith pulled the Blazers within one, 76-75, with 38.2 seconds to play and the Jazz led by three heading into the fourth.
Utah shot 42 percent from the floor and 6-of-19 from three-point range, while Portland shot 45 percent from the field and 6-of-25 from beyond the arc...The Blazers committed 14 turnovers to just 12 for the Jazz...Evans had a career- high in points and rebounds...Utah forward Paul Millsap did not play...Utah outrebounded Portland, 48-36.