Jazz put postseason aspirations on line against Blazers
There's no need to break out the defibrillator yet for the Utah Jazz in their pursuit of a postseason spot, as they try to inch closer to the playoffs tonight against the Portland Trail Blazers at the Rose Garden.
Utah is one game behind Houston for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Western Conference and two games in back of Denver for the seventh seed. The Jazz have lost three straight and four of five games since a six-game winning streak and suffered a 105-96 loss against the Los Angeles Clippers the last time out on Saturday.
Al Jefferson led the way with 26 points and Paul Millsap added 18 for the Jazz, who are only 8-19 away from Salt Lake City as opposed to a 19-7 record as the host. Gordon Hayward and C.J. Miles scored 14 and 13 points, respectively, in a losing cause. Utah head coach Tyrone Corbin was upset afterwards, especially when his team trailed, 38-22, after 12 minutes.
"We can't give up 38 points in the first quarter," said Corbin. "We got down, but we battled back. We just couldn't get over the hump."
The Jazz have lost two straight and three of four games on the road.
Portland is also still alive in the Western Conference playoff chase and sits three games behind the Rockets for the eighth seed.
The Trail Blazers will continue a three-game homestand Monday and started the residency on the right foot, posting a 119-106 triumph versus Minnesota last night. Blazers All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge returned from a one-game absence because of an elbow injury and led the charge with 26 points and eight rebounds to outduel Wolves All-Star Kevin Love.
"I don't know what they shot from the floor, but it couldn't have been that good because we went on a nice little run in the fourth quarter and once our crowd got into it, it was kind of over with," Blazers forward J.J. Hickson said.
Nicolas Batum netted 24 points and Wesley Matthews added 18 for Portland, which has alternated wins and losses over its last eight games. The Blazers are 18-9 in Rip City (7-19 away from home) and will also host the Nets.
Portland dropped a 93-89 decision in Utah on Jan. 30 this season and has lost six of the past nine matchups between the two teams. The Jazz are just 5-10 in their last 15 visits to the Rose City, however.