The Portland Trail Blazers turned into a gritty performance in Monday night's 109-104 comeback victory over Utah Jazz, snapping the team's six-game winning streak in the process. The win also enacted a measure of revenge for Portland-after getting shellacked by Jazz in teams' previous two meetings this season, including a nationally televised drubbing on Christmas night. Damian Lillard was the high-man for Portland, finishing with 26 points, while Donovan Mitchell moved the Jazz with 36 points of his own.
After a tightly contested first quarter, Jazz jumped to a double-digit lead in the second before the Blazers trimmed the halftime deficit to seven points. Things turned around for Portland in an emotional third quarter, led by Jusuf Nurkic, as they outscored the Jazz by 1
Nurk Comes Alive
After a rough second quarter for the Blazers , in which they scored only 15 points, things started getting chippy in the third quarter. The chippiness worked to Portland's advantage, as Nurkic won into the heads of both Jae Crowder and Rudy Gobert, who both picked up technical fouls. Nurk played off their emotions to take over the game, putting the team on his back and almost single-handedly swinging the pendulum of momentum into Portland's favor
All told, the Bosnian Beast finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six blocks on the night. His defensive presence was particularly felt during his big run in the third, as three of those blocks-on the 7'1 "Gobert none of the less-coming during that decisive stretch.
The Blazers bench deserves a lot of credit for picking up right where Nurkic left off to start the fourth quarter, expanding on the lead they inherited. The second-unit, sparked by the scorching Jake Layman, put the team in an excellent position to finish the game, despite the fact that Utah made things interesting down the stretch
Layman turned into another phenomenal performance with 12 point on 5 -9 shooting, in addition to active defense on the other end of the court. He was not alone, however, as Evan Turner added 10 points, eight rebounds and four assists of his own, while Meyers Leonard scored eight points on 3-4 shooting, knocking down his three point attempts
Moving the Ball
The Blazers eclipsed the 30-assist mark for the fourth time this season, led by the eight of Lillard. The fluid ball movement led to solid attempts, which the team was able to knock down. Portland finished 50% from the field and an impressive 44% from the three-point line. In addition, despite all the passing, the Blazers committed only eight turnovers on the night-well below their season average.
More History Made
Lillard passed Terry Porter for the fourth-most field goals made in franchise history with second quarter floater. He now has 4,008 made buckets on his career. Next up is Jim Paxson, who finished with 4,058 in a Blazers uniform
The Other Guys
CJ McCollum bounced back from a dismal, foul-hampered first half-in which he only scored two points, to finish with 14 points (6-17 shooting), four rebounds and four assists.
Al-Farouq Aminu had eight points and six boards in an effective 4-6 shooting night, in addition to his usual stout defensive effort. 19659017] Maurice Harkless, who started for the second straight night in his return from injury, got off to a hot start, but only tallied 18 minutes (Layman had 25) and finished with six points on 3-3 shooting. Collins went 0-4 in 11 minutes, taking back seat to Nurkic and Leonard
The Blazers head south to Oklahoma City for a meeting with Thunder tomorrow night.