Late in the first quarter, Meyers Leonard went down with an apparent ankle injury. He did not return. We'll have more info as it arrives.
The Blazers were led by Damian Lillard (35) and CJ McCollum (27), who combined for 62 points, confounding the Jazz and the crowd. Al-Farouq Aminu (13 points, 8 rebounds), Moe Harkless (15 points, 10 rebounds off the bench), and Mason Plumlee (12 points and 16 rebounds) had huge roles as well. The Blazers were not led by their free-throw shooting, where they finished 15-32 for 47%.
The Blazers looked great on offense to start the game, scoring nearly at will, and getting out on the break. Despite a few defensive miscues, the Blazers quickly took a six point lead before their back-court attack combo. After a timeout, the Jazz settled down, hitting shots against the Blazer defense and playing them to a standstill leaving Portland with a 1 point lead after the first quarter. In the second, McCollum took control to give Portland a small lead, but the offense suddenly vanished, putting Portland in a drought that gave the Jazz time to pull within 2 on a Gordon Hayward three-pointer. Lillard and McCollum restored order, and a buzzer-beating jumper gave Portland an 8 point lead heading into halftime.
Out of the locker room, Portland increased the heat on the Jazz, as Aminu joined with his back-court teammates to roast Utah. When Mason Plumlee hit a free throw, Portland had a 74-60 lead with 3:30 left in the quarter. But Utah settled down and made a run late against the Blazers' bench. Portland's offense sputtered through the last few minutes, and the Jazz headed to the fourth quarter within 8 points. However, the Blazers came out quickly in the fourth, with Lillard, Harkless and Aminu scoring to give the Blazers a 14 point lead early. But the Jazz picked up the defense, cutting the lead to single digits. After more missed Blazer free throws (a trend all night), Utah pulled within 7, forcing a Terry Stotts timeout. Lillard hit another tough shot to settle down the team, then Aminu made a half-court steal of Hayward, forcing a clear-path foul. The team only got one point out of the possession though. Utah continued to push, but the Blazers would get the big bucket when needed, holding a 13 point lead with 3 minutes left, thanks to another Lillard layup. The Jazz had no response, McCollum sealed it with a three-pointer, and Portland headed home with a hugely successful road trip.
The Blazers travel home tonight for another back-to-back game, late tomorrow night on TNT against the Memphis Grizzlies. Stay tuned here for more coverage of tonight's game from Dave Deckard.