The return of Portland's starting center re-energized the Blazers after a rough road trip.
LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points and 10 rebounds, Damian Lillard had 26 points, and Robin Lopez had 11 points and 6 rebounds in his first game back after missing 23 games with a broken hand as the Portland Trail Blazers fought past the Utah Jazz, 103-102, Tuesday night at Moda Center.
With Lopez back, the Blazers front court went to work in the first quarter. Aldridge had 14 points on 6-of-7 shooting, Lopez had 6 on 3-of-3 shooting to lead Portland to an early advantage. The Blazers as a team shot 55% in the first, though the starters not named Aldridge or Lopez shot just 1-of-7. Seven points by Gordon Hayward kept the Jazz close, and Portland led by four after one.
The Blazers got their lead out to as many as seven in the second quarter, with seven points in the period by Nicolas Batum. As soon as they did, the Jazz overwhelmed the Portland defense, rolling out to a 12-2 run. Trey Burke had 10 in the period as the Utah bench outscored Portland's bench in the first half, 18-5. Hayward hit a three to give Utah a three point lead that the Jazz took into halftime.
The teams exchanged runs in the third quarter, with a 13-3 Portland run answered by an 11-0 Utah run. The Blazers led by as many as eleven, but the Jazz rallied back. Lillard led the Blazers in scoring with 11, and Wesley Matthews contributed 6-of-7 from the free throw line and eight points total. As momentum swayed back and forth, Portland led by two going into the fourth quarter. During the quarter, Lopez suffered a cut near his left eye, and left briefly for treatment.
The Jazz re-took the lead in the first few minutes of the fourth, with Enes Kanter abusing Meyers Leonard in the post. A long field goal by Burke gave Utah a two point advantage. Leonard tied the game with a short field goal, and Batum gave Portland the lead back with free throws after a Lillard steal. Utah took back the advantage, only to lose it when Lillard drove to the middle of the lane and dunked on Rudy Gobert. Portland would go on a roll with Matthews hitting two threes. Utah closed the gap to three with a minute to play, but Lillard scored on a layup for a five point lead. Joe Ingles hit a three to get within two, however Aldridge hit two free throws to seal the game.
Steve Blake led the bench scoring with seven. Matthews had 21 points on 3-of-5 shooting from three, but the Blazers as a team shot just 7-of-23 from behind the arc. Lillard shot 10-of-17 on the night, snapping an eight game streak of shooting less than 40%, his longest such streak of his career.
LaMarcus Aldridge has recorded his 219th career double-double, tying Sidney Wicks for most by a Trail Blazer in team history (Elias).— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 4, 2015
The Trail Blazers improve to 20-6 this season with Robin Lopez in the lineup. #PORvsUTA— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 4, 2015
Portland has won 5 straight games against Utah. The Trail Blazers swept the Jazz last season for the first time in series history. #PORvsUTA— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 4, 2015
LaMarcus Aldridge recorded his 20th game with 20+ points and 10+ rebounds this season, third-most in NBA (A. Davis, D. Cousins). #PORvsUTA— Trail Blazers PR (@TrailBlazersPR) February 4, 2015
"I thought we showed flashes of the team that we can be." Coach Stotts— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) February 4, 2015
"I got back to my numbers" - Nicolas Batum after his 10/8/6 game against the Jazz— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) February 4, 2015
Talked to Batum about his almost triple-double. Response: "RoLo is back!"— Erik Gundersen (@blazerbanter) February 4, 2015
Utah came in No. 2 in rebound differential at +3.7, but #Blazers, with Rolo back, had 45-41 edge.— Mike Tokito (@mtokito) February 4, 2015
Nic Batum said he's wearing a new smaller brace on his wrist. Tried it the last two days and it's helped with flexibility.— Mike Richman (@mikegrich) February 4, 2015
Yeah the best rim protector of the @NBA gets dunked on sometimes— rudy gobert (@rudygobert15) February 4, 2015
Kaman said he looked at Blake when he was entering the game for the 1st time: "This is weird" with Lopez back, he's back on bench #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 4, 2015
"Any basketball player would prefer to be on the floor as opposed to sitting." -- RoLo #QOTD— Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) February 4, 2015
"I got my rhythm back a little bit more." @nicolas88batum on having Robin Lopez back— Amy Schwartz (@TheAmySchwartz) February 4, 2015
Said Aldridge on Lopez: "Our chemistry just came back to normal" #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 4, 2015
Aldridge: "[Lopez] couldn't come back at a better time as far as us trying to find our rhythm and get back into a good groove." #Blazers— Jabari Young (@JabariJYoung) February 4, 2015
VIDEO: Nicolas Batum finds Robin Lopez in the lane for a two-handed flush.
VIDEO: Damian Lillard completes a tough contested layup while being fouled.