The Portland Trail Blazers fell short of a comeback attempt against the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, losing 122-114. Utah was able to ride a massive third quarter advantage to put the Blazers too far behind to make up the difference despite a great fourth quarter.
The Blazers were led by a pair of career-high outings from rookies, with Scoot Henderson posting 23 points and Toumani Camara adding 18 of his own. Henderson also posted a career-high for assists with 10, marking the first double-double of his career.
The Jazz were led by the 27 points of Collin Sexton. Utah also got 24 points from Simone Fontecchio and 23 from Talen Horton Tucker. Walker Kessler also tied a career-high with seven blocks in the game.
Kessler opened the scoring in the game with a dunk off of an alley-oop from Sexton. This set the tone for a strong paint attack for the Jazz early in the contest. The first ten Utah points came in the paint or from the free throw line. On the other end, Deandre Ayton was a focal point of the offense, getting six early points on his first three shots of the game.
The Blazers’ offense was humming, getting easy baskets almost every time down the floor. However, the defense was unable to stop the Jazz from shooting over 70% from the field almost nine minutes into the game. The Blazers found themselves in a 29-20 deficit with three minutes left in the quarter despite shooting a respectable 47% themselves.
The bench gave Portland a much needed breath of fresh air late in the first. A pair of Henderson assists to three-point shooters, the first to Camara and the second to Malcolm Brogdon, brought the Blazers to within four. Henderson followed the impressive playmaking with a massive dunk after a couple Jazz baskets to rebuild the lead. Utah led Portland 38-30 at the end of the first quarter.
The start of the second quarter saw the Blazers attempt a different strategy to try and narrow the lead: simply outshooting the Jazz. While the defense continued to be lackluster, Portland was able to bring the Utah lead back down to three points off of three three-pointers in the first two minutes of the quarter.
Unfortunately for the Blazers, their defense did not get any better. When the shots stopped falling, the deficit just kept growing. A 9-1 run put the Jazz up by double-digits off of hot shooting from deep and an ability to finish in the paint. The one positive on offense was Camara who made his second and third three-pointers. He was the only player keeping Portland in the game. Camara had 14 points on efficient shooting, including making all three shots from deep, with five minutes left in the second quarter. However, the Blazers still trailed 62-48.
Some more strong offense from the Jazz, and especially Fontecchio, continued the scoring push for the Jazz. Portland ended the first half in a 15-point hole with the score being 69-54. The two scoring leaders, both on Utah, were Fontecchio and Sexton who both ended the half with 16 points.
Neither the Blazers or the Jazz could find the bottom of the basket at the start of the second half. This hurt Portland much more, as the Utah lead grew, albeit slowly, rather than shrunk. The Blazers were only able to score two points in the first three minutes of the quarter.
Camara earned his 16th point of the game roughly three minutes into the third quarter to mark a new career-high. His efforts were not matched by the rest of the team as Portland’s defense continued to languish. They gave up points to the Jazz almost every time down the floor. The lead ballooned over 20 points on a fastbreak layup from Horton-Tucker with seven minutes left in the third quarter.
Utah continued to expose a very weak Blazers defense as a 15-0 run put Portland down 92-60. Portland was losing the third quarter 23-6 with just over four minutes left in the period. The run was finally ended by a Henderson layup, although it did little to stop the bleeding.
As the period closed, Henderson continued to be the only Blazer who could put the ball in the basket, following up with a massive dunk, an and-1 layup and a three pointer in about a minute and a half. However, the Blazers still trailed 103-76 at the end of three.
The fourth quarter began with more of the same. A highlight from Portland, this time a Shaedon Sharpe putback dunk, briefly broke up the 10-4 Jazz run that began the quarter.
With both benches in, the Blazers finally began to show signs of life. Jabari Walker and Kris Murray helped Portland put together a 10-0 run to cut the lead to 23 points with six minutes left. Henderson threw down his third dunk of the game, then got fouled on a shot on the next possession to give him 20 points, a new career-high.
The strong fourth quarter helped the Blazers cut the lead to a more respectable final score. A 15-2 run late in the contest brought Portland to within 11, but it was too late to truly challenge. Duop Reath scored 15 points in the fourth quarter alone to spur the massive push. Portland ended up outscoring the Jazz 38-19 in the fourth quarter.
Stay tuned for an in-depth recap coming soon.
The Blazers take on the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, December 16 at 6:00 p.m.