The Portland Trail Blazers fought back from another double-digit second half deficit Saturday, but this time fell short of pulling off the complete comeback, falling on the road 118-113 in overtime to the Utah Jazz.
The story of the evening though is Jerami Grant, who exited the game early in the fourth quarter with an apparent concussion after taking an inadvertent elbow from Omer Yurtseven. It was a nasty hit and Grant had to be attended to on the floor before leaving the game on his own.
This contest had all the makings of the typical “trap” game, with Portland riding high off a pair of impressive road victories and Utah struggling while trying to make do without their two leading scorers in Lauri Markkanen and Jordan Clarkson. The Blazers just weren’t able to get into a rhythm all night until it was too late, and then some things in the second half just didn’t go their way.
The loss snaps a two-game win streak for the Blazers and drops the team to 6-13 overall.
Shaedon Sharpe and Malcolm Brogdon both led the way with 25 points apiece. Scoot Henderson had one of his best games as a young pro, scoring a career-high 17 points to go along with 5 boards.
The Blazers started the game with sticky fingers, thieving the ball away from Utah three times in the opening five possessions. Two steals came from Toumani Camara, who applied 94 feet of suffocating full-court press. Defense turned into quick offense and Portland jumped out to an early 8-2 lead, only for the Jazz to quickly equalize.
Grant had a couple rhythm threes rim go in-and-out. The team as a whole started 0-4 from deep before a straightway laser by Brogdon gave the Blazers an 11-9 lead and forced Jazz Head Coach Will Hardy to burn his first timeout.
Portland continued to let the three ball fly with middling results. Henderson and Duop Reath both misfired on a pair before Brogdon, Sharpe and Matisse Thybulle each registered from distance. A running layup by Henderson in transition was a rare bucket at the hoop in the quarter and gave the Blazers a 24-19 advantage.
A running floater by Collin Sexton would cut that lead to just three at 24-21 after one.
The Blazers had no answer for Sexton tonight, who torched them for most of the second period. He scored 10 of Utah’s first 13 points in the quarter and led a second unit that caused all sorts of problems. Sexton had his jumper flowing early and just seemed to be wherever on the floor the Blazers defense expected him not to be.
After a a trip to the foul line for Grant and back-to-back buckets from Henderson made it 34-32, Portland, the Jazz went on a 22-5 run that broke the game wide open. Talen Horton-Tucker and Keyonte George both started to find their shooting stroke while the Blazers were still tossing up bricks. Bothered by the length of Walker Kessler when they dared put the ball on the floor, there was no post wherever Portland tried to hitch their wagon.
A pair of late buckets at the rack by Deandre Ayton and Jabari Walker in the final minute of the half helped stem the damage, but Portland still had their work cut out for them heading into the break trailing 56-44.
The Blazers were able to start chipping away at the deficit in the third, primarily thanks to the foul line. But they were using a hammer and chisel when they needed an excavator. Portland did a a better job crowding the paint defensively to at least stop hemorrhaging easy baskets, but it was still a long way from shutting Utah down. The Blazers needed to do more than trade points, but they were unable to string together multiple quality possessions in a row.
After the starters played to a standstill, Portland started to make a little bit of headway behind Scoot Henderson and the second unit. Henderson came in with the energy of a shaken up soda can and willed the team forward with an impressive steal and dunk in transition and an “if you dare me” three at the left angle. Both were part of a run that saw the Blazers pull within six at 78-72. But the Jazz finished the quarter strong and Portland went into the final frame trailing 84-74.
Fourth Quarter & Overtime
Utah left the door open for Portland, but it was more of a crawl than a sprint to get through. After trading buckets for half of the period, trailing 96-85, the Blazers pieced together its best run of the game. It started with a Brogdon layup, then a easy Ayton dunk following a Thybulle steal and capped off by Brogdon three and all of sudden it was a ball game.
A hectic finish to the fourth quarter included a pair of tomahawk posters by Sharpe and Camara, a clutch game-tying triple from Brogdon and a game-extending block in the final seconds by Camara. If you’re a video coordinator for the Blazers, Christmas just came early. There’s an entire player introduction montage of highlights just from the last two minutes.
In overtime, however, Portland fell victim to some tough breaks and questionable officiating. banked-in Camara three at the shot-click buzzer that would have given the Blazers a three point lead got waved off. Then on a pivotal possession one minute later, Sharpe was called for a somewhat inexplicable loose ball foul on an offensive rebound underneath the basket. No-calls the rest of the way all went in favor of the Jazz,. A game that had all the makings for an exciting finish got deflated instead.
Stay tuned for extended analysis coming soon!
The Blazers will get a few more days off before wrapping up their road trip against the Golden State Warriors Wednesday night at 7 p.m. Pacific.