Coming into their matchup with the Portland Trail Blazers, I expected the Utah Jazz to win the game because of the injuries that the Blazers are dealing with right now. However, I did not expect the Jazz to get off to a 37-16 lead after the first quarter!
In that first quarter, the Jazz were able to get many easy buckets, courtesy of Carlos Boozer (12 first quarter points) and Andrei Kirilenko (10 first quarter points). Both Boozer and Kirilenko gave the Blazers trouble near the basket because of their lack of an interior presence from guys like Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla.
Speaking of Boozer, the forward out of Duke left the game with a right calf strain while inbounding a pass in the third quarter. Yes, I said it. INBOUNDING A PASS. And his absence was definitely felt. From the time Boozer headed to the locker room, LaMarcus Aldridge started to step up his game.
Although Aldridge did start playing better when Boozer left the game, Boozer’s replacement, Paul Millsap, did have a productive game. In over 33 minutes of game action, Millsap was able to score 15 points and grab 12 boards. But remember, Millsap IS the backup, and the game did shift back in Portland’s favor when Boozer exited. Whether that is a coincidence or not is up to you to decide. (For the record, I don’t think it was. That’s not a knock on Millsap, but rather, a compliment to Boozer).
The game actually shifted so much, that the Blazers came within 5 points with under 6 minutes remaining in the fourth. But even though the game could have went either way at that point, the Jazz were able to weather the storm, and they made clutch baskets when they had to. (Thank you, Kyle Korver and Paul Millsap). The Blazers, conversely, did not. There were a few three-pointers that Portland should have made that would have probably changed the outcome in this game. They were the kind of shots that the crowd was ready to explode for but were never able to. Luckily for the Jazz, the Blazers seemed to use all of their energy getting back into the game that they had nothing left to finish strongly. I guess that’s one of the benefits of building a huge lead early. (Having a mentally tough leader like Deron Williams down the stretch doesn’t hurt either).
When the buzzer sounded, the Utah Jazz were victorious by a score of 106-95. The win is their 8th out of their last 9 games overall, and they remain in 4th place in the Western Conference.
- Deron Williams led the Jazz with 24 points. He also added 7 assits and 5 rebounds.
- Andre Miller has appeared in 577 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NBA.
- Brandon Roy did not play because of a right hamstring injury.
- Carlos Boozer is scheduled for an MRI tomorrow morning.
- Deron Williams will miss Friday’s game against the Kings because he will be attending his uncle’s funeral.