Missed goaltending call leaves Blazers at a loss
An "inexcusable" missed call, in the words of Trail Blazers coach Terry Stotts, made it a very painful ending on an already challenging Friday night for Portland in Salt Lake City.
The Blazers felt they had scored a tying basket on a drive by Damian Lillard, but Lillard was left incensed by the lack of a goaltending call against Utah center Rudy Gobert with 11.2 seconds remaining.
Gobert blocked Lillard's shot after the ball hit the backboard, but the rebound went to the Jazz, who rebounded the missed layup, added a free throw and hung on for a 117-114 victory after recovering from a 14-point halftime deficit.
The Blazers, who remained 2.5 games behind eighth-place Memphis in the battle for the final playoff spot in the NBA Western Conference, had fought through the loss of two players during the game. Guard Anfernee Simons went down with 20.7 seconds left in the first quarter with a concussion, and forward Trevor Ariza was ejected on two technicals with 10:05 left in the second quarter after arguing with an official. And Portland, which wound up with only seven available players, went the entire game without standout center Hassan Whiteside, as he sat out because of a leg injury.
Lillard said goaltending was "an easy call" and that the error, confirmed by referee Josh Tiven after a postgame video review, "cost us the game."
Lillard finished with 42 points. CJ McCollum added 27 for the Blazers (24-29). Gary Trent Jr. scored 17 points.
For Utah (33-18 and fourth in the West), Bojan Bogdanovic had 27 points, Mike Conley 18 and Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert 16 each, with Gobert snaring 14 rebounds.
The Jazz, who had lost five games in a row, rallied to lead 106-99, only to have the Blazers roar back for a 114-114 tie.
Mitchell's driving layup with 19.5 seconds left broke the tie.
After Utah's final rebound, Bogdanovic was fouled and made the first of two free throws.
Portland had one last possession and a chance to force overtime, but center Caleb Swanigan missed an open 3-point try from the right corner at the buzzer.
The Blazers' next game is at Moda Center at 6 p.m. Sunday against the Miami Heat.
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