Thursday, April 8: Jazz 122, Trail Blazers 103
The skinny: Portland's woes against good teams continued Thursday at Utah, as Donovan Mitchell scored 37 points and the Jazz beat the Trail Blazers 122-103.
Portland has a 7-14 record when playing teams above .500, and 23-7 against teams below .500. (Miami was under .500 when the Blazers played them recently).
The Jazz, coming off an overtime loss to Phoenix the night before, rallied in the third quarter — to the tune of a 27-point turnaround. Portland led 59-53 after Damian Lillard's 3-pointer early in the quarter, and the Jazz outscored the Blazers 40-13 until Carmelo Anthony hit a late 3-pointer, leaving it with Utah leading 93-75 after three quarters.
Portland fell to 30-21. Utah leads the Western Conference at 39-13.
The Blazers lost by 17 points at the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday.
Damian Lillard scored 23 points, and he went 3 of 12 on 3-pointers. The Blazers went 13 of 48 from the 3-point line (.271) and shot .396 overall.
Utah shot .453 overall and only .286 from the 3-point line (12 of 42). But, the Jazz outrebounded Portland 58-41, led by Rudy Gobert's 20 rebounds (to go with 18 points).
Mitchell scored his 37 despite going 1 of 8 on 3-pointers. He hit 14 of 25 overall from the field and all eight free-throw attempts.
One win: To go along with the poor record against winning teams, the Los Angeles Lakers remain the only team ahead of Portland in the Western Conference that it has beaten this season.
Quotable: "There's obviously a gap and we need to close the gap between now and the playoffs," Stotts said, of the Blazers and top Western Conference teams, "and that'll be a challenge."
Quotable 2: "It's one of the best years of winning games we're supposed to win," Lillard said. "When we play against top-level teams, we don't play well, we get put away. And, it's not like a small sample size.
"When you play against better teams, you have to have a certain level of focus, you have to be sharp physically and mentally, you have to be present and ready to go. We just haven't shown that we're that level of a team. We're capable of that. When you get on the floor you have to do it. … For us, the first step is acknowledging that's the truth, and being sharper, locked in and taking it to heart. We have to have something to prove, have some pride about those games. That's the start."
Nurkic's night: Jusuf Nurkic returned after missing the game against the Clippers while nursing right knee inflammation. He had 10 points, six rebounds and four assists in 22 minutes.
No Clarkson: Utah played without one of the NBA's premier sixth men, Jordan Clarkson (sprained right ankle).
New player: The Blazers have signed forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson to a 10-day contract.
He played five seasons with the Brooklyn Nets, averaging 9.9 points and 5.9 rebounds. Interestingly, the Blazers drafted him with the 23rd pick in 2015, but traded his rights and guard Steve Blake to Brooklyn for Mason Plumlee and the draft rights to Pat Connaughton.
Next up: The Blazers return to Moda Center for three games, starting 7 p.m. Saturday against Detroit, the Eastern Conference's worst team. Then, it's Miami at 7 p.m. Sunday and Boston at 7 p.m. Tuesday.
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