Millsap helps Utah slip by PortlandApr 3, 2012 - 6:40 AM Portland, OR (Sports Network) - Paul Millsap scored 31 points, including the go-ahead dunk late in the fourth quarter, to lift the Utah Jazz over the Portland Trail Blazers, 102-97, on Monday.
Millsap added 11 rebounds while Gordon Hayward contributed 20 points and Al Jefferson finished with 13 points and 10 boards for the Jazz, who snapped a three-game slide to remain a game behind Houston for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Wesley Matthews scored a game-high 33 points for Portland, which fell to four games behind the Rockets for the eighth seed. LaMarcus Aldridge had 27 points and seven rebounds in a losing effort.
Utah carried an 83-78 lead into the fourth quarter, but after a pair of Alec Burks free throws put the Jazz ahead, 87-80, Portland recorded the next five points to close the gap to two.
The Jazz responded with a 7-2 spurt to stretch its lead back up to 94-87 on Jefferson's three-point play, but Portland responded again with a 10-0 run to take a 97-94 lead on Matthews' trey with 2:35 left in the game.
The Blazers, though, would not score again and made two crucial turnovers down the stretch to allow Utah to pull away for the win.
After a Jefferson jumper stopped Portland's run and brought the Jazz within one, Raymond Felton had his dribble bounce off his right foot and roll out of bounds, giving the ball back to Utah.
Millsap took advantage with the go-ahead dunk on the other end and after the teams traded misses on the next two possessions, Utah's Jamaal Tinsley stole a Portland inbounds pass and fed the ball to Millsap underneath the net, where he finished with another dunk for a 100-97 lead.
"Once I got my hand on it, I didn't know I was going to get it," Tinsley said of the steal. "I just tried to run the time out, but I saw we needed a bucket and I made the play to Paul."
Nicolas Batum's potential game-tying three rimmed out on the Blazers' ensuing touch and Hayward sealed the win with a pair of foul shots.
Portland controlled the early action, opening the game with a 17-7 run to jump out to a double-digit lead.
Utah got no closer than seven for the remainder of the first and after Hayward's three-pointer brought the Jazz within 29-22 with less than two minutes to play in the opening frame, Jonny Flynn and Luke Babbitt closed it out with back-to-back treys to put the Trail Blazers ahead, 35-22.
The Trail Blazers recorded their second 14-point lead in the second on Batum's runner just past the midpoint of the frame before Utah battled back, closing out the half with a 20-9 run that included 10 points by Millsap to trail, 57-54, at the break.
"We played great defense in the first quarter," said Blazers interim coach Kaleb Canales, "but I thought we forgot who we were in the second and third."
Utah carried its momentum into the third quarter, opening the frame with a 17-3 swing to jump out to a 71-60 advantage.
Portland, though, would not go away, outscoring the Jazz by a mark of 18-12 over the final six-plus minutes of the third to trail, 83-78, after three.
Jazz guard Devin Harris suffered a left ankle sprain in the first half and did not return for the second...Utah improved to 9-19 on the road this season, while Portland fell to 18-10 at home...The Jazz outscored the Trail Blazers in the paint, 56-34.
- UTAH: 102
Apr 3 12:19 AM
- UTAH: 83
End of 3rd
Apr 2 11:43 PM
- UTAH: 54
Apr 2 11:01 PM
- UTAH: 22
End of 1st
Apr 2 10:33 PM
- UTAH: 0
1st Quarter - 12:00
Apr 2 10:13 PM
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