McCollum scores 26, Blazers end Utah’s 11-game win streak
ABS-CBN Sports on Feb 24, 2018 12:49 PM
Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) guards Portland Trail Blazers center Jusuf Nurkic (27) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Friday, Feb. 23, 2018, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)
By Matthew Coles, Associated Press
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — CJ McCollum scored 26 points, Damian Lillard added 24 and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped the Utah Jazz’s 11-game winning streak with a 100-81 victory on Friday night (Saturday, PHL time).
McCollum and Lillard drove through and around the Jazz defense, which was ranked at the top of the league during their streak.
The Jazz finally got within single digits at 90-81 but McCollum scored on three consecutive isolation plays, all contested jumpers.
Lillard cooled off from his previous three games, when he shot 42 for 76 and scored more than 44 points a game. But he worked numerous screens and had his Jazz defenders chasing the ball and opening opportunities for the other Blazers.
Jusuf Nurkic scored 15 points and Al-Farouq Aminu had 12 for the Blazers.
Donovan Mitchell had 21 points for Utah. Rudy Gobert scored 15 and Joe Ingles contributed 12 but the Jazz were sloppy with ball.
During their long winning streak, the Jazz consistently came up with loose balls in key scramble situations. Against Portland, the Jazz couldn’t seem to hold on to the basketball, committing 20 turnovers and having numerous rebounds and passes squirt right through their hands.
The Blazers have won 4-of-5, with the only loss a blowout to the Jazz on Feb. 11 (Feb. 12, PHL time).
After Mitchell trimmed the Portland lead to 53-49, McCollum hit two three-pointers and a runner to spark a 13-2 run. After the Jazz trimmed it back to 11, Lillard’s crossover stepback jumper gave the Blazers an 80-64 lead entering the final period.
The Blazers are looking to follow a pattern of strong finishes as they reached the playoffs with 17-11 closing record in 2016 and an 18-8 post-All-Star Game mark in 2017.
Blazers: Portland scored 22 points off Utah’s 20 turnovers. ... The Blazers never trailed. ... Portland only allowed six second-chance points and had 14 on their end.
Jazz: Ricky Rubio returned after missing three games before the All-Star break with a sore left hip. Conversely, reserve point guard Raul Neto sprained his ankle in shootaround Friday (Saturday, PHL time). ... Gobert got a technical foul in the third quarter after arguing a no-call.
RETURN TO PRESENT
Darrell Griffith, who has been a mentor to Mitchell and the last Utah player to win the Rookie of the Year award, presented the Slam Dank champion trophy before the game. Both guards played collegiately at Louisville. Griffith played for the Jazz from 1980-91 and is a favorite of more than one member of the Utah organization. “I had a Dr. Dunkenstein Nike poster,” coach Quin Snyder said. “I know him. I know him well.”
Blazers: Visit the Phoenix Suns on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time).
Jazz: Host the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday night (Sunday, PHL time).