Blazers claim No. 3 seed with 102-93 win over Utah
ABS-CBN Sports on Apr 12, 2018 01:17 PM
Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard, right, drives to the basket on Utah Jazz guard Dante Exum during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Portland, Ore., Wednesday, April 11, 2018. (AP Photo/Steve Dykes)
By Anne M. Peterson, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Damian Lillard had 36 points and 10 assists and the Portland Trail Blazers snapped a four-game losing streak with a 102-93 victory over the Utah Jazz Wednesday night (Thursday, PHL time) to earn the Northwest Division title.
With the win in the regular-season finale, Portland claimed the third seed in the Western Conference and will play the sixth-seeded New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round of the playoffs.
The Jazz, who saw a six-game winning streak snapped, fell to the fifth seed. They'll face No. 4 Oklahoma City on the road to open the playoffs. The schedule had not been set.
Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell, who the night before set the new single-season record for three-pointers with 186 — breaking Lillard's rookie mark — was 1-for-8 from the perimeter but finished with 17 points.
Ricky Rubio also had 17 while Rudy Gobert had 13 points and 13 rebounds for the Jazz, who were coming off a 119-79 victory at home against the Warriors on Tuesday night (Wednesday, PHL time).
CJ McCollum had 19 points for the Blazers, who led by as many as 24 points in the second half.
For both teams, the game was all about seeding because the first-round playoff matches were determined earlier in the evening. The Blazers secured home-court advantage for the first round for the first time since 2009.
Before the game Terry Stotts said the outcome of the Pelicans' finale against the Spurs was unlikely to have an impact on what Portland did against the Jazz. New Orleans won 112-98.
"I think the home court is the most important thing. I think there's something to be said about winning the division even though it doesn't give you much of an advantage, but it's something that they can't take away," Three or four seed? I think when you start trying to get cute within things it might bite you back."
Dante Exum, who left Utah's victory against the Warriors the night before with leg soreness, played for 20 minutes with six points.
The Blazers went up 39-27 on McCollum's reverse layup in the second quarter and led by as many as 16 points in the first half. Portland led 55-41 at the break and Lillard led all scorers with 19 points.
No Jazz player was in double figures. Mitchell struggled in the first half, going 3-for-13 from the field.
McCollum wrestled a rebound and got the jumper from close in to give the Blazers a 67-50 lead. Lillard's layup ended the third quarter with Portland 80-59.
Portland extended the lead to as many as 24 points, but the Jazz closed with within 85-74 with 7:39 left on Mitchell's layup and a free throw. Lillard came back in the game and made three jumpers to push Portland's lead to 91-76.
Utah led the season series 2-1 going into the game.
Jazz: Derrick Favors played in his 500th game with the Jazz. He's the 12th player in franchise history to reach the milestone. ... It was Gobert's 31st double-double of the season.
Trail Blazers: Maurice Harkless told reporters before the game that it was unclear if he'd be able to return in the first round. Harkless had arthroscopy on his left knee on March 28 (Mar. 29, PHL time). ... Evan Turner won the team's Maurice Lucas Award as the player who best represents Lucas' spirit in his contributions off and on the court.