Gordon Hayward filled the stat sheet in a strong offensive night—but the Utah Jazz couldn’t stop Damian Lillard and the Portland Trail Blazers on the other end of the floor.
G-Time flirted with a triple-double, tallying 19 points, nine assists and six rebounds while tacking on a pair of steals. But a big third quarter by the Blazers sealed Utah’s fate in a 99-85 loss. Ahead of the game, Gordon warned against allowing Lillard and C.J. McCollum to heat up—and they combined for 36 points, 18 assists and 10 rebounds.
“Some breakdowns on defense led to some open threes, and with a team like this, when they see the ball go in, they can put up points in a hurry,” Gordon said.
Gordon drew attention early and often from the Portland defenders. With 6:07 left in the first quarter, a double-teamed Gordon decided to pass up a contested shot and dished to Rodney Hood, who knocked down an open three-pointer to give Utah an 11-5 lead. Combining his points and assists, G-Time accounted for 41 points on the night.
Midway through the first quarter, Gordon took a hard shot on a drive to the basket, forcing him out of action for just a few minutes. But he did return and the Jazz led 19-18 at the end of the first quarter. But in the second, the scales began to tip in Portland’s favor.
After not scoring throughout the first quarter, Gordon knocked down four free throws in a span of 28 seconds late in the second quarter to cut the Jazz deficit to 37-34. With 1:03 left in the first half, Gordon took a stolen pass to the other end of the court and finished with a tough layup through contact from McCollum and Al-Farouq Aminu. He hit his foul shot to bring the Jazz within one point of the lead at 38-37. The Trail Blazers finished the first half on a 5-0 run to lead 43-38 at the end of the first half.
“Regardless of how sharp we were or not in the first half, we guarded pretty good. We were focused,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said. “We came out in the third quarter and we just made a lot of mistakes.”
The Trail Blazers continued to extend the lead in the second half, but Gordon kept making plays, trying to keep his squad afloat. With 9:45 remaining in the third quarter, Gordon stole the ball again and tossed it to Trey Lyles who finished on the other end to drop the Portland lead to 51-43. Just 45 seconds later, G-time found Raul Neto for an open 3-point shot to bring the Jazz within six points of the lead.
“Gordon’s been a rock,” Snyder said this week. “You can’t say enough about his play, his leadership, his focus, his defense. … Gordon’s been phenomenal.”
But despite Gordon’s best efforts, the Trail Blazers pulled away near the end of the third quarter to take a 77-62 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. With 6:28 left in the game, Gordon hit a 22-foot three-pointer off an assist from Hood. It was too late to complete a comeback, however, as Portland had control throughout the second half.
After a two-game road stint on the West Coast, the Jazz return to Vivint Smart Home Arena to host the Sacramento Kings (15-23). The two teams met once this season on Dec. 8, and the Jazz lost that game in Sacramento 114-106. Gordon led the Jazz with 18 points in the game and had eight rebounds and six assists.
The Kings have played their last three games at home. They are on a two-game losing streak, falling to the New Orleans Pelicans and Golden State Warriors in the past two games.
The game tips off Thursday at 7 p.m. MT on ROOT.
- Sam Amico: Utah Jazz seem to be locked at No. 8 playoff spot (The Spectrum, Jan. 12, 2016)
- Damian Lillard leads Portland past sluggish Jazz (Deseret News, Jan. 13, 2016)
- Lillard nearly unstoppable as Trail Blazers beat Jazz (Salt Lake Tribune, Jan. 13, 2016)
- Lillard scores 21 points, Trail Blazers beat Jazz (AP, Jan. 13, 2016)