SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – All good things must come to an end, and the Utah Jazz 11-game winning streak was definitely a good thing for this team.
“We weren’t going to win out,” said forward Joe Ingles. “We knew this day would come.”
The Jazz looked sloppy and sluggish in their first game since returning from the all-star break in a 100-81 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers Friday night. The loss was Utah’s first since January 22nd.
CJ McCollum scored 26 points, while former Weber State star Damian Lillard added 24 and the Jazz committed 19 turnovers and shot just 42 percent from the field.
“There were just times when we were lackadaisical,” said Donovan Mitchell, who led the Jazz with 21 points. We had passes, more turnovers, and they came out with more force. They were ready to play.”
The Jazz had not lost since January 22nd at Atlanta, but having a week and a half off looked like it affected the team’s efficiency, especially on offense.
“We weren’t sharp,” said head coach Quin Snyder. “I felt like we were ready to play. We didn’t have a week of practice, but we had a couple days and I felt like we were crisp then. Turning the ball over as much as we did makes it really difficult.”
“These guys are good players, we turn the ball over 20 times, it’s hard when they have that advantage to stop them,” said Rudy Gobert, who had 15 points and 9 rebounds. “I think if we cut that down, we’re going to win this game for sure.”
McCollum and Lillard drove through and around the Jazz defense, which was ranked at the top of the league during their streak, combining for 50 points and building a 20-point lead in the third quarter.
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.
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 four of five, with the only loss a blowout to the Jazz on Feb. 11.
After Mitchell trimmed the Portland lead to 53-49, McCollum hit two 3-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.
The Jazz return to action Saturday night at home against Dallas.