SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – As good as the Utah Jazz have been at home this season, their home finale was kind of a dude.
The Jazz made just 12 of 40 shots from three-point range and lost to the Portland Trail Blazers, 105-98. Utah finishes the regular season with a 31-5 home record, still the best in the NBA.
However, Utah’s lead over Phoenix for the top seed in the Western Conference is now down to one and a half games with two to play. The Suns have three games remaining.
Former Weber State star Damian Lillard scored 30 points and CJ McCollum added 26 as the Blazers held the Jazz to its third lowest point total of the season.
The Jazz made just 41.8 percent of its shots from the field and were held to just 42 second half points.
“Obviously you’re not going to have your best game every night,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “These last two games we’ve played have been really competitive games with playoff implications. I just think we’re competing. As much as anything, that’s what I want to see. I think we’re doing that. I think we did it the other night, and even tonight, with the ball not going in the hole, we hung in there.”
The Jazz are now 8-6 without All-Star guard Donovan Mitchell, who missed his 14th straight game with an ankle sprain. Mike Conley missed his ninth straight game with a hamstring injury.
Jordan Clarkson scored 29 points to lead Utah, while Rudy Gobert added 15 points and 20 rebounds.
Bojan Bogdanovic, who had scored at least 20 points in eight straight games, finished with 12 points and missed all five of his three-point attempts.
“At the beginning of the third quarter, I was looking to get to the foul line and wasn’t getting any calls,” Bogdanovic said. “I wasn’t in the right mode.”
Carmelo Anthony added 18 points for Portland. Jusuf Nurkic chipped in 11 points and 15 rebounds. The Trail Blazers won their fifth straight game and earned their ninth victory in their last 10. Portland moved into a tie with Dallas for the fifth position in the Western Conference.
Cold shooting from Utah in the second half opened the door for Portland to take control. The Jazz missed 11 of 12 shots over an eight-minute stretch to start the third quarter. The Trail Blazers capitalized, building an 84-71 lead late in the quarter following back-to-back baskets from Anthony and Lillard.
The Jazz drew within 90-81 on a second-chance dunk from Gobert. But that was their only basket through the first eight minutes of the fourth quarter. Utah missed eight of nine shots overall in that stretch.
Portland pushed the lead back to double digits amid the drought and extended its advantage to 97-81 on a layup from Lillard with 4:19 left.
“They made everything harder for us,” Gobert said. “They played very physical. It just was hard for us to do what we wanted to do. We still got a lot of open shots. On another day, we probably make those shots, and it’s a different game.”
Utah charged out of the gates in the first quarter. The Jazz made their first seven shots and scored on six straight possessions to carve out a 16-4 lead. Joe Ingles and Rudy Gobert each scored back-to-back baskets to fuel the hot start.
Portland weathered the surge and chipped away at Utah’s lead until overtaking the Jazz in the second quarter. The Trail Blazers hit nine of their first 12 shots to open the quarter and scored on four straight possessions, culminating in a 3-pointer from Norman Powell, to take a 49-46 lead.
McCollum played the largest part in sparking Portland’s offense during the second quarter. He made six baskets – capped by a halftime buzzer-beating jumper – and totaled 13 points in the quarter.
Joe Ingles had 14 points and four assists, while Georges Niang added 11 points for Utah.
Jazz rookie Udoka Azubuike played in an NBA game for the first time since late January after missing 41 games with a severe right ankle sprain.
The Jazz (50-20) next play at Oklahoma City Friday night.