SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – Less than 24 hours after a heartbreaking loss to the Phoenix Suns, the Utah Jazz bounced back with a vengeance, pulling away from the Portland Trail Blazers Thursday night, 122-103.
Donovan Mitchell scored 37, while Rudy Gobert added 18 points and 21 rebounds, as the Jazz won for the 23rd consecutive time at home.
Utah is now 9-1 this season in the second game of back-to-backs.
“This was a must-win,” Mitchell said. “We kind of put our focus on that, not letting three go to teams who are playoff bound.”
Joe Ingles added 13 points and six assists and Utah dominated the glass by outrebounding Portland 58-41 while snapping a two-game skid.
Former Weber State star Damian Lillard scored 23 points and C.J. McCollum added 19 to lead the Trail Blazers, who lost for the third time in four games.
Jazz 6th Man of the Year candidate Jordan Clarkson did not play because of a sprained right ankle. It was the first game Clarkson has missed this season.
Utah surged on offense in the third quarter when it erased a six-point deficit and built a double-digit lead while scoring 40 points on 57% shooting from the field.
The Jazz went on a 25-4 run over a six-minute stretch to take a 93-72 lead. Mitchell, Gobert and Ingles combined to make 10 free throws during that stretch. Ingles and Mitchell also combined to score or assist on seven baskets during the decisive run.
“It’s almost like we got better throughout the game,” Gobert said. “Communication got better. Our aggressiveness got better.”
“Our defense was the biggest thing,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said. “And our defensive rebounding in the third quarter really broke the game open.”
Both teams struggled with generating consistent offense in the first half. Utah shot 41% from the field and Portland shot 43%. Each team finally settled into a rhythm late in the second quarter.
The Jazz went up 46-42 when Mitchell scored back-to-back baskets and assisted on a pair of others over a 2½-minute stretch. Mitchell scored or assisted on 10 of Utah’s 20 first-half baskets.
Portland answered with a 12-0 run and took a 54-46 lead just before halftime. McCollum and Lillard scored back-to-back baskets to finish off the run.
Derrick Favors scored seven points, and passed Mehmet Okur to move into 10th place on the Jazz all-time scoring list.
The Jazz next host Sacramento Saturday night at 7:00 p.m.