SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Jazz needed some help to end a 5-game losing skid, and they got it — from the referees.
Damian Lillard’s potential game-tying lay-in with 11 seconds left was interfered with by Rudy Gobert after the ball hit the backboard, but the referee did not call goaltending, and the Jazz held on for a 117-114 victory over Portland to end a season-long five-game losing streak.
“I was just trying to make a play on the ball,” Gobert said. “But obviously watching it after replay, it should have been a goaltending. But those plays happen all the time, and it’s just part of the game.”
“We’ve been on the other side of calls,” Donovan Mitchell said. “So I can see where that frustration comes from. [Lillard] played a hell of a game, but we continued to fight.”
Asked if he would have been upset if the Jazz would have been victims of that call, Utah point guard Mike Conley said, “Yeah, I would.”
Lillard, the former Weber State star, finished with 42 points, but was livid after the game ended, barking at the referees as he left the court.
Crew chief Josh Tiven told a pool reporter after the game, “It was not reviewable since no goaltending call was made on the floor. Goaltending is only reviewable if we actually call it. We’ve since looked at it via postgame video review and unfortunately saw that we missed the play, and a goaltending violation should have been called.”
The comments were little consolation to Lillard.
“There were three referees and they don’t call that,” he said. “I don’t want to see no report that we should have called it. They cost us the game. We’re in a playoff chase and they cost us the game.”
”Obviously it’s a big play because it’s the last play and it’s what everyone is going to remember,” Gobert said. ”But I think we did a great job playing in the second half. Mistakes are made. Officials are human. I feel like it’s all part of the game.”
The controversial finish overshadowed a thrilling comeback by the Jazz, who trailed by 14 points at the half and by as many as 16 points in the third quarter.
Bojan Bogdanovic had 27 points to lead Utah, while Donovan Mitchell scored a go-ahead layup with 19.5 seconds left as the Jazz held on for the victory.
Conley added 18 points for the Jazz. Mitchell and Rudy Gobert (14 rebounds) chipped in 16 points apiece.
C.J. McCollum scored 27 points, Gary Trent added 16 and Mario Hezonja 11 for Portland, which had only seven healthy players available for the bulk of the final three quarters.
Trailing by 13 points early in the third, the Jazz used a 20-6 run to erase Portland’s lead. Ingles punctuated the run with a 3-pointer, putting Utah up 86-85.
The Jazz extended their lead to 106-99 on a 3-pointer by Bogdanovic, but the Blazers rallied. Lillard tied it at 114-all on back-to-back baskets in the final minute setting up the controversial finish.
The Blazers still had a chance to tie the game at the end, but Caleb Swanigan’s three-point attempt at the buzzer bounced off the rim.
”Our guys came out and dug in and did what we needed to do on the defensive end,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said.
The Blazers shot 75% (15 of 20) in the first quarter. Lillard served as a catalyst for the blistering start.
Stopping the NBA all-star proved to be a chore for the Jazz from the opening tip. Lillard started 7 of 7 from the floor and did not miss his first shot until midway through the second quarter.
Lillard scored 16 points in the first quarter alone. His first four shots came from the perimeter. Lillard’s last two 3-pointers in that stretch were part of a string of three straight Portland baskets that put the Blazers in front 21-12.
Utah used a 17-4 run to surge ahead early in the second quarter. Conley beat the first quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to fuel the run and Ingles capped it with another outside basket to give the Jazz a 44-41 lead.
Portland regained its footing on offense and regained the lead on a step-back 3-pointer by Lillard that broke a 52-52 tie. The Blazers used a 14-2 run to build a 72-58 halftime lead. Lillard and Gary Trent, Jr. scored back-to-back layups off steals to fuel the spurt.
The Jazz (33-18) next play at Houston Sunday.