SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Sports) – The Utah Jazz got their starting point guard back, but their 6-game winning streak came to an end.
Ricky Rubio returned from a 6-game absence with a hamstring injury to score 12 points in 14 minutes, but former Weber State star Damian Lillard scored 25 points, dished out 8 assists to go along with 8 rebounds, as Portland handed Utah a 109-104 loss.
In a matchup between two of the NBA’s hottest teams, the Blazers made 50 percent of their shots and piled up 30 assists, exploding for 67 points in the second half.
Donovan Mitchell scored 36 points to lead the Jazz, while Jae Crowder added 15 points and 7 rebounds.
Josef Nurkic finished with 22 points, 17 in the third quarter, as the Blazers came out on fire after halftime, scoring 39 points in the third.
“Our execution defensively lost the focus that we had in the second quarter obviously,” Snyder said. “They made some shots, but they got some looks they hadn’t been getting.”
“We came out at halftime and lost our edge there,” said Kyle Korver. “I think we had a great second quarter, had the momentum on our side, and we didn’t have that same bite in our defense.”
Nurkic added 9 rebounds, 7 assists and 6 blocked shots to stifle the Jazz in the second half. CJ McCollum added 14 points for Portland, which has won seven of nine.
Meyers Leonard’s second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter capped a 10-2 burst, all without Lillard on the court, to give the Blazers a 96-88 lead. On the other end, the Jazz missed open shot after open shot, helping Portland take command.
Donovan Mitchell continued his high-scoring streak with 36 points for Utah. Jae Crowder scored 15 while Rudy Gobert had 10 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
Lillard came back in and drained a 3 for a 101-90 advantage. Mitchell desperately tried to will the Jazz back with a variety of drives and shots in the lane, but no one else could score for Utah.
McCollum gave Portland its biggest lead at 106-94 with 2:45 remaining. Mitchell’s free throws brought the Jazz to 108-104, but after Gobert’s block Joe Ingles missed a wide-open corner 3, Utah’s seventh straight miss from long distance down the stretch.
Nurkic scored 17 points in the third quarter against Utah’s frontline, which has anchored the toughest defense in the league over the past 10 games. His layup, three-point play and tip-in – a personal 7-0 run – gave the Blazers an 80-75 edge late in the period.
Portland’s 30 assists marked the 10th time in the last 12 games the Blazers have recorded at least 25. They are 14-3 this season when they finish with 25 or more.
Rubio scored 12 points, had two assists and two rebounds in his first game in two weeks.
“He looked very good,” Crowder said of Rubio. “Glad he’s out there obviously. He’s a guy that can playmake for us, and I think it’s good to have him back. He looked very good.”
The Jazz 7-game home winning streak also came to an end. They’ll try to begin another run Wednesday at home against Denver.