Game slips away from Blazers in overtime loss to Jazz
PORTLAND— It was there for the taking. And then it was gone.
The Trail Blazers watched a 13-point fourth-quarter lead over the Utah Jazz evaporate into nothingness Sunday night at the Rose Garden before a sold-out crowd of 20,565.
And a game in which Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy found his rhythm and stride was thrown away due to poor late-game execution and poorer shooting.
Despite receiving a game-high 23 points from an ailing Roy, Portland fell to Utah 93-89 in overtime.
“I’ve always felt that if you play with this game, this game will come back and get you,” Blazers coach Nate McMillan said. “What I mean by that is, if you lose your focus and don’t play the game the right way, it will come back on you.”
Up by 25 points midway through the third quarter, the Blazers’ lead was trimmed to two with 30.2 seconds to go.
A fadeaway hook shot by Utah’s Carlos Boozer with less than a second remaining in regulation then tied the game at 83 and sent the contest into overtime.
Portland was held to 10 points on 2-of-17 shooting in the fourth quarter.
“If we are serious about really making a run, then we’ve got to act like it and we’ve got to play like it,” McMillan said. “We’ve got to have guys that step up. We’ve got veterans. We’ve got guys who have been on the team. We’ve got to show that in what we do out on the floor.”
The Blazers’ cold hand then froze up in the extra period, and Portland (32-26) finished the game hitting just 4 of its last 27 shots.
A 3-pointer by Roy marked Portland’s only points through the first 4 minutes, 39 seconds of overtime.
A 3 by Rudy Fernandez pulled the Blazers within 91-89 with 21 seconds to go.
But a desperation 3 by Roy rimmed out.
Portland’s loss gave Utah a four-game sweep of the season series, and handed Utah its 17th victory in its last 19 games.
Newly acquired center Marcus Camby collected a team-high 18 rebounds (eight offensive) and added four blocks for the Blazers.
The big numbers became meaningless, though. And Camby said Portland’s disappointing defeat was a lost opportunity.
“It’s real tough,” Camby said. “But we’ve got a long flight (today). We’ll think about it and regroup and take out our frustrations out on (New) Jersey.”
The Blazers begin a five-game road trip by taking on the Nets on Tuesday.
Boozer topped the Jazz (36-19) with 22 points and a career-high 23 rebounds.
“He’s so strong,” Camby said. “Utah teams are normally physical teams, and they tend to get away with a lot of stuff that the referees don’t see or don’t want to call out there. But you can’t take away from his physical gift that he has out there and his knack for getting the basketball.”
Utah outscored the Blazers 50-30 in the paint, while Portland was held to 35.2 percent (31 of 88) shooting from the field.
However, the Blazers initially looked a world removed from the out-of-synch team who fell by 20 to Boston on Friday.
Energized by improved performances from Nicolas Batum (14 points) and Fernandez, Portland clamped down early on the Jazz, holding Utah to 25-percent shooting from the field in the first quarter.
A 27-14 Blazers first-period advantage then blossomed into a 49-32 lead as Batum and Andre Miller hammered down.
LaMarcus Aldridge (15 points) also carried Portland, alternately dominating the low block and slicing through the paint to finish off tightly run pick-and-roll moves.
The most promising outing of the night belonged to Roy, though.
After struggling through his first two games back in the lineup and putting up just two points in the first quarter Sunday, Roy began to approach his old self in the third quarter. He scored 10 points on 3-of-6 shooting, guiding Portland to a 73-60 lead heading into the final period.
But a major late-game meltdown followed. And not even Roy could save Portland’s night.
“They kept fighting hard,” Roy said. “They didn’t let up at all.”
Portland trainer Jay Jensen said before tipoff that Roy was diagnosed in January with a “hamstring strain of the biceps femoris in his musculotendinous junction.” Jensen stated that Roy has developed very good hamstring flexibility since the strain, though, and recently ran 12 miles per hour on a treadmill at a 15-percent grade for an extended period of time. Combined with Roy’s assertion that he is healthy enough to play, Jensen said the team has decided to allow him to work through the injury so he will be 100 percent once the hamstring heals. … Camby has recorded four points, 25 rebounds and seven blocks during his first two games with the Blazers. … Despite the loss, Portland maintained its hold on the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoff chase. … Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko was forced to leave the game due to back spasms.