SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — With a slight frame and a jump shot that still needs some work, Utah Jazz rookie guard Eric Maynor isn’t likely to strike fear into his NBA opponents just yet.But the first-round draft pick from Virginia Commonwealth is making progress. He had 14 points and five assists to help the Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 99-96 in a preseason game Thursday night.”He doesn’t look like he’s strong enough to hold down his breakfast,” Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Maynor. “He’s got a little more toughness than what he looks at times. He looks to get people the basketball and shot the ball pretty well tonight. He’s coming along fine.”Maynor scored seven points while playing most of the fourth quarter.”I’m just trying to provide whatever the team needs me to provide every time I go in there,” Maynor said. “You learn something new every day just because I’m new at it. You learn something almost every possession. Everything is new to me.”A stifling defensive effort in the first quarter gave Maynor and several other subs the chance to play extended minutes against the Blazers.The Jazz (2-1) held the Blazers (2-3) scoreless until Joel Przybilla’s three-point play made it 8-3 with 8:07 left in the first quarter. Utah held Portland to 13 points and 22 percent shooting from the field in the first quarter and built a 25-13 lead.Mehmet Okur scored 15 points to lead the Jazz. He was 5 of 7 from the field and made two 3-pointers, both in the game’s first 4 minutes.Portland’s only lead was 49-48 on Nicolas Batum’s 3-pointer with 10:28 left in the third. Carlos Boozer scored on a tip-in 19 seconds later to start Utah’s 8-0 run.Another 8-0 run late in the third quarter, with Okur scoring five points, gave Utah a 73-59 lead. Portland got within 95-92 with 35 seconds remaining, but the Jazz closed it at the free-throw line.Blazers coach Nate McMillan was pleased his team fought back down the stretch while playing their second game in as many nights.”I like the scrappy play,” McMillan said. “We didn’t win this game but right now we’re talking about effort and I thought the guys tonight came out, who were in uniform and played scrappy. We’ve got to compete out on that floor every night.”The Jazz had 28 deflections in the first half, but their defense softened after halftime. Portland shot 45 percent from the field in the second half, compared to just 34 percent in the first half.”Well, I think everybody got a chance to play, and we had some things that went well, we had some things that didn’t go too well,” Sloan said. “In the second half we tried to walk around and run the offense at half speed. You let a team back in a ballgame when that happens.”Deron Williams played 26 minutes and had 10 points, seven assists and seven rebounds for the Jazz, while Ronnie Brewer added 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and had three steals. Wesley Matthews also had 12 points for Utah.Steve Blake led the Blazers with 19 points, including five 3-pointers, in 22 minutes, while Andre Miller and Jerryd Bayless both added 13 points.NOTES: The Jazz were without regulars Andrei Kirilenko and Kyle Korver. Kirilenko is home in Russia because of personal reasons and Korver has an inflamed left knee. Blazers G Rudy Fernandez did not play after aggravating a back injury against Phoenix on Wednesday. Blazers G Brandon Roy was also held out of the game. The teams have played 17 times in the preseason and Utah leads the series 11-6. They have played in Salt Lake City four times and the Jazz are 4-0 in those games.
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