Jazz beat Portland in overtime thriller

Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum, left, guards Utah Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) as he drives in the first half during an NBA basketball game Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY – With the score at 94-all, Wednesday night’s final shot in regulation went to Damian Lillard. The Portland Trail Blazer star had already dropped 28 on the Jazz defense, but as the final second ran off the clock, his last-second attempt was interrupted.

Rudy Gobert took away Lillard’s game-winning basket and gave himself a game-saving block.

“I knew he did not have time to pass the ball, so I had to try to catch the shot,” Gobert said. “I had a chance to block it but if he made that it would be a tough shot.”

The game went to overtime, where Utah outscored the Blazers 18-9 to get the 112-103 win and improve to 5-3 on the season. The Jazz remained unbeaten at home.

“This is one of those wins we’re going to remember at the end of the season if we want to make the playoffs,” said Jazz guard Ricky Rubio, who led Utah with 30 points.

Lillard led both teams with 33 points, but rookie Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell had 28. Rudy Gobert contributed with 16 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Thabo Sefalosha’s 15 points was a season-high.

It was a slow start for the Jazz offense, which gave up three turnovers before producing any points. The team trailed 14-6 more than six minutes in, but back-to-back-to-back 3 pointers by Mitchell, Alec Burks and Jonas Jerebko gave the Jazz its first lead just less than eight minutes in. Mitchell finished the quarter strong, scoring the team’s final seven points.

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“We hung in there and didn’t get discouraged,” Utah head coach Quin Snyder said of the slow start. “As the game progressed we were much more aggressive.”

The Jazz held Portland to just a single point through the first five minutes of the second quarter, but was only able to produce seven points during the stretch. Portland responded to the eight-point Jazz lead with a 9-0 run. The Jazz failed to make a field goal during the final 5:44 of the half, but made eight free throws along the way. The teams entered the break tied at 39.

The Blazers led for the majority of the third quarter, but Utah, for the most part, was able to keep pace. That changed when Portland’s Ed Davis scored six points as part of a 7-0 Trail Blazer run to enter the fourth quarter with a five-point lead, but it wasn’t long until Utah had a run of its own.

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The eight-point Jazz run started with Rubio, who made a pair of free throws after being fouled on a fast break. Mitchell made a deep trey on the next possession before Rubio finished the scoring streak with a 3-point basket of his own, taking the team’s first lead of the second half, 74-72.

“That’s who we are,” Gobert said. “We know on offense when the shots are not going to fall, we got to keep attacking and keep getting shots and that is what we did tonight.”

Lillard hit a pair of 3s shortly after, but each was matched by a Jazz newcomer. The first by Sefalosha with an and-1 play, and the next by Jerebko from beyond the arc.

Another pair of 3-pointers from Lillard and CJ McCollum put Portland up 92-86 with 3:22 to go, but those were also matched; this time by Rubio and Sefalosha. A Lillard layup with less than a minute in regulation gave the Blazer’s its final lead, which lasted until a Gobert dunk 16 seconds later.

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“Late in the game, the group that was out there, I just thought they competed and played really good defense,” Snyder said. “We were able to make some plays as well.”

Mitchell scored Utah’s first five points in overtime, but the final 11 went to Rubio. Snyder said it was Rubio who closed out the game, but that might not always be the case.

“No one anointed Ricky (Rubio) as our closer,” he said. “He was just aggressive. Donovan (Mitchell) was aggressive. Thabo (Sefalosha) hit some big shots. It might not be next game. If they are double teaming him he has got to pass it.”

The Jazz will stay at home Friday night for a game against Toronto.

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