Mitchell’s big 2nd half stymies Blazers rally in Jazz win

Utah Jazz forward Joe Ingles, center, drives to the basket against Portland Trail Blazers guard CJ McCollum (3) and center Hassan Whiteside, second from right, during an NBA basketball game Thursday, Dec. 26, 2019, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Jeff Swinger)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Donovan Mitchell scored 28 of his 35 points in the second half to power the Utah Jazz to a 121-115 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Thursday night.

Rudy Gobert, who had 16 points and 15 rebounds, forced Carmelo Anthony into an air ball with 22.4 seconds remaining and blocked Damon Lillard’s driving shot with 5.2 seconds left to quell the Trail Blazers’ furious fourth-quarter rally.

Lillard scored 34 points, including a pair of 30-foot contested 3-pointers in the final minutes, and CJ McCollum tallied 17 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter for the Blazers (14-18), who have dropped two straight after winning four in a row.

McCollum, who struggled with his accuracy all night, finally made a jumper to cap a 10-0 Portland spurt to draw within 100-93 with 7:23 to play.

Gobert made a basket and a free throw, but McCollum scored five more points in a 7-0 run to trim the lead to 103-102. But Mitchell seemed to have an answer for every improbable Blazer shot down the stretch.

The Jazz (19-12), who have won six of the last seven games, took their largest lead at 86-63 after Gobert’s push shot in the lane. Lillard scored eight straight points but Mitchell wouldn’t let Lillard go on one of his epic runs without a response.

Mitchell scored 10 points in the final 1:29 of the third quarter to boost the Jazz lead back to 20. The Jazz guard was 5-for-5 from the field and 5-for-6 and had 16 points in the period.

Ingles, who has been thriving in the starting lineup, scored 26 points a game after tying his career high of 27.

He made his first six shots and already had 14 points when the Trail Blazers were stuck on 10. Often prodded by his teammates to shoot more, he danced around multiple screens on the perimeter and was continually left open.

The Australian sharpshooter has scored 13 or more in seven straight games after averaging less than eight points a game before that point.

Cleveland traded Jordan Clarkson to the Jazz for guard Dante Exum and two future second-round draft picks on Tuesday.

Hours after passing his physical, Clarkson checked in with 4:05 left in first quarter and made a pull-up jumper off the dribble, a minute later. That’s not a shot Jazz fans have seen Exum take. He got nine attempts in his 11-minute stint and scored 9 points but missed all three of his shots in the second half.

The 27-year-old Clarkson averaged 14.6 points per game this season and is tasked to bring punch to Utah’s anemic second unit. In his final game for the Cavaliers, Clarkson scored a season-high 33 points to lead Cleveland over Memphis.

Exum, the No. 5 overall pick in 2014, didn’t play in his last six games.


Trail Blazers: Lillard, who missed all 10 3-point attempts in Monday’s loss to New Orleans, made three 3s by halftime and had 17 points. … Portland outscored Utah 26-7 in the first 7:20 of the fourth quarter. … Both Anthony and Royce O’Neal committed in-bound fouls in the final 18 seconds resulting in a free throw and the ball.

Jazz: Ingles was so hot to start the game, he let the Trail Blazers know it and was hit with a taunting technical. … Mike Conley missed five games with a sore hamstring. He then re-injured it in his first game back and has missed four more games. … The Jazz waived Jeff Green on Tuesday and signed Rayjon Tucker from the Milwaukee Bucks’ G-League affiliate. Tucker didn’t play Thursday.


The Trail Blazers host the Los Angeles on Saturday night.

The Jazz visit the Los Angeles Clippers on Saturday night.

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