The Portland Trail Blazers clinched their third consecutive playoff berth by halftime of their most recent contest, but they were far from pleased with how that game ended.
The Blazers will look for a better performance Thursday night on the road as they try to win the season series with the Utah Jazz.
Before the end of the first half of its home game Tuesday against Golden State, Portland had wrapped up a spot in the postseason with ninth-place Houston’s 104-101 loss to Sacramento. The Blazers, though, didn’t look like a team headed to the playoffs over the final 24 minutes.
Portland gave up 37 points in the third quarter and was outscored 61-40 during the second half of a 108-87 defeat to a Warriors team which had been 9-30 on the road.
The Blazers (45-33), trying to hold off New Orleans and Memphis for the sixth spot in the West, will not have home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs and have dropped five of their last six road games.
Visiting a Jazz team that’s 6-18 under interim coach Tyrone Corbin could help Portland turn around its road woes. Utah (37-41) has dropped four straight and 11 of 14 at home.
The Jazz, though, ended their longest overall losing streak of the season Tuesday night with a surprising 86-85 victory over the Lakers.
Gordon Hayward(notes) scored a career-high 22 points, including the go-ahead free throw with 6 seconds left, and fellow rookie Derrick Favors(notes) added 14 points and 11 rebounds as Utah ended an eight-game skid.
“Tonight we played like we had some heart,” said Al Jefferson(notes), who posted his ninth double-double in 12 games. “I give credit to the young guys. I think Derrick and Gordon came in and lifted us up.”
The Jazz could use more offensive contributions Thursday as they’ve scored 90.0 points per game - nearly 10 fewer than their season average - in consecutive defeats to the Blazers. Utah had won the first meeting 103-94 on Nov. 20.
Portland had lost five straight overall in the series and 16 of 18 in Salt Lake City before winning 96-91 on Dec. 27 behind Aldridge’s 26 points. He scored 27 three days later against the Jazz and former Utah swingman Wesley Matthews(notes) had 30 in the Blazers’ 100-89 home win.
Marcus Camby(notes) grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds in that victory and has averaged 15.3 in the season series, but he strained his neck in the first quarter of Tuesday’s game and did not return. Portland point guard Andre Miller(notes), though, believed Camby would be ready for the matchup in Utah.
“He just took a bump to the head. He’ll be all right,” Miller said. “Probably got a little headache, but he’ll be all right.”
The Jazz had only nine players available Tuesday and it’s unknown if Devin Harris(notes) (hamstring), Ronnie Price(notes) (leg), Raja Bell(notes) (foot), Andrei Kirilenko(notes) (knee) or Kyrylo Fesenko(notes) (thumb) will return Thursday.