Utah 95, Portland 71

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SALT LAKE CITY (TICKER) —The Portland Trail Blazers went into the locker room at halftime as the NBA’s hottest team but came out ice cold.

The Trail Blazers matched the worst half and posted the worst fourth quarter in franchise history, scoring just 24 points in the second half and nine in the final period of a 95-71 loss to the Utah Jazz that snapped a five-game winning streak.

The Trail Blazers had won 18 of their last 22 games, including five in a row. They had their way with the Jazz in the first half, opening a 47-37 lead.

But Portland’s offense disappeared in the second half. It made just 5-of-32 shots after halftime and watched a double-digit lead turn into an embarrassing loss.

“Our energy level was down,” Portland coach Maurice Cheeks said. “We tried to push the ball up the court, get some quick shots, but we couldn’t do that. They ran the ball back at us and got a lot of easy baskets.”

The Blazers tied the club mark for fewest points in a half, set December 6, 1991 at Philadelphia and matched January 22, 2001 at Cleveland.

Things got even worse in the fourth quarter, which began with Portland going seven minutes without a basket. After Jeff McInnis made a jumper at the 4:59 mark, the Blazers did not make another hoop, ending up 1-of-16 from the field.

Portland was held to nine points in the final period, breaking the team record of 10 set against Minnesota on April 1, 2001.

“We had nothing left in our tank. I know I didn’t have anything left in my tank,” said Blazers starting forward Bonzi Wells, who scored just six points. “I wish I could have given Mo Cheeks a better effort, but it was just a tough one for us today.”

Overall, Portland shot just 32.5 percent (25-of-77), including 2-of-14 from the arc. They committed 18 turnovers, leading to 23 points for Utah.

Matt Harpring scored 21 points and Karl Malone added 20, 11 rebounds and eight assists for Utah, which has won two in a row ollowing a three-game slide.

The Jazz played the first of seven games without coach Jerry Sloan, who was suspended for bumping referee Courtney Kirkland in Monday’s win at Sacramento. Assistant Phil Johnson guided the club but provided no fire-and-brimstone speeches at halftime.

“Nothing sensational,” Johnson said. “We have guys that want to win. You don’t have to say a lot.”

“Sometimes you miss players, sometimes you miss coaches, but we still have to stay with what we try to do,” Malone said. “With coach Johnson, we aren’t going to change a lot.”

In the second half, the Blazers were even worse than the numbers showed. After two 3-pointers by Derek Anderson opened their second-half scoring, they managed 18 points over the final 22 1/2 minutes.

Harpring scored nine points in the third quarter, including a layup that capped an 11-0 surge and pulled the Jazz into a 53-53 tie with 8:09 left. A layup by Andrei Kirilenko gave Utah the lead for good at 59-57 with 3:10 to go.

“We came out and gave them a tough time in the second half and focused on our execution,” Harpring said. “We made them shoot from outside.”

The Jazz led, 66-62, entering the fourth quarter and built the advantage to 80-65 as the Blazers misfired. Malone had three baskets during the surge, and John Stockton had a reverse layup before finding Tony Massenburg for a hammer dunk that capped the run with 5:44 to play.

“I thought Stockton and Karl, again, were unbelievable in the second half,” Johnson said. “Stockton took over the game for a certain amount of time.”

Stockton had 13 points and seven assists for Utah, which shot 49 percent (41-of-84) and committed just eight turnovers.

Zach Randolph scored 15 points and McInnis added 11 for the Blazers, who held a 47-38 edge on the boards.

Portland went 5-2 during the seven-game suspension of star forward Rasheed Wallace for threatening a referee.

“I thought Zach did a heck of a job substituting for him, but we look forward to having him back,” Cheeks said. “He’s the best player on the team.”

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
D. Davis D. Davis
4-8,  9 Pts
14 Rebs, 2 Assists
K. Malone K. Malone
9-19,  20 Pts
11 Rebs, 8 Assists

Team Stat Leaders