Jazz 86, Trail Blazers 81

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—The Portland Trail Blazers refused to blame the trade of Rasheed Wallace on their poor performance Tuesday night.

“We stopped working. We didn’t execute. There were a lot of different things. You can look at a tape and see what’s wrong with it,” Portland’s Derek Anderson said. “Rasheed being gone, Wesley being gone. That had nothing to do with how we were playing tonight. Nothing at all.”

Carlos Arroyo scored 14 of his 20 points—including 10 straight free throws—in the fourth quarter and the Utah Jazz held off Portland 86-81 Tuesday night.

Andrei Kirilenko added 20 points and eight rebounds for the Jazz, who won their second straight after a four-game losing streak. Utah moved into sole possession of ninth place in the Western Conference, a game up on the Blazers. Denver currently occupies the final playoff spot.

The loss, which snapped Portland’s three-game winning streak, came noticeably without Wallace, who was traded Monday night with reserve Wesley Person to the Atlanta Hawks for forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim, center Theo Ratliff and guard Dan Dickau.

Wallace was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Zach Randolph, as well as one of Portland’s better defenders.

Randolph said playing without Wallace is going to “take some getting used to.”

With the new players yet to arrive, the Blazers trailed by as many as 10 points in the fourth quarter before Randolph made the second of two consecutive jumpers to pull Portland within 68-66.

Kirilenko’s 3-pointer made it 71-66, but Darius Miles hit a jumper and Damon Stoudamire added a 3-pointer to tie it at 71.

Arroyo put Utah ahead with a layup, and the Blazers tied it again on Miles’ basket with 2:19 to go. Arroyo again answered for Utah with a layup and a free throw to keep the Blazers at bay.

The Blazers were never able to take the lead. Arroyo made his 10 straight free throws down the stretch to seal the win. He finished 10-for-10 from the line.

“I’m going to do whatever is possible to help this team win—and that’s what we did,” Arroyo said.

Portland led by as many as nine points early, but the Jazz began to make a move late in the first half, narrowing the gap to 31-29 on Mikki Moore’s running jumper before the Blazers took a 38-35 halftime lead.

The Jazz opened the second half with a 10-2 run to take a 45-40 lead on Greg Ostertag’s dunk.

There was some drama when Blazers forward Ruben Patterson was fouled by Utah’s Raja Bell, and both fell into the seats. The two exchanged words and appeared to shove each other slightly as they were getting up, although they were quickly separated by teammates.

Throughout the game, the Blazers looked a bit out of sync without Wallace.

“You know it’s a business on the one hand but nevertheless it’s going to be a jolt,” coach Maurice Cheeks said. “Maybe that explains a little bit the bad shooting and that we couldn’t score.”

Anderson led the Trail Blazers with 21 points. The Jazz held Randolph to 16 points and eight rebounds.

“He didn’t get rolling,” Kirilenko said. “If you let him start rolling he will be like a machine—so you need to stop him at the beginning of the game.”

The Wallace trade was part of the Blazers’ ongoing effort to help remake an image tarnished by player arrests and team infighting. He was also in the final year of his contract and set to be paid $17 million, with no apparent desire to remain in Portland.

Wallace had become known in recent years for his uneasy relationship with NBA officials, and was suspended last season for seven games for threatening an official on the loading dock of Portland’s Rose Garden.

He also was cited last season on marijuana charges, which were later resolved. This season he drew controversy in an interview with The Oregonian bycriticizing the NBA for exploiting young black players.

Notes

Portland won 87-73 in Salt Lake City last Friday. … Jazz coach Jerry Sloan became the eighth coach in NBA history to reach 900 victories last Saturday with a 96-92 win over Phoenix. … Utah will host Minnesota on Wednesday in its last game before the All-Star break, while Portland hostsDenver on Thursday.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Utah
A. Kirilenko A. Kirilenko
7-12,  20 Pts
8 Rebs, 2 Assists
 Portland
D. Stoudamire D. Stoudamire
6-16,  18 Pts
5 Rebs, 7 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists