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Jazz 86, Trail Blazers 77

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- Al Jefferson scored 21 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and had two blocked shots to lead the Utah Jazz to an 86-77 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers at EnergySolutions Arena on Friday night.

Paul Millsap added 15 points, Randy Foye hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 points with seven rebounds, and DeMarre Carroll contributed an energetic boost and 13 points off the bench for the Jazz.

The win was Utah's second in a row at home and improved the Jazz's record to 26-21. They've won eight of nine at home, that one loss on Monday to Houston.

Utah basketball fans who appreciated the collegiate career Damian Lillard had at nearby Weber State sure got their money's worth.

The Blazers point guard put on an offensive display, helping the Portland erase a large chunk of the Jazz's 17-point lead to make this a competitive game down the stretch.

Lillard finished with 26 points, including three 3-pointers and several dazzling drives, to go with five assists and three rebounds.

Lillard cut Utah's lead to five at 80-75 with a 3-pointer with under four minutes remaining, but he then missed a shot beyond the arc that could've cut the Jazz lead to two with three minutes remaining.

Millsap then blocked Nicolas Batum's inside shot, and the Jazz clinched the win with two Foye free throws and back-to-back buckets by Jefferson.

LaMarcus Aldridge scored 16 points with 10 rebounds, and J.J. Hickson chipped in with 11 points, but Portland fell to 23-23 with the defeat.

The Jazz and Blazers will play again Saturday night at the Rose Garden in a rare home-and-away back-to-back schedule.

The night took an especially bad turn for Portland when Wesley Matthews rolled his right ankle while driving to the basket with 4:13 left in the third quarter.

The Blazers starting shooting guard writhed in pain for a couple of minutes on the court before being helped by teammates to the bench. X-rays taken of his ankle were negative, and he'll be re-evaluated before Saturday night's game in Portland.

Late in the fourth quarter, another Portland player who used to call Utah home, hit the hardwood in pain. Portland's Ronnie Price also injured his right ankle with 2:29 remaining after fouling Foye.

The Jazz also had some injury issues.

Millsap hurt his left hand early in the second half and was forced to come out of the game before returning.

Backup point guard Earl Watson left in the first half with a sore lower right leg. Watson returned, but then exited for good in the fourth quarter, limping to the training room.

The Jazz shot 43.2 percent, but were able to control the game for most of the night thanks to the Blazers' own shooting struggles (36.7 percent).

NOTES: Lillard was named the Western Conference Rookie of the Month for January. The 6-foot-3 point guard topped all rookies in scoring (17.7 ppg), assists (6.8 apg) and minutes (39.6 mpg). "I played another good month. I say that every time, I played a good month of basketball," Lillard said. "I got to give credit to our team because if we weren't winning games, I don't think I would be able to be singled out as a rookie." ... A group of 165 basketball fans from Weber State drove 35 miles down from Ogden to support Lillard, who played for the Wildcats from 2008-12. This was Lillard's first pro game in his college state. "It's similar to the game in Oakland (his hometown). I got to play in front of a lot of familiar faces, people that I grew up with," Lillard said. "Now it's people that I've been around the last four years of my life. It's great to be able to play an NBA game in front of them." ... Foye reached 100 3-pointers quicker than player in franchise history earlier this week. The shooting guard had 102 3-pointers before Friday's game. Retired center Mehmet Okur holds the Jazz season record of 129 treys. ... Price also played his collegiate career at a small Utah school, Utah Valley University. ... Matthews also played for the Jazz earlier in their NBA careers.
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