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Damian Lillard leads desperate Portland past Utah

Mar 22, 2023; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives between Utah Jazz guard Johnny Juzang (33) and forward Lauri Markkanen (23) in the second quarter at Vivint Arena. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Damian Lillard scored 30 to lead a quartet of Portland players with at least 20 points in a 127-115 Trail Blazers victory over the Utah Jazz in Salt Lake City on Wednesday night.

Lillard struggled from 3-point range, hitting 2 of 10, but made 6 of 9 inside the arc and nailed 12 of 14 free throws while adding 12 assists to help the Blazers snap their six-game losing streak. Shaedon Sharpe contributed 24 points and nine rebounds, Trenton Watford scored 21 with nine boards, and Jusuf Turkic had 20 points.

Portland (32-40) kept its slim playoff hopes alive while handing Utah (35-37) a tough home loss after impressive wins over Boston and Sacramento.

Utah’s Lauri Markkanen, who missed Monday’s game with back soreness, topped all scorers with 40 points while also grabbing 12 rebounds.

Only three other Jazz players reached double figures in scoring. Kris Dunn had 15 points and six rebounds off the bench while Kelly Olynyk chipped in with a double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds. Talen Horton-Tucker scored 11.

The Blazers, three back of the Jazz in the race for the final play-in spot in the West, dominated down the stretch after seeing the Jazz erase Portland’s early 15-point lead and tie the score early in the fourth quarter.

Kevin Knox broke the tie and put Portland ahead for good with a 3-pointer at the 10:23 mark. The Blazers then rebuilt their double-digit advantage with a 9-0 run midway through the fourth and never looked back.

Utah held a 34-29 lead after the first quarter, but Portland turned it on in the second.

The Blazers outscored the Jazz 39-22 in the period to take a 68-56 lead into halftime despite 23 first-half points for Markkanen.

The Jazz, who’d won four of five games coming into this one, roared back in the third quarter, cutting the Blazers’ lead to three heading into the fourth. Olynyk then tied the game with a three-point play early in the final stanza.

–Field Level Media

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