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Trail Blazers drop season finale to Jazz

  1. Written by: KevinHudson  / avg. rating: 3.0

    The Portland Trail Blazers dropped another close contest Thursday, falling to the Utah Jazz 96-94 at EnergySolutions Arena as Wesley Matthews' three-pointer for the win flew off the mark amid contact as time expired.

    "It was a tough call at the end, but with the refs you have to respect it. It could have gone either way tonight," said Portland forward JJ Hickson. "We played hard and a lot of games we lost at the end of the game just like tonight. But you have to be happy with the effort that we gave."

    Portland (28-38) trailed by seven points, 47-40, at the break and by nine points early in the third quarter until a 12-2 run - including six points from Nolan Smith - gave the Trail Blazers their first lead of the game, 52-51, three minutes into the second half.

    Smith tallied 16 points, seven assists as the starting point guard and Jonny Flynn came off the bench to log 18 points and a season-high 11 assists in the backup role.

    "I thought (Jonny) and Nolan complemented each other well out there again," said Portland coach Kaleb Canales. "Jonny’s been good for us in terms of change of pace. He was making great reads today and we just came up a little short there down at the end."

    Utah (36-30) extended the lead back to eight points, 72-64, late in the third but Portland reeled the Jazz back in yet again to enter the final stanza down three points at 78-75.

    The Trail Blazers scored the first four points of the fourth quarter to take a 79-78 lead and would lead by as many as four points before a late Jazz run put the home team ahead six points, 96-90, with two minutes remaining in the contest.

    A pair of Flynn free throws and a Smith layup brought the Trail Blazers to within two points, 96-94, setting up Matthews three-point attempt as the clock expired.

    "We played well enough to win it...That’s the story of the year. We didn’t do just enough to get over the hump. There are easily 18 games like that this season," Matthews said. "Credit the Jazz. They played well. They played hard. The reserve guys came out and played with a lot of energy. But at the same time… our guys really fought."

    Hickson led the Trail Blazers with 20 points, nine rebounds and Wesley Matthews notched 14 points while Kurt Thomas added 10 points, six rebounds off the bench.

    By playing, Matthews became the only Portland player to appear in all 66 games this season and he has played in every game of his three-year NBA career.

    Rookie reserve Alec Burks led Utah with 18 points and Jeremy Evans (13 points, 10 rebounds) and Enes Kanter both logged double-doubles for the Jazz.

    With the loss, the Trail Blazers ended the season on a 7-game losing streak, their longest such streak this season.
    “We didn’t really look in depth about this season in this locker room after this game today," Canales said. "We just thanked them for their effort tonight. We battled our tails off."

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