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Portland 125, Utah 104: The Trail Blazers Play Jazz Out Of The Building

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    The Portland Trail Blazers (47-27) came out hot, and didn’t let up, beating their division rival the Utah Jazz (46-28) 125-104 in front of 20,675 at the Rose Garden Tuesday night.

    Portland collected their 31st home victory of the season, the most wins at the Rose Garden since the building opened, and moved within two victories of the postseason.

    The Utah Jazz scored the first bucket of Tuesday’s contest, and Portland responded with nine unanswered points. LaMarcus Aldridge converted two free throws at the 3:33 mark of the opening period, putting the Trail Blazers ahead 32-13. Portland finished the first period leading 39-25 on the strength of 10 points from Aldridge and 13 points from Brandon Roy.

    The Trail Blazers used strong defense to hold off a charging Utah team in the second quarter. A fast break dunk from Andrei Kirilenko cut the home team’s advantage to 46-38 with 6:52 remaining in the half. Portland responded, closing out the second quarter on a 17-foot pull-up jumper from Travis Outlaw, and entered the halftime locker room leading 61-48.

    Roy finished the opening half with 17 points; Aldridge added 16 points, and Sergio Rodriquez contributed eight first half points, connecting on his first two three-point attempts.

    “I thought our guys played great,” head coach Nate McMillan said. “(Aldridge) established the paint and he’s just playing great down there lately. Brandon from the beginning of the game seemed to have his rhythm.”

    The visiting team came out aggressive to start the second half, but before the third quarter ended both teams went through a few personnel changes. Utah power forward Carlos Boozer took exception to an offensive foul drawn by Joel Przybilla with 5:05 remaining in the third quarter and the Trail Blazers on top 80-59. Przybilla and Boozer shared bards at mid court, and each were assessed a technical foul. Neither player wanted to concede, and both were given second technical fouls and sent to their respective locker rooms. Boozer left the game leading Utah in scoring through three quarters with 20 points.

    “We let that motivate us,” Roy said of Przybilla’s ejection. “We said ‘Joel we’ve got you’.”

    Utah head coach Jerry Sloan was the next person to be sent to the locker room early. Roy fouled Utah sharp shooter Kyle Korver on a fast break lay-up, and Sloan, wanting a flagrant foul called, came on to the court to protest. Sloan was tossed after being given only a single technical foul. In all the third quarter saw three ejections to go with three technical fouls.

    Portland entered the final quarter of the night leading 94-75, and pushed their lead to 109-80 on a jump shot from Outlaw with 7:32 remaining in the game. Korver closed the gap to 109-90 on back-to-back three-pointers, but the Jazz would get no closer. The Trail Blazers cruised to victory, with every active player getting action.

    “I think the guys came to the gym focused today,” Aldridge said. “This is great for us going on the road. We’ve got some tough games coming. Right now we’re playing good basketball and great defense.”

    Aldridge led all scorers with 26 points, hitting 10-of-16 shots from the field. Roy had an impressive outing, scoring 25 points, handing out a season-high 11 assists, and collecting six rebounds. Roy also added two steals and a blocked shot.

    Nicolas Batum and Outlaw contributed 17 points each, splitting the playing time load of the Rudy Fernandez, sitting out the game with back spasms. Batum reached double figures in scoring for the 13th time in his Trail Blazer career. Greg Oden added 12 points and eight rebounds, and Steve Blake added 10 points and nine assists, to be the sixth player in the game for Portland to reach double figures in the scoring column.

    “We wanted to come out and play with energy,” Roy said. “Play hard, and play a game we can be proud of.”

    Portland’s next game, the first of four on the road, is Friday April 3rd in Oklahoma City against the Thunder.

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