It's Utah in the Fourth Quarter. Again.
You could see this coming a mile away.
This is what Utah does. This is what they've been doing. Okay, it was uncoventional the way it happened this time. But, when you develop a specific identity, and build a belief based on recent results, it becomes a habit.
Basically, if you don't completely close out the Utah Jazz before the fourth quarter begins then you've got trouble. It's not like we haven't been warned.
Make it six times in their nine wins now that the Jazz have trailed, sometimes significally trailed, in the fourth quarter and have rallied to win. Their attack can sometimes just wear you down. Other times, like Saturday night at the Rose Garden, they can drop it like a sledge hammer. When they outscore you 38-20 in the fourth quarter, that's a sledge hammer.
What made this particular case unconventional is that it didn't come in the form of Deron Williams, Paul Millsap, or Al Jefferson. C.J. Miles, who came into the game having hit just 11 of his 40 attempts from behind the three-point line, went 7 for 10. He gave the Jazz a heartbeat after they trailed by as many as 11 on several instances, and then turned out Portland's lights in the final minutes.
Even for the Jazz, this was an amazing turnaround. They shot just 27 percent in the third quarter, on 6 for 22 shooting. Then, behind Miles, went 13 for 18 in the fourth, good for 72 percent. The Blazers, meanwhile, went 7 for 23 in the fourth, after shooting just 9 for 24 in the third.
Up until the fourth quarter, the Jazz had held a lead in this game for exactly :06 seconds. The Trail Blazers were able to somewhat control Utah, and keep them at arm's length, but were never able to run away and hide. They went cold when the couldn't afford to, and started chucking up low-percentage shots. Then, in desperation time, couldn't hit a thing.
When you outrebound Utah 48-38, and outscore them in the paint 46-34, you're supposed to win. But, when you get outscored 30 to 12 at the three-point line, by a team that's not exactly known for its three-point shooting, that's a recipe for disaster.
LaMarcus Aldridge led the way for Portland, scoring 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. Another double-double for Aldridge, and another very solid performance. Marcus Camby had 14 rebounds, and Nicolas Batum gave the team his usual 14 points. But, the starting backcourt, Andre Miller and Wesley Matthews were just 12 for 32.
Matthews, who badly wanted to beat his former team, perhaps was presssing a bit. His aggressive play earned him two quick fouls in this contest, seemed to knock him off his game, and changed Portland's approach. They were still able to maintain the lead, but you could feel momentum shifting right before halftime.
From then on everything seemed to be a struggle for the Blazers, and Miles got hot for Utah.
That was that.
To listen to Nate McMillan's post-game comments, click here
Finally now, a break in the schedule. The Trail Blazers don't play again until Friday. Time to rest, time to practice, and hopefully time to get Brandon Roy ready for a return. We also should see Joel Przybilla make his return to the lineup. It'll take that and more, because the red-hot New Orleans Hornets are up next.