Hayward, Gobert lead Jazz to 106-87 win over Trail Blazers
Smaller, quicker guards have given the Utah Jazz fits in many instances this season. Tuesday wasn't one of them.
Gordon Hayward scored 30 points and Rudy Gobert added 20 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Jazz to a 106-87 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
The Jazz controlled the game most of the night with a defensive effort that bottled up everyone not named C.J. McCollum, and the Blazers never found a consistent offensive flow.
"We have so much respect for their guards and our guys know the urgency it takes to guard them," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "So we're working hard. At the same time, you have to be fortunate with those guys. A lot of shots they missed tonight, they're capable of making.
"You kind of knock on wood a little bit."
On the other end, Hayward was an efficient 12 for 20 from the floor, including 4 for 6 from behind the arc. Gobert recorded his 57th double-double and continued to show his offensive growth in the pick-and-roll game. He also had three blocks and constantly altered shots in the paint.
"The way they guarded me tonight, I was able to get some looks early," Hayward said, "with the big being back and so there was a lot of space to operate. That got me going early.
"Rudy did a good job screening them and freeing me, then I could attack the big downhill and kind of have whatever I wanted. Once you see a couple shots go in, too, that definitely makes you feel better."
The Jazz opened the fourth quarter with a 15-6 stretch to take a 90-70 lead that put away the game.
McCollum scored 25 for the Blazers and Damian Lillard finished with 16.
"I didn't shoot the ball well," Lillard said. "Didn't impact the game as much as I would have liked. ... They're on a string out there on the defensive end and they made it tough for us. You got to give them credit. But I also felt like I had some looks I should have made, I usually do make that I didn't.
"We're ready to go home and finish the season out strong and we know that we control what happens."
The Jazz took a 47-41 lead into halftime after a hot start and surviving a second-quarter tear from McCollum.
Utah opened the game with an 11-0 run and was having its way with a heavy dose of Gobert and Hayward, but Portland chipped away. McCollum had 10 second-quarter points on 5-for-8 shooting.
The Trail Blazers took their only lead at 31-30, but a 13-2 Jazz run pushed the lead back to 10.
"I thought we got good shots early and weren't able to connect on them and then it just kind of snowballed after that," Blazers coach Terry Stotts said.
Trail Blazers: Jusef Nurkic (leg) missed his third consecutive game. ... Portland was outrebounded 47-28.
Jazz: Rodney Hood (knee), Derrick Favors (knee), George Hill (groin) and Raul Neto (groin) did not play. ... Dante Exum went down with a hip injury in the third quarter and did not return.
Trail Blazers: Portland holds a half-game lead over the Denver Nuggets for the last Western Conference playoff spot with four games remaining. It holds the tiebreak over the Nuggets.
Jazz: Utah has a one-game lead over the Clippers for the No. 4 seed in the West with four games to go.
Utah has used 22 different starting lineups this season. The lineup of Hayward, Gobert, Boris Diaw, Joe Ingles and Dante Exum started for just the second time this season.
"People coach and play the end of the season in various ways," Snyder said. "Our situation is so variable. We've got health (issues), we've got home-court (advantage) and we've got seeding. You want to be playing well and be confident going in. So there's a lot of different factors.
"In my mind, the best thing for us to do is take each game at a time and whoever's ready to go, put them out there and try to play as well as we can."
Trail Blazers: Portland hosts Karl-Anthony Towns and the Timberwolves on Thursday after losing to them Monday in Minnesota.
Jazz: Utah hosts the Timberwolves on Friday.
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