Lillard, Nurkic's big 3rd send Blazers past Jazz, 109-104
Damian Lillard scored 26 points and Jusuf Nurkic had 17 in the third quarter to lift the Portland Trail Blazers past the Utah Jazz 109-104 on Monday night.
In a matchup between two of the NBA's hottest teams, the Blazers made 50 percent of their shots and piled up 30 assists to snap Utah's six-game winning streak.
Nurkic finished with 22 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and six blocks. CJ McCollum added 14 points for Portland, which has won seven of nine.
Meyers Leonard's second 3-pointer of the fourth quarter capped a 10-2 burst, all without Lillard on the court, to give the Blazers a 96-88 lead. On the other end, the Jazz missed open shot after open shot, helping Portland take command.
Donovan Mitchell continued his high-scoring streak with 36 points for Utah. Jae Crowder scored 15 while Rudy Gobert had 10 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks.
Lillard came back in and drained a 3 for a 101-90 advantage. Mitchell desperately tried to will the Jazz back with a variety of drives and shots in the lane, but no one else could score for Utah.
McCollum gave Portland its biggest lead at 106-94 with 2:45 remaining. Mitchell's free throws brought the Jazz to 108-104, but after Gobert's block Joe Ingles missed a wide-open corner 3, Utah's seventh straight miss from long distance down the stretch.
Nurkic scored 17 points in the third quarter against Utah's frontline, which has anchored the toughest defense in the league over the past 10 games. His layup, three-point play and tip-in — a personal 7-0 run — gave the Blazers an 80-75 edge late in the period.
Portland's 30 assists marked the 10th time in the last 12 games the Blazers have recorded at least 25. They are 14-3 this season when they finish with 25 or more.
Trail Blazers: The first nine Portland baskets were points in the paint. Conversely, the Blazers went more than eight minutes in the second quarter without an inside basket. ... Evan Turner got a technical for his reaction to a foul by Ricky Rubio in the second quarter. ... Portland shot 7 for 13 in the second half from 3-point range after shooting just 1 of 5 in the first half.
Jazz: Jae Crowder got a technical after mixing it up with Nurkic in the third quarter. Gobert was whistled for another technical less than two minutes later. ... Gobert is tied with Joel Embiid for the NBA lead with 39 double-doubles and has posted one in eight consecutive games. ... Mitchell is averaging nearly 30 points over the last nine games.
Rubio, who had been out since straining his hamstring in the first quarter against Milwaukee on Jan.7, returned to the court and it was none too soon for the Jazz. Besides Rubio, Dante Exum and Raul Neto have also been injured, forcing Mitchell to play the point.
Even though Utah won all six games Rubio missed, coach Quin Snyder said before the game: "There's just so many things that are subtle that he does on the floor. On-the-ball defense, probably since the early part of the year, has been one of the things (where) he's been solid. ... It's great to have him back. He's a competitor and we missed him."
Rubio, who was on a medical minutes restriction, scored 12 points.
Blazers: Visit the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday.
Jazz: Host the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday.