Jazz move ahead of Lakers for 8th seed

Associated Press  |  Last updated April 02, 2013
Al Jefferson scored 24 points, Mo Williams hit six 3-pointers and the Utah Jazz beat the Portland Trail Blazers 112-102 Monday night to extend their winning streak to a season-best five games. The win was Utah's second in four days over the Blazers (33-41), losers of five consecutive. Wesley Matthews scored 23 for Portland, still without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained ankle. Rookie standout Damian Lillard added 17 points, including three 3-pointers to break the NBA's single-season rookie record (166) for 3s. Utah moved a half-game ahead of the idle Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth Western Conference playoff spot, and two games ahead of Dallas. The Blazers were within 79-72 after Eric Maynor's 3-pointer with 2:02 left in the third before Williams hit his fifth and sixth 3-pointers to give Utah an 87-74 lead going into the fourth. Utah outscored Portland 52-28 in the paint. The Jazz opened the fourth on a 10-4 run, and never looked back. Randy Foye did the damage in Saturday's win over Brooklyn, going 8 of 9 on 3-pointers. On Monday, it was Williams' turn. He was a season-high 6 of 7 and finished with 20 points as six Jazz players scored in double figures. Jefferson made 12 of 21 shots, had 10 rebounds, two steals and two blocks. Derrick Favors added 18 points and seven rebounds. Lillard, the No. 6 overall pick in the June draft, had averaged 24.3 points in three previous games against Utah this season. And he was playing in a homecoming of sorts, having played just 40 miles north of Salt Lake City at Weber State. But Williams made sure the rookie couldn't match him. In Portland on Friday, Williams scored 26 of his 28 points in the second half. He was 3 of 3 from beyond the arc in the third Monday as Utah pulled away. The Blazers trailed by as many as 14 points in the first quarter. But another 3-pointer by Lillard and three-point play by Meyers Leonard pulled Portland within 29-25 with 10:35 left in the second. Victor Claver and Matthews then got hot. Matthews was 4 of 5 in the second quarter and Claver a pair of 3s, the second getting the Blazers within 47-46 with 1:57 left in the half. Williams kept the Jazz ahead with his third 3 of the night and Jefferson closed out the half with a nice spin move around J.J. Hickson for an easy layup and a 56-49 Jazz advantage. The Blazers had 10 first-half turnovers and were outscored 26-16 in the paint in the first half. They finished with 16 turnovers and were outscored 15-4 on second-chance points. Utah raced out to a 7-0 lead thanks to another 3-pointer by Foye, and bumped it to 27-13 with 2:52 left in the quarter after another dunk by Jefferson. The Jazz forced six Blazers turnovers in the first quarter and 10 in the half. NOTES: Jefferson on Monday was named Western Conference player of the week for the final week in March. In four wins, he averaged 19.8 points, 8.3 rebounds and shot 54 percent from the field. ... The Jazz were eying Lillard long before he started moving up the draft charts last year. ''You have to admire the guy coming from the area here and having the success he's had after staying at (Weber State) for four years,'' Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. ''I'm a fan from afar.'' ... Blazers coach Terry Stotts on sitting players late in the season: ''If a player wants to play and he can play, then he should play.'' ... Lillard's college team is playing East Carolina for the CIT title Tuesday night in Ogden and his former coach, Randy Rahe, was at Monday's game. ... Unlike former Jazz point guard Deron Williams on Saturday or former Brigham Young star Jimmer Fredette, Lillard received a warm welcome at the arena on Monday.
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