One team walked off the Rose Garden floor hootin’ and hollerin’ Friday night after suddenly thrusting itself into the thick of the Western Conference playoff race. It wasn’t the Trail Blazers. With a clutch and stunning late-game assault, the Utah Jazz delivered a virtual death blow to the Blazers’ miniscule playoff hopes, stealing a 105-95 victory before 19,527. The Jazz (37-36) moved into eighth place in the Western Conference playoff race with the win, just ahead of the Los Angeles Lakers (37-36) because they own the postseason tiebreaker. Meanwhile, the Blazers (33-39) continued their late-season descent, dropping 3 1/2 games behind the Jazz with just 10 games left. “(Our) playoff odds are slim and none right now,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts admitted afterward. In the end, the Blazers’ feel-good, expectation-exceeding season dissolved in the blink of an eye Friday night amid a barrage of turnovers, poorly executed offensive possessions and ugly shots over the game’s final six-and-a-half minutes. When Nicolas Batum made two free throws with 6:43 left, the Blazers led 89-80 and were in control. What followed was arguably the Blazers’ worst close to any game this season. The Jazz closed the game with a 25-6 surge as the bumbling Blazers fumbled away a sure-fire victory. At one point during the Jazz’ furious finish — which included a 15-0 run — the Blazers committed turnovers on seven of nine possessions, effectively spoon feeding Utah the game.
Blazers fumble away lead — and game — to Jazz
Oregonian | Mar 30