Win in Utah improves Blazers' playoff standing

Win in Utah improves Blazers' playoff standing

Credit: AP Photo/Jim Urquhart

Utah Jazz forward Paul Millsap (24) is double-teamed by Portland Trail Blazers forward Gerald Wallace (3) and guard Wesley Matthews, center, and during the first half of an NBA basketball game Thursday, April 7, 2011, in Salt Lake City.

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kgw.com

Posted on April 7, 2011 at 10:23 PM

Updated Friday, Apr 8 at 8:05 AM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Gerald Wallace scored 29 points and Nicolas Batum added 21 to lead the Portland Trail Blazers over the Utah Jazz 98-87 on Thursday night.

Wallace scored 20 points in the second half as the Blazers wore down the injury-hampered Jazz, who had only nine healthy players.

The win moved Portland (46-33) into sole possession of the sixth spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers are a half game ahead of New Orleans.

The loss assured Utah (37-42) of its second losing season in 28 years. The Jazz were 26-56 in 2004-05, the only other time they finished below .500 since 1982-83.

Devin Harris, who returned after missing five games with a strained hamstring, tied a career best with five 3-pointers and led the Jazz with 26 points, but he also committed seven turnovers.

Wesley Matthews scored 18 points and LaMarcus Aldridge had 12 for the Blazers.

Each time the Jazz looked to make a run in the second half, they made costly mistakes. Then on three consecutive plays in the fourth quarter, the Jazz were stagnant until forcing a jumper to beat the shot clock that missed badly.

Paul Millsap's jumper brought the Jazz within four, but then the Blazers surged past the Jazz for a 79-64 lead on Wallace's free throws with five seconds left in the third quarter.

Millsap scored 19 points and Al Jefferson and Gordon Hayward each had 10, but the Jazz dropped their ninth game in the past 10.

Hayward had the best game of his rookie season when he scored a career-high 22 points and led the Jazz to their first road win over a Lakers team with Kobe Bryant on the court in more than a decade. But Hayward was a non-factor against the Blazers.

Wallace, who came to Portland in a midseason trade, stayed on a roll. He had scored in double figures in nine consecutive games and got 40 against Oklahoma City on March 27.

Brandon Roy added 11 points for Portland.

Matthews said before the game that the Blazers need to "hit the postseason with a head of steam" and the Blazers led start to finish against the Jazz to get them in the right direction.

Notes: Marcus Camby (neck) did not travel with the team, while the Jazz missed Raja Bell (foot) and Andrei Kirilenko (knee). ... Millsap got a technical foul with 2:54 left in the game. ... Andre Miller shot just 1 of 9, but had 12 assists.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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