PORTLAND, Ore. — Damian Lillard came close to a triple-double, but the Trail Blazers were in such control against the Utah Jazz that he wasn’t needed in the fourth quarter.
Lillard finished with 21 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds before sitting out the final period, and Portland shook off a slow first half to beat the Jazz 99-85 on Wednesday night.
"It was good for me to get that rest," Lillard said. "Obviously, I would have liked to get the triple-double. I think that’s as early as I’ve been that close, with a whole quarter to go. But I’ll have plenty of opportunities."
It was Lillard’s eighth double-double of the season, a new career high. He’s never had a triple-double.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts thought, given the sizable lead, it was better for Lillard to rest. The All-Star guard was playing his fifth game after missing seven with plantar fasciitis in his left foot.
"If he had been closer I may have considered it," Stotts said.
CJ McCollum added 15 points and eight assists for Portland, which led by as many as 20 in the second half after the teams traded the lead in the first. It was the Blazers’ second consecutive victory following a three-game losing streak.
Gordon Hayward had 19 points for Utah, which had won two straight. The Jazz, who were coming off an 86-74 victory over the Lakers in Los Angeles, have not strung together three consecutive wins this season.
"Some breakdowns on defence led to some open 3s, and with a team like this, when they see the ball go in, they can put up points in a hurry," Hayward said.
Jazz centre Rudy Gobert, playing in his fourth game since missing 18 with a sprained left knee, had three points and eight rebounds. But Utah remained without Derrick Favours, who missed his 11th game because of a sore back. He was listed as questionable before the game.
The Blazers were coming off a 115-110 victory Monday over Oklahoma City, notable because Lillard scored 17 points — including five 3-pointers — in the last 3:07 alone.
The teams kept it close in a rather lacklustre first half, with neither one able to extend its advantage into double digits.
There was a scary moment midway through the first quarter when Hayward was slow to get up after it appeared he took an elbow. Hayward signalled to come out, but remained on Utah’s bench, and several minutes later returned to the game.
Gobert elbowed Mason Plumlee late in the first half for a flagrant foul.
Gerald Henderson’s 3-pointer gave the Blazers a 37-30 lead, their biggest of the game to that point. Portland led 43-37 at halftime, paced by Henderson’s 10 points off the bench.
Lillard’s 3-pointer gave Portland a 51-39 lead, which it pushed to 70-54 on a 3 and a long jumper from Meyers Leonard.
It was Lillard’s sixth game this season with 20 or more points and 10 or more assists.
Jazz: Chris Johnson played 7:31 in the first half but did not return for the second because of viral gastroenteritis, the team said. … Trey Lyles had a career-high 16 points.
Trail Blazers: The team honoured the Portland Timbers for winning the MLS Cup. In his pregame session with reporters, Stotts wore a Timbers scarf. … Lillard had four 3-pointers. … Portland had a season-high 10 blocked shots.
YOU MAD, BRO?
Former Jazz guard and current analyst Raja Bell caused a stir by suggesting to CBSsports.com that Hayward might benefit by leaving Utah. "They’ll never get rid of Gordon," Bell said, "but for his sake I would hope they’d let him go and see what it’s like to play in other places in the NBA where they do things a little more professionally and are up with the times. Forgive me, Utah." Jazz coach Quin Snyder expressed surprise at Bell’s comments, saying he did not know the split was acrimonious. "I don’t understand why he would say that. I don’t. He can say what he wants. I just don’t get it," Snyder said.
Speaking about Lillard, Snyder said: "If you make a mistake on him, it’s almost like a pitcher that throws a high fastball — he knocks it out."
The Jazz host Sacramento on Thursday night.
The Trail Blazers visit Brooklyn on Saturday night.