Jefferson, Williams lift Jazz over Blazers 112-102

Published on NewsOK Modified: April 1, 2013 at 11:58 pm •  Published: April 1, 2013
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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The Utah Jazz looked like a team on the verge of collapse 10 days ago.

Now they've won a season-best five straight to move a half-game ahead of the idle Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth Western Conference playoff spot.

"Look at the Baltimore Ravens," Jazz big man Al Jefferson said of the Super Bowl champs. "They started to play well right at the right time. We're clicking at the right time. We have seven more games to go."

Jefferson scored 24 points, Mo Williams hit six 3-pointers and the Jazz (39-36) beat the Portland Trail Blazers 112-102 Monday night.

"We're a team that's playing like we want to be in the playoffs," Jefferson added.

It helps that Utah is knocking down 3s, opening things up inside even more for its big men.

Randy Foye did the damage in Saturday's win over Brooklyn, going 8 of 9 from beyond the arc.

On Monday, it was Williams' turn.

He made a season-high 6 of 7 3-pointers and finished with 20 points as six Jazz players scored in double figures.

In the last two games, the Jazz have made 19 3-pointers.

Williams said he is just being more aggressive.

"I'm just playing," said Williams, who also had nine assists in pushing the up-tempo game. "I'm not even thinking about it. Let the plays happen. Let my natural ability take over."

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. The Jazz opened the fourth on a 10-4 run, and never looked back.

Utah led by as many as 19 points, outscoring Portland 52-28 in the paint.

Jefferson, fresh off Western Conference player of the week honors, did much of the damage.

He made 12 of 21 shots, had 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocks and two assists. Paul Millsap added 16 points on 7-of-11 shooting, and Derrick Favors had 18 points and seven rebounds for the Jazz.

The win was Utah's second in four days over the Blazers (33-41), losers of five consecutive and still without leading scorer LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained ankle.

Wesley Matthews led Portland with 23 points. Rookie standout Damian Lillard added 17 points, including three 3-pointers to break the NBA's single-season rookie record (166). He finished 7 of 16 overall and 3 of 7 beyond the arc, with five assists and five rebounds.

"It's an honor to be able to do that," Lillard said. "But I wish I would have done it in a win. It's bittersweet."

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 enjoying a homecoming of sorts, having played just 40 miles north of Salt Lake City at Weber State.