PORTLAND (AP) – Jordan Clarkson scored 28 points, including eight straight in the final 1:48, in the Utah Jazz’s 118-113 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers yesterday.
Malik Beasley had 29 points off the bench to help Utah take the Western Conference lead at 12-6.
“We’re proud of the way we’ve represented ourselves after 18 games,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. “We believe we can get better. That’s our focus. Like every team, we’re not a finished product yet. That doesn’t mean we’re proud of where we are at this point, but we can’t get lost in what anybody is saying about us.”
Beasley was a force throughout the game, especially in the second quarter, where he scored 15 points.
“I think he’s understanding our system a little bit better,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said about Beasley, who made six three-pointers. “The timing with which he’s cutting, the timing of how he is coming off screens has been really good. And his teammates have been finding him at the right moments.”
The Jazz also scored 28 points off 18 Blazers turnovers.
“A lot of it is carelessness,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. “Some of it is other teams pressuring our passes and activity. Some of it is unfamiliarity with each other. There’s a lot of things put into that. But regardless of what the issue is we have to be better.”
Anfernee Simons led Portland with 23 points. “We took too long to fight,” Billups said.
Both teams lost their starting point guards in the second half.
After colliding into a screen, Utah’s Mike Conley left with a left knee injury with 10:22 left in the third quarter.
Not long after Conley exited, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard went to the locker room and did not return because of tightness in his right calf. Lillard has missed five games so far this season with the calf strain.
“The last time was worse,” Lillard said of his current calf issue. “When I first strained it, I knew right away. The reason I took myself out is so hopefully this time we can get ahead of it instead of me staying out there and putting myself in a worse position.”