(Sports Network) - Fresh off clinching the Western Conference's last playoff
berth, the Utah Jazz will finish off their regular season by hosting the
Portland Trail Blazers.
Al Jefferson went on a personal eight-point run in the fourth quarter on
Tuesday, helping the Jazz secure the postseason spot with a 100-88 victory
over the Phoenix Suns.
Utah ended a seven-game losing streak to the Suns and eliminated Phoenix from
postseason contention in the process. The Jazz are locked into the eighth seed
in the West and will open the postseason in San Antonio.
"It's a tremendous achievement for a group of guys that laid it out there
every night," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. "Whatever happened, good or bad,
they stayed together. That's the most rewarding thing to see them be rewarded
for all the hard work they put in."
Gordon Hayward totaled 11 points and eight assists for the Jazz, who got 14
points from Devin Harris.
Utah, which missed the postseason a year ago , last made the playoffs under a
coach other than Jerry Sloan back in 1988-89 when Frank Layden was piloting
The Blazers, meanwhile, are finishing up a disappointing campaign in which
they fired coach Nate McMillan, lost All-Star LaMarcus Aldridge to hip
surgery, waived oft-injured former No. 1 overall pick Greg Oden and dealt with
the injury-related retirement of former superstar Brandon Roy.
Portland is just 8-14 under interim coach Kaleb Canales and will be attempting
to halt a six-game losing streak tonight. The Blazers' latest loss came on
Monday when San Antonio locked up the top spot in the Western Conference as 13
different Spurs scored in a 124-89 victory at AT&T Center.
Wesley Matthews poured in a game-high 24 points and J.J. Hickson added 14 for
Portland, which has dropped six straight for the first time since Nov. 20-Dec.
3, 2010 and are out of the postseason for the first time since 2008.
"I think they're playing their best basketball of the year at the right time
for them," Canales said when talking about the Spurs. "They're playing well
offensively, sharing the basketball, making the extra pass, and defensively I
was really impressed with their communication tonight on the defensive end of
Utah has won all three meetings against the Blazers in 2011-12 and will be
shooting for a season sweep -- its first since 2009-10 (4-0).
The Sports Network