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Williams leads late Jazz rally over Trail Blazers

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Associated Press
3/30/2013 1:12:17 AM
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PORTLAND, Ore. -- Mo Williams was having such a hard time in the first half of Utah's game Friday night against the Trail Blazers that he didn't even play in the second quarter.

That made Williams mad. And that was good for the Jazz.

Williams responded by scoring 26 of his 28 points in the second half to lead the Jazz to a 105-95 victory over the Blazers.

"You get angry and instead of feeling sorry for yourself, you come out and be aggressive," he said.

Paul Millsap added 25 points and 10 rebounds as the Jazz snapped a nine-game losing streak on the road, their longest since they dropped 17 straight in the 1981-82 season.

The victory certainly wiped away Williams' frustration.

"Winning does that," he said. "It puts you in a good mood."

The Jazz (37-36) pulled even with the Los Angeles Lakers for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference. The Blazers (33-39) dropped 3 1/2 games back with their third straight loss.

Portland, playing without forward LaMarcus Aldridge because of a sprained right ankle, got 24 points from rookie Damian Lillard. J.J. Hickson added 17 points and 14 rebounds.

The Jazz trailed 92-86 with 3:48 remaining when they took off on a closing 19-3 run, led by Williams with 12 points. Williams made a 12-footer and Randy Foye added a layup and free throw with 2:57 remaining to go ahead 93-92, and the Jazz led the rest of the way.

Al Jefferson had 22 points and eight rebounds in Utah's third straight win.

The Jazz were coming off a 103-88 victory at home over the Suns on Wednesday, but it was costly. Center Enes Kanter, averaging 7.2 points and 4.3 rebounds, dislocated his left shoulder. It is not known when he might return.

The Blazers took a 30-22 lead on Wesley Matthews' 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer. Victor Claver made a layup after a behind-the-back fake pass that put Portland ahead 34-28.

Derrick Favours' jumper pulled Utah within 40-38 and Jefferson's hook shot tied it with 4:41 left in the first half. But Portland responded with a 12-0 run, capped by Nicolas Batum's 3-pointer and Hickson's jumper to make it 52-40. Jefferson hit a jumper and the Jazz trailed 54-42 at the half.

"Everybody came out focused, especially in the second half. We didn't do a good job in the first but in the second half we came out with a different attitude," Millsap said.

Gordon Hayward made a pair of 3-pointers that pulled the Jazz within 64-61 midway through the third quarter. Williams added a pair of layups to give Utah a 65-64 lead.

Claver's dunk put the Blazers back ahead 72-70 before the quarter was over. It was back and forth until Eric Maynor made a 3-pointer that gave Portland an 85-80 lead with 7:55 left.

It was Utah's 14th comeback victory in a game in which the Jazz trailed by more than 10 points.

"If we lay everything we have on the floor and come up short, we can deal with that," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "But we can't hold anything back at this point."

Aldridge was injured early in Wednesday night's 111-93 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. He left the game briefly, but returned to lead the Blazers with 24 points.

The two-time All-Star is averaging 21 points and 8.9 rebounds and the Blazers need him for any push toward playoffs. Two straight losses to Oklahoma City and the Nets were already a setback.

Rookie Meyers Leonard got his third career start in Aldridge's place and finished with 12 points.

The teams play again on Monday in Utah. Before that, Portland visits Golden State on Saturday while the Jazz host Brooklyn.

"We're still playing to win," Hickson said, despite Portland's dwindling playoff hopes. "We're still playing to make the playoffs. I know our window is definitely smaller at this point, but as long as we've got a chance, we're going to keep playing hard and we're going to play with integrity."

Notes: The teams had split their previous four meetings at the Rose Garden. ... With Batum's 3-pointer late in the first half, the Blazers surpassed their single-season record for 3s with 597. ... It was Lillard's 20th game this season with at least 20 points and seven assists. ... Hickson's double-double was his 39th this season.

Mo Williams (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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