With three of his career-high six 3-pointers coming in the first quarter against the Trail Blazers, Devin Harris knew it was going to be a good night for the Jazz.
“It does wonders when you’re shooting wide-open shots,” said Harris, who finished with 27 points in Utah’s 112-91 victory over Portland on Wednesday night. “I had a couple of those that kind of got me going, and it just snowballed from there.”
Harris’ hot shooting was just what the Jazz needed in their ongoing effort to secure a playoff spot. With just three games to play, Utah is locked in a battle with Houston, Phoenix, Dallas and Denver for the remaining playoff berths in the Western Conference.
With the win over the Blazers, Utah moved into the eighth and final spot, a half-game up on the Suns. Utah finishes the season with games at home against Orlando, Phoenix and the Blazers.
“We feel great. We’re in the mix,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We’re just going to continue to take care of our business. We can’t afford to watch and see what anybody else is doing. We’ve got to make sure we win our games and whatever happens from there on happens.”
Wesley Matthews had 21 points for the Blazers, who had already been eliminated from the playoffs.
Both players were fine after the game and were cleared to play against the Magic on Saturday night.
Utah was coming off a 123-121 triple-overtime win over Dallas on Monday night. Earlier Wednesday, the NBA fined Delonte West $25,000 for jabbing his finger into Hayward’s ear during the game. The league called the action a “physical taunt.”
It was the home finale for the Blazers, who have had a turbulent season that started with the surprise retirement of All-Star Brandon Roy and included the dismissal of popular coach Nate McMillan at the trade deadline.
The Blazers, playing under interim head coach Kaleb Canales, were formally eliminated from the playoffs after a 125-107 loss to Phoenix on Monday.
Portland was playing without starters Joel Przybilla (bronchitis) and Raymond Felton (right Achilles). The Blazers also sat shooter Jamal Crawford. Last week, Portland shut down LaMarcus Aldridge for the rest of the season with a right hip injury. The All-Star forward will have arthroscopic surgery in the coming weeks.
Hickson, who was picked up by the Blazers on waivers after the trade deadline, said he was disappointed that Portland didn’t end the season with a victory at the Rose Garden.
“Even when we’re losing, they’re still cheering and they’re yelling at the top of their lungs,” he said about the fans. “That’s something you can’t buy and that’s something you can’t take for granted. I’ve played for other teams where it’s not like that.”
The Jazz led by as many as 11 points in the first quarter but Portland closed the gap to 32-30 in the second on Nicolas Batum‘s dunk. It was as close as the Blazers would get, and the Jazz went on to lead 57-39 at halftime.
Harris had all six of his 3-pointers and 25 points in the first half.
“We’ve got three games at home where we play well,” Harris said. “We’ve put ourselves in a nice position but we’ve still got to go out and play the games.”
Canales, who has never lacked for enthusiasm, addressed the crowd before the game, punctuating his thanks with a “Go Blazers!” and a raised fist. Canales started with the team as an unpaid intern in 2004. … Seattle Seahawks coach Pete Carroll attended the game with Blazers owner Paul Allen, who also owns the NFL team. … Portland has made at least six 3-pointers in 20 consecutive games, tying the franchise record set in 2008.
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