SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz big man Al Jefferson knows the Portland Trail Blazers are a very good team.
“But they’re not 20 points better than us,” Jefferson said after Utah’s 110-90 loss to the Blazers on Monday night.
The Jazz made up for the embarrassing setback with a 92-89 win over the Trail Blazers on Wednesday night in the preseason finale for both teams.
“From the beginning we came out with a sense of purpose,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “We struggled a bit on offense, but defense really got us a win. We made some great stops.”
After shooting 55 percent Monday, Portland was held to just 35.4 percent in the rematch.
Reserve C.J. Miles scored 17 points for Utah, including a pair of free throws with 2.2 seconds left to help the Jazz hold on.
Jefferson added 15 points and nine rebounds.
Raymond Felton led the Trail Blazers with 17 points, and LaMarcus Aldridge had 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Second-year pro Derrick Favors, who had 25 points and 12 rebounds Monday, started for Utah and scored just seven points because of early foul trouble.
“It’s just growing pains,” Favors said.
But he proclaimed himself ready to be a starter in the NBA if that’s what Corbin decides.
Corbin said before the game that Paul Millsap, who missed his second straight game with right quad tendinitis, had earned a right to start but that may not always be the best option.
Corbin went with Jefferson and Millsap as his big men, with Gordon Hayward starting at small forward.
“It feels great playing with Al,” Favors said. “He’s a veteran guy, takes a lot of the pressure off in the post.”
Jefferson liked the combo as well, especially with Favors able to take on more athletic players such as Aldridge.
That Aldridge was playing was good news for the Blazers.
He missed the start of training camp to receive treatment for Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome, a condition which causes the ventricles of the heart to prematurely contract. He played 37 minutes but finished 5 of 17 from the field.
“He looked rusty, but that’s to be expected,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said. “It was good for him to get a game in. He’s trying to get a rhythm and I wanted to work on a game rotation.”
Both teams were without starters. While Utah was without Millsap, Portland’s Marcus Camby sat out pending an MRI on his left knee — though McMillan didn’t believe the injury was serious.
Portland led by nine points early but Utah fought back and had an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter until the Blazers charged back behind Jamal Crawford and Wesley Matthews.
Matthews’ 3-pointer with 50 seconds left cut the gap to 90-89, but Aldridge turned it over on Portland’s next possession and allowed Miles to seal it at the free throw line. Crawford’s shot at the buzzer missed.
The Jazz came out with much more energy than they did in Monday’s loss, but the aggressiveness put them in early foul trouble. Hayward picked up his third less than halfway through the first quarter, Favors had his third just a minute later and Raja Bell had three with 4 minutes remaining.
The Jazz took their first lead — 36-35 — on a three-point play by Jeremy Evans off a pass from Jamaal Tinsley. Josh Howard then scored on a driving layup on an assist from Miles to push Utah’s lead to 38-35.
The points were the first for Howard, a free-agent signed last week. He finished with eight.
Utah still is looking for more production from its guards.
Devin Harris had 10 points in 14 minutes but just one assist, and Bell scored only one point in 21 minutes.
“We got new guys here and we’re still trying to get to know each other,” Harris said. “It’s going to take a bit of time.”
That’s a luxury no one has with the season starting in just a few days.
“This is the one time in my life I wish we had more preseason games,” Jefferson said.