PORTLAND — Damian Lillard scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter, and Robin Lopez notched a career-high 18 rebounds to help the Portland Trail Blazers beat the Utah Jazz 102-94.
After trailing by nine after the fourth quarter, the Blazers were able to end a three-game losing streak.
Blazers coach Terry Stotts said prior to Friday’s game that the Blazers have to “make do” without LaMarcus Aldridge.
Nicolas Batum has been battling a stomach flu and missed the entire second quarter and nearly half of the third quarter.
Without a player who does does a little bit of everything — averaging the second-most assists, third-most rebounds and fourth-most points — to relieve pressure on everybody else, “making do” is slightly more difficult.
Batum returned to the game, and along with Lopez, Lillard, 24 points from Wesley Matthews and a spark delivered by seldom-used wing Will Barton, the Blazers outscored Utah 38-21 in the final period.
“Mo (Williams) really picked it up,” Lillard said. “RoLo (Lopez) got some blocks that got us out in transition, and I thought Will did a great job bringing energy. He really made a difference.”
Utah center Enes Kanter dominated in the first three quarters, scoring 19 points.
Making matters worse for the Blazers efforts to stop Kanter, Lopez picked up his fourth foul with just under seven minutes left in the third quarter.
When Lopez came back in the fourth quarter, Kanter was a mere 3-of-7.
Without Batum for a significant portion of the game, Stotts — dressed in a 70’s leisure suit to honor legendary Blazers coach Jack Ramsay on his 89th birthday — had to go even deeper into his bench.
He turned to just about everyone available, but ended up going the second-year guard from Baltimore.
Barton, sensing a lack of energy, let loose on his second field goal attempt, flushing a 360-dunk in transition.
“I loved it.” Stotts said about Barton’s dunk. “Will loves to ball and he comes out and makes plays.”
Barton finished with eight points on 3-for-5 shooting, two rebounds, two assists and a lot of energy.
“If he liked it, I love it,” Barton said of Stotts’ reaction. “Even when I’m on the bench, I try to hype the crowd up, make sure my teammates stay in it when it’s not going so good. If I go in, I know that’s what coach wants me to do.
Lillard took 28 shots, 12 more than his per game average, and Lopez picked up the slack for Aldridge on the boards to go along with 15 points and four blocks.
It wasn’t an efficient night. So when the Blazers needed somebody who could generate something, Lillard did just that.
“With a smaller line-up, there’s a lot of floor out there. When there’s that much paint, I think I can get into the paint and make plays,” said Lillard who also dished seven assists to lead the Blazers.
Batum came back into the game with 2:44 left in the third quarter and finished with only 3 points and 3 rebounds, but played the final 14:44 of the game without sitting.
“I think it was a win that we desperately needed,” Stotts said.
Without Aldridge, Stotts says that it’s not anything tactical that the Blazers have to do to be successful moving forward.
“I thought Will and Victor and Thomas all gave energy,” he said. “That’s the style of play, especially now, that we need to have.”