PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)-Jordan Clarkson scored 28 points, including eight straight in the final 1:48, in the Utah Jazz’s 118-113 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night.
Malik Beasley had 29 points off the bench to help Utah take the Western Conference lead at 12-6.
”We’re proud of the way we’ve represented ourselves after 18 games,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said. ”We believe we can get better. That’s our focus. Like every team, we’re not a finished product yet. That doesn’t mean we’re proud of where we are at this point, but we can’t get lost in what anybody is saying about us.”
Beasley was a force throughout the game, especially in the second quarter, where he scored 15 points.
”I think he’s understanding our system a little bit better,” Jazz coach Will Hardy said about Beasley, who made six 3-pointers. ”The timing with which he’s cutting, the timing of how he is coming off screens has been really good. And his teammates have been finding him at the right moments.”
The Jazz also scored 28 points off 18 Blazers turnovers.
”A lot of it is carelessness,” Blazers coach Chauncey Billups said. ”Some of it is other teams pressuring our passes and activity. Some of is unfamiliarity with each other. There’s a lot of thing put into that. But regardless of what the issue is we have to be better.”
Anfernee Simons led Portland with 23 points.
”We took too long to fight,” Billups said.
Both teams lost their starting point guards in the second half.
After colliding into a screen, Utah’s Mike Conley left with a left knee injury with 10:22 left in the third quarter.
Not long after Conley exited, Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard went to the locker room and did not return because of tightness in his right calf. Lillard has missed five games so far this season with the calf strain.
”The last time was worse,” Lillard said of his current calf issue. ”When I first strained it, I knew right away. The reason I took myself out is so hopefully this time we can get ahead of it instead of me staying out there and putting myself in a worse position.”
During an injury timeout in the second quarter, a pair of fans were removed from the game. Utah’s Collin Sexton pointed the fan out to security. Security then came to escort the fans out of the arena.
Portland rookie Shaedon Sharpe has turned heads with highlight plays over his first 14 games. After not playing in any games during his one season at Kentucky, Sharpe is averaging 10 points and shooting 51% from the 3-point line. But he still has plenty of room to grow.
”There’s so much being thrown at him in a short period of time,” Billups said. ”He has to continue to learn. That’s all. What we are trying to do and actually why. He’s having these unbelievable moments. The faster he can speed up with those things it’s better for all of us.”
His growth has caught the eye of their opponents too.
”Being a young player in the NBA is really hard so I don’t over analyze any one thing he does or doesn’t do or one game. But the progress he’s made since we played them earlier in the preseason, the sky’s the limit,” Hardy said about Sharpe.
Jazz: Host Los Angeles Clippers on Monday night.
Trail Blazers: At Milwaukee on Monday night.
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