NBA regular season

Jazz continue strong start to season, top Trail Blazers

Jazz continue strong start to season, top Trail Blazers

CLUTCH. Jazz guard Jordan Clarkson reacts to his three-pointer.

Bill Streicher/USA TODAY Sports/Reuters

Jordan Clarkson goes to work at crunch time as the surprising Jazz claim sole possession of the top spot in the Western Conference

Malik Beasley scored a game-high 29 and Jordan Clarkson fired in 28 points, including 8 straight in crunch time, to boost the visiting Utah Jazz to a 118-113 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday night, November 19 (Sunday, November 20, Manila time).

Lauri Markkanen added 23 points and 10 rebounds a night after tallying a career-high 38 points in a home win over Phoenix to help the Jazz pull off a difficult back-to-back sweep.

With its surprisingly strong start, Utah claimed sole possession of the top spot in the Western Conference with a 12-6 record.

The Jazz trailed by a dozen in the first quarter and then built a 19-point lead by about the middle of the third quarter before closing it out.

Anfernee Simons led Portland with 23 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Josh Hart finished with 19 points and 8 rebounds after a strong fourth quarter.

Both teams finished without their point guards.

Damian Lillard reaggravated his right calf in the third quarter moments after Mike Conley exited with a left knee injury. 

Lillard made 1 of 12 three-pointers en route to 13 points with 7 assists, while Conley attempted one shot and didn’t score for Utah.

Hart ignited a Portland rally by hustling for a couple of offensive rebounds on one possession, leading to free throws, as the Trail Blazers pulled to within 104-97 with 5:20 left in the game.

Simons and Hart then made running layups to trim Utah’s lead to three, 104-101, with 3:59 remaining.

With Portland ahead 108-107, Clarkson went to work. He drained a long three-pointer, then drove for a layup and converted the three-point play to boost the Jazz’s lead to four. 

Clarkson sank another jumper after Simons split a pair at the foul line to put Utah up 115-109 with 44.2 seconds remaining.

The Blazers scored 4 points to make it a two-point game, but Beasley sealed the victory with a pair of clutch free throws with 12.9 seconds to play.

Portland took advantage of a frigid start by Utah, jumping out to a 17-5 lead. Utah’s bench helped trim that lead to 23-20 by the end of the first quarter, thanks to an 8-0 run and a three-pointer by Simone Fontecchio with 3.4 seconds remaining.

Clarkson and Markkanen teamed up on a 7-0 surge as Utah captured a seven-point lead, which they then held onto for a 58-51 halftime edge. –

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