SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – One play punctuated a thrilling comeback for the Utah Jazz.
However, it was a play that ultimately should not have counted.
Utah’s Donovan Mitchell scored a go-ahead layup with 19.5 seconds left. Portland’s Damian Lillard tried to answer with a layup on the other end, but Rudy Gobert blocked the shot with 11.2 seconds left.
The Jazz snapped a five-game losing streak and beat Trail Blazers 117-114 on Friday night.
The only problem? Gobert committed goaltending by blocking the shot off the glass. But, the referee crew made no call on the play.
“We get to the last play of the game and they miss a easy call,” Lillard said. “Then they tell us it's a easy no call, like that's obviously not a goaltend. It cost us the (expletive) game, man.”
NBA referee Josh Tiven confirmed to a pool reporter after the game that video review showed that a goaltending violation should have been called originally, but it was not a reviewable play because the crew did not call it on the floor.
That was little consolation for the Trail Blazers. Instead of tying the game, and potentially forcing overtime, Portland came away with a costly defeat amid a push to get back into the playoff picture.
“It cost us the game. We can't get it back,” C.J. McCollum said. “When we make mistakes, we're fined. And they cost us a game that could cost people money, so, they should be fined accordingly, because that's terrible. Not just bad, terrible.”
Gobert said he was trying to make a play on the ball and felt like the no-call overshadowed a memorable Utah comeback from a 14-point halftime deficit.
“Obviously it's a big play because it's the last play and it's what everyone is going to remember,” Gobert said. “But I think we did a great job playing in the second half. Mistakes are made. Officials are human. I feel like it's all part of the game."
Bojan Bogdanovic had 27 points to lead Utah. Mike Conley added 18 points for the Jazz. Mitchell and Gobert (14 rebounds) chipped in 16 points apiece.
Lillard finished with 42 points for Portland. McCollum scored 27 points, Gary Trent added 16 and Mario Hezonja 11 for the Blazers, which had only seven healthy players available for the bulk of the final three quarters.
Trailing by 13 points early in the third, the Jazz used a 20-6 run to erase Portland's lead. Ingles punctuated the run with a 3-pointer, putting Utah up 86-85.
The Jazz extended their lead to 106-99 on a 3-pointer by Bogdanovic, before the Blazers rallied. Lillard tied it at 114-all on back-to-back baskets in the final minute.
"Our guys came out and dug in and did what we needed to do on the defensive end,” Utah coach Quin Snyder said.
The Blazers shot 75% (15 of 20) in the first quarter. Lillard served as a catalyst for the blistering start.
Stopping the Lillard proved to be a chore for the Jazz from the opening tip. Lillard started 7 of 7 from the floor and did not miss his first shot until midway through the second quarter. He scored 16 points in the first quarter alone.
Lillard's first four baskets came from the perimeter and helped Portland race to a 21-12 lead.
Utah used a 17-4 run to surge ahead early in the second quarter. Conley beat the first quarter buzzer with a 3-pointer to fuel the run and Ingles capped it with another outside basket to give the Jazz a 44-41 lead.
Portland regained its footing on offense and used a 14-2 run to build a 72-58 halftime lead. Lillard and Gary Trent, Jr. scored back-to-back layups off steals to fuel the spurt.
“I was really proud of our guys,” Portland coach Terry Stotts said. “Obviously we're short-handed, it was an outstanding effort by everyone who played, and it's just a shame that it was decided on an inexcusable missed call.”
Utah and Portland combined for six technical fouls in the second quarter. Trevor Ariza got ejected with 10:05 left in the second quarter after earning two technical fouls when he verbally accosted a referee. Then, Carmelo Anthony, Royce O'Neale, Mitchell, and Trent earned single technicals before the quarter ended.
POUNDING THE PAINT
The Jazz finished with 66 points in the paint, their second-highest total of the season. Utah outscored Portland 36-16 in the paint after halftime and got 75% of its second-half baskets in the paint.
“Just being able to get in the paint allowed us to get a little more ball movement,” Conley said. “We really tried to be aggressive and not just settle too much.”
Blazers: Hassan Whiteside (left leg contusion) did not play. … Anfernee Simons did not return after suffering a concussion with 20.7 seconds left in the first quarter. Simons hit the back of his head on the floor after a missed shot. He finished with five points in four minutes. … Caleb Swanigan matched his career high with 11 rebounds.
Jazz: Juwan Morgan had a season high three rebounds – all during the third quarter. … Mitchell finished with a game-high seven assists. … Utah outscored Portland 66-40 in the paint and 20-8 in fast-break points.
Blazers host the Miami Heat on Sunday.
Jazz visit the Houston Rockets on Sunday.