Jordan Clarkson Leads Jazz to Victory with 30-Point Performance against Trail Blazers
SALT LAKE CITY — Jordan Clarkson’s 30-point performance and Lauri Markkanen’s 21 points and nine rebounds propelled the Utah Jazz to a 115-99 win over the Portland Trail Blazers in an NBA In-Season Tournament game on Tuesday.
John Collins had 14 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz, while Kelly Olynyk added 12 points and a season-high 12 rebounds. Keyonte George contributed 15 points and Collin Sexton had 13, with both players dishing out seven assists each.
Utah emerged victorious in their second straight tournament game, while Portland fell to 1-1 in West Group A play, registering their fourth consecutive overall loss.
Tenacious defense proved crucial for the Jazz as they secured their second straight victory. Utah forced a season-high 11 steals and frequently disrupted the Blazers’ offensive rhythm.
“We’re trying to be more active as a group,” stated Jazz coach Will Hardy. “We’re trying to lean into our speed and be a little bit more proactive on that end, and I think it’s been very good for us.”
Jerami Grant led Portland with 26 points, Deandre Ayton added 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Shaedon Sharpe finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists. Skylar Mays had a game-high 10 assists.
Clarkson provided an early spark with his shooting, scoring 14 points in the first quarter. Utah maintained its lead and capitalized on Portland’s turnovers, scoring 16 points off 12 turnovers in the first half.
“We’ve got to take care of the ball,” Grant said. “With a lot of new people in the rotation, we’re trying to figure each other out.”
Utah continued to dominate in the second quarter, scoring baskets on four straight possessions to extend their lead to 45-31. Portland, however, made a comeback in the third quarter, with Grant and Ayton’s combined nine baskets cutting Utah’s lead to 87-84.
“We were decisive with everything — shoot, pass, dribble,” Clarkson said. “That was a big thing for us tonight. Everybody made their decisions quick.”
Markkanen’s three baskets in the fourth quarter fueled a decisive 13-0 run, putting Utah ahead 108-93 with 5:40 remaining.
Utah’s defensive improvement was evident, holding an opponent under 100 points for the first time under Hardy, ending a streak of 92 games dating back to April 2022.
“We should do that more often,” Markkanen joked, having recorded his sixth straight 20-point game.
Trail Blazers: Host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.
Jazz: Host the Phoenix Suns on Friday in another tournament game.