The Utah Jazz held a commanding lead early on the back of a hot-shooting Joe Ingles, though they just held on thanks to their other stars, Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert.
With Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum threatening to steer Portland to a remarkable comeback win, it was Mitchell on offence and Gobert on defence that held them at bay.
Mitchell would finish with 35 points, while Gobert denied a Lillard shot attempt at the basket with just six seconds left to ensure Utah would move to 19-12 on the season.
The 'Stifle Tower' Rudy Gobert comes up with the game winning block to help the @UtahJazz get over Portland!#TakeNote pic.twitter.com/N6QXqnHyVl- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) December 27, 2019
Red-hot Ingles is back to his best
After seemingly struggling to adjust to his new role off the bench, Ingles has well and truly found his groove in his old role as a starter.
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With Mike Conley Jr. missing nine of the last ten games, Ingles has become a fixture in the starting five, and it has produced immediate results.
After struggling with his shot through the first six weeks of the season, Ingles has been on a tear over those last ten games, going 33-for-62 (53.2 percent) from beyond the arc.
JOE. INGLES. 🤯- NBA on TNT (@NBAonTNT) December 27, 2019
He's up to 17 PTS and Utah leads the way at the half! pic.twitter.com/V4Im7FCYJH
Slo-mo Joe dribbled his way to open looks with ease in the first period, dropping 14 of his 26 points on 5-for-5 shooting.
Ingles would also add five rebounds, four assists and a steal in 35 minutes.
While Conley's return date is not yet known, you feel they might simply have to find a way to keep Ingles with the starting group, he's just playing too well.
No lead is safe with Dame and CJ on the opposition
Utah held a 96-76 lead at the end of the third-quarter, and it seemed like the home side was going to roll to a comfortable victory.
That was until Lillard and McCollum got cooking.
McCoolum has 17 of his 25 points in the fourth, while Lillard added seven of his 34, and the Blazers were able to close to 117-115 with 13 seconds left, befoe Gobert snuffed out their hopes of extending the game.
OH MY GOODNESS CJ pic.twitter.com/lfRMwjntuF- Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) December 27, 2019
The duo combined for 59 points on 10-for-21 shooting from beyond the arc and once again reminded everyone around the league that you can never take your foot off the gas with arguably the league's best scoring backcourt duo on the opposition.
Mitchell takes over
For all the talk of Ingles' dominant start to the game, it was Mitchell who ensured Utah got the job done.
28 of Mitchell's 35 points came in the second half, including six in the last 68 seconds.
📹| @spidadmitchell ⤵️- Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) December 27, 2019
35p | 7a | 3 3pm | 3r | #TakeNote pic.twitter.com/axPfS0cDeA
While he was averaging a career-high 24.8 points per game coming into this one, he has been streaky, shooting just 34 percent from deep on 6.2 attempts a night.
On this night, it was an efficient Mitchell, shooting 12-for-19 from the field and 3-for 6 from deep.
For the Jazz to continue their climb in the Western Conference standings, they will need Mitchell to become their reliable closer down the stretch, and he certainly was on this night.