Millsap finished with 31 points, including the go-ahead dunk with 1:11 to go, and the Jazz beat the Trail Blazers 102-97 Monday night to move within a game of Houston for the eighth and final postseason berth in the Western Conference.
"The will not to lose, the will to make it to that next level to get in the playoffs, it came out," said Millsap, who added 11 rebounds to help Utah avoid matching its longest losing streak of the season. Utah dropped four straight from Feb. 19-28.
Batum took the blame for the steal.
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"That's on me because I have to watch everything," he said.
But Felton took the ire of the fans for his role in both turnovers. One fan angrily proclaimed as he left the Rose Garden that he wouldn't renew his season tickets unless the Blazers got rid of the much-maligned point guard in the offseason.
"I'm just as mad as anyone else," Felton said. "Ain't no one as mad as I am."
Matthews led the Blazers with 33 points and Aldridge added 27.
Jefferson had 13 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz. Gordon Hayward had 20 points.
"We didn't want [the Blazers] to be able to get the ball where they wanted to get it," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said about the final moments. "Jamaal did a great job of getting his hand in there and getting the steal, and a great save to get control of it and run the clock a little bit. Great effort play."
Tinsley started in the second half in place of Devin Harris, who sprained his left ankle in the first half. Harris was averaging 10.1 points and 4.9 assists for Utah coming into the game.
Portland, coming off a 119-106 victory over Minnesota the night before, was without Jamal Crawford, who has tendinitis in his right knee. But the Blazers did see the return of Joel Przybilla, who sat out against the Timberwolves because of a right knee sprain.
Portland led by as many as 14 in the first half but Utah pulled ahead with a 16-0 run bridging halftime.
The Blazers took a 27-17 lead on Aldridge's dunk off an alley-oop from Matthews. Luke Babbitt hit a 3-pointer that extended it to 43-29.
The Jazz closed the gap as the half wound down, pulling to 57-54 at the break.
Utah opened the second half on a 10-0 run, going up 64-57 on Millsap's long jumper. The Jazz stretched the lead to as many as 11 but Portland rallied to pull within 71-69 on a dunk by Aldridge.
J.J. Hickson's dunk got the Blazers as close as 79-78, but the Jazz kept Portland at bay to take an 83-78 lead going into the fourth quarter.
Portland fell to 5-6 under interim coach Kaleb Canales, who took over when Nate McMillan was fired at the trade deadline. Canales has been juggling his lineups while dealing with different injuries. After the loss to the Jazz, the 34-year-old interim coach was clearly disappointed.
He wouldn't say that the Blazers were ready to give up on the playoffs, but Portland was four games back of Houston and three back of Utah in the conference.
"We're staying in the moment and we're taking it game by game," he said. "This one is going to hurt until 12:01 tonight and then we have to turn the page and look forward to tomorrow."
|Paul Millsap scores a game-high 31 points as the Jazz hold off the Trail Blazers to avoid a four-game losing streak. (Getty Images)|
|Utah (28-26) «||22||32||29||19||102|
|UTA:P. Millsap 31 Pts
UTA:P. Millsap 11 Reb
UTA:J. Tinsley 6 Ast
|POR:W. Matthews 33 Pts
POR:N. Batum 10 Reb
POR:R. Felton 8 Ast
|Players of the Game|
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|G. Hayward, SF||40||6-12||5-6||2||0||2||20|
|A. Jefferson, C||39||6-17||1-1||10||3||2||13|
|P. Millsap, PF||34||14-20||3-3||11||0||1||31|
|D. Harris, PG||14||3-7||3-3||0||4||0||9|
|C. Miles, SF||7||2-2||0-0||3||0||1||4|
|D. Favors, PF||35||5-7||1-2||11||2||4||11|
|A. Burks, PG||21||2-8||2-5||2||5||1||6|
|J. Tinsley, PG||18||1-4||0-0||1||6||2||3|
|E. Watson, PG||17||0-5||0-0||1||3||2||0|
|E. Kanter, C||10||2-2||1-1||1||0||1||5|
|D. Carroll, SF||4||0-0||0-0||0||0||1||0|
|R. Bell, SG||Did Not Play|
|J. Howard, SF||Did Not Play|
|J. Evans, SF||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|
|N. Batum, SF||44||6-17||0-0||10||2||3||16|
|W. Matthews, SG||40||10-12||8-10||1||3||3||33|
|L. Aldridge, PF||38||11-22||5-5||7||1||3||27|
|R. Felton, PG||34||2-10||0-0||9||8||3||4|
|J. Przybilla, C||22||0-1||0-0||3||1||4||0|
|J. Hickson, PF||28||2-8||0-0||5||2||0||4|
|J. Flynn, PG||14||1-5||2-3||1||6||0||5|
|L. Babbitt, SF||10||2-3||0-0||1||0||1||6|
|N. Smith, PG||8||1-3||0-0||3||1||2||2|
|H. Thabeet, C||2||0-0||0-0||0||0||0||0|
|K. Thomas, PF||Did Not Play|
|J. Crawford, SG||Did Not Play|
|C. Smith, PF||Did Not Play|
|S. Williams, SF||Did Not Play|
|E. Williams, SG||Did Not Play|
|Complete Box Score|