The Jazz extended their winning streak to five as they defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 96-94 in a game that came down to the last possession.
The Jazz had a different look Thursday night as their starting five rested for the majority of the game.
Al Jefferson, Devin Harris, and Gordon Hayward didn’t play after the first quarter, and Paul Millsap didn’t even step foot on the court. Coach Tyrone Corbin wanted them to get rested for their upcoming playoff game this Sunday against the San Antonio Spurs.
“It was a little nerve racking actually to see the game going and the [starters] siting over there,” Corbin said. “But it was a good situation so the [starters] could see their teammates playing and support them like they have been supported all year long.”
Corbin had a reason to be nervous as the Jazz bench lost a three-point lead they carried into the fourth quarter and got down as many as four points.
In the end it was the supporting cast that handed the Blazers a loss in their final game of the season. Jeremy Evans was one of the players that came off of the bench and got big minutes and even bigger numbers. Evans ended the night with 13 points, 10 rebounds, one assist, three steals, and three blocks. Evans looked a bit like he did back at the All-Star break when he won the Slam-Dunk Contest. Evans dunked the ball four times throughout the game including one high-flying dunk from six feet out that energized the crowd at a pivotal moment in the game.
“‘Those moves were pretty basic compared to the dunk contest but we’ll figure something out,” Evans said in regards to next year’s contest.
Corbin calmed fears about any potential injury that kept Millsap out of the game. He said that Millsap felt a little tight in the morning walk-through and even tighter in the afternoon so it was best to let him rest.
“It was brutal,” Millsap said. “You want to get out there so bad, you want to play.”
Millsap and the Jazz will enjoy the victory tonight and get back to the grind tomorrow to get ready for Sunday and their first-round playoff game against San Antonio. The game will be played at 11 p.m. MDT in Texas, and can be seen on ESPN.