Each game is made up of elements which help formulate the outcome. Monday through Friday, we'll bring you the elements from the night before's games in our own specialized version of the game recaps. It's not everything that happened, but it's an insight into what lead to the results you'll see in the box scores. This is the Game Changer.
THE BIG ONE: BLAZERS STEAL ONE IN UTAHNot since Dec. 2007, when an upstart team led by superstar-in-the-making Brandon Roy was in the midst of a 13-game winning streak, have the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Utah Jazz at Energy Solutions Arena. On Tuesday, in Roy's continued absence due to knee pain, no less, the Blazers secured their best victory of the season, 96-91. The Blazers admit ESA is one of their least favorite places to play, but plenty of teams have struggled in Salt Lake. Over the last two seasons, the Jazz were a combined 66-16 at home, losing just eight games at home during both the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons. Portland's win was Utah's sixth home loss in just 17 home games so far this season, and while the Jazz currently lead the way in a packed Northwest Division race, they'll have to reassert their dominance at home should they want to maintain on their path to a division title. Monday's loss to Portland wasn't heartbreaking, although it did spoil a splendid night from Deron Williams, who finished with 31 points and seemingly couldn't miss. Down the stretch, the Jazz struggled with turnovers and an extra-aggressive Portland defense, which hasn't often been seen this season, made a number of late block shots and deflections. For the Blazers, LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 26 point, seven rebounds and two blocks, and he continues on a torrid streak in Roy's absence. His game is expanding due to increased touches and, while there have been fits and starts, Aldridge has started to show a new resolve late in games to attack the paint and get buckets. A sweeping hook in the fourth quarter on Monday night had him pounding his chest, and left Blazers fans that have watched him for years enjoying the moment in pleasant surprise. This was Portland's best win of the season, the first time they have beaten a team that now has 20 or more wins. That it came on the road in a tough environment only makes it that much sweeter.
GO-GO-GADGET LINES OF THE NIGHT:Andray Blatche: 17 points, 14 rebounds, two assists, three steals, two blocks in 37 minutes in a Washington Wizards road loss to the Houston Rockets. It was Blatche's first game back from a suspension for fighting with teammate JaVale McGee. Jason Kidd: 10 points, nine rebounds, 10 assists, and four steals in 36 minutes in a Dallas Mavericks road win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. Chris Paul: 22 points, six rebounds, 13 assists, and five steals in 41 minutes in a New Orleans Hornets road loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves. Deron Williams: 31 points, six assists, three rebounds, one steal in 38 minutes in a Utah Jazz home loss to the Portland Trail Blazers.
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