Utah rocks defenseless Blazers; Aldridge, Oden sit out

PORTLAND — After a dominating preseason win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Carlos Boozer feels like the Utah Jazz are ready for the regular season.

"We've got to tighten up some stuff," he said. "We've got to take care of that full-court press a little better at the end of the game, I'm sure we'll get over it tomorrow. But for the most part, I think we did a good job defensively, especially in the half court. We did a good job of helping each other."

Deron Williams had 27 points and Boozer and Ronnie Brewer each added 16 in Utah's 108-97 preseason victory over Portland on Tuesday night.

The Jazz (4-2), missing Kyle Korver and C.J. Miles because of injuries, led by as many as 25 points.

"I don't have all our players here, that's the thing that's always difficult," coach Jerry Sloan said about the impending season. "But we're going to play anyway, and I've always believed that if you come and play hard as a team, you always have a chance."

Jerryd Bayless had 16 points for the Blazers (3-4), who overall seemed both tired and out of sorts. Brandon Roy had 15 points and Travis Outlaw added 10, all in the first quarter.

"We just looked like we hadn't seen each other today," Roy said. "It's almost like a quarterback playing with a receiver he's never played with before."

Utah center Mehmet Okur returned after missing Sunday's victory over Charlotte with a sore back and contributed five points.

The Blazers made a surprise move when Juwan Howard started at forward instead of LaMarcus Aldridge, who had a left shin contusion and was a last-second scratch. Howard was acquired by Portland as a free agent in the offseason.

Portland lost forward Nicolas Batum early in the game with a hip injury.

The Blazers were already without center Greg Oden, who bruised his thigh on Sunday in Portland's come-from-behind victory over Denver.

Blazers swingman Rudy Fernandez missed the game because of a bad back, and coach Nate McMillan said he's unlikely to play in the preseason finale Thursday against Phoenix in Vancouver, British Columbia.

The Jazz led by as many as 13 points in the first quarter, jumping on the dazed Blazers. About the only spark for Portland was Outlaw, but even that was short-lived.

Utah's dominance continued as Kyrylo Fesenko's running jumper extended the lead to 40-26.

The Jazz led 59-40 at halftime, and Boozer's tip-in stretched the lead to 85-61 at the end of the third quarter.

Both teams pretty much sat their starters for the final quarter.

The officials drew the ire of fans — who chanted their displeasure — with a few questionable calls, but there was word earlier Tuesday that the NBA's labor dispute with the referees' union may be drawing to a close.

A person familiar with the negotiations told The Associated Press that the league has made a new proposal. The person, who requested anonymity because the negotiations are ongoing, said it's "highly likely" the referees will be back for the opening of the season.

The Jazz, who went 48-34 last season before falling to the eventual NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers in the first round of the playoffs, visit the Sacramento Kings for the preseason finale before opening at Denver on Oct. 28.

Portland won 54 games last season but fell to the Rockets in the first round of the playoffs. After wrapping up the preseason against the Suns, the Blazers open at home against Houston next Tuesday.

Portland tried to acquire Utah forward Paul Millsap in the offseason, signing the restricted free agent to an offer sheet. But the Jazz matched the offer.

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