The Utah Jazz entered the Moda Center on Tuesday night with a shorthanded lineup to face the Damian Lillard-led Portland Trail Blazers. With the team already missing the services of Derrick Favors, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks, the Jazz could not find their rhythm and found themselves in a deep hole when they trailed by 13 points in the second quarter.

What seemed to be a blowout in the making all changed when Joe Johnson put on a second-half show reminiscent of his earlier days in the league.

The 16-year veteran sparked a run in the third quarter where he scored 15 of his team-high 29 points, including 3-4 from beyond the arc. The Jazz led until the fourth quarter but eventually lost the game, 113-104, because of the late-game heroics of Lillard and his backcourt-mate C.J. McCollum.

Talking to Jody Genessy of Deseret News about how he performed and what made them lose the game, Johnson had this to say:

“I was just coming out and trying to be aggressive, and just kind of got it going thanks to my teammates. … At the end of the day, it’s basketball. I’ve been around this league for quite some time. I’m just trying to pick my spots and just play within the offense. That’s what I did.”

“Man, we couldn’t get stops. We put them at the line a ton and they made some tough shots.”

“But offensively we got what we wanted as far as wide-open looks, getting to the basket, making plays. Just defensively we couldn’t get enough stops.”

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Head coach Quin Snyder gave his thoughts on how difficult it is to play without his best players and what they have to do as a team to string some wins together.

“Obviously playing without if not your two best players, two of your best players, is a challenge. But for me, we need to compete and not wake up every morning wondering when they’re going to be back. They’ll be back when they’re back.

“I wish I could give you a more finite answer, but that’s kind of where it is. We’ve just got to put some of that out of our minds to the extent to where it’s (not) a distraction where we are right now. There’s nothing we can do about it. We need to lock in and just compete with who we have.”

Despite a tough loss, there are still a lot of positives for the Jazz after this game. Johnson proved that he can still play at the highest level and lead a team in scoring while Rodney Hood continued his impressive ways from last season by chipping in 26 points of his own. The two will be expected lead the way until their injured players return to action.

The Jazz will next face the Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday night in their home-opener.