With Matt Harpring home with a stomach virus and Andrei Kirilenko out with a possible concussion, Utah Jazz swingman Gordan Giricek was asked to do something Tuesday night he hadn't done since, well, who knows when? Even Giricek couldn't remember the last time he was on the court in the final minutes of a close game.
And Giricek made the most of it.
He nailed two huge shots in the final 5:15 to help the Jazz to a 102-92 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers at EnergySolutions Arena.
"Giricek did a great job," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan. "He hadn't played in some time, and he stepped out and played the three position, which he hasn't played all year. But he did a good job, stayed within the offense, took the shots that were there and made a couple of nice shots for us that kept us in the ball game."
Giricek has had five games this year where he hasn't played at all due to coach's decision, including the previous one at Memphis. But, forced into action, he played a season-high 23 minutes on Tuesday.
"Two guys were out," said Giricek. "I don't remember the last time I've finished a game. So I was just glad I had (the) chance to finish the game tonight and that we won."
He finished with eight points, making two of his three 3-pointers and three of his five shots overall.
"He came in focused, made some big shots, played solid defense and I am really proud of him tonight," said Jazz forward Carlos Boozer
Perhaps the biggest shot of the game came with just more than five minutes remaining. The Clippers had cut the Jazz's 12-point lead to one, 81-80, with 5:28 remaining.
Giricek was on the bench during the Clippers' rally, but was reinserted to the game after a Jazz timeout. Ten seconds later, he hit an open 19-foot jumper on the baseline to give the Jazz an 83-80 lead.
Utah still led by three when Giricek hit another huge shot this one a 3-pointer with 2:37 to play, giving the Jazz a 90-84 lead.
"Gordan came off and gave us some great play off the bench," said teammate Derek Fisher. "I think that was key for us down the stretch."
Giricek, a former starter with the Jazz in previous seasons, admitted his usual lack of playing time has been difficult for him to get used to.
"It's very hard. It's not easy, I won't lie," he said of the inconsistent playing time. "What can you do? You have to do the best you can."
Sloan said this was a perfect example of how players need to be ready to play since injuries and other unforeseen circumstances can change their roles on the team."That's what we try to tell guys all the time. 'You may be upset with me (about playing time) today, but you don't know what tomorrow will bring,"' Sloan said. "(Giricek) stepped out there and was ready to go to work and that's what being a professional is all about."
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