PORTLAND, Ore. — Beforehand, Jerry Sloan was celebrating just how well his Jazz were getting along.
"We seem to be playing happier than we've ever played in a long time," he said.
The ball was being shared. The offense was producing points inside. Most importantly, the Jazz were winning.
Afterward, following one of the most incredible comebacks in franchise history, Sloan and his club had to be downright giddy.
Utah rallied from 25 down with just less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter to beat Portland 93-89 in overtime of a late-starting ESPN-televised game at the Rose Garden.
"Well obviously it was a terrific comeback for us," said Sloan, who in November 1996 had his Jazz bounce back from 34 down at halftime to beat Denver — still the largest comeback from the half in NBA history — and in December 2006 had his team rally from 21 down at the start of the fourth quarter to win at Atlanta. "You always have a chance if you stay with it."
"A lot of teams in this league probably wouldn't have done that, being down by 25," starting power forward Carlos Boozer added. "But we did a great job of staying together as a group."
Boozer rebounded a Deron Williams miss and hooked it around Marcus Camby at the buzzer to force overtime at 83-83, then scored three more in the five-minute extra session.
"He was huge," Williams said of Boozer, who also hit 1-of-2 freebies with 12.3 seconds to go in OT. "I thought the shot (the last regulation by Williams) went in, and then it popped out. He made a big rebound, and a great shot to send it to overtime."
Brandon Roy struck first for Portland in overtime with a 3-pointer, but the Jazz answered with a Kyrylo Fesenko dunk, a Boozer bucket inside, another Fesenko dunk and a Williams jumper before Roy finally hit another 3.
With Utah up 92-89, one last trey try by Roy rimmed out with 5.9 seconds remaining and C.J. Miles gave the Jazz the final four-point cushion they needed by hitting 1-of-2 free throws with 4.8 seconds left.
Boozer led the Jazz with a 22-point, and a career-high 23-rebound double-double, and Williams had an 18-point, 12-assist double-double.
Utah, down 64-39 before a Paul Millsap basket with 6:45 to go in the third, trailed 73-60 heading into the fourth quarter.
The Jazz appeared doomed after Brandon Roy missed two free throws late in the fourth, only to rebound the second miss himself, get fouled and hit both of the next pair to make it 82-76.
But Kyle Korver responded with a 3-pointer to keep Utah in it, setting up Boozer's eventual rebound of Williams' miss.
"This is a big win for us," said Williams, who switched to cover Roy late in the game, making a huge difference defensively for the Jazz. "To be down the way we were and be able to fight back and hang on there speaks a lot about our maturity.
"You just saw our ability to fight."
The win was an enormous boost for the 36-19 Jazz, who tonight face Atlanta at home.
Northwest Division-leader Denver beat Boston on Sunday, but Utah stayed a half-game back of the second-place Nuggets in the NBA's Western Conference.
With the victory, the Jazz also:
finished 4-0 on their post All-Star Game road trip;
improved their road win streak to seven, matching the fourth-longest in franchise history;
improved their overall winning streak to four;
won for the 13th time in their last 14 games, and for the 17th time in their last 19 outings; and
- Wright Words: BYU QB Taysom Hill talks about...
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings University of...
- Morning links: Steve Young quotes Joseph...
- Ute recruit Tyler Huntley posting huge...
- Felt's Facts: Breaking down the Utah high...
- Underrated East Carolina will test BYU's defense
- BYU vs. East Carolina: How to attend, watch,...
- BYU football: East Carolina in 6 numbers
- Morning links: 'Big 12' cartoon... 53
- Morning links: Utes in the playoff?;... 46
- Wright Words: BYU QB Taysom Hill talks... 40
- Utah Utes football: The California... 30
- Utes back in the college football... 27
- BYU coaches continue helping players... 22
- Mormon Tabernacle Choir sings... 22
- Underrated East Carolina will test... 19