SALT LAKE CITY — It was hard-fought, perhaps harder and taking more fight than many expected.
It took rallying out of a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter and required an overtime session.
And it came against a team that has only changed the number in the wins column 15 times this season.
The Utah Jazz's much-needed 109-102 OT victory over the lottery-and-perhaps-Anaheim-bound Sacramento Kings caused both celebration and relief by the home team.
"Great win," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We're gonna take it any way it comes right now. We just need it."
In a big way.
Those emotions expressed — made possible by some clutch overtime plays by the likes of Al Jefferson, Raja Bell and even Francisco Elson — haven't been felt in these parts for quite some time.
"To get a win, in any kind of way, you know, is a sense of relief for us," Corbin said. "The guys have been busting their butt, and it's finally good to get a reward at the end."
The pot at the end of this rainbow included Utah's first win at home since Jan. 31 — when the Jazz knocked off Charlotte before seven straight losses in SLC — and Win No. 1 at EnergySolutions Arena for the rookie head coach (2-7).
It also snapped a three-game losing streak for the Jazz (33-30), who had dropped eight of nine contests coming in and were on the verge of completely falling out of the playoff picture.
"It was great," Jazz small forward C.J. Miles said. "The biggest thing we wanted to get one for Ty, especially, because we know he has had as much pressure as we have. Everybody has been playing hard just trying to get that win, and we were able to pull one out tonight."
They almost pulled it out in regulation, but the Jazz were forced into an extra five minutes after Marcus Thornton drilled a tying 3-pointer with 14.1 seconds remaining in regulation and Jefferson's ensuing game-winning attempt was too long.
Jefferson didn't let too many chances get away from him in overtime.
Big Al, who had 21 of his game-high 27 points after halftime, began the OT period with a breakaway dunk after making a steal and then getting set up by a Bell pass.
Jefferson then made a sweet spin move to put Utah up 101-98.
"It feel good. It feel good," said Jefferson, who also had seven rebounds.
Continued Jefferson: "Our fans don't deserve that — they've been too good to us. So we gotta play hard and keep that from happening again."
Bell made sure that loss didn't happen Saturday.
He took over the scoring for a bit after Jefferson's turn, hitting a couple of clutch jumpers, including one that gave the Jazz a five-point lead with 17.6 seconds remaining in overtime
The veteran starting point guard, who finished with 16 points, quickly added a steal and fed Jefferson one more time for a dunk to clinch the long-overdue win.
"It feels good," Bell said. "I think it was especially good for us to play another close one and figure out how to get over the hump late in the game."
Heck, Bell's late-game heroics might even prevent him from catching too much tongue-in-cheek flack for stepping on the 3-point line on one of his OT J's, something he's wont to do on occasion.
"You know, I got an awkward shooting stance," he said. "I kinda shoot pigeon-toed and that right foot gets me in trouble sometimes. But you know, I was telling people, I'm not worried about whether it's a three or a two. I'm just trying to make it."
The win did come at a cost for the Jazz, who ended the game with a depleted bench due to injuries.
Starting power forward Paul Millsap only played 21 minutes after suffering left patellar tendinitis in his knee. He left the game for good with 12 points, seven boards and four blocks midway through the third quarter.
Center Kyrylo Fesenko also exited early after experiencing back spasms in the fourth quarter.
Their departures left the Jazz with a four-man bench, seeing as Mehmet Okur (back) and Ronnie Price (toe) didn't dress and Jeremy Evans was playing with the Utah Flash again on his weekend D-League assignment.
The injury situation turned out to be even worse, as it was announced postgame that Andrei Kirilenko was also having back spasms while contributing 16 points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.
Utah did, however, get some very big backup minutes from center Francisco Elson, who grabbed a team-best nine rebounds and scored four points in 24 minutes. He grabbed four boards in OT.
"It was another game down to the wire, and we could have folded going into overtime," said Jazz point guard Devin Harris, who had 14 points and seven assists. "But defensively I felt we really buckled down in that fourth quarter, which we haven't done in the last couple of games. If we can start to build on this, I think we will be good."75 comments on this story
GAME NOTES: All 14 Jazz players are expected to travel with the team on its four-game road trip. … Millsap, Kirileno and Fesenko will be game-time decisions Monday at New York. … Thornton topped the Tyreke Evans-less Kings (15-45) with 22 points, while No. 5 overall pick DeMarcus Cousins had 18 points and 18 rebounds for Sacramento. … Rookie Derrick Favors, the No. 3 pick last draft, played 13 minutes with four points and four rebounds but five fouls.