SALT LAKE CITY — The Junior Jazz just about pulled out a victory Monday night.
Of course, that isn't exactly something to brag about, considering every other team the Washington Wizards have faced on the road this season has done just that — well, except for the cellar-dwelling Cleveland Cavaliers.
So, at least the Utah Jazz weren't Washington's first road victims when the Wizards pulled off a 100-95 overtime win at EnergySolutions Arena.
But a teaspoon of sugar was added to the bitterness of the Jazz (36-39) becoming only the second team in the NBA to lose to the Wiz (18-55 overall) at home this season.
The soothing elixir for numbing the pain from falling to a 2-35 road team?
The play of the three youngest guys on the team — 19-year-old Derrick Favors, 21-year-old Gordon Hayward and 23-year-old Jeremy Evans.
Along with veterans Ronnie Price and C.J. Miles (team-high 17 points), the Jazz rookies sparked a captivating comeback from 12 points down and even overtook the Wizards in the final minute before succumbing and stumbling in overtime.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin, who didn't play Al Jefferson after the third quarter and barely used Paul Millsap in the same stretch, hinted after the game that he will seriously consider using the youngsters more often as the team finishes out the final seven games of its disappointing 2010-11 season.
Corbin liked what he saw in the fourth quarter from the promising up-and-comers that much.
"The young guys were playing well. They played hard and I thought they deserved to be on the floor," Corbin said. "I was very encouraged. They did a good job bringing energy and playing hard."
The 6-foot-10 Favors, who combines rare power and athleticism, racked up his first double-double in a Jazz uniform with 11 points and 10 rebounds in 23 minutes.
Hayward had an all-around solid outing off the bench, contributing 12 points, four boards, four assists and a couple of blocked shots.
Evans' stats weren't as glossy — six points and three rebounds — but he also helped provide a lift with his electrifying play.
"I think we were all just giving as much as we could," Hayward said. "Giving energy, playing hard, competing, trying to win the game. Unfortunately, we didn't."
Evans gave the Jazz their first lead of the second half at 84-83 with 45.1 seconds remaining with a pair of free throws. After airballing his first freebie, Price added a point to that lead with 14.3 seconds to go.
Jordan Crawford hit a jumper over Hayward to knot the game at 85-all with 4.4 seconds remaining, and Hayward then bobbled the ball and missed a potential game-winner at the buzzer to send it to overtime.
Corbin kept the same crew in to begin the OT session before subbing Millsap in for Evans and replacing Price with starter fill-in Earl Watson.
"They trusted each other on the defensive end. They made some mistakes, like young guys do, and I was tempted to (sub the first unit back in)," Corbin said. "But they busted their butt to get us back in (the game). I just wanted to reward them with the time. I'm satisfied with how they played, but I'm very disappointed we lost the game."
What, you might wonder, were Jefferson's thoughts on the game, of the rookies' performance or of not playing after going to the bench late in the third quarter?
You'll have to ask the starting center.
Jefferson, who has been less than thrilled with reporters' questions of late and especially after being ejected Saturday, quickly dressed and exited the locker room while most media members were interviewing his coach.
While walking down an arena hall en route to the exit, Jefferson literally waved off the Jazz's public relations director as he informed the seven-year NBA player that reporters wanted an interview.
This wasn't the first no comment media have recently received from Jefferson, who finished with 15 points and 16 rebounds in 30 minutes.
Favors, who averages 18 minutes and played 23 in this one, was grateful for the extended action.
"I just want to come off the bench and bring energy, try to play hard and really affect the game," Favors said. "It was important to get out there and get the experience, and you just play."
Already without three veteran players — Mehmet Okur (back), Andrei Kirilenko (knee) and Devin Harris (hamstring) — the Jazz finished without a fourth because of an injury.
Raja Bell, who started for Kirilenko for the third straight game, re-tweaked a right foot injury that he's been dealing with for two weeks. He left late in the third quarter to get treatment and X-rays, which came out negative.94 comments on this story
"My foot's sore. It's been sore since we played in Chicago," Bell said while gingerly walking out of the locker room. "I've been icing it and trying to keep it right, but I made a move out there tonight and it felt sorer."
The Wizards doubled their road success in large part to the play of rookie sensation John Wall (28 points), Jordan Crawford (15 points) and center JaVale McGee, who had 11 points, 17 boards and three blocked shots while fiercely defending the interior against Jazz bigs.