SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward couldn't help but second-guess himself Wednesday night.
The Jazz ended up with the ball with 16 seconds remaining in overtime against the Los Angeles Lakers. They trailed by one. Coach Tyrone Corbin — taking a page from predecessor Jerry Sloan's don't-allow-the-defense-to-set-up book — didn't call a timeout.
Suddenly, the second-year starter was holding the basketball 20-some-odd feet from the basket with time running out.
Jazz fans gasped. Lakers surged toward him. Options flooded into Hayward's 21-year-old head.
Drive to the hoop?
Pull up and take a mid-range jumper?
Pass to a teammate?
Eight, seven, six …
"It was just a scramble situation. We didn't really know what we were running," Hayward said. "I looked up and tried to get it to Paul (Millsap) and he's covered, so there was eight seconds left. (I've) got to make a play. (I) go down to the middle, tried to get it to Al Jefferson and (Andrew) Bynum made a nice play."
The 7-footer cleanly "threw it right back" at Big Al, the Jazz center admitted.
And the Lakers won, 90-87.
Hayward, who has the potential to be the Jazz's go-to guy when his confidence and experience catch up to his talent level, then sent the questions he asked himself to teammates.
A day after dishing out a career-high eight assists, should the 21-year-old have been so generous on this critical possession?
Or, four days after scoring a season-high 18 points and hitting a game-winning free throw, should the small forward have put the Jazz chances in his flick of the wrist with a game-winning attempt?
"I was wondering if I made the right play," Hayward said. "I feel like the guys all said I made the right play, the right pass. I could have just one, two pulled up, but we got a good look. (Bynum) just made a good play."
Corbin agreed with his young small forward.
"I thought we did a good job," Corbin said of the frenetic finish. "Gordon drove and made a good dish. … Al's in good position. They made a good block on us."
Just imagine if Hayward had pulled up and sank a shot or drove and dunked to win.
"Lots of games in the NBA," Hayward said. "It's tough, for sure. I feel like we were in control, but you've got to learn from it and move on."
WATSON INJURED: Jazz veteran Earl Watson underwent an MRI on his left knee Thursday. The backup point guard suffered a mild sprain in the fourth quarter Wednesday.
Watson, listed as day-to-day, did not return to the court after going to the bench with a slight limp.
Test results will be released today.
DAY OFF: The Jazz took Thursday off after playing five back-to-back sets in the past 16 days. Utah will practice again today in preparation for its reunion game Saturday, when the "East Coast Jazz" (aka the New Jersey Nets) visit EnergySolutions Arena.9 comments on this story
Five former Jazz players are on the Nets' roster, including Deron Williams, Mehmet Okur, Sundiata Gaines, Kris Humphries and DeShawn Stevenson.
PARTING SHOT: Shooting guard Raja Bell, who's made a career out of being a feisty defender, was content with how he handled his tough task (Kobe Bryant) in Wednesday's loss.
Bryant scored 40 points on 14-for-31 shooting.
"If he's going to take 31 shots to get 40, then that's pretty much all you can do," Bell said. "Anyone shooting 31 shots should score 40."
Technically, Bryant took 42 shots to get 40, considering he also went 11-for-11 from the free-throw line.