Utah Jazz edge Golden State Warriors 88-87 for first road win

Published: Saturday, Jan. 7 2012 11:00 p.m. MST

Utah Jazz's Gordon Hayward (20) lays up a shot over Golden State Warriors' Dorell Wright, left, and Nate Robinson (2) during the first half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, Jan. 7, 2012, in Oakland, Calif.

Ben Margot, Associated Press

OAKLAND, Calif. — Gordon Hayward's smooth and confident shot, which snapped nets and intrigued so many Utah Jazz fans at the end of his rookie season, was back to its fine form.

Raja Bell's savvy defensive presence in the clutch was there again, too.

And the most important thing to return to the Jazz on Saturday night?

The ability to win a game on the road.

Thanks to Hayward's biggest offensive game of the season, some of Bell's patented defense and multiple contributions from young and old alike, the Jazz picked up their first victory away from Utah by sneaking out of Oracle Arena with a gutsy 88-87 win over the Golden State Warriors.

"It's huge, man. You can take a deep breath now," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It wasn't one of the best performances, but the guys really fought hard, so it feels great to get a road win."

That hadn't happened for Utah since last April. Heck, the Jazz didn't even come close to competing in any of their first three road games, let alone winning.

That competitive fire was there when it mattered most in this late-night doozy.

Hayward scored a team-high and season-best 18 points — on 6-for-11 shooting — and hit the game-winning free throw with 11 seconds remaining.

The Jazz then ran off a host's court with smiles on their faces for the first time since April 11 in New Orleans after Golden State guard Monta Ellis' game-winning attempt clanged off the rim at the buzzer.

"It was a relief. I was more worried about the team win than anything," Hayward said. "We finally pulled one out on the road after getting blown out on the other ones.

"I think it's a tell-tell that we got the win off a defensive stop as well," he added. "That's what Coach has been harping on us, playing better defense."

Bell, who has taken serious heat from many for his play this season, was all over the Warriors' explosive scorer from beyond the arc to the right elbow where he hampered his final shot.

"That was the slowest moment of my life to see Monta shoot that ball," Jazz center Al Jefferson said. "When it came off ... and I (saw) it was no foul, (and) we won, it's good. It's a great feeling to get a win on the road."

Backup point guard Jamaal Tinsley leaned into the media huddled around Bell after the Jazz improved their record to 5-3 to make sure reporters heard him call his teammate a "defensive stopper."

The 35-year-old Bell, who has two inches on the 6-3 Ellis, credited Jazz assistant coach Sidney Lowe for telling him to shade the Warrior to his right, advice that helped keep the guard at a game-high 32 points.

"You play the percentages. You try to take his right-hand drive away and hope that size will affect his shot, make him lean back a little bit," Bell said. "He missed one. I really didn't have a whole lot to do with it other than taking his angle away and making him shoot a tough one."

The tough-angle approach worked.

Bell helped Corbin's move to reinsert him late in the game for defensive purposes pay off a moment before that critical play, too.

Leading up to the go-ahead free throw, Hayward made a steal at the other end thanks in part to some suffocating defense Bell played on Ellis.

Hayward and Al Jefferson (15 points, eight rebounds) hit tying jumpers in the final two minutes as the Jazz continued their strong play from home and swept their second back-to-back set of the week.

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