Once again, I've got to give it the young fellers (Favors and Kanter) and Gordon Hayward. They kept us in it," said Jefferson, who only shot 6-for-15. "Then once we got on the same page, we just cracked down on defense in the end.
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.
The Jazz also got a strong double-double of 12 points and 10 rebounds from second-year power forward Derrick Favors, while rookie Enes Kanter contributed six points and seven boards.
"Once again, I've got to give it the young fellers (Favors and Kanter) and Gordon Hayward. They kept us in it," said Jefferson, who only shot 6-for-15. "Then once we got on the same page, we just cracked down on defense in the end."
As a much-needed bonus, the Jazz got some offense from their wing players, who hadn't contributed consistently (or much at all in Bell's case) this season. Hayward was only averaging 8.0 points coming in, and the 12-year veteran Bell scored a season-high nine points.
"Raja came out hot and I was able to hit a couple of jumpers as well," Hayward said. "When we do that, it really helps our offense as a whole. They can't just focus on the post players."
Big Al tied the game at 87-all with a jumper a minute and a half after Ellis gave the Warriors an 87-85 lead with free throws at the 2:03 mark.
Golden State appeared to be on the verge of running away with this one, when Ellis sparked a 6-0 run with a strong drive and a jumper to put the Warriors up 85-81 with under four minutes remaining.34 comments on this story
But Jefferson blocked a shot, leading to a basket by Paul Millsap (nine points). Hayward then followed that with a game-tying jumper.
Hayward rediscovered the stroke and offensive prowess he showed at the end of his rookie year in the first half with 11 points and a 2-for-2 showing from beyond the arc.
GAME NOTES: The Warriors played without scoring sparkplug Stephen Curry (sprained right ankle) and center Andris Biedrins (sprained right ankle/toe). ... Utah went without seldom-used backup small forward Jeremy Evans who stayed at the team hotel due to a stomach virus. ... The Jazz play 10 of their next 12 games at home.