Scott G Winterton, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — "Refuse to lose" is a well-worn phrase we often hear in the sports world.
Well, cliche or not, it certainly applies to the Utah Jazz and their late-season push for an NBA playoff spot.
Whether it was their triple-overtime marathon against the Dallas Mavericks, their huge road win over the Houston Rockets or their fourth-quarter comeback against the San Antonio Spurs, the Jazz have certainly shown lately that losing simply doesn't sit very well with them.
Saturday night's game was another prime example of how, when their backs are shoved up against the wall and things are beginning to look mighty grim, the Jazz simply "Refuse to lose."
"The guys are doing a great job," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said proudly following a tense 117-107 overtime victory over the Magic. "They'll do whatever it takes to give themselves a chance to win. If playing extra quarters is what it takes, that's what we're going to give.
"It just shows the great character that this group of guys has."
That great character was on full display Saturday in a game that certainly could have gone the other way.
And with longtime Jazz coach Jerry Sloan in attendance, he certainly had to appreciate all the late-game spunk and tenacity that his former guys showed.
After Orlando went on a 16-0 run, the Jazz were forced to overcome a double-digit deficit midway through the third quarter.
But, of course, the Jazz battled back — don't they always? — only to fall behind again by six points in the fourth quarter.
Even after Paul Millsap's apparent game-tying basket was called off in the final 30 seconds, the Jazz still managed to tie it up on Al Jefferson's turnaround jumper with 21.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
And then with Orlando gunning for the last-gasp shot to win it, Devin Harris blocked Jameer Nelson's 3-point attempt to send it into OT.
Then with Jefferson, Millsap, Harris, Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors each taking turns making huge contributions, the Jazz pulled away in overtime to take another giant step toward turning their postseason dream into a reality.
"We survived," said Hayward, who hit a huge 3-pointer in overtime to give the Jazz a 110-105 lead. "That's the best way to describe it.
"They knocked down a lot of shots, early especially, but we were able to come through late and get stops when we needed and get the win."
Yep, all part of that "refuse to lose" mentality.
"We control our destiny right now and I hope we get another win so we can get into the playoffs," said rookie Alec Burks. "We fight hard all game and if it happens to go into overtime, we have to keep playing."
Yep, and with one more win on Tuesday against the Phoenix Suns — one which they really must "refuse to lose" — they're in the postseason party.
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