Fueled by a dramatic comeback, the Utah Jazz nipped the Sacramento Kings 104-102 on a 22-foot jumper by Gordon Hayward. It was the first game-winner of the young swingman’s career. The Jazz remain perfect at EnergySolutions Arena, moving to 5-0 at home and 7-6 overall.
While Utah played inconsistent throughout the first three quarters, especially defensively, the Jazz made crucial plays on both ends of the court in the final quarter. After Sacramento guard Marcus Thornton made a close shot, the Jazz found themselves down 97-85 with 6:30 remaining. Utah rode a balanced effort en route to a 17-2 run, with six different players doing the scoring.
When it was said and done, Utah won the fourth quarter 31-22.
The Future is Now: Both of them have started this season and both players found themselves coming off the bench Friday evening. Whatever the role, it is evident that Hayward and Derrick Favors are not only the future of the Jazz, but constitute the now.
While he was playing some fine basketball prior, since his move to a sixth-man role three game ago, Hayward appears to be jump-started. He is more active, serving as the offensive focal point for the second unit. This has allowed him to handle the ball more, creating both for himself and for his teammates. He was aggressive from the get-go and finished 7 of 16 from the floor and 9 of 9 from the free-throw line. No shot was more impressive than the winning shot — a calm, smooth jumper from the top of the key. Hayward added three boards and two assists, while propelling a plus-12 for the Jazz.
His fellow third-year player, Derrick Favors, was a defensive presence. His rebounding, defense and outlet passes were integral to some easy fourth-quarter scores. Favors’ effort kept him in the final 16 minutes while starter Paul Millsap sat. His line: 16 points, 14 rebounds (nine of the offensive variety), two blocked shots and two steals.
The Venerable Vet: As starting point guard Mo Williams’ ankle allowed him to only play eight minutes, back-up Jamal Tinsley stepped up once again. First, he had his hands — literally — on the two biggest plays of the game. With the score knotted up at 102, Kings guard Aaron Brooks was isolated against Tinsley, only for the vet to strip the ball away. Next, he set up Hayward in a perfectly executed play for the go-ahead basket.
But beyond the clutch play, Tinsley played a heady game. He kept things going with his shrewd playmaking abilities. He tallied 12 assists, marking the third time he has doled out double-figure dimes. The Jazz are 3-0 in those games and he now sports a 5.8 assists-per-game average.
David Smith provides instant analysis for Deseret News' Utah Jazz coverage. He works for LDS Philanthropies and also blogs for the Utah Jazz 360 website. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at davidjsmith1232.