This nationally televised game had it all: big plays, teams countering each other, stars stepping up, and, capping things off, a buzzer beater. Mo Williams and the Utah Jazz treated an ESPN audience to a thrilling finish, culminating in a Williams' game-winning 3, as the Jazz defeated the San Antonio Spurs, 99-96.
It was a close game from start to finish, full of flair and dramatics. After a solid, energy-filled first half by the Jazz, the Spurs calmly and quietly took control of things for most of the second. When San Antonio’s Boris Diaw hit a 3-pointer with 4:09 left, the Spurs held a 93-85 lead. Utah answered with a 14-6 run, with five different players taking turns scoring, including Williams’ walk-off trey.
Slumping No More: A few weeks ago, a pair of Utah players were struggling. Both Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward were up and down — mostly down — and it affected the team’s overall performance. It’s safe to say that both have broken out of their slumps, something that correlates directly with the Jazz’s recent success.
Aggressive from the get-go, Millsap was involved and effective. Going against several different defenders, including some that had several inches on him, the gritty veteran was undeterred. Millsap made acrobatic moves and silky smooth jumpers, connecting on 10-of-15 shots. He finished with a game-high 24 points, while adding 12 rebounds and five assists.
Hayward played perhaps his most well-rounded game of the season. He too was aggressive and focused, which resulted in some nice outside marksmanship. He hit 7-of-14 field goals, including an impressive 4 of 6 from downtown. He ended the outing with 24 points, seven rebounds and six assists.
Turning Back Time: A key storyline in the NBA: aged veterans becoming ageless once again. No one epitomizes this more than Tim Duncan. The 36-year future Hall of Famer looked like a 26-year-old version of himself. He was active on both ends and used his routine repertoire of offensive moves against the Utah Jazz front court. The result was another brilliant stat line: 22 points, 21 rebounds and six big blocked shots.
Odds and Ends:
• After a somewhat stagnant start, the Jazz began moving the ball around and carried that through the rest of the game. The players were making that extra pass, reflected by the fact that 27 of the Jazz's 41 made baskets came off assists — 65.9 percent.
• Furthermore, Utah only had 14 turnovers, resulting in a 1.93 assist-turnover ratio as a team.
• Traditional “Jazz killer” Matt Bonner was scoreless in seven minutes.
• Derrick Favors returned to the lineup after a brief separation. The rustiness was evident, but it certainly brought some excitement Wednesday evening for coach Tyrone Corbin to have his full complement of players.
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.