CLEVELAND — Sometimes the ball rolls your way.
And sometimes it takes a ride around the rim, acts like it's about to fall in for a possible win — and one heck of a heroic-return highlight — but then rolls such a bizarre way that you find yourself losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers while continuing to distress your panicking fan base and plunging closer to lottery territory.
The latter roll happened to the Utah Jazz on Wednesday night at Quicken Loans Arena.
In a final score that isn't as surprising as it might've been a week ago — before Utah lost five of six games as it now has — the Jazz lost to the Cavaliers, 104-101.
"This," Jazz guard Randy Foye admitted, "is a tough one to swallow."
Guuuuuuulp. The Jazz, now just 1 1/2 games ahead of the surging Lakers, were outscored 12-1 down the stretch and watched in shock as Mo Williams' game-winning layup turned into a point-blank miss with five seconds to go.
"He went to the basket. I thought he had a good shot. It rolled out," said a stunned Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin. "It's heartbreaking. Heartbreaking. He had a good look."
Just as Mo Williams thought he'd put his struggling squad up in the waning moments with a layup, the Spalding took a wicked spin around the cylinder and trickled out of the hoop.
Williams had one last shot to make something positive happen for a team in desperate need of that, but his off-balanced 3-pointer clanged off the rim in the last second.
That miss wasn't as perplexing as the oh-so-close botched layup that had a bit too much rotation on it and ended up in Tristan Thompson's hands with 3.9 seconds remaining.
Wayne Ellington then gave the Cavs (21-40) their final three-point spread over Utah (32-29) by hitting two free throws with 2.8 to go.
Williams used words like "amazing" and "dumbfounded" to describe what could've been the shot of the night in his comeback game in front of the fans that he played for from 2008-11.
"I've never, ever saw anything like that. I don’t think I've ever missed a layup, even practicing," he said. "I've shot a trillion layups in my life, but I've never missed one like that, the way it came in and went out."
By the way, yes, you read that correctly. Williams indeed played after hinting that he would in this one the past few days.
Williams' return to the Jazz's lineup — and starting point guard position — after missing the previous 32 games with a surgery-requiring thumb injury was accompanied by more changes to the first five.
In an attempt to get more energy at the beginning of the game and the second half, Corbin replaced Marvin Williams (zero points) with DeMarre Carroll (four points) in the opening group. Derrick Favors (12 rebounds, six points) also started for the second straight game while filling in for injured center Al Jefferson.
Mo Williams scored the first five points of the night for the Jazz and finished with eight points, six assists and four turnovers in his first game since Dec. 22 in Miami.
"I felt OK," Williams said. "It'll take a few games to get my rhythm back, but I thought for the first game back in a long time, I thought I played OK."
For most of the night, the Jazz played even better than that.
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler Haws'...
- Stump the Smith: Can you answer the questions...
- ESPN trivia guru: University of Utah graduate...
- Hard work, dedication pay off for Utah's Karl...
- High school softball: Copper Hills earns a...
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz remain in...
- BYU basketball: Agustin Ambrosino leaves BYU...
- LIVE TODAY: Deseret News live streaming...
- High school baseball: 5A, 4A state... 55
- BYU basketball: Dave Rose hoping Tyler... 27
- Bodyguards allegedly beat up 2 fans who... 19
- Utah Jazz: No lottery luck, so Jazz... 19
- Hard work, dedication pay off for... 16
- Dick Harmon: BYU coach Mike Littlewood... 15
- Utah State football: New coach Matt... 11
- If hired, Jeff Hornacek will face same... 10