SALT LAKE CITY — Young, inexperienced teams habitually find ways to lose down the stretch. Turnover here. Untimely miss there.
On Friday, however, the Jazz's youngsters mustered up a winning formula.
With 2.1 seconds remaining in regulation, Derrick Favors emphatically flushed Gordon Hayward’s wayward layup before Jodie Meek’s desperation heave caught air as the Jazz survived, 105-103, against the Lakers at EnergySolutions Arena.
“I think we showed some growth,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “We made some mistakes and allowed them to make some shots to get back into the game, but the poise that we showed down the stretch after we gave up the lead shows growth. These are the kinds of games that young guys have to go through to learn how to finish games. It was great to get a win while we’re learning through a situation like this."
Favors made that win happen by putting back Hayward's errant shot.
“Just an angle pick-and-roll,” Hayward said of the Jazz's final offensive play. “We had run it with success throughout the end of the game. I tried to get to the basket and put it up on the rim and give everybody a shot to rebound. They made a mistake not boxing out Fav.”
Hayward finished with a game-high 24 points and nine assists, including a massive transition 3-pointer to break a 99-99 deadlock with 1:59 left in the fourth quarter.
For Favors, who scored 18 points with 14 rebounds, it was the first game-winner of his professional career.
“When it left (Hayward’s) hands and I saw both of the (Laker defenders) leave, I knew I had it,” Favors said.
The Jazz topped the Lakers in 3-pointers (9-7), free-throw percentage (80-70), rebounds (43-37), assists (25-16), steals (9-8) and fast-break points (25-12).
At Friday morning's shootaround, Hayward emphasized defensive awareness and the Lakers’ tendency for quick possessions. Naturally, the Jazz fell into the accelerated tempo. Collectively, Utah and L.A. combined for 168 shots and 46 3-point attempts.
“They set you up because they play so fast,” Corbin said. “It’s a trap and we fell for it a little bit, but it’s a learning experience for us and fortunately we were able to get a win. We’re getting better.”
Jazz rookie Trey Burke appeared to injure his ankle in the first quarter, but quickly dispelled any concern with seven straight points on three possessions to close the first half. The Jazz led 55-52 at the break.
Burke finished with 14 points and seven assists, but struggled with seven turnovers. However, Corbin praised his resiliency to keep churning late in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers received a huge lift from Nick Young off the bench. He scored 13 of the Lakers' 29 third-quarter points and finished with 21, but fouled out with 5:35 remaining after Hayward cushioned the Jazz's lead to 96-90 with a two-handed dunk.
“Young is a handful for anybody,” Corbin said. “He’s an iso, one-on-one guy. He’s a creative scorer and he was able to make some tough shots. I thought the defense, for the most part, was pretty good. He made some tough shots.”
Chris Kaman recorded a double-double for Los Angeles with 19 points and 10 rebounds, while Meeks, Jordan Farmer, Xavier Henry and Jordan Hill all eclipsed double-digit scoring figures.
The Lakers pulled within one, 97-96, with consecutive transitions buckets by Farmer and Hill. Eventually, Meeks eventually evened things at 99-99 with 2:47 left before Hayward buried the shifting 3.
“I can’t say enough,” Corbin said. "We make mistakes and we learn from it and we keep fighting our way through it. That’s the way we’re going to get better — stay together and keep fighting.”