Matt Gade, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The kids are all right.
Or, at least, it looks like they're gonna be.
Utah's lineup of youthful 20-somethings — Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Alec Burks, along with "old guy" Marvin Williams, who's all of 27 years old — led the way as the Jazz pulled out a tense 105-103 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night in front of an appreciative sellout crowd at EnergySolutions Arena.
The 23-year-old Hayward had 24 points, handed out nine assists and had five rebounds and three steals; 22-year-old Favors contributed a double-double of 18 points and 14 rebounds; rookie point guard Burke, who just turned 21, chipped in with 14 points and seven assists; and Burks, who's also 22, had 13 points, five boards and four assists off the bench.
Oh, and Williams added 16 points and seven rebounds as Utah improved to 4-10 at home and 9-23 on the season — but they're 8-10 since Burke moved into the starting lineup after a preseason injury sidelined him for the first three weeks of the regular season.
Sure, that overall record is far from impressive, and yes, the Lakers were missing some guys named Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Steve Nash — maybe you've heard of 'em? — and their nearly 50 years of NBA experience between them.
But it seems that Utah's young guns are starting to figure things out, and they're finding ways to win in this big boys league.
"When we make mistakes, we learn from it and we keep fighting," Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We're getting better. We're learning. The guys are getting in a better rhythm with each other and understanding what we need to do to win.
"It's exciting to see them grow through it, and it's exciting to see them get more and more comfortable in situations like tonight. Their mistakes are becoming less and less as we go forward, and that's what you're looking for. They're learning on the fly now.
"And they're starting to believe that they can get through it," he said. "Although it's a difficult situation and there's a lot of pressure on 'em, and I'm on 'em not to make the wrong plays and to make the right decisions, I think they're getting better as we go forward."
The game's decisive bucket nearly brought the house down.
With the score tied at 103, Hayward drove hard to the basket and put up a shot that trickled off the net. But Favors was right there to jam the ball back through the hoop with 2.1 seconds left as the crowd — well, most of it at least, because there are always a lot of Laker fans in the arena whenever L.A. comes to town — roared its approval.
"The poise we showed down the stretch after we gave up a little lead to fight back and make a big play by Derrick and Gordon to win the game shows growth," Corbin said. "These are the type of games that the young guys have to go through to learn how to finish games and the mistakes not to make. It's great to win while we're still learning.
"They pumped us up, man," Hayward said of the deafening crowd. "We got going on a couple of runs and you can't hear anything and it forces a timeout from the other team.
"So we really love the Jazz and Jazz nation was really strong tonight."
Yeah, and Utah's young guns weren't too shabby, either.
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