Utah Jazz: Slump ends as Jazz hold on for wild win over Wizards
Kristin Murphy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — There were several indicators at EnergySolutions Arena that showed how Saturday night was a good one for the Utah Jazz.
You know it’s a good night when Gordon Hayward can laugh off a late-game error.
You know it’s a good night when confetti falls from the rafters despite a 13-point deficit.
You also know it’s a good night when Derrick Favors gets a double-double with a sore hip, when Enes Kanter has a monster scoring game off the bench, and when a fan’s half-court attempt during a timeout promotion comes closer than Washington guard John Wall’s last-second game-tying attempt from 33 feet away.
Final score on this good night for the home team: Jazz 104, Wizards 101.
“I thought it was a good win,” Hayward said. “Obviously not the way we wanted to close out a game, but good to get the win.”
After consecutive blowout losses to the Timberwolves followed by three days off, the Jazz will take any positive outcome they can get.
Now, about that closing-out part Hayward referred to after his team improved to 15-29.
Long after it fell behind by 13 points in the second quarter, Utah seemed to have things under control when rookie point guard Trey Burke calmly snapped the net from 3-point land with 1:23 remaining.
Burke, who finished with 12 points and eight assists in his first matchup with Wall, gave the Jazz a fairly comfortable six-point lead with his fourth 3-pointer of the night.
But that just set up a wild finish.
Wizards forward Trevor Ariza cut Utah’s lead in half with his own trey with 52 seconds to go.
Of course he did.
Ariza scored 23 points, including a brilliant 6-of-10 showing from 3-point range.
The Jazz had one heck of a time trying to send Washington out of Utah with a loss in the final minute.
Burke missed a short runner on the Jazz’s next possession, Hayward turned the ball over with a pass that was closer to Favors’ feet than his hands with 21.5 seconds to go, and Alec Burks split a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
Wall, who struggled until scoring nine of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, made things really interesting by banking in a long ball after Burks’ free-throw miss. That 3 cut the Jazz’s lead to 102-101 with 3.6 left.
The final 2.6 seconds included two redemption free throws by Hayward and Wall’s errant last-ditch effort for overtime.
Telling of the final outcome, Hayward chuckled when asked to explain his turnover.
“I was throwing (Favors) a ground ball. He should have got that,” Hayward said, grinning. “It was obviously a terrible pass. I was fortunate that we were able to get the win. That’s not the way you want to close out a game, especially with a turnover late like that. I’m happy that we won.”
It certainly helped that the Jazz got a huge effort from their bench, including Kanter’s 24-point explosion after rough outings against the T-Wolves.
“I had — we had — a few bad games and I personally was really bad two games against Minnesota,” Kanter said. “But tonight we had to come out with lots of energy and today my coaches gave a lot of confidence and we’ve been practicing really hard.”
The Jazz had Wednesday off but then hit the Zions Bank Basketball Center courts for two days of practice on Thursday and Friday in a rare break in the schedule.
Despite the Jazz’s fresher legs, the Wizards ran out to a 43-30 lead in the second quarter after beating the Suns 101-95 in Phoenix on Friday night.
Utah’s bench, which outscored the Wizards’ reserves 52-18, sparked a game-tying 11-0 spurt in the second quarter that helped change the momentum in the Jazz’s favor.
Utah opened the fourth quarter on an 8-0 run to take an eight-point lead with 9:21 remaining, but the Wizards kept it close enough for the final push.
“I feel like we had this game won,” Wall said. “We just didn't do a good job in stopping them and they just kept making good plays."
Favors was a game-time decision, but he played — and played pretty well — after missing Tuesday’s game with a strained right hip abductor. The Jazz center finished with a game-high 14 rebounds to go with 11 points.
"I was a little rusty out there," Favors said. "I was able to shake the rust off, but overall I felt good out there."
NOTES: The Jazz outscored the Wizards in each of the final three quarters to pick up their fourth win in a row over Washington. ... Utah improved to 13-1 when leading after three quarters. ... Besides 13 points, Wall finished with four assists.
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