Offense wasn't our problem tonight, we couldn't get stops for some reason. —Jazz forward Gordon Hayward
INDIANAPOLIS — If an editor asked for a headline to describe this Midwestern road trip for Utah, it might read something like this: “How the Jazz lost the No. 4 seed in the West.”
Though Utah still remains in the top four of the Western Conference, the Jazz didn't do themselves any favors while away from home for the past week.
In their latest disappointing effort, the Jazz squandered career-high games by Gordon Hayward and Rudy Gobert en route to suffering a 107-100 loss to the Indiana Pacers.
They also have a rough stretch to finish the season, so going 1-3 on a road trip could be quite detrimental to their home-court advantage hopes.
Brownsburg, Indiana, hero Hayward scored 38 points, besting his previous career-high of 37 in front of an appreciative Indiana crowd at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and Gobert blocked a career-high eight shots to go with 16 points and 14 rebounds in the team's third-straight loss.
Those individual efforts went for naught, though, after the Jazz (43-28) fell behind by 13 points early and then just couldn't quite pull off a comeback late in the fourth quarter.
"I would absolutely prefer to win the game. I'd rather have zero points and win the game," Hayward said. "Offense wasn't our problem tonight, we couldn't get stops for some reason."
Jeff Teague, whom the Pacers acquired in the three-way trade that sent George Hill to Utah last offseason, led an Indiana squad that's fighting for a playoff spot with 21 points.
Paul George only had four points through three quarters, but he finished with 19 points, including a dagger of a jumper over Hayward that gave Indiana a five-point lead with 18.9 seconds remaining.
The Pacers (36-34) led by 11 points with just over three minutes remaining, but Utah made one final push after Joe Ingles hit a three and Hayward scored five quick points for an 8-0 run that made things interesting down the stretch.
Utah had several chances to tie it or pull within one, but Hayward missed a three and Gobert couldn't convert two point-blank tries before George's game-clinching shot.
"Mentally, we were not where we needed ourselves tonight," Hayward said. "First off, credit them (the Pacers). They played well tonight. They hit some tough shots and it seemed like every time we made a run that they responded with a big shot. This has been a rough road trip for us, but we can't get too high and we can't get too low."
This was Indianapolis native George Hill's first game in Indiana since his bitter departure following the playoffs last spring. He had 16 points, six rebounds and six assists. He remained consistent in saying this game was just another game but important because the Jazz needed a win.
"We need to play harder, but it's no time to panic," Hill said. "They did a good job of making big shots, making big plays and we didn't do enough to pull it off. We just need to gather ourselves and have a good end to the season."
The Jazz return home for one game — Wednesday's ESPN-televised showdown with the New York Knicks — before an important matchup in Los Angeles against the Clippers on Saturday.
"You're only as good as your last game and our last game is a loss," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. "A couple of games ago in Detroit, we felt pretty good about ourselves. We have to figure out a way to keep grinding and winning. But this is the end of the season and you have to have urgency and there's a lot of good things going on. We've got to get home and get back to it."
JAZZ NOTES: Shooting guard Rodney Hood played after missing Saturday's game in Chicago and most of Thursday's game at Cleveland with knee soreness. He ran into foul problems and played through pain, finishing with 11 points in 15 minutes after picking up three fouls in the first four minutes. Hayward's points total was the highest for a Jazz player since Paul Millsap scored 46 in that miracle win at Miami on Nov 9, 2010. A Utah player hasn't had as many blocks as Gobert did Monday since Andrei Kirilenko swatted 10 on March 25, 2006.