All this comeback craziness began a week ago Saturday with a double-OT thriller against the L.A. Clippers, of all teams. Few knew the Utah Jazz had hatched a new scheme to win:
1. Episode I: Eighteen isn't enough
The Clippers jumped all over Utah by 18 and a rare win in Utah seemed likely. Before they could say, "Stop calling us the L.A. junior varsity club!" the lead and their hopes of winning in Utah for only the second time in 38 tries were gone. Deron Williams won it for Utah with a strong drive with 6.8 seconds left in 2OT. Clippers' Chris Kaman after Utah's 109-107 win: "We hit them hard in the first half. ... (But) they came out and that is what the Utah Jazz are known for. They execute and they run their sets and they play hard. They came out and did what they are supposed to do and what coach (Jerry) Sloan has them doing really well. I got a lot of respect for that." And so it begins ...
2. Episode II: Millsap's 46+3 > Miami's 22+3
Let's cut to the chase here: Miami has LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and amazing beaches nearby. Utah has Paul Millsap. That made the difference in this wild one Tuesday, highlighted by Millsap's 11-point explosion that included a 3-for-3 3-point spree and a rushed overtime-forcing putback in the final 28.7 seconds. James after Millsap's threes helped Utah rally from down 22 and eight late: "It definitely surprised us." And Wade: "The credit goes to them for fighting back in the game the way they did."
3. Episode III: Eighteen still isn't enough
Utah's comebacks had to be a fluke, right? The Magic might've thought that until their 18-point lead vanished and — poof! — a 104-94 Jazz victory suddenly appeared Wednesday thanks to 30 points, 14 assists and five boards from D-Will. Three halftime deficits of 10 or more, three straight wins, one spot in NBA history for Utah, which ended the third on a 9-0 spurt during game-changing 24-2 run. Magic coach Stan Van Gundy: "We opened the window at the end of the third quarter. The third quarter was ridiculous professional basketball."
4. Episode IV: Cooling Hotlanta
The Atlanta Hawks tried a new approach. They kept the Jazz relatively close until somebody forgot to remind Josh Powell not to put Utah down by double digits. He did with two free throws. Utah's subs quickly evened things up, and the Jazz ended Friday's 90-86 win on a 9-0 run. Hawks coach Larry Drew on the Jazz: "They're a team that's got no quit in them."
5. Episode V: D-Will brings 'em home
The most unlikely team to beat the Jazz on this trip, Charlotte, thought for a moment it would do just that, going up 19 points in the first quarter. Fast forward — Jazz rally, rally, rally in second half, Al Jefferson tells Williams to "Bring us home," so D-Will hits yet another game-winning hoop with 0.8 seconds to go in this 96-95 barnburner Saturday. It sent Utah home with a 4-0 road trip, a five-game winning streak and another trailing tale to be told. Oh yeah, and another flustered foe. Bobcats center Nazr Mohammed: "It's a very, very tough loss, because it's not like it's a secret that (Utah) has been coming back on teams. They've come back the last four games on teams, and we were talking about it all game. We knew what they were capable of, so that's what hurts the most ... we still let them come back and get us." At least they're in good company.
A look at Jazz opponents for the next seven days:
vs. Thunder, Today, 7 p.m., FSN
Remember Paul Millsap's monstrous 30-point, 16-board, 6-assist outing in the 120-99 OKC rout? The Thunder do, too.
vs. Nets, Wednesday, 7 p.m., FSN
Is N.J. a good team? Nyet! But hand it to the Russian tycoon's 3-win team — the Nets waited until Dec. 30 to do that in '09.
vs. Spurs, Friday, 7 p.m., FSN
They're too old. The window has shut on their chances. Yet here Mr. Longoria's club is, playing like contenders yet again.
at Trail Blazers, Saturday, 8 p.m., FSN
These two teams will play this game, well, unless the NBA has to declare it a forfeit due to a lack of healthy Blazers.
The BIG stat: 88
How many combined points the Jazz have spotted their opponents in the past five games before rallying to wins. On the other hand, Utah has outscored the L.A. Clippers, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta and Charlotte by 107 points after hitting bottom against those five foes.
Deron Williams: His game-winning drive Saturday was just one of many recent clutch plays.
Raja Bell: Feisty defender hasn't hit double figures in scoring since season-opener.
Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company