Utah Jazz offense finally comes to life

Published: Tuesday, Oct. 6 2015 4:51 p.m. MDT

Sundiata Gaines (right)(Jazz) hits the game winning 3-pointer over Anthony Parker of the Cavaliers. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News) Sundiata Gaines (right)(Jazz) hits the game winning 3-pointer over Anthony Parker of the Cavaliers. (Michael Brandy, Deseret News)

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz's offense was nowhere to be found.

The green-clad players, at times, looked like they should be wearing Junior Jazz jerseys the way they were chucking up miss after miss.

Their confidence to score against the taller, seemingly faster and fiercer Cleveland Cavaliers looked as low as their shooting percentage.

Until, that is, they made the comeback after the comeback after the comeback.

Yep, that equals a whole lot of comebacks.

Strangely enough, the Jazz's first comeback — later nullified by LeBron James' sensational comeback before Utah's final comeback-that-counted in a wild 97-96 victory at EnergySolutions Arena — didn't happen until Deron Williams went to the locker room after reinjuring his sprained right wrist.

Hours after finding out the Jazz had decided to keep him around for another 10 days, former D-League rookie Sundiata Gaines entered the game early in the fourth quarter.

Suddenly and strangely, the Jazz finally found their offensive punch.

Finally and fantastically, the Jazz finally won the game thanks to Gaines' shooting stroke as well.

What he helped the Jazz do long before his buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer paved the way for his last-second heroics.

Shortly after subbing in only 37 seconds into the fourth quarter, Gaines got things going for the struggling Jazz by hitting a jumper.

That made it 62-57 in favor of LeBron James and his crew from Cleveland, which had held Utah to a shoddy 32.3 percent shooting through the first three quarters.

But the team that had fizzled like a dud firecracker in a 15-point third quarter had a, well, TNT-like explosion after that shot went in.

C.J. Miles, who'd missed his first three shots, hit a couple of buckets. Then Carlos Boozer joined the fun, taking a Gaines pass and making a layup and a free throw to shockingly tie the game at 64-all with 8:28 remaining in the fourth quarter.

In less than three minutes, Utah had erased the Cavaliers' seven-point lead and, more importantly, grabbed the momentum.

With Big Mo — and we're not talking about Mo Williams — on their side, the Jazz continued to surge while also excelling on the other end of the court.

Boozer added a pair of free throws, Wesley Matthews drained a 3-pointer and then Gaines capped a 15-0 run with a strong drive and free throw.

Once down by 12, the Jazz roared back to take an 80-67 lead.

Turns out, it wasn't nearly enough — to maintain that lead, that is.

James went berserk after that, scoring 18 points during a whirlwind of a 20-2 run that seemed to win this thriller for the Cavaliers.

After Utah scored 25 points in the first seven-plus minutes of the fourth quarter, the rims tightened up again for the Jazz until the final moments.

The cold shooting outside of that sizzling stretch nearly proved fatal to Utah's chances against the Eastern Conference's best team.

The Jazz finished shooting just 41 percent, missing 47 shots from the field.

It was the 32nd bucket they made, however, that will be the lasting memory of this crazy win.

After James carried Cleveland back to a six-point lead in the final minute, the Jazz made a furious, smart rally.

With just over 5 seconds remaining, Gaines was reinserted into the game and ended up with the ball behind the 3-point line.

He drilled it to finish with nine points on 3-for-3 shooting.

Utah's starting lineup was particularly cold throughout the game.

Carlos Boozer finished with a team-best 19 points but hit only 6-of-18 shots. Mehmet Okur scored 13 points on 4-for-10 shooting, while Andrei Kirilenko (hyperextended right knee) and Williams combined to shoot 5-for-15 before exiting with injuries.

Ronnie Brewer was the only starter to hit .500 or better, though he had just six points on a 3-for-5 night.

Turns out, the Jazz's offense showed up when it mattered most, though.

e-mail: jody@desnews.com

Copyright 2015, Deseret News Publishing Company