ATLANTA — The Utah Jazz played a basketball game Sunday night at Philips Arena.
Then they played some more.
And after that, they kept on playing and playing and playing.
For the first time in franchise history, the Jazz slugged it out — slogged it out, more like — for four quarters in regulation and for an additional four, five-minute extra sessions.
The organization, no doubt, hopes to never see another quadruple-overtime game — and not just because of the fatiguing factor.
The Jazz blew a slew of opportunities to win this road-trip opener before finally falling — almost literally, it appeared — to the Hawks by the score of 139-133.
"It was tiring, but these kind of things you've got to enjoy if you love competing," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "It's a great game to be a part of.. It would have been a greater game to win it."
The game lasted so long, Enes Kanter was 19 years old at tipoff yet his grandchildren helped him apply for social security by the time the final buzzer ended decades later.
This game actually lasted longer than 26-23 Utah's entire six-game winning streak, which the 30-20 Hawks snapped.
Or maybe it just seemed that long because of how sloppy this one was. The teams missed 136 shots between them and only scored a combined four points in the first overtime. The Jazz shot 38.9 percent overall and 28.6 percent from the 3-point range.
As for the time, in actuality this game — the NBA's longest since a four-OT contest between Phoenix and Portland in 1997 — lasted for 68 minutes of hoops time and three hours and 17 minutes in real time.
That's not much more time than the Jazz have before playing again tonight in New Jersey.
Speaking of time, Jazz starters battled it out for about twice the time they usually play. Gordon Hayward led the team in P.T. (57 minutes, 28 seconds), and C.J. Miles had the fewest of the starters with 49:33.
Al Jefferson (28 points), Paul Millsap (25 points) and Devin Harris (11 points, 10 assists) each saw 50-plus minutes on the court.
"I played 57 minutes, and man, that's a lot of basketball. I could've played 10 more overtimes if I had to," Hayward said. "You're just out there competing, and that's all there is to it. Tomorrow morning will probably be tough, but we're professionals, so you have to just keep playing hard no matter how long it takes."
That's the attitude the Jazz are trying to take from the South to Deron Williams' place in Jersey.
"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't fatigued out there a little bit," Millsap said. "But you've got to fight through that, try to figure a way to win the game. The monkey got on our back a little bit, obviously more than them, and we just couldn't finish out like we wanted to."
But, Millsap added, "We fought. We're going to take a moral victory out of this one. This is a good ball team we played tonight. They play excellent defense. We just didn't get it done. We've got to tomorrow to make it up."
The end of the final five periods — including regulation and the four OT sessions — were maddening for the Jazz because of missed opportunities.
Millsap had a chance to win the game in regulation, but his short shot rimmed off. The Jazz then thought Millsap was fouled on a missed dunk attempt late in the first overtime.
Harris' desperation game-winning attempt was off in the second overtime, and that came 15 seconds after he'd given the Jazz a short-lived three-point lead that Joe Johnson erased with a trey.
Millsap grabbed an offensive rebound to give the Jazz had yet another chance to win it in triple OT, but his jumper at the buzzer bounced away.
"If I could get them back, it would be great. It happens," Millsap said of squandered potential game-winners. "Our team fought. We fought to the end. We can't ask for anything more than that."
That didn't seem like it would even be possible considering how poorly the Jazz played in the first half, when they fell behind by as many as 17 points by struggling on both ends of the court.
Utah opened the second half (second third?) on an 11-0 run as the starters came out strong, and the Jazz took a four-point lead in the fourth quarter after Derrick Favors and the reserves gave them a solid boost.
But unlike in recent games against the Timberwolves, Warriors, Thunder and Kings, the Jazz lacked a knockout punch on this night.
"That was a tough game, and a tough game to lose," Hayward said. "We certainly showed what we're made of with how we came back in the second half."
Joe Johnson led the Hawks to the win on the final night of a back-to-back-to-back with 37 points, including a game-clinching jumper that put Atlanta up by four with 16.9 remaining in the fourth OT.
Corbin praised his players' effort, toughness and fight in the bitter aftermath.
The second-year coach also defended his decision to stick with his starters for almost all of the four overtimes despite their massive minutes. Jefferson, Millsap and Miles only left the game in OOOOT because they fouled out.
"The matchups were right. They were in the game. It's tough to come in those situations after being out, be ready to go," Corbin said. "I thought they were fresh enough. These guys (Hawks) had a played a couple of games in a row, so I felt good about the rotations we had on the floor."
The Jazz might shorten starters' usual rotations to keep them fresh in a back-to-back situation, Corbin said. Assuming, that is, they freshen up after this grueling duel.
"These type of games they hurt," Jefferson said. "But at the end of the day, we didn't give up and we kept playing hard, so now we've just got to put it behind us and get ready for (tonight)."
Jefferson admitted it was a tough game to play, but it was even tougher to watch after he fouled out.
"Of course I wanted to stay out there," Big Al said. "My leg was cramping. I got fatigued, but … every timeout we had I took advantage of it. I wanted to play. … It was hard to sit and watch (after fouling out). I wanted to be out there."
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