SALT LAKE CITY — EnergySolutions Arena has been an impenetrable fortress for the Jazz this season, but Utah almost fell at home Friday night. The Jazz struggled offensively and trailed for most of the night. The fourth quarter made the difference as the Jazz clamped down defensively and went on a 13-2 run in the last three minutes to pull out a 104-102 win.
GUARDS: Mo Williams came back from injury and quickly fell victim to a twisted ankle, which sent him to the bench for the remainder of the game. Jamaal Tinsely and Earl Watson tried to make up for his absence and did fairly well on offense. The duo, along with the rest of the Jazz, struggled defensively until the fourth quarter but made a big difference in distributing the ball. Tinsley dished out 11 assists and came up with a huge steal against Aaron Brooks with the game tied in the final minute. Randy Foye, who got the start, hit 2 of 5 from 3-point range and finished with 8 points. Gordon Hayward, who was in his second game of playing off the bench, had a huge night with 23 points on 7-of-16 shooting from the field. Hayward's biggest shot of the night was a game-winning 18-foot jumper with four seconds to play. GRADE: A-.
FORWARDS: Marvin Williams had a big night scoring as he finished with 20 points on efficient 6-of-12 shooting. Paul Millsap got the start and played at the power forward position. He finished with 10 points but only grabbed one rebound in 20 minutes. Derrick Favors made the most of his 28 minutes as he recorded Utah's only double double with 16 points and 14 rebounds. GRADE: A-.
CENTERS: Al Jefferson made some key baskets on the way to a 17-point, eight-rebound performance. He, along with the rest of the Jazz interior, played solid defense in the final three minutes. Enes Kanter hit one free throw in his 14 minutes of play. GRADE: A-.
BENCH: The Jazz bench scored nearly half of Utah's points on the night. Big games from Favors and Hayward accounted for a majority of the bench's points. DeMarre Carroll and Tinsley each had four points off the bench. Tinsley's performance late in the game in the absence of Mo Williams gave the Jazz a big boost. GRADE: A.
OVERALL: The Jazz nearly blew their unblemished home record against a 3-9 ball club. Despite trailing for a majority of the game and seemingly throwing up the white flag in the third and part of the fourth quarter, the Jazz showed resilience and determination as a team and with individual performances. Those attributes earned the Jazz a win and a 7-6 record in a very difficult Western Conference. GRADE: A-.
Tyler Huskinson is a freelance journalist who loves to cover sports. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on twitter @TDHuskiSports.
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