Saturday night at the Salt Palace, the Jazz must have felt like a little Dutch boy trying to plug 20 holes in the dike with just his fingers.
They somewhat controlled Chris Mullin and Mitch Richmond, "holding" them to 43 points after they had scored 71 Thursday, but they had no answer for the flood of points Rod Higgins and Terry Teagle put past them when the game was on the line midway through the fourth quarter.As a result, the Warriors took a 99-91 victory and a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
Through three quarters, Higgins and Teagle had combined for a modest 15 points. And in the fourth?
"We were just running, scrambling and just going crazy," Teagle said. He should have added, "and making a lot of baskets."
With the Warriors trailing the Jazz, 80-79, and a little more than five minutes to play, Higgins and Teagle went into their own private zone, scoring 14 straight points to assure the Warriors a victory. By the time John Stockton scored on a three-point play to end the Jazz drought, there was less than a minute and a half to play and the Warriors were up 93-83.
Higgins had given the Warriors a 79-78 lead - their first since the second period - with a pair of free throws with 5:35 left. But a hook by Mark Eaton put the Jazz back up, 80-79.
It was then that Higgins made the two biggest baskets of the game - back-to-back 3-pointers 29 seconds apart to put the Warriors in control at 85-80 with 4:38 left. Enter Mr. Teagle. He made two jump shots, a pair of free throws and a layup in 1:20 to really put the game away.
Both Higgins and Teagle credited Coach Don Nelson with an assist for their fourth quarter explosions.
"He (Nelson) got on me. He told me I'd better start shooting them," Higgins said of his 3-point barrage.
Teagle said what helped him is that Nelson stayed with him in the fourth quarter even though he hadn't been having a good game, making just three of 10 shots through the first three periods. "Don stayed with me and the shots started falling."
Nelson encourages players to take the open shot, regardless of whether they've been missing or not, Teagle said. "That's the thing about our ballclub. Everybody has confidence and we're not afraid to go to anybody," Teagle added.
Teagle finished with 20 points and Higgins 17.
"I want our guys to be confident, to keep taking them (shots)," Nelson said. When someone asked him if that included 7-foot-7 Manute Bol, who was well off the mark on five attempts from 3-point land, Nelson responded, "Yes, that includes Manute."
Of Higgins' 3-point baskets, he said, "Those were big-time shots, as big as he's made all year."
The key to Higgins' and Teagle's fourth-quarter explosion was the Warriors being able to find them in the open and therefore let them get a good rhythm to their shots, Nelson said.
And now the Jazz are faced with having to find their rhythm while disrupting the Warriors' - for three straight games.