On a night when the Jazz kept clanking shots right and left and could never seem to get anything going, reserve forward Paul Millsap almost single-handedly brought the Jazz back into a game that had long looked out of reach.
With the Jazz trailing by 16 points after three quarters, Millsap came to play in the fourth quarter and his energy nearly helped the Jazz pull off an unlikely comeback, as they got within two points and came very close to sending the game into overtime with a pair of possible game-tying 3-pointers in the final five seconds.
The second-year pro from Louisiana Tech scored 12 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked a shot and that was in the fourth quarter alone. Those numbers are good for some players for an entire game.
Afterward, Millsap tried to downplay his excellent quarter, saying he was just doing what he was supposed to do.
"That's my job, to come into the game with spark and energy with points, rebounds, hustle, whatever," he said. "The fourth quarter was real good for us."
Millsap grabbed four rebounds in the first two minutes of the quarter and scored the first eight Jazz points of the quarter and 10 of their first 12 points.
He followed in a missed shot by Deron Williams, made a layup, slammed in a dunk off a feed from Williams and sank a pair of free throws to bring the Jazz within 11 at 89-78.
Then after Williams scored on a reverse dunk, Millsap got free for another dunk off an assist from Williams, cutting the lead to nine.
The Jazz twice got within seven, at lead to seven at 93-86 on a pair of Matt Harpring free throws and again at 101-94 on a Mehmet Okur 3-pointer with 1:59 left.
Okur sank another 3-pointer with 1:04 left to make it 103-97 and at the other end, Bryant was blocked by who else? Millsap, and then Andrei Kirilenko made a 3-pointer from the top of the key to cut the lead to 103-100 with 25.5 seconds left.
Then after a pair of Lamar Odom free throws, Kirilenko hit another three to make it 105-103 with 15.5 seconds left.
When Derek Fisher missed a free throw with 12.7 seconds left, Millsap, of course, grabbed the rebound and hit Williams heading up court. Alas, both Okur and Williams missed 3-pointers.
Millsap said the poor start hurt the Jazz when they didn't come out with the proper energy."We didn't come out with enough intensity like it was our last game," he said. "They just outplayed us in the first half."