A big question for the Utah Jazz entering Thursday night's Game 3 against Los Angeles at EnergySolutions Arena was if any role players would step up — like the Lakers' Trevor Ariza and Shannon Brown had in the first two games in L.A.
Matt Harpring, Kyle Korver and C.J. Miles answered that question in the affirmative, leading a fourth quarter rally.
Former All-Star and USA Olympian Carlos Boozer was the star of the game. Olympic teammate Deron Williams made the game-winning shot.
But Utah got a big boost from its role players off the bench, especially early in the fourth quarter as the team rallied from an eight-point deficit.
The result was an 86-84 victory, keeping the Jazz's hopes alive for a miracle comeback in the series by trimming the top-seeded Lakers' lead in the best-of-7 series to 2-1. Utah will now have the chance to even things up Saturday night at home.
Utah, after watching its four-point halftime lead evaporate into a 13-point Lakers advantage by the middle of the third quarter, needed a boost in a big way.
Harpring, Korver and Miles did so in a major way to open the fourth.
The bench trio led the Jazz on a 16-4 run to open the final period, giving them a 76-72 lead.
Harpring scored eight of his 10 points during the stretch. His dunk with 9:04 to play gave the Jazz their first lead since early in the third quarter.
Miles was a starter most of the year but had played just two minutes in the first three quarters. He played the first six minutes of the final quarter, however, drawing the defensive assignment against Lakers star Kobe Bryant.
Offensively, Miles made only one shot all game — but it was a huge one. He nailed a 3-pointer with 10:39 to play to cut the Lakers' lead to 70-67, getting the home crowd back into the game in the process.
Korver had a rough first three quarters shooting the ball — making only 2-of-9 shots from the field. But he scored five points in the fourth — including a huge 3-pointer to give the Jazz a 79-76 lead with just more than four minutes to play. Korver, who had started the first two games of the series, came off the bench on Thursday. But he played the entire fourth quarter and he finished the game with 11 points.
The fact is that the Jazz's two biggest stars may have come through in the clutch, as expected, but they wouldn't have been in a position to do so had it not been for the play of Harpring, Korver and Miles earlier in the fourth quarter.