SALT LAKE CITY — Two big questions surfaced during the fourth quarter of the Utah Jazz’s scarier-than-expected 112-105 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.
1. How in the world did the Jazz give up another 23-point lead to another sub-.500 team?
2. Was that a pass or a lob from Shelvin Mack to Rudy Gobert?
Regardless of the answer to the second question, the result was a pretty sweet no-look reverse dunk by Gobert, who had a career-high 22 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks.
"I thought it was a pass,” Gobert said. “I wasn’t sure. I just took the ball and put it in."
That alley-oop (or alley-oops) dunk with 17.1 seconds remaining all but clinched a game that nearly got away from the Jazz.
“It was great, especially at that time we really needed a basket,” Jazz forward Boris Diaw said. “They were pressing and pressing the whole quarter to come back, so it was a big thing.”
A big pass, right, Mack?
“Pass. We talked about that play before. Even when I made a floater he was open and let me know,” said Mack, who had 12 points and four assists. “Sometimes with Rudy, I’ve got to make sure he knows you’re throwing him the ball, and the second time he was ready for it.”
It helped the Jazz, now 14-9, preserve a positive outcome that looked like it might slip away on a night that saw Rodney Hood reaggravate his strained hamstring and not play most of the second half and Hayward suffer more pain to his injured left ring finger.
Hayward continued his strong play, finishing with 28 points, five rebounds and four assists after X-rays revealed that his stinging finger wasn't rebroken.
“It’s throbbing pretty good right now. I could really feel it for the rest of the game, but that’s how it is,” Hayward said. “I just have to play through it. We needed a win tonight, so I had to get back out there.”
Devin Booker led Phoenix (6-15) with 21 points.
Joe Ingles put Utah up 92-69 late in the third quarter with a long jumper, and it seemed as if the home team was going to cruise to a victory over an Earl Watson-coached Suns squad.
The huge lead steadily dissipated in the fourth quarter, which has turned into a trend for the Jazz.
Utah led Denver by 23 points on Saturday, but the Nuggets fought back to within nine before the Jazz closed them out.
On Monday, the Jazz led the Lakers by 19 before holding on for a victory after L.A. crept within four late.
In this one, the Suns' Brandon Knight scored 10 in the fourth and the Jazz offense went missing as Phoenix rallied to eventually tie the score at 103-103 on a Leandro Barbosa jumper with 3:07 to go.
Utah did just enough in the final three minutes to earn its third straight game and seventh victory in eight outings.
The close-out began when Joe Johnson stole the ball and passed it to Gordon Hayward for a break-away dunk.
Mack then gave Utah a four-point edge with an 8-foot floater.
Gobert hit two free throws — on a 10-for-11 night from the charity stripe — after being fouled on purpose with 44 seconds left to boost the lead to six.
Knight gave the Suns some late hope with a layup, but Mack and Gobert paired up on the next possession to wrap it up.
“We executed offensively at the end. We got the shots that we wanted. Rudy made a great play. Shel made a great play,” Hayward said. “Then we got the stops we needed to. It might have only been a couple of stops but we got them when we needed it and we got the win because of that.”
JAZZ NOTES: Hayward (6,869 points) surpassed Jeff Hornacek (6,848) for the 11th spot on the Jazz’s all-time scoring list. Boris Diaw and Joe Johnson, both former Suns, each scored 13 points. Diaw also had a season-high six assists to lead the Jazz in that statistical category. Former Jazz coach and player Tyrone Corbin is an assistant on former Jazz guard Earl Watson’s coaching staff with Phoenix. Utah has won five straight against the Suns. The Jazz will take Wednesday off before facing Golden State on Thursday night.
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