SALT LAKE CITY -- Before the game, after all the talk in the preceding days about his team’s inability to shoot, Jazz coach Quin Snyder said things could turn around in a hurry if his team could just start making baskets.
“Those shots are there and if we start making them, it’s going to feel better,” Snyder said. “We can’t stop taking them and thinking they’re not good shots, they are.”
After making a lot of shots in the first quarter, the Jazz went cold in the middle two quarters only to turn it on in the final quarter for a 107-91 victory over Houston that keeps them alive in the best-of-seven series.
"The beginning of the fourth we obviously started very well," said Snyder. "Obviously Donovan (Mitchell) had a stretch where he started to get it going a little bit and gave us a little cushion."
Trailing by three points heading into the fourth quarter, the Jazz sank their first five shots of the quarter, four by Mitchell, who had 19 fourth-quarter points to finish with a game-high 31 points. Derrick Favors, who played the final 10 minutes in place of Rudy Gobert, made all three of his shots and finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds.
"We are always going to play the guys that we think are giving us the best chance to win," said Snyder of playing Gobert in the fourth quarter.
After three poor shooting games, it all started so well for the Jazz Monday night. Jae Crowder broke out of a slump by making Utah’s first nine points of the game and before the quarter was half over, the Jazz had made four of five 3-point shots, including two by Crowder, one by Joe Ingles and another by Ricky Rubio.
Then the Jazz reverted back to their abysmal shooting of the first three games as they clanked 10 straight 3-pointers and saw their percentage plummet from 67 to 26% by halftime.
The streak extended to 12 in the third quarter before Royce O’Neale broke the ice with a 3-pointer from the right corner.
Meanwhile the Rockets kept sinking their 3-pointers and after going 9 for 21 in the first half, they made eight of their first 10 in the third quarter as they took their first lead since the opening minutes of the game and led 79-76 after three quarters. At that point, the Jazz were shooting just 30.8% from long range, while the Rockets were 51.5% on 17 of 33.
But it all turned around in the fourth quarter when Mitchell started off with a 3-pointer, Rubio followed with a layup and Mitchell made a basket off a spin in the lane. Mitchell made it 10 straight with a pair of free throws and a pair of 3-pointers and suddenly it was 91-80 just three minutes into the quarter.
The Jazz still ended up shooting just 43% from the field, but their 11 of 23 in the final quarter, along with some huge offensive rebounds (6 in the quarter), made the difference in the victory. Houston ended up shooting just 35.4% from the field for the game and was a dismal 4 of 20 in the final quarter.
"I felt like they were trying to throw a haymaker there in the third quarter," said Crowder. "But we stood tall and took the punches and came out here to play in the fourth quarter."
LONG ODDS: The overall odds weren’t good for the Jazz going into Monday night’s game, considering that no team in NBA history has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in a best-of-seven series to win. It was also a long shot even for the Jazz to win a game after trailing 3-0.Comment on this story
Four times before this year, the Jazz have trailed 3-0 in a best-of-seven series, but have never won more than one game. That happened once, in 2000, when after going down 3-0 to Portland, the Jazz came back to beat the Blazers in Game 4 in Salt Lake, 88-85, behind Karl Malone’s 27 points.
On the other three occasions the Jazz lost Game 4, in 2010 in the second round when, after losing 111-110 to the Lakers, the Jazz lost Game 4 by 15 points. Then in 2012 the Jazz were swept by No. 1 seed San Antonio, losing Game 4 87-81, and in 2017 Golden State won 102-91 in Game 3 and 121-95 in Game 4.