Final Score: Kings 112, Jazz 102 (Overtime)
The Jazz saw this one slip through their grasp, relinquishing a 7-point lead with 2:44 left in the 4th-qtr, a 5-point lead with 1:51 left and a 3-point lead with 11.9 remaining. In overtime they grabbed a 102-101 lead on a Trey Burke three before the Kings outscored them 11-0 in the final 3:17 to fall to 4-18 on the season.
Despite playing without Derrick Favors and Marvin Williams, the Jazz (although playing very sloppy and carelessly at times) played hard and gave an admirable effort. After perplexingly receiving just 16:21 of playing time on Friday night, Trey Burke led all players in playing time with 44:08. Gordon Hayward played 43:37 and Alec Burks played a career-high 37:17.
In their extended minutes, all three produced.
-Trey Burke: 19 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists.
-Gordon Hayward: 22 points (2-9 1st-half and 4-8 2nd-half)
-Alec Burks: 19 points on 6-12 shooting and 6-7 FT’s.
Sacramento’s Game-Tying Three
Score: Jazz 95-94.
Situation: With 11.9 seconds left, Trey Burke goes to the free throw line with a 1-point lead. He calmly hits both to extend Utah’s lead to 3-points at 97-94. The Kings – with no timeouts left – must push the ball 94-feet.
1. In transition the Kings run a double-drag screen for Isiah Thomas, with #15 Demarcus Cousins (guarded by Kanter) and #9 Patrick Patterson (guarded by Jefferson) the screeners. Patterson screens then quickly slips to the corner to set a down-screen for Ben McLemore camped in the deep right corner.
2. The Burke and Jefferson both get hung up briefly on the double drag-screen, resulting in Kanter sliding over to meet Isiah Thomas at the top-of-the-circle. As a result, the Jazz end up committing 3-defenders to the Thomas/Cousins duo as Patterson is left free, where he runs down to set a sorta screen for McLemore who rolls up on the weakside along the 3pt-line.
3. Patterson has legitimate 3pt-range so Burks switches onto him rather than leave a career 34% 3pt-shooter open in the corner. As a result, McLemore is left free on the right wing.
4. Rather than settle into an open area to stretch the defense, McLemore (a rookie) circles all the way up to the top nearly on top of all the action and where 3 Jazz defenders are. Nevertheless, Thomas pulls up and finds him, giving Jefferson a choice between closing out on 1-Cousins (a 15.5% career 3pt-shooter) or 2-McLemore.
5. RJ closes out on Cousins – leaving McElmore open. Enes Kanter can’t cover 20-feet instantaneously to challenge the shot in time and McElmore ties the game.
6. Ty Corbin and Sidney Lowe both put their arms up in disbelief and bewilderment.
The Final Word
A game the Jazz should have won but didn’t, or a game the Jazz lost because they were short-handed. Whatever your view point, the Jazz did show effort and resiliency as they rallied in the 4th-quarter from down 9 with 7:28 left to up 7 with 2:59 remaining. The couldn’t close out the 4th or overtime, but that’s something we’ve become used to with the interesting ensemble of players and coaches assembled over the past few years.
Last night Burke, Burks, Hayward and Evans all received substantial playing time and all were able to contribute. Although the play was borderline unwatchable at times, ultimately the Jazz also were able to experience 53-minutes of a competitive basketball game which is also a plus. Hayward and Burke got to experience a final-second, win-or-go-to-overtime scenario which is a good pressure-packed moment for young NBA players to taste. The breakdowns on Sacramento’s game-tying three late in regulation also provide a great teaching moment – for players and coaches alike.
A close overtime loss to the Sacramento Kings at home may not seem like much, but after Friday night’s massacre in Portland it was a relatively positive bounce-back. Furthermore, with home dates involving Portland and San Antonio sandwiched around road games in Denver and Sacramento – that precede their 5-game pre-Christmas road trip, this may be as good as it gets for awhile.