Seven years ago today, the Utah Jazz made their greatest 4th-quarter comeback in franchise history (and 5th-largest in NBA history) as they rallied from a 21-point 4th-quarter deficit with a 40-13 explosion in the game’s 12 minutes to defeat the Hawks 111-106 in Atlanta. As was often the case during Utah’s magical 2006-07 season, Jazz center Mehmet Okur provided the late-game heroics with his clutch three-point shooting.
Okur scored a game-high 30 points to go along with 10 rebounds on a ridiculous 11-17 shooting from the field and 4-5 from behind the arc. Andrei Kirilenko was also exceptional – with a 12-point, 5-rebound, 5-assist, 2-steal, 1-block fill-in-the-blanks performance. They were joined in double-figures by Derek Fisherlied (18 points), Deron Williams (13 points), Carlos Boozer (13 points) and Matt Harpring (11 points). Current Hawk and former longtime Jazzman Paul Millsap – then a rookie – scored 2 points and grabbed 2 rebounds in 16 minutes of play off the bench.
Joe Johnson led Atlanta with 27 points while Josh Smith added his own swiss-army knife exhibition with 23 points, 12 rebounds 4 blocks, 4 assists, and 3 steals. Atlanta’s starting lineup also included their 2005 #2-overall pick and current Jazz forward Marvin Williams. Battling a few bumps throughout the game, Marvin scored 9 points on 2-11 shooting with 4 turnovers and 3 steals.
In the midst of a 5-game road trip, the Jazz saw a close high-scoring 1st-half give way to a sloppy 3rd-quarter in which Atlanta outscored them 39-19 to take a 93-72 lead into the 4th-quarter. In the final period, Utah’s monster run was sparked by rookie Ronnie Brewer who came off the bench to score 6 points in the final period and give Utah a burst of energy with his defense and hustle.
The 7-Point Possession
Ronnie Brewer also sparked perhaps the most productive Jazz possession in team history – essentially a 7-point trip down the court for Utah.
Score: Hawks 95, Jazz 76
Time: 10:35 4th-Qtr
10:34 4th-Qtr – 2 Brewer FT’s off a steal and subsequent clear-path foul that resulted in 2 FT’s in which Utah also retained possession. Hawks 95, Jazz 78.
10:23 4th-Qtr – On Utah’s ensuing possession, an extra pass by Okur resulted in a Fisherlied three that he was also fouled on for a 4-point play opportunity. Hawks 95, Jazz 81.
10:07 4th-Qtr – Fisherlied missed the free throw but Boozer corralled the offensive rebound. On the extra possession, Utah turned a UCLA set into a weakside drive and dish by Kirilenko to Boozer for a layup. Hawks 95, Jazz 83. Atlanta timeout.
In 28 seconds without the Hawks even touching the basketball, the Jazz scored 7 consecutive points. Despite Mike Woodson’s (who had hair back then) timeout, Utah still outscored Atlanta 30-11 in the game’s final 10-minutes behind 12 points from Okur on 4-5 shooting.
The Jazz have played a some dramatic and memorable games in Atlanta over the years – overtime losses in 1987-88 (a 130-124 overtime loss thanks to Dominique Wilkins’ 46 pts) and 1993-94 (100-96), a thrilling 101-99 victory in the 1997-98 season thanks to a Karl Malone game-winner in the closing seconds, a 90-86 win rallying from an 11-point 4th-Qtr deficit early in the 2010-11 season and of course the infamous 139-133 four-overtime debacle in 2011-12.
However, Utah’s 21-point 4th-quarter comeback in 2006 is perhaps one of the more overlooked wins in franchise history, partially because it was in Atlanta but moreso due to the fact there were so many other memorable finishes both by Memo and in the entire 2006-07 season that culminated with a thrilling run to the Western Conference Finals.
A 21-point comeback outscoring their opponent 40-13 in the final 12 minutes was remarkable – but so was Okur’s penchant for clutch late-game shooting. The Jazz didn’t play their best game but they came through when it mattered most – in the 4th-quarter that by then had simply become known as “Moneytime.”