Gordon Hayward’s Utah Jazz made a big comeback to tie the game with just seconds left on the clock, but a shot made in the final second sealed Utah’s fate, handing the team its fifth loss in the last seven games.
Despite a difficult night shooting, G-time led the Jazz (17-22) with 21 points in a 103-101 loss to the Sacramento Kings (16-23) Thursday at home. No. 20 went 13-of-16 from the free throw line and added eight rebounds, three assists, a steal and a block.
While Gordon got to the free throw line plenty, he missed all eight of his three-point attempts and connected on just four of his 17 field goal attempts.
“I shot the ball extremely well in warm-ups and maybe I got rid of all of them then,” Gordon said of his off night. “It felt good. It felt good the past couple of weeks, but for whatever the reason they were not falling so we will figure it out. We will be all right.”
Defensively, Utah was unable to stop Sacramento big man DeMarcus Cousins, who finished with 36 points and 17 rebounds.
The Jazz were forced to come back in the second half after falling behind in the first half. Gordon didn’t score until 1:21 in the first quarter, when he made his first free throw. He sank two more at the end of the quarter, but the Jazz trailed 26-12.
“Just a disastrous start for us,” Gordon admitted.
In the second quarter, Gordon once again struggled from the field, but managed to knock down a pair of free throws with 1:32 left in the first half to cut the Jazz deficit to 51-40. With one second left in the half, G-Time passed the ball to a streaking Joe Ingles who finished near the hoop to bring the Jazz within single digits of the lead.
However, with just a second on the clock, Cousins finished with a putback dunk to extend the Kings’ lead right before halftime to 56-45.
“We got a lot of good looks, just couldn’t knock them down,” Gordon said. “I haven’t had that many good looks all year. For whatever reason we just couldn’t convert. Then we let them get behind us way too many times. Seems like they were getting layups and dunks and easy stuff.”
Gordon started the second half by knocking down a stepback jumper from 13 feet out to reduce the Sacramento lead to nine, 56-47. From nearly the same spot on the court, No. 20 struck again with a two-point shot at the 5:33 mark in the third quarter to keep the Jazz in it, trailing 72-60.
But the Kings kept the Jazz at arm’s length for the rest of the period. As the seconds wound down in the third quarter, Gordon dribbled down the court, nearly lost the ball and regained control and hit a 12-footer at the buzzer. Still, the Jazz trailed 82-71 at the end of the third quarter.
The Jazz slowly cut away at the Kings’ lead throughout the fourth quarter. With 1:15 remaining, Gordon hit another pair of free throws to bring the Jazz within six, down just 98-92.
With 29 seconds left, Gordon split two defenders and threw up a layup that went down while he was getting fouled. He completed the thre-point play to cut the Sacramento lead to 101-98. The Jazz still trailed with four seconds left, but Gordon found an open Joe Ingles for a game-tying trey.
“I think that it takes a lot of resolve and a lot of grit,” Utah head coach Quin Snyder said. “Frankly, the fact that we came back with the situation that we had — with Booker out, with basically every player on our roster in foul trouble except Gordon and Gordon having a very, very difficult night from the field.”
But unfortunately, Sacramento’s Rudy Gay put up a contested shot with less than one second on the clock and drained it to allow the Kings to walk out of Utah with a win.
“We knew they’d make a run, because they are a good team,” Gay said. “We knew we weren’t going to blow them out. They played well, they played solid and hit big shots. They made it a game.”
The Jazz will try to bounce back from that heartbreaking loss when the team hosts the Los Angeles Lakers (9-32) Saturday. Utah will attempt to beat the Lakers for the second time in a week. The Jazz won in Los Angeles 86-74 in the two teams’ meeting Sunday.
The Lakers have lost five of their last six games and only have four road wins on the season.
The game tips off at 7 p.m. MT on ROOT.