Gordon Hayward waited until the final buzzer of regulation to record his first and only miss of the game. But the Utah Jazz took care of business in overtime for a big victory.
G-Time tallied 28 points, seven rebounds and five assists in an incredibly efficient night. He went 6-of-7 from the field, 3-of-4 from three-point range—his only missed shot a half-court heave at the end of regulation. No. 20 attacked the Houston Rockets defense relentlessly, leading to a 13-of-15 night from the free throw line in 40 minutes of action in Utah’s 117-114 overtime win.
Crisp offensive play was also key for the Jazz. After 16 first-half turnovers, Utah coughed it up just six times in the second half and overtime of a win that vaulted the young Jazz over the Rockets and back into the No. 8 slot in the Western Conference.
“We just took care of the ball. We were more forceful on offense. Start of the third we were still turning it over for sure, but there in the fourth and in overtime I thought we did a much better job,” Gordon said. “I’m proud of this win. We needed it.”
H20 got the Jazz going early when he knocked down a three on his first shot of the game to put Utah up 11-10. Later in the first, Hayward helped add to his squad’s advantage when he picked off Patrick Beverley’s pass and drained his second three-pointer in as many attempts to put the Jazz up 18-12 at the 6:22 mark.
The Jazz took a 34-22 lead into the second, but the Rockets pushed back to make it a five-point game by halftime. Utah’s poor ball security kept Houston in the game. The Jazz turned it over 16 times in the first half, resulting in 23 easy points for the opposition. Still, Utah led 56-51 at the break.
Despite Hayward and Co. getting out to the big lead, the game was up for grabs from that point as seven ties and 12 lead changes ensue.
Houston grabbed the lead with 5:48 to play in the third on a James Harden layup, but H20 made a nice feed to Shelvin Mack on the ensuing possession, who knocked down the three to regain the lead for the Jazz.
The Rockets got out to a 72-68 lead with 3:35 to play in the third, but it was G-Time who put his team on his back and scored Utah’s last 11 points of the quarter to give the Jazz an 83-79 edge heading into the fourth. Hayward made all four of his free-throw attempts on the run, hit his third trifecta of the night and converted on a pretty fadeaway bank shot with 4.9 left in the quarter.
The two teams traded buckets throughout the fourth but with 5:20 to play, Hayward got poked in the eye by Trevor Ariza and was briefly forced out of a close game. G-Time toughed it out though and was able to get back into the game swiftly, despite the discomfort he described lasting for about ten minutes or so.
“It was just hard to focus honestly. Just blurry for a good ten minutes…I had to get back in the game though, so just got to do what I can do get back,” Gordon explained. “It just takes a little bit of time to kind of get your senses back.”
Gordon hadn’t missed a free throw or a shot to that point in the game, but he missed three times after the injury. One key miss came from the line after another run-in with a Rockets defender.
The Jazz were up 105-103 with 17 seconds left and No. 20 at the line for two. As G-Time lined up at the stripe, Beverley walked past and knocked Gordon’s shooting arm down. No whistle sounded, and G-Time missed the front end of the free throws. He hit the second to put the Jazz up three. But that allowed for Jason Terry to hit the game-tying trey with 11. 1 to go.
“Just some gamesmanship,” Gordon said of the incident. “I should’ve knocked it down.”
Gordon’s 15 free-throw attempts were a game-high. He edged both Howard (14) and Harden (10). Harden is No. 1 and Howard is No. 9 in the NBA in free-throw attempts per game. Harden averages 10.4, Howard averages 7.3, while Gordon isn’t far behind at 6.3—good for 16th in the league.
Houston kept going to the well, sending everything they had away from the red-hot No. 20. On the final play of regulation, Ariza was all over Gordon, forcing him to lose control of the ball and toss up a 48-foot prayer that went unanswered at the buzzer.
It was his only miss of the night, but the Jazz did the little things right in overtime to come away with the win. The extra period was headlined by a couple nice shots from Derrick Favors, who scored 19 points and came down with 12 boards. Rodney Hood also came through with a big three-pointer. The budding second-year star had 18 points, five rebounds, four assists and a career-high five steals in the victorious effort.
“We just gutted it out,” Hood said. “We kept playing and we got to the next play. We turned the ball over a lot in the first half and then we found a way to settle down. It was a 48-minute game and we reminded ourselves of that. We hit some big shots, we went on a run and we pulled it out.”
Mack, the newly acquired point guard, slotted into the starting lineup and had a big impact on the game as well. He had a nice floating jumper to propel the Jazz in overtime and finished the night with an impressive 17 points. Trey Burke paced the bench with 15 points to go along with a couple boards and an assist in 29 minutes on the floor.
“You have to learn how to play through mistakes. You have to learn toughness. And you have to learn how to win,” said Jazz head coach Quin Snyder. “This was not a pretty game by any means, but it’s a game that we won. We’ve got a group that’s learning how to do that.”
WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS – FEB. 24
- Golden State Warriors (50-5)
- San Antonio Spurs (47-9) 3.5 GB
- Oklahoma City Thunder (40-17) 10.5 GB
- Los Angeles Clippers (37-19) 13.5 GB
- Memphis Grizzlies (32-23) 18 GB
- Dallas Mavericks (30-27) 21 GB
- Portland Trail Blazers (30-27) 21 GB
- Utah Jazz (28-28) 22.5 GB
- Houston Rockets (28-29) 23 GB
The Jazz (28-28) will take on the San Antonio Spurs (47-9) on Thursday night. The Spurs, who currently hold the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference, have gotten the best of Hayward and the Jazz in each of the past two meetings this season.
On Dec. 14 the Jazz fell 118-81 on the road and on Jan. 6, the result was more of the same as Utah lost by a final score of 123-98. Both the losses came on the road, so the Jazz hope to fare better in the final two games of the series in a playoff-like atmosphere in Salt Lake City.
The Spurs will take on the Sacramento Kings on Wednesday night, putting them on the second night of a back-to-back when they come to town.
The game is slated to tip off on Thursday at 8:30 p.m. MST from Vivint Smart Home Arena and will be aired on ROOT.
- Rockets at Jazz: Game Book (NBA, Feb. 23, 2016)
- Hayward scores 28 as Jazz defeat Rockets in overtime (AP, Feb. 23, 2016)
- Utah Jazz escape with OT win over Rockets (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 23, 2016)
- Rodney Hood comes through vs. Rockets (Salt Lake Tribune, Feb. 23, 2016)
- Utah Jazz outlast Houston Rockets for big win (Deseret News, Feb. 23, 2016)
- Jazz’s clutch play helps earn big overtime win over Rockets (Deseret News, Feb. 23, 2016)
- About Last Night – Jazz Beat Rockets (Utah Jazz, Feb. 24, 2016)
- The Roundup—Jazz 117, Rockets 114 OT (Utah Jazz, Feb. 23, 2016)