Gordon Hayward took the game over for the Utah Jazz down the stretch but in the end the Utah Jazz fell short against the Brooklyn Nets at home.
G-Time scored seven of his game-high 27 points in the final minute of the game to help bring his squad back from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit, but it wasn’t enough as Joe Ingles’ attempt from beyond the arc at the buzzer was off the mark and the Jazz fell by a final score of 98-96.
Hayward, who also dished out six assists, came down with three boards and recorded three steals in the contest, explained what went awry against a deceptively talented Nets team.
“We didn’t play well enough to win the game,” Gordon said. “We played the last six minutes, or whatever it was, really hard. We talked about it after shootaround; this is a team that has NBA talent and their record doesn’t mean anything. They outplayed us today. It’s disappointing.”
As the Jazz were staging a furious fourth-quarter rally, Hayward took matters into his own hands to help give his group a chance to win. With 2:33 to play, H20’s pull-up jump shot cut the deficit to five. Later in the quarter Gordon drained a three with 46.9 seconds remaining to make it a 92-89 game.
Brook Lopez answered with a dunk to extend the Nets lead to five on their ensuing possession, but G-Time came right back with a driving slam of his own to make it a three-point game with 30.5 seconds to go.
Markel Brown was fouled on the next Nets possession and he made both of his freebies. The Jazz caught a break when they got the ball back and Rodney Hood, who finished with 15 points and four assists in the game, was fouled on his attempt from downtown. He went on to make his three attempts from the line to bring the Jazz within two with 15.6 left in the quarter.
Utah quickly fouled Brooklyn guard Donald Sloan, who gave Utah some life after missing one of his two free throws. On the next possession, Gordon came up clutch for the Jazz again as his layup with 6.8 to play made it a 97-96 game. Utah quickly fouled again and they were given a chance to win it after Wayne Ellington split his attempts from the charity stripe.
On the final possession, Hayward and Hood were trying to get open but neither of the preferred options could get their hands on the ball and Ingles was forced to take the shot from beyond the arc. The Aussie reserve put too much on his game-winning attempt which sealed the deal on H20 and Co.’s comeback attempt.
The loss was a tough pill to swallow for G-Time and his teammates, as earlier in the night the Houston Rockets did their part and lost at home to the Spurs, which opened the window for the Jazz to leapfrog to eighth place in the standings. Still, Houston (29-30) remains just a half-game ahead of Utah, which fell two games below .500 (28-30) for the first time since the beginning of February.
“We’ve got to be better,” Hayward emphasized after the disappointing loss. “We played well the last four to five minutes but we can’t just wait to turn it on. We’re not that good.”
On a positive note, Rudy Gobert got back to his dominating ways down low and recorded a 12-point, 19-rebound double-double after going three straight games without reaching double-digits in either points or rebounds. Gobert also finished with a monster six shot blocks in the contest.
Utah’s Achilles heel on the night was ball security. The Jazz gave up 21 turnovers in the contest and only shot 41.6 percent from the field. Coach Quin Snyder also lamented his team’s energy early on in the contest.
“I think our whole team struggled tonight…I just didn’t think we had the juice or energy that we needed,” Snyder said. “It was a disjointed game. There’s no question about it.”
WESTERN CONFERENCE STANDINGS – FEB. 29
- Golden State Warriors (53-5)
- San Antonio Spurs (50-9) 3.5 GB
- Oklahoma City Thunder (41-18) 12.5 GB
- Los Angeles Clippers (38-20) 15 GB
- Memphis Grizzlies (34-24) 19 GB
- Dallas Mavericks (32-28) 22 GB
- Portland Trail Blazers (32-28) 22 GB
- Houston Rockets (29-30) 24.5 GB
- Utah Jazz (28-30) 25 GB
Things will not get much easier for Hayward and the Jazz as they will embark on a four-game road trip that starts on Monday night against the Boston Celtics (35-25). The two squads met about a week and a half ago on Feb. 19 in Salt Lake City and the Jazz got the best of the C’s on their home court in a 93-111 victory.
The Jazz will need to bring their A-game again if they want to have success against the Celtics again as Boston is in the midst of a 10-game winning streak at home. The Celtics are fresh off a big win against the Miami Heat this weekend and look to be back on track after stumbling out of the All-Star break.
Monday’s contest is slated to tipoff at 5:30 p.m. MST from TD Garden and will be aired on ROOT.