Gordon Hayward and the Utah Jazz bounced back with a win Saturday night over the Minnesota Timberwolves, but the following night against the Memphis Grizzlies, they couldn’t make it back-to-back wins.
G-Time scored 16 points as the Jazz rallied from down 11 to beat the Wolves 94-92. But the frantic victory left them low on energy on night No. 2 of a road back-to-back, and they fell 88-79 in a defensive battle against the Grizz.
GORDON’S DISH HELPS SPUR COMEBACK
With just over one minute to go Saturday night, the Minnesota defense shadowed Gordon. The Jazz trailed 92-87, and in the big-shot situation, the Wolves weren’t going to be beaten by a G-Time jumper.
So Gordon passed, finding Derrick Favors in the corner for the biggest shot of the night, a rare 3-pointer for the big man to cut the deficit to two.
“It’s just something I was working on this summer,” Favors said. “Gordon (Hayward) trusted me with the shot, he passed to me in the corner and I made it. I was being aggressive, confident in that shot, and I made it.”
A rough third quarter left the Jazz down 80-69 at the start of the final frame, but Utah kept battling back. After Favors’ big trey, Gordon and the Utah defense pressured Andrew Wiggins into a miss.
“When he made that three, I knew we were going to win,” said Rudy Gobert.
George Hill tied the game on the other end with a pair of free throws. Finally, Gobert tipped in a Favors miss to put Utah on top for the first time since the 11:27 mark of the third quarter. More tough defense on the final possession gave Utah a much-needed victory.
JAZZ CAN’T GRIND ONE OUT IN MEMPHIS
On the second night of a road back-to-back, the Jazz faced an arduous matchup against a Memphis squad that also values toughness and defensive tenacity.
G-Time led the Jazz with 22 points, adding five rebounds, two assists and two steals. He banged two 3-pointers and added a pair of free throws in the opening period, as Utah trailed 19-18 after one.
Unfortunately, as the game wore on, the pressure from the Memphis defense wore on Utah. The Jazz managed just 17 points in the second and 16 in the third quarter, carrying a 12-point, 63-51 deficit into the final stanza.
“That’s what they do. They’re good at it,” Gordon said of Utah’s high turnover count. “They’ve got guys that pressure the ball and are good defenders, forcing you to do things you don’t want to do at times and speed you up. So part of that is on them, part of that is on us for letting them do that to us.”
The Jazz kept fighting, though. They came to life offensively in the final quarter. Gordon did all he could to bring Utah back, scoring or assisting on 15 Jazz points in the fourth, including burying a triple and the foul for a four-point play.
The closest Utah came was five points in that final quarter.
“We fought hard,” Gordon said, “but obviously it’s not the way you want to end it.”
The Jazz went 2-3 over their five-game road trip. They’ll return home this week, but it won’t become any easier for Utah.
Gordon and Co. will welcome LeBron James and the reigning NBA Champion Cleveland Cavaliers to Vivint SmartHome Arena on Tuesday night.