Basketball is a simple game.
If you make more shots than your opponent, you usually win the game.
Unfortunately for the Utah Jazz on Thursday night, they learned that it is possible to lose a game by making a shot.
Following a well played game with the New Orleans Hornets the two teams were tied at 103 with a few seconds left. Jazz Forward Paul Millsap took the inbounds pass from under the basket to half court, drove the ball and drew a foul with only 1.3 seconds left in the game. He calmly sunk the first free throw. From there it was simple, use a strategy that has been used millions of times in high school and Junior Jazz games. Miss the second free throw on purpose, have the ball fall harmlessly off the rim and allow time to expire before the other team can put up a shot. Instead, Millsap did the unthinkable and sunk the free throw.
The Hornets then sent a long inbound pass down court and it somehow ended up in the hands of Emeka Okafor. He threw up an off balanced prayer that went in at the buzzer. The official review sent the game to overtime. It was his only basket of the second half.
In the overtime period, it was all Hornets. They were led by reserve big man Aaron Gray who hit four clutch free throws in a row to help keep the game just out of reach. The night ended with the Hornets stealing a 121-117 victory over the struggling Jazz.
Once again the frontcourt duo of Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson carried the Jazz. Millsap ended the night with 33, and Jefferson 22. Both posted double digit rebound numbers. Earl Watson, Raja Bell, and rookie Gordon Heyward also contributed and ended the night in double figures.
For the Hornets, it was the Chris Paul and David West show. Paul sealed the game with three straight free throws and scored 24 overall. West ended the night with 29 points, but also possibly ended his season. At the end of regulation he landed awkwardly and twisted his knee. He was obviously in pain, and left the court in a wheelchair. Initial x-rays were negative, and his injury is being called 'left knee trauma.'
Jazz forward Paul Millsap simply summed up the game and the recent frustrations when he said, "It's tough, man. It's a hard pill to swallow. ...there's nothing that's going right for us." Sadly, Jazz fans couldn't agree more.