It's become cliche to say for the past couple of months, "The Jazz of the last couple of seasons wouldn't have won this game," but it's absolutely true.
This had all the makings of a typical Jazz letdown game where they fall in love with their jumper, stand around on offense, and as a result, the opposing team gets the long rebound and pushes it for an easy two on the other end. They weren't hustling early and looked like they had just all rolled out of bed.
Then in typical Jazz fashion, they played even in the second quarter and kept the lead to just 12 when it felt like 22. Typical Jazz. Keep it close enough for us to think that there might be a chance but do too little, too late and leave us let down knowing that with a decent first quarter, we might have won.
Sure enough, we saw the Jazz get blown out to start the third quarter. The game had all the makings. It was the last game of a four-game road trip. Korver after the game said it felt like they had been away for three weeks. Nothing was falling for them all night. It seemed as if every shot was in and then out. The Blazers were rolling and built their biggest lead to 25 after a Aldridge bucket with 7:07 left to play. Only the Jazz didn't lay down and die.
They kept chipping away methodically over the next quarter and a half. The Jazz were still down 20, 66-46, with 5:26 to go in the quarter after a couple of Roy free throws. I can't believe the Jazz had only scored 46 points after two and a half quarters. Sub 30% shooting will do that to you.
After that point, the Jazz would close out the quarter on a modest 14-7 run to get back to within 13.
The fourth quarter was one of the best defensive quarters we've seen this team play, ever. Some of it was with Portland not being able to make shots that they were given, but credit the Jazz to holding them to only 2 field goals and 6 free throws over those 12 minutes.
The Jazz never caught fire in the fourth quarter going 7-20 from the field. Portland just kept giving them chances as they missed shot after shot and missed 4 FTs in the quarter.
CJ Miles made a three-pointer that hit hard off the front rim, went straight up, and came down with nothing but net. When that shot fell, I thought the Jazz could actually pull this one out. The ball had finally started to bounce their way. There were down 7 still before that shot with just under 6 minutes to go in the game. If the Blazers and their fans weren't panicked already, they were now. The two teams traded buckets that kept the deficit to 6.
A big turning point came with just under three minutes left. CJ Miles had just fouled Roy and sent him to the line. After missing the first free throw, Roy missed the second only CJ didn't block out the shooter. Roy grabbed the rebound, took a shot, and got fouled again. Already down AK and Memo, the Jazz just lost Millsap to his 6th foul.
So while we were all cursing Miles, big Fess checked in for Millsap and Roy made both of his free-throws. As you'll read in just a bit, having Fess come in was probably the difference in the game.
Korver then made his second three-pointer of the game to get the Jazz to within a single possession, 79-82. CJ committed another foul on Roy. He was only able to make 1-2 though. So you're telling me there's a chance?
With two minutes to go, and on the next offensive possession, Marcus Camby swatted Boozer's layup and things looked down again.
The next Portland possession was either the best defensive sequence we've seen from this team or the worst. The worst because they couldn't get a defensive rebound. The best because they were able to stop the Blazers after giving up three offensive rebounds.
The other turning point in the game came when Sloan put Deron on Roy after CJ couldn't handle him. DWill showed why he's the best point guard in the league. He D'd up on Roy and was in his grill the rest of the night. The only points Roy would score would come in OT on a long three with Deron in his face. But he didn't let him drive and he didn't get picked to free up Roy. That's what you call a lock-down performance.
When Fess finally grabbed a rebound, there was only 36 seconds left and the Jazz were still down four. Deron was able to push it and get a foul call. The ninja nailed two free throws with enough time left on the clock, 30 second, to get one more stop.
That they did. They only shot Portland could get off was a Batum three-pointer. When it came off the rim, Fess grabbed it with about 5 second left.
At this point, I decided I was going to be satisfied no matter the outcome. We're in uncharted territory here as Jazz fans. First, we just don't see them win on the road that often. Second, we don't see them come back from 25-point deficits, at home or on the road. They're finding ways to win games despite not playing their best ball and this game was the biggest case in point.
I was proud of the way they fought back instead of having the mindset of thinking 3-1 is good enough or we've got another game tomorrow so let's not kill ourselves. Win or lose, this was a team that you can start to believe in.
But I'm so glad that Boozer made that shot.
The inbounds pass came to Deron and he was able to get open for his favorite game-winning shot which is the jumper from around the free-throw line. But like so many shots before, this one went in and out. However, the rebound came to Boozer after he was able to get great position. I don't know how he had time left on the clock because it felt like the buzzer should have gone off after Deron's shot hit the rim. Off-balance, Boozer was able to flip the ball back at the basket and kiss it off the backboard for the game-tying shot.
That was it. There was no way we could lose in OT. Whereas I would have been proud of this team before even if that shot had missed, it would have been a huge letdown to have that big comeback, that miracle shot, only to fall in OT.
We finally got to see Deron switch to ninja mode and finish off the Blazers in OT. Brandon Roy had a big three to start the period but that was it for OT. The Jazz didn't let the Blazers take a shot within 19 feet in that final period. On the other end, we saw the inside passing from Deron that led to a Fess dunk and a basket from Booze. Booze played that assist forward and found Fess for another dunk. Portland made a last-ditch effort when Rudy made a three to get within two. But the Jazz were able to make just enough free throws, from Boozer and CJ nonetheless, to end the game.
How fitting was it that when Roy still had a chance to tie the game, that his three-pointer went down and came back out?
The stats from this game seem meaningless to mention because the mentality of the team was greater than those. After playing together all of these years, we're finally seeing them come together. Korver said after the game that Sloan's teams have always been tough and physical but for the past couple of seasons he didn't feel that they were. That's changed this season he said. Fensenko stated, "I have no words, I'm so happy."
I would be remiss if I didn't mention a couple numbers though.
That's 4 wins on this roadie and 4 wins over the Blazers. I don't think it's a coincidence that #44 helped the team reach both of those. At the very least Fess has earned some more playing time. We've got to have him for the playoffs.
22 & 23
Another beast of a game from Boozer.
And there's really no stat that I have for this, but Deron's D on Roy was huge. We probably don't win the game without it. The fact that he can step it up like that and shut him down is a big statement.
So I'll try to remember this game and play it back in my head the next time it looks like the Jazz are going to fold and lose big. The thing is, I don't think I'll have to.
It's time to start thinking different about this team.
Highlights from The , Blog
Utah Jazz 25 Point Comeback @Portland Trailblazers (via utahjazzbball)