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SALT LAKE CITY - The fickle entity known as momentum swings through a game and the ability to ride it can make or break a game.
The Jazz rode late game momentum against the Kings to overcome a 13-point deficit with 8:30 left to win the game 104-102. There are two parts to gaining momentum first is making stops and that leads to making shots.
"You get stops and you feed off of that," coach Tyrone Corbin said. "You get an easy basket, you get the backdoor dunk from Gordon. You get plays that make your team feel the momentum change. One play leads to another."
The Jazz had some momentum building with 7:30 left when Al Jefferson, who finished with 19 points, cut the lead to 9 and Derrick Favors and Jefferson had trapped Jimmer Fredette into what looked like a jump ball. The ref gave the Kings a timeout and they were able to draw up an inbound play where Fredette, who hit on three of four from deep, was able to hit a 3-pointer and the momentum shifted again.
There was an exchange of baskets that brought the score to 97-85 for the Kings when the energy guy at Energy Solutions, DeMarrre Carroll, got an easy layup and started the momentum up again for the Jazz.
It started with a missed 3 by the Kings, then Carroll's layup, then the Jazz held the Kings scoreless for over 3 minutes as the lead got cut to 97-94.
"When you get three or four stops in a row easily the momentum has shifted," Carroll said.
Certainly helping in that momentum was the free throw shooting for the Jazz, in the three minutes when they cut the lead down they made 5-6 from the line and two field goals. In the next three minutes they went 6-6 from the line riding the momentum of the team to the line. The team ended 29-33, shooting 88 percent, from the charity stripe.
The Jazz were without their Mo while the momentum shifted, Mo Williams hurt his ankle and didn't play after the second. They used veteran Jamaal Tinsley, who had 2 points and 12 assists, to control the game and get the shots where they were needed.
"As a point guard you just need to keep the momentum and hope we can get a good shot down the court next time and just let them know to stay together," Tinsley said.
Tinsley repeatedly talked about basketball being a game of runs and the more successful teams have runs later through games. But is there a way to keep momentum going. Opposing teams call timeouts, the Kings hit a huge 3-pointer late to tie it at 102-102, but the defensive momentum held through the end for the Jazz.
"We created that momentum so the things we did to create it are the things you do to carry you." Marvin Williams said.
I knew it was going in when I was curling off the screen if I would have got it. I stepped up, shot it with confidence and it went in.
But with all the momentum built up in the previous seven minutes it still came down to 22-foot jumper by Gordon Hayward to seal the game. Hayward was having a great game, ending with 23 points and going 9-9 from the line, and the Jazz were running a set play where the ball was set to go to Jefferson when he was heavily guarded.
Hayward rolled from the baseline and came off a screen to catch a pass in rhythm from Tinsley and he let it fly and nailed it. The momentum was on the Jazz's side and Hayward knew it was good, even before he knew the ball was coming his way.
"I knew it was going in when I was curling off the screen if I would have got it," Hayward said. "I stepped up, shot it with confidence and it went in."
The defense held one last full court sprint for the Kings and the Jazz rode the wave of energy to get above .500 for the first time since they were 1-0. Now they have to turn around and do it again.
They traveled to Sacramento and will play the Kings tonight at 8 p.m. on the road and have to figure out some way to bottle up the momentum and open it on the road.
"You know the one good thing, they played tonight and they played us tonight," Marvin Williams said. "They got to travel just as far. They are going to get in the same time we are. There's no advantage for either team. I think the team that comes out tomorrow and really tries to hit first and be the aggressor is going to be the one that's successful."