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SALT LAKE CITY — After returning home following a lack-luster performance that lead to a 102-84 loss to the Lakers the Jazz had an early lead and looked to be cruising to a easy win on the tail end of a back-to-back.
The visiting Pacers had other plans and held the Jazz to one point in the final 2:44 of regulation to overcome an 8-point deficit and force overtime. The Jazz created a big lead late in the third and held on to lead by at least five for 12 minutes.
The end of the fourth had almost every go wrong that possibly could. Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward had four turnovers in the final two minutes. DeMarre Carroll missed a free throw, and fouled Paul George on a play that was very close to being a nice break for the Jazz.
The game was falling apart. 48 minutes wasn't enough. The Pacers seized momentum, but the Jazz still needed to fight and they were ready to come out swinging.
"Let's go win it," said Coach Tyrone Corbin about his team's attitude going into overtime. "We made some mistakes. They made some shots. It's a five minute game. We feel very comfortable in those situations. And to come out and fight. Give them credit. They fought their way back to and scratched and made stops and made baskets and gave themselves a chance to get it in overtime. But, we did a great job in the overtime I think we scored the first three baskets and got two great stops on the other end in the overtime. Its shows a lot of growth on our part."
The Pacers are a really good team. They might be on the cusp of becoming a great team who will enforce their will. They are the second-best defense in terms of points given up, 89.9 per, and the best field goal percentage defense, 41.9 percent. The Jazz were able to put up 98 in regulation and 53 percent for the game.
When their defense picked up in the fourth the Jazz were struggling to get position and shots, not good ones even, just shots. The Jazz had one shot attempt in the last 2:40, a 20-ft jumper by Al Jefferson.
In the overtime it changed. The Jazz made three shots, two layups and a mid-range jumper, in the first two minutes.
"We ran some misdirection stuff just to get Al the ball," said Paul Millsap, who finished with 21 points and five steals. "And Al did a great job of scoring the basketball for us."
Jefferson ended the night 25 points, eight of which came in overtime, playing most of the night against the much taller Roy Hibbert. Jefferson talked about how good Hibbert is offensively and defensively and just how big 7-2 is. Jefferson has struggled against really long players, but was able to produce when it counted.
"I think we were just doing the same thing we just made shots," Jefferson said. "I got it going on the inside. We just kept attacking. Put the pressure on and put them on their heels. Made stops."
Corbin has been working with lineup changes almost every game over the past month. He has tweaked a little here and a little there. Last night it was letting Earl Watson play through the fourth and overtime instead of Jamaal Tinsley.
This seemed odd given that Tinsley has been playing great since he took over the starting job, had nine assists on the night and Watson hadn't played much with the starters. But, when it counted Watson made big plays. The Jazz had 9 offensive rebounds, Watson had two.
I was trying to take the ball out quick. I saw DeMarre open down the court. Tried to take it out too quick and it slipped out of my hand. It hit the side, that's why the trajectory took it inbounds, forward and it hit Earl and I went to get it.
The smallest guy on the court actually finished tied for second most rebounds for the Jazz with four to go along with five assists. He and DeMarre Carroll played clutch minutes through the fourth and added the energy that they are known for. Carroll shot 4-5 and ended with nine points and two steals.
But at the end of all of their great play in overtime the Pacers were willing themselves back. The Jazz were up six, they hit a 3. Jazz made free throws to go up five, they hit another 3. Then a fortunate amount of crazy happened for the Jazz.
"I was trying to take the ball out quick," Millsap said. "I saw DeMarre open down the court. Tried to take it out too quick and it slipped out of my hand. It hit the side, that's why the trajectory took it inbounds, forward and it hit Earl and I went to get it."
It would have been another disastrous turnover. The ball slipped out of Millsap's hands hit the side of the backboard, careened off Watson and back to Millsap, where he was fouled. The Pacers were furious, but since it hit off the side and not underneath or behind it wasn't out of bounds.
The Jazz had a great plan and it worked in overtime, credit the Pacers for a great game. And sometimes, better lucky than good.