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SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Jazz head coach Tyrone Corbin has said basketball is a game of runs, and often the Jazz have found themselves on the bad side of those runs a lot this season.
Against the Chicago Bulls Monday night, the Jazz stopped a heated run and won the game, 89-83, in overtime at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz were firmly in control of the game heading into the fourth quarter with an eight-point lead. They held the lead since early in the first quarter when Trey Burke hit a 3-pointer to put the Jazz up 10-8 with 7:18 left.
However, basketball is a game of runs and the Bulls had one more in them.
The Jazz were up by as many as 10 to in the first two minutes of the fourth quarter after Jeremy Evans hit two straight shots. His second came with 11 minutes left in the quarter, but the Jazz wouldn't score again until Marvin Williams hit a 3-pointer with 4:43 left in regulation.
The Bulls went on a 13-0 run and had momentum in their favor.
Earlier in the season a run like this would bury the Jazz, but it was different against the Bulls.
“I think that we are learning a little bit. I think earlier this season we would have probably dropped this one by 10 or 11 points because we've never been in this situation before,” Utah guard Gordon Hayward said. “Good poise by us. Good learning experience and some growth I think.”
Losing by 10 or 11 sounds rough, but the Jazz have had plenty of quarters where they have been outscored 30-13 or 30-16. If the Bulls had ended the quarter with that sort of run, the Jazz would still be stuck on one win. Instead the Jazz found a way to stop the run.
“I think that's part of our maturation. I think it's part of our growth,” Williams said. “In the first 10, 15 games, (we would have) a two-point lead (then we) would all the sudden be down by 14. I think we kind of kept our poise tonight. We executed on offense, we played together on defense, we made a few stops and we ended up winning the game.”
Williams, who has only played in 10 games due to offseason surgery and then a broken nose, was key in stopping the run with his 3-pointer. The Jazz were down by three, 71-68, after Chicago's Carlos Boozer his a 17-foot jumper to extend the run to 13-0.
Richard Jefferson has been a stalwart so far this season and credited the ability to stop the run on simply being healthy. On top of Williams missing time, key players Evans and Burke, who both played down the stretch Monday, were suiting up in only their fourth games of the season.
Evans played 23 minutes in spelling Derrick Favors, who missed significant time with foul trouble before finally fouling out. Evans played center in a small-ball system for the Jazz and guarded Joakim Noah and Boozer when the game was on the line.
Boozer finished with 26 points, but when Evans and Williams checked him in the last two minutes of the game and in overtime, he had just four.
Evans added on the offensive side as well. He calls himself and energy guy and is a renowned dunker, but his outside shot is growing. He also had one of the highlights of the game in overtime when he slipped between two defenders on a pick-and-roll for an alley-oop.
In his second start, Burke played 34 minutes and scored 14 points while adding six rebounds and four assists along with five turnovers. Although his numbers weren't spectacular, he represents a vast upgrade at the point guard position. He was on the bench when the Chicago run began and he returned when the Jazz were still up two.
He hit a big shot to give the Jazz the lead in the fourth, then hit a momentum-swinging 3-pointer in overtime to start a Jazz run.
The Jazz have played a lot of good basketball despite their 2-14 record. They just haven't played a full game of good basketball, and probably won't play a great 48 minutes.
However, just like they did against the Bulls, the Jazz will win or lose games depending on how they stop the bleeding when the other team makes a run.