SALT LAKE CITY — Utah had played near-perfect defense.
Pascal Siakam couldn’t find a cutter from the post as he failed to back down Joe Ingles, and was forced to give it up to Kyle Lowry as the shot clock wound down. Lowry stepped back and put up a deep contested three. It went in.
That was the story on Monday. Toronto’s stars made the plays. The Jazz’s didn’t.
That’s why the defending champions left Salt Lake City with a 101-92 win over the Jazz. The loss snapped Utah’s five-game winning streak. The Jazz dropped to 41-23 on the season.
The Raptors were short-handed — playing without Fred VanVleet and Marc Gasol, and then lost Norman Powell minutes into the contest. They were on the second game of a back-to-back and on the last game of a five-game road trip.
Utah had plenty of built-in advantages on Monday, but some star performances wiped them all out.
Siakam had 27 points and 11 rebounds, Serge Ibaka added 27 points and 13 rebounds and Lowry had 21 points and seven assists.
As for the Jazz’s top trio — well, it was a rough night.
Donovan Mitchell had just 11 points on 4-of-16 shooting, Rudy Gobert had only 6 points and four rebounds (and was ejected late after getting into a shoving match with OG Anunoby), and Bojan Bogdanovic had only 5 points.
With 5:48 to go, Gobert put the Jazz in the lead 87-85 with a powerful two-handed dunk. Ingles had swung the game, scoring 10 straight in the fourth quarter to help erase a double-digit deficit, and the game looked to be swinging the Jazz way.
Then the Raptors ended the game on a 16-5 run.
“It doesn’t help when you don’t make certain shots,” Mitchell said. “On top of that, this is a team that won the NBA Finals, so when it comes to five minutes left, things don’t faze them. They are a group that’s connected, they know how to put things together.”
Utah didn’t make a basket in the final 3:34 of the game, Mitchell missed his final seven shots, and Gobert picked up his fifth foul with 5:01 — severely limiting his effectiveness.
“I think we really struggled to score in the last six minutes,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “I don’t think we were lacking execution per se — we just didn’t score. Our bench had given us a great stretch and got extended and we came back, I felt like the game was going our direction and it flipped back the other way.”
With the types of numbers the Jazz’s stars put up, it was a shock to see Utah competitive late.
And they have an Ingles-led bench unit to thank for that. Ingles had 20 points on Monday and scored 10 straight in the fourth quarter to help bring the Jazz back from a double-digit deficit to take their short-lived lead.
But that wasn’t the only time, the bench saved the Jazz.
Ingles, Mike Conley, Georges Niang, Tony Bradley and Jordan Clarkson went on a 12-1 run to start the second quarter. Ingles had six assists and five rebounds to go along with his 20 points and Conley finished with 13 points and seven assists.
That unit gave the Jazz a chance. But Utah’s stars couldn’t finish the job.
On the possession before Lowry’s gut-punch three with 2:30 left in the fourth quarter that put the Raptors up by five, Gobert had the ball stolen from him as he rolled to the hoop, missing a wide-open Royce O’Neale in the corner. It was a back-breaking sequence and one that was only compounded when Utah failed to make another field goal the rest of the way.
“They’re a very good defensive team,” Gobert said. “I think we did a pretty good job moving the ball. Some shots didn’t fall, but we made some runs. We were in a position [where] we could win the game. They just played a good game defensively. We couldn’t hit a shot or make a play when we needed it the last few minutes.”
And the Raptors did.