Sports / Utah Jazz / 
Toronto Raptors guard Fred VanVleet (23) shoots as Utah Jazz guard Trent Forrest (3) defends during the second half of an NBA basketball game Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Rick Bowmer, Associated Press

An unexpected hero: Jazz get by Raptors behind play of Trent Forrest

By Ryan Miller, | Updated - May 2, 2021 at 12:23 a.m. | Posted - May 1, 2021 at 10:26 p.m.

SALT LAKE CITY — Trent Forrest admitted he probably watches too much of his own teammates.

He studies how Mike Conley masterfully paces a pick and roll; how Donovan Mitchell makes reads in the paint; and how Royce O'Neale handles guarding a team's best player.

"I feel like I probably watch more than I really should," Forrest said.

After Saturday, just about everyone in Jazzland would disagree. In fact, they probably should all be encouraging him to keep watching.

Here's a thing you probably didn't expect to read this season: Trent Forrest won a game for the Utah Jazz.

Bojan Bogdanovic had 34 points on a stellar night and Rudy Gobert offered the game-clinching tip in with 24 seconds left, but Utah's 106-102 win over the Toronto Raptors on Saturday will be remembered for what Forrest did off the bench.

His stat line was pedestrian on the surface — 7 points, three assists and two rebounds — but he gave a tired Jazz team a much-needed lift.

"I don't think we win this game without him," said Gobert, who had 13 points and 16 rebounds.

That was exemplified in a 20-second stretch midway through the fourth quarter.

First, there was the block.

Forrest stayed on Fred VanVleet's hip as the Toronto guard dribbled into the paint. VanVleet, who scored 30 points on Saturday, stepped back and pump faked, which sent Forrest springing into the air. But as soon as the rookie touched ground again, he was back up and used his long arms to block VanVleet's fadeaway attempt.

"I watch Royce a lot on defense because he guards the best player every night," Forrest said. "So I just pick up little things that he does as well. I try to use them myself."

Then came the shot.

On the ensuing offensive possession, Joe Ingles found Forrest open for a corner 3. But there was a reason he was open. Forrest had already badly missed two other open 3s in the game and had made just one long distance shot all season — albeit on very few opportunities.

"You guys know how I feel about that, if you're out there and you're open, you got to shoot it," coach Quin Snyder said. "And sometimes that's not easy, especially if you're a young guy and you missed the first one."

Forrest shot it just as he'd seen Mitchell, Conley and so many other Jazz teammates do — and he made it. That 3 gave Utah a 5-point lead in a game where it had largely been playing catch up.

"That was obviously a really big shot for our team. It was worth more than 3 points," Snyder said.

Forrest said he didn't have any hesitation taking the shot. He'd worked on that same scenario with coaches, with Mitchell, with Conley throughout the season. So as the ball came to him, he could envision all the times in the gym when assistant coach Lamar Skeeter would say: "The next one is always going in." The next one went in.

"I just try to use the things that they teach me and that I pick up and try to just do that in the game," Forrest said of Conley and Mitchell's mentorship. "So I feel like just with that in the preparation with the coaches, I mean it all just kind of worked for me."

And it worked out for Utah, too. The Jazz needed a performance like Forrest's on Saturday. Without Conley and MItchell, Utah's main rotation has been asked to play heavy minutes; and on a second game of a back to back, it was catching up.

"I'll go to a gas station tomorrow," Gobert joked when asked how empty the tank was. (After a smile he stated, "I'm funny.")

Forrest gave them a much-needed spark. His defensive urgency ignited everyone else to follow along and he allowed the regulars to get a few more minutes of rest. That helped the Jazz hold Toronto to just 13 points in the fourth quarter.

"I thought collectively we really just focused on the defensive end," Snyder said. "They're so quick and athletic and apply so much pressure that I thought really Joe and JC (Jordan Clarkson) did about as good a job as you could of handling that.

"And, obviously, Trent gave us huge minutes."

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