Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes
SALT LAKE CITY — Lauri Markkanen thought he had won the game.
His last-second shot off an out-of-bounds lob was blocked by New Orleans' Larry Nance; but wait, it was signaled as a goaltend. Game over? Jazz win? For a moment, that's just what the team thought.
"I thought initially it was a goaltend," Mike Conley said. "But then I saw the replay and thought, 'Yeah, they're gonna overturn that.' And they did."
After a lengthy review, the play was ruled a clean block, which meant overtime.
If you thought that would faze Utah, you must not have been paying attention. To this game. Or this season.
By that point, craziness had already engulfed the game.
The Jazz had surrendered an offensive rebound and a game-tying 3-pointer before Markkanen's near game-winner.
Before that, Jordan Clarkson sat on the ground with the shot clock running out on what was, at the point, Utah's most important possession of the game. The play ended with a Mike Conley scoop pass to Markkanen for a 3-pointer at the top of the key.
That all came after the Jazz had already made two big runs in the second half to make it close in the final minutes. After going through all that, the flipped call was child's play for Utah.
"I think we had the momentum. … We didn't think too much of it," Markkanen said.
It took five minutes more, but the Jazz finally got the win on Thursday and beat New Orleans 132-129 in overtime at Vivint Arena.
The Pelicans came to Salt Lake City sitting atop the Western Conference, but they didn't leave it like that.
Clarkson had 39 points, including the first 4 points for Utah in overtime, to lead the Jazz. Markkanen scored 13 of his 31 points in the fourth quarter to help get Utah to the extra session.
Utah got big plays from rookie Walker Kessler, who nearly played every second of the fourth quarter and overtime, and Mike Conley down the stretch to get a victory that, in their own words, they probably shouldn't have got.
"This is a game that you look at, the totality of it, is a game they probably should have won as well as they played throughout the game," Conley said.
Zion Williamson broke the Jazz defense with ease, and CJ McCollum hit shots from everywhere. Without Clarkson's scorching start (he had 17 points in the first quarter and 25 at halftime), who knows where Utah would have been. Even with it, the Pelicans jumped out to a 13-point lead early in the third quarter.
The Jazz couldn't match the physicality and intensity of New Orleans for much of the third quarter, but then, suddenly, they did.
Utah used a 14-1 run near the end of the third quarter to bring the crowd back into the game and set up a back-and-forth finish for the two teams that played two nights ago in Salt Lake City.
"I thought that our team dug deep, the bench gave us a big lift, and the guys responded," Jazz coach Will Hardy said. "Big plays made down the stretch by a lot of people to close the fourth quarter and overtime."
Conley checked back into the game with 3:18 left and the Jazz trailed by 5 points. And the veteran guard proved, once again, how valuable he is during the final minutes of a game.
In rapid succession, Conley found Markkanen for a dunk, Clarkson for a 3-pointer, and Markkanen for a triple that gave the Jazz a 3-point lead with 30 seconds left in the game. Conley finished with 4 points on 1-for-8 shooting but was one of the biggest reasons why Utah won on Thursday.
After Conley's brilliance late in the game, the Jazz needed one more stop to win, but why should anything be easy on this night? The Jazz forced a miss by McCollum, but New Orleans corralled the rebound and swung it to Trey Murphy in the corner, who buried a game-tying shot with 2.2 seconds left in regulation.
Utah got a chance at redemption in the extra session, though.
McCollum missed a shot that would have tied the game up with 9.5 seconds in overtime (a chance the Pelicans were gifted after Conley inexplicably missed two free throws that would have iced the game, which actually fit the nature of the game perfectly), but this time the Jazz got the rebound and secured the win.
"It was a variety of guys making a variety of different plays," Hardy said. "From making the right read, making big shots. ... A great team win."
Even if the Jazz had to wait an extra five minutes to celebrate it.