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'I thought I had it': Markkanen's game-winner ruled late as Jazz lose to Kings


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SALT LAKE CITY — A couple tenths of a second, that's how close Lauri Markkanen was from hitting one of the more crazy buzzer beaters in basketball.

With 0.4 seconds left, Markkanen caught a three-quarter-court length pass from Jarred Vanderbilt and immediately put up a one-footed 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded. Markkanen screamed in celebration after the ball went in, and his team ran to greet him. The Jazz looked like they finally caught a break; moments after giving up an apparent game-winning layup, they ended up making the deciding play.

"Lauri made an unbelievable shot, Vando made an unbelievable pass. We thought we won the game," Kelly Olynyk said.

They thought …

The officials went to the monitor to confirm the play should count. They came back with some bad news for the Jazz. The replay was clear: The ball hadn't left Markkanen's hand when the lights lit up.

Suddenly, De'Aaron Fox's layup with under a second remaining turned into the game-winner as the Jazz, once again, lost in heartbreaking fashion, falling to the Sacramento Kings 117-115 Tuesday at Vivint Arena.

"I thought I had it," said Markkanen who had 28 points. "I thought I got it off in time, and right from the moment it left my hand it felt good."

It might still not have been enough, but a replay of Fox's game-winning drive showed the Jazz should have had another tenth of a second. Fox's layup dropped through the net with 0.5 seconds left. Would the added tenth have been enough? Maybe, maybe not. But it would have made things closer.

"Human error," said Markkanen, addressing the clock. "It's impossible to know exactly. Like it's easy to say from a picture that there should have been 0.2 more on the clock and then that shot counts. But at the moment, someone is just pressing a button, it's impossible to get it exactly right."

For a team that has grown very used to frenetic finishes, Tuesday's might have topped them all; and it wasn't all just because of Markkanen's near buzzer-beater.

Since Utah's loss on Saturday — its fourth straight that has come in the final minute — the Jazz have preached about the results being less about what's happened in those clutch moments and more so about what's happened before.

So naturally, Tuesday once again came down to the final minute, and it was a near carbon copy of what happened to Utah on Saturday against the Miami Heat.

With 6 seconds remaining, Markkanen was fouled on a 3-point attempt and made all three free throws to tie the game. The Jazz, once again, couldn't get the key stop at the end.

Against Miami, Tyler Herro hit a tough 3-pointer to win it; against Sacramento, the Jazz gave the fastest player in the gym enough room to break the paint and get to the rim. Fox scored 22 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and on the final layup, he blew right past Markkanen on the perimeter.

"I pressured up a bit too much," said Markkanen, who admitted he was disappointed in the final defensive effort. He nearly redeemed himself and more a few seconds later.

But, like the Jazz have continually preached during the now five-game losing streak, there was a lot of time before those pivotal moments where they could have won the game.

Markkanen said there were plenty of things to fix from Tuesday so the team didn't have to rely on bounces going their way at the end. There was the disjointed start on offense and some poor defensive possessions in the first half — all of which led to the Kings to jump out to a 14-point lead.

Jazz coach Will Hardy, though, said despite those shortcomings, he liked how his team played. He praised the ball movement and the way they responded in the second half to give themselves a chance.

"I thought they deserved to win the game," Hardy said. "I thought their approach was great. I thought their intensity was great."

The Jazz shot just 29.5% from 3-point range and turned it over 16 times. They were also on the wrong end of two egregious calls that ended up gifting the Kings 5 points. In the first half, the officials incorrectly reversed a backcourt violation that led to a Sacramento bucket. In the second half, Fox saved a ball with his foot two feet out of bounds that immmediately led to a 3-pointer.

"It's a really tough job to do — everybody makes mistakes," Markkanen said. "But of course you remember the clear plays. I'm sure there were some we got — can't think of them now, but I'm sure it goes both ways. Nobody's perfect. But of course looking back, I felt like he was three feet out of bounds and they made a 3. Maybe the refs didn't have an angle. I can't tell you where he was. Mistakes happen. it is what it is."

The Jazz can simply add those to the list of things that haven't gone their way. They've now lost the last five games by a combined total of 15 points.

Tuesday would have been different — if there were just a couple more tenths on the clock.

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