Elam Ending may be the best thing about SLC Summer League

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SALT LAKE CITY — There's a word that is often dreaded in summer league: overtime.

Usually, you don't need to see five more minutes of what is often substandard basketball. Not this year. At least, not in Salt Lake City. It's funny how a target score can change things.

The Salt Lake City Summer League is using the Elam Ending to decide games in the extra session. Once things hit overtime, the first team to score 7 more points wins.

As Utah's 97-95 overtime win over Memphis on Monday showed, that can lead to some chaos.

"It adds a little craziness to the end. It's fun," Jazz summer league coach Sean Sheldon said.

Monday sure was. The Jazz scored the first 3 points, Memphis came back with 5 straight, and then Utah guard Isaiah Collier hit a layup to make it a next-basket-wins situation.

The teams went five straight possessions without a score before Keyonte George drew a foul and hit two free throws for the win. During that stretch, Walker Kessler came through with a big block, Taylor Hendricks had some key switches up top, and Darius Bazley looked the part of a long athletic wing.

It was a glimpse of what Utah sees as its defensive stalwarts and what they can do when the lights are brightest.

Simply put, the Elam Ending brought out the most competitive possessions of the night.

"It's actually pretty fun," Collier said. "I feel like it gets more intense down the stretch, so it's pretty cool."

Added George: "Oh, I love it. It makes you compete a little bit. It just adds a little pressure for you, especially for young guys learning how to execute, learning what shots we want in a moment like that."

Those shots actually change as the target score gets closer. When the Jazz scored 3 quick points to start overtime, Sheldon would have liked to see the team attack the basket more. Instead, the Jazz missed two straight 3-pointers, which allowed the Grizzlies to jump ahead.

"You don't need threes, at that point," he said. "I would have loved for us to attack the rim a little bit more there, but the Elam Ending is a lot of fun."

If summer league is all about evaluation and getting better, what better testing ground than some heightened intensity at the end?

"That's the benefit of summer league. That's why I'm glad these guys are playing and I'm sure that's why Will (Hardy) is glad these guys are playing, and Justin (Zanik) and Danny (Ainge)," Sheldon said. "You don't get experiences like that anywhere but summer league in the summertime. You're not getting that out of pickup game or in your individual workouts."

So if coaches, players and fans all like it, is there a chance it gets adopted into actual NBA games?

"I don't think it should," Collier said. "But I don't make rules."

Sheldon, though, thinks there is one place it may work.

"Maybe the In-Season Tournament would be a cool time to do it," he said. "I could see that as something to try."

Until the league does, fans of the Elam Ending will have to just hope for overtime in summer league.

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