Two issues stand out 20 hours after the Jazz fell 90-87 in overtime to the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.
1.) Coach Tyrone Corbin's decision not to call a timeout during the extra period.
After Kobe Bryant missed a 6-foot jumper, Utah gained possession staring at an 88-87 deficit with 16.5 seconds to go. Following a Josh Howard rebound, Gordon Hayward dribbled up the right sideline before the Jazz attempted to establish their offense.
"It was kind of a scramble situation; we didn't know what we were running," said Hayward, according to Salt Lake Tribune columnist Kurt Kragthorpe.
As Hayward tried to find an opening near the right wing, Devin Harris waved his arm at the top of the key, trying to reset an offense that also included Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson.
At the same time, Jazz assistant coaches Sidney Lowe and Scott Layden pushed hard for a timeout. Lowe was especially active, putting his hands together several times in a "T" and trying to catch Corbin's attention. It's unclear whether Corbin heard or saw his assistants. The Jazz didn't practice Thursday, and Corbin wasn't available for comment.
Meanwhile, the game kept moving.
Hayward drove to the rim, flanked by two defenders. Once he was under the basket, he dished off to Jefferson, who was on his left side and guarded by Andrew Bynum. Jefferson put up a soft 5-foot jumper with 1.9 seconds to go, and Bynum immediately swatted the ball away.
"[Bynum] had to recover. He did a good job getting his hands on the ball," Kobe Bryant said. "He had the athleticism to contest it at the end. It was a huge play."
The contest, Utah's five-game winning streak and a 5-0 home record were soon over.
"I thought about [calling a timeout]," Corbin said Wednesday. "I thought we had them on their heels. Gordon made a good drive. I thought Al got a good shot at the basket there. One thing is, tit for tat — you call it and let them set up a defense. I thought we had a chance to get on top of the basket, because Gordon made a good drive. He made a good pass. We just didn't make a shot."
Former Jazz assistant Phil Johnson acknowledged during a postgame television broadcast it was standard procedure for Jerry Sloan-coached teams to push the ball and not call a timeout if they faced a deficit during a last-second situation. Corbin spent seven years under Sloan and Johnson before taking over Utah last February.
However, the 2011-12 Jazz are a young team; Howard has rarely played with Hayward, Jefferson, Millsap and Harris; the Jazz had more than 10 seconds to call a timeout; and at least two assistants clearly wanted one.
Utah's non-timeout against the Lakers marked the second time in 38 games Corbin's dealt with a tough late-game decision that ended in defeat.
Utah held a 104-103 lead against New Orleans with 1 second left in the fourth quarter March 24, 2011. But Millsap made the second of two free throws instead of intentionally missing the back end, Emeka Okafor hit a buzzer-beating game-tying shot, and the Hornets eventually won 121-117 in OT. Corbin acknowledged after the loss he should have had Millsap miss his second free throw, allowing Utah to run out the clock.
2.) Jefferson said after the loss to Los Angeles the Lakers "have my number."
He became so frustrated playing against Bynum and Pau Gasol that he stopped shooting late in the game, deciding to pass to his teammates so he didn't hurt the Jazz anymore.
"They defended me really good [Wednesday]," Jefferson said.
After shooting 1 of 3 from the field during the initial quarter, he ended the first half 2 of 7. Jefferson shot nine times during the second half but just once in OT — a forced attempt that didn't come until there were 1.9 seconds remaining in the game. He ended the contest 5 of 17, and was only 3 of 10 after the break.
“[Bynum] kind of made up his own coverage on Al. We kept trying to tell him to get out of it, but he wouldn’t listen to us," Lakers coach Mike Brown said. "Whatever he did worked. So, I may add it to my defensive playbook — may just call it the Bynum-package or something like that.
"You’re not going to stop a guy like Jefferson; you just hope you can make him work. I thought Andrew did a solid job of trying to make him work, trying to keep him in front of him and make him shoot over him.”
Jefferson scored a season-high 30 points Tuesday during a home win against Cleveland and entered the Lakers game putting up All-Star caliber numbers.
But he's a combined 7 of 33 from the floor during two losses to Los Angeles. And the Jazz's average leading scorer (18.7) and rebounder (9.1) did what Bryant didn't Wednesday: he stopped shooting during crunch time.
"It got to the point where I didn’t want to take shots anymore and just [got] the ball to my teammates," Jefferson said.
Brian T. Smith