NBA: Utah Jazz rally to beat Denver
The cameras at EnergySolutions Arena captured Enes Kanter's bellow. The image was replayed time after time on the big screen above the court where the Jazz went on to beat Denver 105-103.
"Let's go," he yelled in slow motion, his mouth opening and closing with the speed of a drawbridge.
Kanter had sparked the play of the game with a rebound and an outlet pass to Jamaal Tinsley, who found Gordon Hayward. Hayward delivered a touch pass to Derrick Favors; Favors wasted no time dunking the ball and putting the Jazz up 97-93 with 5:57 remaining in the game.
The looping video of Kanter jubilant even out of real time was a fitting metaphor for the Jazz, who were indeed very slow in getting going. On a night they were booed in the first quarter and combined with Denver for six technical fouls, the Jazz rallied from a 16-point first-half deficit to defeat their fiercest division rival and remain undefeated at home but also far from perfect.
The Jazz once again dawdled to a dismal first-half start and trailed 65-54 at halftime before commencing an inspired comeback in the third quarter.
"We knew what we had to do," said Al Jefferson, who led all scorers with 28 points. "We weren't doing nothing in the first half. We let them just disrespect us on our home floor. They're dunking balls, laughing in our face, [fans were] booing, all that good stuff. If I was [the fans] I would have done that, too. I guess we just said enough is enough."
Through 15 games, the Jazz (8-7) have been uniquely adept at putting themselves in precarious situations before finding their way out of them.
Leading the way was a nonconventional unit, led defensively by DeMarre Carroll and Jamaal Tinsley. It was Carroll, who in the last of his 23 minutes forced Denver point guard Ty Lawson into passing the ball as time expired, preventing the Nuggets from even attempting a shot that could have forced overtime.
It was a sharp departure from the first half, when the Jazz were hapless defensively, allowing points in the paint like each one guaranteed a donation to the charity of their choice.
At halftime, the Nuggets were shooting 73 percent from the field, and 18 of their 30 baskets had either been dunks or layups.
"We're better than that," said Tinsley, who started his second consecutive game while Mo Williams recovers from a right foot injury. "We know that, we're capable of going out there and playing hard."
In the third quarter, Marvin Williams and Randy Foye combined for 16 points, including a 3-pointer by Williams that tied the game at 77 with 4:04 remaining in the quarter.
Tinsley said Monday's matchup was "like a playoff game," although through 24 minutes the Jazz looked nothing like a team that would reach the postseason.
"I'm concerned," Corbin said. "We can't afford to continue to do that. We're looking at that, we're evaluating it. We've got to get it figured out, sooner rather than later. It's just too much for us to continue to fight back."
But the primary takeaway for the Jazz on Monday was that they did indeed fight back, unlike games away from EnergySolutions Arena, such as in Denver, when they lost 104-84 on Dec. 9.
"For some reason we have an advantage on our home court," Tinsley said.
The Jazz are 6-0 at EnergySolutions Arena. Their major bugaboo has been road games, which is far from ideal for a team that plays its next three games in New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Houston.
But just as they are a different team at home than on the road, the Jazz were a different team in the second half and the first.
After allowing 65 first-half points, the Jazz clamped down and gave up only 38 in the second half.
"That will tell you what we can do," Tinsley said, "when we play defense."
Storylines From jeers to cheers
R The Jazz improve to 6-0 at home, despite falling behind by 16 points in the first half.
• The teams combine for six technical fouls, including two on Nuggets guard Andre Iguodala, who is ejected in the third quarter.
• The Jazz exact revenge for a 104-84 loss at Denver on Nov. 9.