For the first time during a rebuilding season, all five members of the Utah Jazz’s young core played at least 30 minutes Saturday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
It worked out well.
Enes Kanter came off the bench to score 24 points and the Jazz survived a wobbly final minute to claim a 104-101 victory over Washington.
Along with Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Trey Burke and Alec Burks, Kanter enabled Utah to snap a two-game losing streak by holding off the Wizards.
“There’s nothing like game experience,” Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. “Fortunately we were able to weather the storm and get a win.”
It was more than a storm.
It was a hurricane.
But the young Jazz survived, after taking a 99-93 lead with 1:23 remaining when Burke took a cross-court pass from Hayward and nailed a 3-pointer.
Washington countered with a quick layup by Bradley Beal before Kanter made two free throws with 57.1 seconds left.
That’s when things got dicey for Utah.
After a timeout, the Wizards’ Trevor Ariza made a 3-pointer, cutting the Jazz’s lead to 101-98. On the other end, Burke missed a floater. But when Beal missed a tying three, the Jazz rebounded and called time.
With 28 seconds remaining, Washington coach Randy Wittman decided not to foul after Utah inbounded to Hayward.
Hayward tried to beat the Wizards’ trapping defense with a pass to Favors to midcourt, but the ball bounced at his feet and went through his legs.
“I was throwing him a ground ball,” Hayward joked. “He could have got that.”
After pausing, Hayward said, “”Obviously it was a terrible pass. … One of those things. I was going to throw him a chest pass. I was going to throw him a bounce pass. Then I threw him one in-between. Just a bad pass.”
Again, the Jazz appeared safe when Ariza missed a tying 3-pointer with 10.9 seconds to play.
After a quick foul, however, Burks made only one free throw and John Wall banked in a 3-point shot. With 3.6 seconds left, it was 102-101.
The Jazz called time again to advance the ball to midcourt, where Hayward was fouled with 2.6 seconds left. His two free throws gave the Jazz a 104-101 lead.
Washington was out of timeouts, so the Wizards dribbled an inbound pass to Wall, who let the ball roll nearly to halfcourt before picking it up.
Wall was in the clear and had momentum going to the basket. He could have gotten within range for a good shot, except there was a problem.
The clock started early and the officials stopped play to put 2.6 seconds back on it.
The Jazz quickly set their defense and, this time, Wall had to shoot for the tie from one dribble inside the halfcourt line.
“We were fortunate to be able to get the win,” Hayward said, “because that’s not the way you want to close out.”
Asked about using his young core for so many minutes — including down the stretch — Corbin said, “I thought they had a good rhythm.”