Kragthorpe: Jazz finding themselves just in time
After a night like this, believing in the Jazz as a genuine playoff team naturally becomes easier.
So does wondering why it took these guys this long to get it together.
"We could have been doing it all year," Jazz center Al Jefferson was saying Saturday, sounding almost frustrated after a 116-107 defeat of Brooklyn at EnergySolutions Arena.
The Jazz's second-half domination of the Nets followed their road breakthrough Friday at Portland, creating undoubtedly their best 24-hour sequence of the season.
If you wondered whether this team was cursed or just plain crumbling lately, everything suddenly looks different. There's great Foye in Jazzland, at the moment.
You kind of had to be there to capture the full effect of Randy Foye's 3-point shooting display in the third quarter and to witness Marvin Williams' consecutive, shot clock-beating baskets in the fourth quarter when the outcome was mildly in doubt. Otherwise, the boxscore is sufficient: Paul Millsap's career-high nine assists, the Jazz's 14 steals and their 55 percent shooting help tell the story of a team that's finding itself.
The Jazz managed to absorb Deron Williams' 21 points and 11 assists. Carlos Boozer keeps coming back and beating the Jazz with Chicago, but D-Will's Nets have lost in both of his return visits and this is a good Brooklyn team, fighting for the No. 4 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Playing without star guard Joe Johnson, the Nets held a six-point lead early in the third quarter. That's when Foye launched a shooting spree unlike anything in franchise history. He made six 3-pointers in a 10-minute span while accounting for 12 consecutive Jazz points.
In all, his eight 3s tied current assistant coach Jeff Hornacek's club record. Foye's third-quarter barrage came right after Mehmet Okur, the Jazz's last great 3-point shooter, was honored during a timeout. That seemed like odd timing, but Memo's recognition and a highlight video of his shooting exploits nicely framed Foye's breakout game.
Best of all, each of Foye's team-record seven 3s in the second half came via an assist from Gordon Hayward, Al Jefferson, Hayward, Mo Williams, Jefferson, Jamaal Tinsley and Williams, in order.
"We did a great job moving the ball," Jefferson said. "Double-team, swing, swing, swing and my man was there, ready. They were coming off me to double him, and he was knockin' 'em down."
And there was more to like, such as Hayward hustling to block Deron Williams' driving attempt in the second quarter, or Marvin Williams creatively delivering shots to beat the 24-second clock in the fourth period. Occasionally, it all comes together.
Of course, all this four-game winning streak is doing is balancing the losses that preceded it, while keeping the Jazz (38-36) in the chase for the eighth and final playoff slot in the Western Conference. But considering how they were falling apart, this is good stuff.
"I had a feeling that we would get out of it," said Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin.
Maybe everything that went so right for the Jazz was just a case of having everything that went against them on the road this month even out Saturday. They'd probably like to retroactively redistribute some of Foye's 3-pointers and Marvin Williams' innovative shots to those unhappy endings in Milwaukee, Cleveland and Chicago, but that's not possible.
They also would have welcomed some help against Dallas and the Los Angeles Lakers, who won close games Saturday. But as the Jazz are demonstrating, there's still time for them to get this right, an opportunity for this season to be salvaged.