The Jazz believe. More than any point this season. In the face of single and triple overtime games. Against playoff tested teams such as Dallas and Orlando.
Utah's 117-107 overtime victory against the Magic on Saturday moved the Jazz just one win away from returning to the postseason for the first time since 2010. If Utah can eclipse the Suns on Tuesday — erasing Phoenix's potential playoff tiebreaker — the Jazz could be less than a week away from taking on either Oklahoma City or San Antonio in the first round.
Derrick Favors was his normal double-double self against the Magic. Sixteen points on 8-of-11 shooting. Big-time slams. Eleven rebounds. All in 36:22. All at 20-years-old.
Jamaal Tinsley recorded a team-high nine assists in 18:18 and saved the Jazz during the second quarter.
Utah's bench outscored Orlando 39-10, and eight of the Magic's reserve points came from Quentin Richardson.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin resisted using Paul Millsap at small forward for nearly the entire season. Now, Corbin playing Millsap at the 3 is winning crucial games.
Corbin knows he can't always go big, since Millsap can be a defensive liability guarding tall, athletic small forwards. But his improved ballhandling and outside shooting have turned the Millsap, Favors, Al Jefferson big-man lineup into a major matchup advantage for the Jazz. Add in improved 3-point shooting by Gordon Hayward and Devin Harris, and Utah's offense is finally approaching what the best NBA teams regularly roll out: pick your poison.
Strong night from Enes Kanter. Nine points on 4-of-5 shooting in just 12:39.
Thirty-nine percent of Orlando's field goal attempts (96) were 3s (38).
With Favors clocking 36 minutes, DeMarre Carroll was limited to 18:20.
Alec Burks on the Jazz's bench: We just been playing hard with the bench. We just play hard and give the starters a break. Come in and bring energy.
Winning key OT games and the team believing in itself: I believed that before. Before I got here, I [believed] I could do anything. The team got that attitude, so we're playing well.
Carroll on the Jazz not backing down from big moments: Yeah. We're just playing as a team and everybody just digging in. Give credit to where credit's do — our bench really helped us a lot. If it wasn't for our bench, we wouldn't have pulled this out. You kind of figured that would've come from practice [Friday]; they really wanted to go out and help us and Jamaal was the leader of that. We gutted it out. Everybody was a collective team effort. That's the biggest thing about our team — we've got no ego. That's the biggest thing going forward, we don't have no ego. You might play 50 minutes one night and you turn around and play 10 the next one.
Winning games by playing like a playoff team: Oh, yeah. That's the biggest thing about this team. I feel like if we just continue like it is we can keep fighting and make some noise going into the playoffs.
The Jazz are one win away. A fascinating, unpredictable season's on the verge of suddenly becoming crazier.
Brian T. Smith
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