Must-win games are rare in the NBA — at least until the playoffs.
They are more rare only two weeks into the marathon-like regular season.
The Utah Jazz played a game they needed badly Saturday night, however, and veteran point guard Jamaal Tinsley quarterbacked them to victory.
Just 24 hours after a miserable performance in Denver and staring into the teeth of an upcoming four-game road trip, Tinsley and the Jazz rolled to a 94-81 victory over Phoenix at EnergySolutions Arena.
How sorely did Utah need a win?
Coach Tyrone Corbin tightened his rotation like it was the postseason.
Gordon Hayward, who scored 18 points, played 43 minutes. Tinsley, starting in place of injured Mo Williams, played 41.
“Everybody knew what was at stake,” said Marvin Williams, who scored 13 points in 38 minutes.
Individually, Tinsley stole the spotlight.
In only his third NBA start since the 2007-08 season, he went scoreless. But his 14 assists were five more than any Jazz player had previously handed out this season. He had six in the first quarter, when Utah jumped to a 29-19 lead.
“I thought he was great,” said Corbin. “It’s difficult — people don’t understand — when somebody goes down and you actually start and play the minutes he played tonight.
“I thought he got a little tired at the end and made some errant plays. But, for the most part, he directed the offense for us very well and got us into the stuff we needed to get into.”Next Page »