Oakland, Calif. • By the time the Utah Jazz took the floor Sunday, through no effort of their own, they had crept back in the playoff picture. Early arrivals to Oracle Arena sat around the visitors’ locker room, watching intently on a projector as the Los Angeles Clippers ran the Lakers out of their shared gym.
“I think everybody knows what the Lakers did today,” Jazz forward Marvin Williams said. “We had a golden opportunity to come out and switch places with them.”
The Jazz took that opportunity and made a golden statement, beating the Warriors 97-90 after Mo Williams made a game-clinching 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds left. With the win, the Jazz moved a half-game ahead of the Lakers.
The victory represented the Jazz’s most encouraging road effort of the season. It was just their third road victory over a team with a winning record, and it gave them consecutive road wins for the first time this season.
Beating Golden State may have turned the tide of an entire season. The Jazz host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, and Minnesota on Friday, then close out the season with road games at Minnesota and Memphis.
“We win out,” Gordon Hayward said simply, “we’ll be fine.”
By fine, he means in the playoffs.
Golden State had a chance to clinch just its second playoff berth in 20 years, but the Jazz had more pressing matters to attend to.
Mo Williams led the Jazz with 25 points, while Derrick Favors — who replaced Al Jefferson in the final minute of the game — came up with a big block and Hayward secured a key rebound to preserve the win.
Asked if he felt any pressure about replacing Jefferson in the final minute — a defensive strategy Corbin has infrequently employed — Favors said, “I don’t really feel pressure. I want to be in the game in the last minute.”
A short period in the first quarter aside, the Jazz came out more aggressive than the Warriors, recording 10 steals and 29 assists.
“This was all about them and them wanting it and the way they came out,” Utah coach Tyrone Corbin said.Next Page »