Gordon Hayward escaped the loose-ball scrum with the rock in his hands and his head turning down court, where the open floor beckoned for a fast-break dunk.
But instead of cutting a lead down to three late in the fourth quarter, Hayward bobbled the ball into the hands of a Toronto Raptor, eventually resulting in a slam dunk of their own.
"We’ve got to come up with those plays to win these kinds of games," Jazz coach Ty Corbin said afterward.
It was a heartbreaking moment in the Utah Jazz’s comeback attempt Monday. But in the end, it wasn’t just one play but a series of mistakes compounded by a sleepy effort that resulted in a 94-79 loss at EnergySolutions Arena, dropping the Jazz to 16-32 on the year.
"We fought our way back into the game," Corbin said, "and then we made mistake after mistake."
After scoring 27 points on the Raptors in the first quarter, the Jazz failed to hit 20 again in the game’s final three. Utah shot 41 percent from the floor and converted on just three of its 17 attempts from behind the arc.
Short-handed again with forwards Derrick Favors and Jeremy Evans sidelined by injury, the Jazz looked to veteran Marvin Williams. The forward scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds.
The Jazz held the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week, point guard Kyle Lowry, to just two points before a knee injury took him out of the game in the third quarter. But Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas used his 7-foot frame and an array of ball fakes to score 18, and the Raptors’ All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan dropped 23 points on the Jazz.
"He made the game look easy for himself and I really like the way he’s growing as a player," Toronto coach Dwane Casey said his All-Star.
Down by 11 after the first basket of the fourth quarter, the Jazz surged early in the period. Rookie center Rudy Gobert blocked a jump shot at the free-throw line, sparking a fast break and an acrobatic Alec Burks layup to cap an 8-0 run.
But that was as close as the Jazz would get.
The Jazz dropped their third straight game, the team’s first three-game losing streak since early December. And with games at Dallas and home against Miami on the horizon, things don’t look to be easing up.
For the team’s starting backcourt, the struggles continued. Gordon Hayward and Trey Burke combined to go 7 of 25 from the floor for 16 points.
It was the sixth time in seven games the rookie has failed to reach double figures.
"The shot looks good, to be honest with you," Burke said. "There were three or four shots tonight that looked good, went in and out. I think it has something to do with [my] legs. I have to make sure I keep getting lift on my shot as the season goes on."
Hayward is shooting just 29 percent from the floor and averaging under 12 points a game over his last six.
Williams, who scored the most points of his Jazz career Monday, wants his teammates to push through it.
"Gotta keep shooting, man. Gotta keep shooting," he said. "You’ve got to have confidence in yourself as far as shooting the basketball [goes] because no one else will. Those guys have made big shots throughout their careers. They’ll continue to make shots."
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