Utah Jazz beat Golden State Warriors 88-87 for first road win
Oakland, Calif. • Raja Bell made his name in the NBA playing defense.
He climbed from Florida International to the Finals with tenacity. He sent Kobe Bryant to the hardwood without fear of reprisal.
The 35-year-old Jazz guard added to his name Saturday, clinging to Golden State's Monta Ellis and preventing the speedy shooter from ever obtaining a clear look at a distant basket on a running jump shot with 0.8 seconds left in Utah's 88-87 victory at Oracle Arena.
For 9.1 seconds, Bell clung to Ellis. He eyed the Warriors guard and blocked his path, listening to the advice of Jazz assistant coaches Sidney Lowe and Jeff Hornacek.
Knowing Ellis' preferred method of delivery, Bell "played the percentages."
As the final seconds ticked away, Bell drew in closer. When Ellis went up, so did Bell.
An off-balance runner fell short. Bell's work was done.
A resilient Utah (5-3) team had finally claimed its first road victory of the 2011-12 season, clawing back from an 85-81 deficit with 3:44 remaining to grab its fourth consecutive victory.
"[I took] his right-hand drive away and hoped that size will affect his shot and make him lean back a little bit," Bell said. "He missed one."
The Jazz didn't. Again relying on depth and youth to capture a close game, Utah held a struggling Warriors team to 41.4 percent (29-for-70) shooting from the field and cashed in 25 points on 17 Golden State turnovers.
Ellis' game-high 32 led the Warriors (2-6), who lost their fifth consecutive game.
Gordon Hayward scored a season-high 18 points on 6-of-11 shooting to guide the Jazz. He knocked down 2 of 3 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds (four offensive), dished out four assists and grabbed two steals.
It was easily Hayward's smoothest, most complete and confident game of the season. He entered the contest struggling with his shot. But he walked on the hardwood telling himself to keep shooting and remain aggressive, even if the ball didn't fall his way.
"I think I was due," Hayward said. "I'm going to keep shooting. I'm shooting with confidence. I put in the work, so I know I've shot so many of those shots, whenever the next one's up I'll knock it down."
The second-year forward rediscovered his touch Saturday, and his increased attack carried the Jazz through four uneven quarters.
Utah scored just 36 points combined during the second and third periods. But with eight players recording at least six points and the Jazz outscoring the Warriors 20-6 in second-chance baskets, Utah again persevered.
"I thought the guys really toughed it out," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said. "We really crunched down after playing so many games in such a short amount of time.
"Everybody is a little tired and it showed. We hung in there and continued to fight as a team. And as a result, we gave ourselves a chance to win at the end."
Utah entered the contest dealing with a split personality. The Jazz had won all four of their home games but lost all three of their road contests to start the season.
After being blown out by an average of 19 points away from EnergySolutions Arena, the Jazz started Saturday as sharp as possible.
Utah hit 6 of its first 8 shots, taking a 13-4 lead after Al Jefferson sank a 6-foot running jumper with 7:56 left during the first quarter.
Led by Ellis' 18 first-half points, though, Golden State took a 46-45 lead into the break.
The Jazz didn't cave. Hayward continued to fire away, while five quick points from reserve forward Josh Howard kept Utah close. The Jazz then pulled ahead 81-79 after Hayward sank two free throws.
Ellis wasn't done. He recorded four more points in 25 seconds and Golden State took a momentary 85-81 lead.
But the Warriors cracked down the stretch, and a free throw by Hayward fouled after attempting a fast-break layup set up by a Devin Harris steal with 11 seconds remaining suddenly gave Utah a one-point lead.
Storylines Jazz 88, Warriors 87
R In short • The Jazz claim their first road victory of the season and win their fourth straight game.
Key stat • Utah holds Golden State to 41.4 percent shooting from the field.
Key moment • Raja Bell holds off Monta Ellis' last-second shot.