Raul Neto comes off bench to help Jazz rally in Game 4 loss to Rockets

(Scott Sommerdorf | The Salt Lake Tribune) Utah Jazz head coach Quin Snyder yells at the officials after a non call during first half play. The Rockets led the Jazz 58-48 at the half, Sunday, May 6, 2018.

With five minutes remaining in what turned into a 100-87 loss to the Houston Rockets on Sunday night, the Utah Jazz had a chance to win Game 4.

Of course, it wasn’t to be. The Rockets made every key shot and generated the key defensive stops that made winning for the Jazz impossible down the stretch. But with five minutes remaining, Utah found itself within 85-80 when it trailed by as many as 19 points and never had a lead.

Raul Neto was at the center of that, escaping Quin Snyder’s bench for 17 minutes and responding with nine points, adding a couple of assists and rebounds to go along with it. In a game where offense proved hard to come by for the Jazz, Neto was a bright spot.

“I think that’s just doing that for the team,” Neto said. “I think everyone is working hard. We’re waiting for the opportunity to step on the court and give everything we have. Of course, that wasn’t enough. We still lost the game. We’re going to look at the film and try to improve for the next game.”

There’s a good chance Neto’s increased role spills into Game 5. Backup point guard Dante Exum left Game 4 in the second half and didn’t return, due to hamstring soreness. Exum, who scored nine points in 10 minutes, walked around the Jazz locker room on Sunday night with a slight limp. But he had an MRI on Sunday night, and his status for Tuesday night is in doubt.

If Exum can’t play, the bulk of the backup minutes will fall to Neto, who found success in Game 4 penetrating Houston’s defense off the dribble. He went 2 of 3 from 3-point range and was the only Utah player to finish the game with a positive net rating.

Neto’s presence helped the Jazz to get within striking distance of the Rockets. With Neto on the floor, the Jazz were able to break the paint off the dribble with more success. Neto was also one of the few Jazz players to make Chris Paul pause a bit. He was also able to find open teammates for looks at the basket.

“He’s always kept himself ready to play,” Utah forward Jae Crowder said. “For Raul to come in and play the way he did tonight, that was big for our team. He was really good when we needed him to be.”