Game-winning jumper wins it for the Utah Jazz

The Sports Xchange

November 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm.

(Russ Isabella-US PRESSWIRE)

SALT LAKE CITY — Gordon Hayward hit a game-winning jumper with 4.5 seconds remaining as the Utah Jazz rallied to beat the Sacramento Kings 104-102 Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena. Hayward led all scorers with 23 points off the bench on 7-for-16 shooting, including that go-ahead jumper from the top of the key in the final moments.

James Johnson missed a runner in the lane at the buzzer for the Kings, who fell to 0-5 on the road and 3-9 overall despite leading for most of the night.

Marvin Williams scored 20 points, Al Jefferson added 17 points with eight rebounds and Derrick Favors contributed a huge effort off the bench with 16 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Jazz.

Utah (7-6) won its third game in a row and remained undefeated in five home games.

The Jazz fell behind by 12 points after Marcus Thornton (18 points) scored midway through the fourth quarter, putting the Kings up 97-85.

Utah then staged a big late-game comeback, outscoring Sacramento 17-2 to take a three-point lead with just under a minute to go.

Thornton tied the contest back up at 102-102 with a 3-pointer, but the Jazz defense stiffened up down the stretch.

Jamaal Tinsley made a key defensive play, stealing the ball from Kings guard Aaron Brooks with 12 seconds left to give Utah a final chance to break the tie.

Tinsley (11 assists) connected with Hayward, who hit the clutch shot.

The Jazz lost starting point guard Mo Williams in the first half with a sprained right ankle. He rolled the ankle and left to get his ankle retaped. Williams tried to return, but his comeback was cut short and he was ruled out with 8:41 in the second quarter.

Tinsley came in for Williams and helped spark a Jazz rally.

Utah also saw the return of reserve point guard Earl Watson, who made his season debut in the second quarter. Watson hadn’t played since last April when he had surgery to repair a torn meniscus right knee.

Even after Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin adjusted his starting lineup in hopes of reversing a trend of slow starts, Utah found itself trailing 9-4 out of the gates.

It wasn’t just a rough start, either. The Kings went ahead by as many as 10 points on multiple occasions before the Jazz chipped the lead down to 53-52 at halftime.

The Kings, two days after their big win over the Los Angeles Lakers, were boosted by a strong first half from Tyreke Evans (12 points) and Brooks (10 points).

Former BYU star Jimmer Fredette, some 45 miles north of his college town, also gave Sacramento a spark off the bench. Receiving a mixture of boos (from University of Utah fans) and cheers (from BYU supporters) every time he touched the ball, Fredette hit two 3-pointers and scored seven first-half points in a longer-than-usual nine-minute stint.

NOTES: In a rare home-and-away scheduling quirk, the Kings and Jazz play Saturday night in Sacramento. … The two teams split their 2011-12 series 2-2, with three games being decided by three or fewer points. … Utah plays four of its next five on the road. … Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin played for both Utah and Sacramento during his 16-year NBA career.

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