Ronnie Brewer used to be able to plan out his game nights down to the minute. He used to be able to count on that second and fourth quarter rest when it was crunch time and outcomes hung in the balance.
It's slowly becoming evident, however, that Brewer's time on the sideline during the final period may be dwindling.
In Wednesday's 103-96 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, Brewer, as he did against the Los Angeles Clippers, found himself in the middle of things when it mattered most.
And when he was, he delivered. His post-up of Steve Blake, subsequent move to the baseline and three-point play with 3:14 remaining was perhaps the single most important play of the game.
The free throw gave the Jazz, who trailed for a good chunk of the time, a 95-90 lead. But that was just part of the impact. The bigger story there was the fact that La-Marcus Aldridge fouled out on the play. Without Aldridge, who was a tough matchup for the Jazz all evening, the Trail Blazers were stripped of their only legitimate option on the block, which forced too much of the burden on Brandon Roy.
So with one play, in the all-important fourth quarter, Brewer changed the entire complexion of the game.
"Ronnie's been playing fantastic," Utah forward Carlos Boozer said. "He's been proving on the court that he deserves to play. He wants to play more and his teammates want him out there more. There's a lot of talent on this team at his position. It's a great problem to have."
For all of last season and for the first part of this year's schedule, Brewer started the game and started the second half, usually playing around 24 minutes per outing. Kyle Korver played in the second and fourth quarters, mainly because of his ability to shoot the ball.
Brewer improved in the offseason by becoming more consistent on the perimeter. That and his athleticism makes him one of the best finishers the Jazz have on the baseline. He's become more confident in his shot, and that was proven when he hit a three-pointer against the Portland zone, bringing the Jazz within 75-68 and sparking Utah's rally in the process. In fact, Brewer scored seven consecutive points in that sequence, two more on free throws and the final two on a breakaway dunk to allow the Jazz to shrink that 10-point deficit to 75-72.