San Antonio • Marvin Williams had his defining moment as a Jazz player on Friday night in San Antonio, and the Jazz still lost 104-97. But what happened on the 3-pointer that he made from the corner right in front of the Jazz bench? The ball was swung to Randy Foye at the left elbow extended, and Foye - the franchise's all-time leader in 3-pointers in a single season - didn't shoot. Instead, he passed to Williams in the corner. "Randy and I were just talking about that," Williams said, I actually though he was going to shoot it as well. So, my first instinct was to go to the basket. But when I see he didn't really raise up I just stayed." Williams pump faked and sent Manu Ginobili flying past. Ginobili would later call his defense "a terrible mistake." It was a nice moment for a great guy who has seen his role diminish in the last two weeks since he was moved to the bench and has not really found much rhythm since joining the Jazz via trade in the offseason. Even that play wasn't without drama, though. Referees had to review it and, after Williams faked, even he wasn't sure he didn't have a toe on the line. "I was nervous," he said. "I didn't know if they were looking at the time, or if they thought I got it off. I was nervous because of the shot fake, I didn't know if they [his feet] were all the way back there, but I thank the Lord they were."
Of course, Williams' shot was ultimately moot, after the Jazz ran out of gas in overtime. Tony Parker had six points in the extra period, despite playing in his first game after missing eight with a sprained left ankle.
Still trying to figure out whether this was the best or the worst way for the Jazz to lose. The team has been completely dismantled several times lately: New York (sort of twice), Houston, Oklahoma City. There have been questions from the outside of whether Tyrone Corbin has lost the team, if a bunch of free agents will play hard to earn a playoff spot for a franchise they don't have any ownership in. Friday's performance should put those questions on hold, at least for now.
There was no questioning the intensity from really anyone. Mo Williams had his best game since coming back from thumb surgery, Paul Millsap was really active defensively, Al Jefferson was doing battle with Tim Duncan and through three quarters, arguably, keeping the future Hall of Famer in check.
Gordon Hayward was asked what it was the Jazz broke through, exactly. The third-year swingman turned the conversation to defense.
"I think defensively," he said, "we were really active, we had a lot of deflections, got our hands on a lot of balls, forced our will a little bit on them. That's what we have to have, can't let guys go where they want to and do what they want to do. I feel like that, then we're able to get some buckets in transition, some easy dunks."
Two of those dunks came in the fourth quarter after San Antonio turnovers. The Spurs took their first lead since the first quarter when Kawhi Leonard had a dunk. Then, the Jazz had back-to-back plays in transition where Derrick Favors and Alec Burks had really impressive dunks. Favors' jam, in particular, sent a message. He was well beyond the circle and dunked over Matt Bonner. At that point, the Jazz were up three and the momentum was firmly in the Jazz's court. But Gregg Popovich called a timeout to keep the Jazz from running away with things.
Favors played 19 minutes tonight despite a wildly impressive first quarter. Favors came in with 6:39 left in the first and tallied 2 points, 4 rebounds and 4 blocks. The Jazz were down 14-4 when he entered the game, up 21-18 at the end of the first quarter.
Maybe Ty Corbin deserves some heat for not creating more time for someone who is obviously playing at a high level. Not sure how you do that, unless it's moving Paul Millsap to the bench, which maybe should have happened at the beginning of the season.
Corbin did commend Favors for his game, though, saying he thought the third-year forward "did a great job of clogging up the middle."
Corbin added: "He did a great job of coming across early and making plays on the ball."
The Lakers lost tonight to the Washington Wizards (!!!), although Kobe Bryant had a shot to tie it at the buzzer. Wacky finish. Anyhow, the Jazz are still just 1 ½ games behind the Lakers but they have company.
Both Portland and Dallas are now 33-36, one game behind the Jazz. Utah plays at Dallas on Sunday and at Portland on Friday.
If you haven't please read my note on Paul Millsap. I misheard a quote that meant something very different from what he meant. In short, I created a malcontent where there wasn't one.