A simple word and seemingly such a simple concept. Hustle on the basketball court takes focus and determination, and it’s the reason why the Jazz went into Oakland and came out with a huge 97-90 victory against the Warriors.
The Jazz played with a hustle and a flow in this game and despite several Warrior runs, the Jazz kept their poise and came out with a win.
Led by Mo Williams and his 25 points, five assists and clutch shooting, the Jazz won their seventh game in the last eight tries, bringing their record to 41-37. As time ticked down with the Jazz up 93-90, Williams stepped up and drilled a three to put the game out of reach. After Williams quieted the Oracle Arena, he stood for a second and stared down the exiting crowd. It was a stare of confidence, of swagger, and a stare to the rest of the league, almost saying “We’re here to stay.”
“The pressure was on,” Mo Williams said. “We knew we had to come out with intensity, especially on the road and we got this win. We need to keep this rolling Tuesday night.”
The game went back and forth throughout the first half with the Warriors making timely shots but it was the Jazz who went on a 27-7 run to end the half and took an eight point lead into halftime.
When the game was in the balance part-way through the third quarter, the Jazz’s lead was dwindling and the Warriors seemed to have all the momentum. The Jazz didn’t back down. When the pressure was on, they played their best basketball and made all the right plays. It’s hard to point to just one hustle play that won the Jazz the game because there were so many. Paul Millsap diving for loose balls, Jamaal Tinsley hustling back and stopping a fastbreak, DeMarre Carroll harassing Stephen Curry everywhere on the floor. But Derrick Favors and his elite defensive skills stands out among the rest.
Favors didn’t block a shot in nearly the first three quarters but then came to life. Favors finished with 12 points, 13 rebounds (six offensive) and three blocked shots. He was everywhere down the stretch and the reason the Jazz won the game. Down three in the final minute, Draymond Green turned the corner and thought he had a wide open layup. Favors rotated off his man and denied the rookie. It was the play of the game.
After the game, Favors was his usual, humble self. Taking no credit for his stellar play. “It’s what I do,” Favors said. “My mindset is to play defense and make things tough on them and that’s what I did.”
Ty Corbin should be applauded for his rotation and lineup down the stretch. He stuck with Jamaal Tinsley for the right amount of time and went with Favors for the entire fourth quarter.
“Everyone laid everything they had out there tonight,” Tyrone Corbin said. “Focus on the defensive end and hustle is what won the game for us.”
Earlier in the day, the Los Angeles Lakers lost “on the road” to the Los Angeles Clippers 109-95 so the Jazz knew they had to win in Golden State to keep themselves in control of their own playoff destiny. As of now the teams are separated by one game in the win column, but as most of the basketball world counted this game as a loss for the Jazz (before it even began), it makes it that much sweeter.
The Jazz host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday night and the EnergySoultions Arena will be rocking. It will no doubt have a playoff feel to it and is a game the Jazz need to win to stay in the playoff race. Get your tickets now because it will be the game of the year for the Jazz.