In what has to be the defining win of the season, the Jazz snuck out of Portland with an overtime win and a sweep of the season series after being down by as many as 25 in the second half. Carlos Boozer had a monster game with 22 points and 23 rebounds. Yes, you read that correctly. The play of the game, appropriately on this night, was an offensive rebound and acrobatic put-back by Boozer as time expired in regulation, sending the game into an improbable overtime.
The Sundiata Gaines game against Lebron and the Cavs in January was a euphoric win, but it was almost like a gift from the Basketball Gods. In a more satisfying way, Sunday night’s win felt like the Jazz earned every point as they clawed back in the fourth quarter and gutted it out in overtime. The Jazz seem to have turned the corner from being a group of individuals that fold on the road, to a team that can put together an undefeated road trip featuring hard-nose defense and unselfish play.
Even big Kyrylo Fesenko was a star on this night. Pressed into action with Memo Okur staying home to be with his wife and new baby and Andrei Kirilenko leaving the game early with a recurrence of back spasms, the 7-foot Ukrainian put aside the usual sideshow and turned in a solid game highlighted by an athletic run-down block in overtime, saving the game.
I have a feeling we’ll be looking back at this game for a long time as the moment people really became believers that this Jazz team is a legitimate contender. Although I suspect they’ve known for a while, it could also be the game that makes the players believers too.