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Jazz squander two leads, hold on to be Pacers in OT

The SportsXchange

SALT LAKE CITY -- One wild finish wasn't enough for the Utah Jazz and Indiana Pacers, so they decided to have two entertaining endings to Saturday night's game.

Al Jefferson scored 25 points, including eight in overtime, as the Jazz outlasted and survived the Pacers 114-110 at EnergySolutions Arena.

The Pacers overcame Utah's seven-point lead in the final two minutes of regulation and then just about erased the Jazz's six-point edge in the final half minute of overtime.

After getting blown out by 20 in Indiana on Dec. 19 -- not to mention getting trounced in L.A. by the Lakers on Friday -- the Jazz will take this victory no matter how tough it was to hold onto.

"We showed a lot of heart and a lot of character," Jazz forward Paul Millsap said. "Last night, we fell (102-84 to the Lakers), but we still realized what we needed to do and come out and be aggressive and that's how we played tonight -- with aggression."

Millsap scored 21 points and Gordon Hayward fired in 15 points with six assists and a timely defensive play in overtime to help Utah improve to 24-20 overall and 15-4 at home.

David West scored 24 points, All-Star Paul George had 23 points, five rebounds and four assists, and George Hill totaled 22 points, nine rebounds and eight assists as the Pacers fell to 26-18 with their second straight road loss.

"We didn't have each other's back out there," said Pacers center Roy Hibbert, who had 14 points and 12 rebounds but was disappointed that Indiana allowed Utah's offense to play so well. "We did it sporadically throughout the game, but we usually do it all the time. I own this one. ... I got my ass kicked in the post tonight. That usually doesn't happen like that."

George hit a 3-pointer with 30.5 seconds remaining to make things interesting down the stretch of overtime.

After an ensuing Jefferson miss, George had a chance to tie it up again. However, his attempt from beyond the arc in the corner was contended by Hayward, who was credited for a block but admitted he might not have actually touched the basketball.

Regardless, Hayward ended up with the ball, leading to two Randy Foye free throws and a five-point Jazz lead with six seconds remaining. It also helped Hayward atone for three turnovers in the final 21 seconds of the fourth quarter.

"My teammates bailed me out for sure. Costly turnovers, bad plays, good defensive plays by them, but glad we got the win," said Hayward, who suffered a grade-one right shoulder sprain late in overtime. X-rays were negative and he's listed as day to day.

"I just tried to make a defensive play. It wasn't anything. They shut the gate on me (with screens) and I got hit on the shoulder and then I just tried to make a defensive play."

Jefferson scored the first four points of overtime as the Jazz opened the extra session on a 6-0 run. The Jazz center, who only scored four points in Utah's 104-84 loss in Indiana last month, then hit a key layup to give the Jazz a 110-104 lead with 34 seconds remaining.

The final 6.4 seconds were action-packed, as Foye hit two free throws, Hill hit a 3-pointer to cut the Jazz's lead to 112-110 and then Millsap had a shaky inbounds pass that nearly gave Indiana one final attempt.

The referees ruled that because Millsap's pass hit the bottom of the backboard that the Jazz would retain possession. Millsap then drained two free throws with 1.4 seconds to go to wrap up the victory for the Jazz.

"Yeah, the referees made a call we have to live with," Indiana coach Frank Vogel said. "My interpretation is if the ball goes out of bounds, they can review who it was off of. The question there was, 'Did it go out of bounds? Did it hit the back of the backboard triggering it out of bounds?' They did not call it that way, so it's not reviewable. That's my understanding."

The Jazz looked like a completely different team than the squad that was plastered by the Pacers in Indiana last month.

In that road loss, Utah only shot 37.2 percent while allowing the Pacers to hit at a 51.3 percent clip.

This time around, Indiana shot well again -- but so did the Jazz.

Both teams made more than half of their makes as Utah shot 53.0 percent while the Pacers hit for 54.3 percent.

Indiana remained in the game thanks to an overwhelming rebounding advantage, outboarding Utah 41-28 and getting 17 second-chance points.

Indiana took an early seven-point lead, but Hayward hit a tough fading shot at the buzzer to help the Jazz take a 27-24 edge after the first quarter.

The Pacers outscored Utah 24-18 in the second quarter to snatch a 48-45 halftime lead.

Utah came out strong in the second half, going on a 10-2 run capped by a Randy Foye 3-pointer to regain the lead at 55-52.

The Jazz kept the momentum going for most of the second half, building a 10-point lead on multiple occasions.

Utah was ahead 97-89 late in the fourth quarter after a couple of inside Jefferson baskets, but that's when the Pacers made their move.

George got it going with a 3-pointer with 1:42 remaining in regulation. After David West and George Hill baskets, George then tied it at 98-98 with two free throws with nine seconds remaining.

The Jazz had one shot to win it in regulation, but Hayward committed his third turnover in the final 21 seconds as West stripped the ball from him and Indiana gained possession with 0.2 seconds remaining.

"It's another win," Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin said of his team that's gone 9-3 in January. "The guys, I thought, after last night showed a lot of poise to come in and play against a physical team like these guys. ... The fight that these guys have shown all year and continue to show is encouraging."

NOTES: Hayward was taken ninth overall in the 2010 draft, and he couldn't have been happier that the guy selected one pick after him, George, earned an All-Star nod. "He's a great player and very talented," Hayward said. "I get a chance to work out with him in the summer. I'm just extremely happy for him. It's cool to see guys from your class become All-Stars." ... George returned the praise: "I think his time is coming very soon." ... The Pacers conclude a four-game Western Conference swing in Denver on Monday. ... Saturday's game was the first of four straight home contests (and seven of eight). ... The Jazz have three point guards on their team who previously played for Indiana: Jamaal Tinsley (2001-08), Earl Watson (2009-10) and assistant coach Sidney Lowe (1983-84). ... Pacers assistant Jim Boylen coached the University of Utah's basketball team from 2007-11.
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