SALT LAKE CITY — All he needed was the ball. The rest, Gordon Hayward just knew he could do.
Down by 12 points with 6:31 left in the game, the Utah Jazz fought back with a decisive 17-2 run and outlasted the visiting Sacramento Kings Friday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Veteran Jamaal Tinsley made a key defensive stop with 12 seconds left and Hayward added the game-winning shot — a 22-foot jumper — with 4.5 remaining.
“I knew it was going in when I was curling off the screen, if I (could get the ball)” he said. “I stepped up, shot it with confidence and it went in.”
Hayward stepped up and so did his Jazz teammates, working fiercely in the final six minutes to keep the scrappy Kings winless on the road this season.
In what might well be an extension of Friday’s game, Utah (7-6) will meet the Kings (3-9) again tonight in Sacramento, Calif.
There should be plenty of intensity to go around.
Hayward scored 23 points and teammate Derrick Favors added 16 points, 14 rebounds and two blocked shots to pace the Jazz, who have now won three in a row.
Small forward Marvin Williams returned to the starting lineup and scored 20 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Meanwhile, center Al Jefferson bullied his way around the paint, scoring 19 points to go along with eight rebounds, a steal and a blocked shot.
The Kings got 19 from guard Tyreke Evans and 17 from point guard Aaron Brooks.
Guard Marcus Thornton came off the bench for 18.
“No way we should have lot that game being up by a big margin,” Evans said.
Tinsley, 34, isn’t quite as quick as he was when he used to play at New York’s famed Rucker Park, but the experience he’s gained over the years seems priceless.
It certainly did late in Friday’s game.
With the scored tied at 102-all and the Kings setting up for a score, Tinsley stripped Brooks, 27, of the ball and quickly called timeout so the Jazz could set up Hayward’s final shot.
Brooks felt he was fouled and let officials know it, even after the final buzzer.
But Tinsley said it was clean.
“Oh man, (Brooks) tried (to make a play) but I was just trying to get low knowing he couldn’t push me off. Once I got my hand of the ball I had a chance (to get the strip).”
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin called Tinsley a true professional, referring to the way the veteran backup stepped up after starter Mo Williams went down in the sprained ankle in the first quarter.
Williams briefly attempted to return to the game but couldn’t keep playing. Afterward he stood near his locker with his right foot in a walking boot.
He said planned to “ice the hell out of it” in hopes of playing tonight in Sacramento.
With Williams unable to go, Tinsley took over, dishing out 12 assists to go along with six rebounds and two steals.
He went 0-for-3 from the field but made a couple of key free throws to put the Jazz up 100-99 with 2:11 remaining.
He may not be the shooting threat he once was, but Tinsley seemed to make up for it with his ability to involve his teammates.
Hayward’s game-winner was an excellent example of that.
The Jazz had been running the same play for much of the second half, with Jefferson usually getting the ball near the paint. Knowing the Kings would double team Jefferson, Tinsley patiently waited for Hayward to come off a baseline screen and make his way to the back court. As Hayward made his way to the back court, Tinsley set him up to be a hero.
“The play was for Al but as a point guard, if they take the option away (I was prepared to look elsewhere),” he explained. “I didn’t pick my dribble up. I knew Gordon was was going to come up and he happened to hit a good shot.”