With the game tied and 25 seconds on the clock, the Chicago Bulls offense set up for what appeared to be a Jimmy Butler isolation play. Butler drove into the paint, but turned away from the rim and dished out to to a wide open Derrick Rose who, despite shooting just 26% from beyond the arc this season, nailed a three-pointer to put the Bulls ahead. A hush fell over the crowd, and the former MVP took a bow.
But it was Jazz forward Gordon Hayward who received the applause.
On the other end, Hayward managed to draw a foul with 13 seconds to go, sending him to the line where he has shot a near career high 83% on the season. Hayward missed his second attempt, but high-energy teammate Chris Johnson was there to secure the offensive rebound, giving the Jazz another chance to tie the game. As expected, Utah put the ball back into the hands of Hayward, who found a way to bank in a layup over Pau Gasol on a wild drive into the paint, sending the game to overtime.
From there on out, the Jazz dominated, holding Chicago to just three points in the extra period. Hayward scored six more points for a total for 27 on the night, to go along with 12 rebounds and seven assists.
“He took the ball and decided by himself that we weren’t going to lose,” said team mate Raul Neto. “He carried us tonight.”
Jimmy Butler, who leads the NBA in minutes played, scored a team-high 26 points for Chicago. When asked about how he felt after playing a total of 47 minutes, he replied, “Nobody cares how I feel. I’m supposed to help us win games. Minutes, no minutes, I didn’t do my job.”
Veteran big man Pau Gasol, who scored 19 points of 8-for-13 shooting, had a slightly more positive outlook on the loss.
“At least we brought effort and competitiveness,” Gasol said. “When you do that, I’m OK with losing an overtime game in Utah. I’m not so OK with losing six or seven or eight games at home against teams that have worse records than we do.”
Chicago has now lost eight of their last 11, including a 27-point loss to the Clippers last night in Los Angeles. Despite a lackluster first half to the season under rookie head coach Fred Hoiberg, the Bulls currently hold the 5th seed in the Eastern Conference. Their next four matchups will be against sub-.500 opponents, giving them an opportunity to jump back up in the standings.
Out west, the Jazz sit one game behind the Portland Trailblazers for the 8th seed. But with their first three game winning streak of the season and with Gordon Hayward playing at a high-level, the Utah Jazz have reason to feel optimistic.
“I think I’m an elite player in this league,” Hayward said. “I think I have to find ways to help my team win more and we’re learning to do that. For me, it’s just all about winning. Winning basketball games.”