Gordon Hayward prides himself on his self-control.
After hitting a step-back, game-winning jumper at the buzzer, he couldn’t help himself. He let out all his emotion in a celebratory frenzy.
“I’ve never really done that before,” Hayward said. “It was just one of those moments.”
Hayward one-upped LeBron James and gave the Utah Jazz a 102-100 victory over the struggling Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night with the dramatic shot.
Hayward, who had 21 points, broke free of James to catch an inbounds pass, faked a move to the basket and then stepped back on the right wing and swished a 21-foot jump shot as the horn sounded.
The forward was mobbed by his Jazz teammates in a scene reminiscent of a college tournament game.
“How can you not show emotion after a finish like that? For us to win the game after being in control the whole game and then see it slipping away, it was pretty special,” Hayward said. “Just exhilaration!”
Derrick Favors had 21 points and 10 rebounds but the Jazz had to overcome a last-minute effort by James, who scored 31 points as Cleveland fell to 1-3.
With the Cavs down four points with 17 seconds remaining, James made a 3-pointer from the corner off a deflected pass while falling away out of bounds. He then made all three free throws after faking Favors into a foul on a 3-point attempt to tie the game at 100 with 3.4 seconds left.
Kyrie Irving had 34 points and Kevin Love added 14 for the Cavaliers, who lost for the second time in two nights.
The Jazz led the entire way — by as many as 16 points — until the fourth quarter, when Irving scored 10 points in a 14-6 run that gave the Cavaliers an 89-86 edge with 4:43 remaining.
The Jazz went back in front and led 93-89 when Trevor Booker beat the shot clock with a 3-pointer. The next play down, Booker was whistled for a flagrant-1 foul on Love. The two exchanged words and each got a technical, ratcheting up the intensity in the already tight contest.
The Cavs allowed the Jazz to shoot 51 percent in their second of three games in the West. After losing the previous night 101-82 to Portland, Cleveland made it much closer but couldn’t overcome Hayward’s heroics.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day and we understand that,” James said. “You have to continue to work the process. You hate to lose as competitors, but we felt like tonight we improved. We improved and proved in the second half we’re capable of playing some good basketball.”
Enes Kanter had 18 points for the Jazz.
“It is a really big win for our team. For this team (Cleveland), you just get pumped up,” Kanter said.
Cavaliers: James passed longtime Jazz forward Karl Malone for sole possession of third place for scoring at least 10 points in consecutive regular-season games (576). … The Cavs, who are best in NBA from the free throw line, made 34 of 40 attempts. . Doctors in Salt Lake City checked Cavaliers backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova, who sprained his knee in Portland and sat out the game against the Jazz. The team will diagnose him in Cleveland before releasing official information.
Jazz: The Jazz shot 58.5 percent in the first half and built a 59-48 lead before cooling off in the third. . The Jazz had 26 assists to only six for Cleveland and outrebounded the Cavs 41-30. “You can’t explain it. No way you’re going to win a basketball game like that, just having six assists,” James said.
DOING IT HIS WAY
Hayward told Utah coach Quin Snyder he wanted to take the final shot. Synder instructed him to make sure he drove it to the basket. “I may have disobeyed what he said . I started to drive but I just read the defense and saw the step-back was open,” said Hayward, who posted only his second career game-winning shot.
Irving dazzled the crowd and confounded his defenders with a variety of spinning forays to the hoop. More than half his baskets came on drives — layups, hooks and floaters from either hand. Only problem was that the point guard didn’t record a single assist.
Cavaliers: Visit Denver on Friday.
Jazz: Host Dallas on Friday.
SOURCE: The Associated Press