Jordan Clarkson put his head down and pushed forward, searching for one last bucket.
But after scoring 24 fourth-quarter points and leading his team back from 18 down in the period, that final basket proved elusive. Clarkson collided with two defenders midair, watched his layup roll off the rim and, after a pair of Golden State free throws and one final heave at overtime went begging, saw his Utah Jazz squad drop a 119-116 heartbreaker in the Bay.
“I just kept attacking and … I just tried to will us to a win,” he said. “We had a chance to win the game.”
The loss dropped the Jazz to 50-19 on the year. They now hold a 1.5-game lead over the Phoenix Suns with three games left in their regular season.
“I was proud of the way we competed,” Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said of his team’s fourth-quarter push. “To me, that’s the overarching thing to take from this game.”
JC: 41p | 7r | 5 3pm | 1s
Bojan: 27p | 6r | 4 3pm | 2a | 2s
Rudy: 16r | 10p | 1a
Royce: 10p | 5r | 2a | 2 3pm | 1s
Georges: 9p | 2r | 1s
Trent: 9p | 2r | 2a | 1s
Joe: 5p | 5a | 3r | 1s
Derrick: 5r | 1a | 1b
Matt: 5p | 2r | 1a#podiumpostgame | @podiumhq pic.twitter.com/LALCVcquns
— utahjazz (@utahjazz) May 11, 2021
Golden State guard Stephen Curry scored 36 points to lead a Warriors squad that could potentially face the Jazz in the first round of the playoffs later this month.
“They were able to get points, either off turnovers or missed shots, bad shots,” Jazz center Rudy Gobert said. “I thought that in half-court defense, we did a really good job containing Steph and those guys. It comes down to the details. I think it was a great test for us. We came up short. But we might see them again. … We just have to keep getting better.”
Gobert finished the night with 10 points and 16 boards. Bojan Bogdanovic, on the heels of being named Western Conference Player of the Week, scored 27 points and had six rebounds.
Bogdanovic pointed to the Jazz’s turnovers, 15 of them leading to 26 points for Golden State, as the biggest issue on the night.
“When you turn the ball over, it’s tough to play defense, especially against this kind of team and you have Steph Curry shooting from everywhere, basically,” he said. “That was probably the reason why we lost the game. It’s not about our offense.”
Clarkson went 8-for-13 in the fourth quarter. The shooting guard cut the lead to 10 with a triple midway through the period. A few minutes later, he converted back-to-back and-ones to give the Jazz their first lead of the second half.
Up 2 with under 30 seconds to play, Golden State guard Stephen Curry missed one go-ahead 3-pointer only to get a second chance after an offensive rebound. The second time, Curry’s shot splashed the net to put the Warriors up 1.
On the next possession, Clarkson attacked the rim but could not get his own go-ahead bucket to fall.
“I had a good chance of finishing that at the rim,” he said. “It is what it is. We had shot to win the game. We were in position. A few little things throughout the game could have put us over the top.”
The Jazz fouled and Curry hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead. Clarkson got one last look to tie the game, but was falling away from the basket as he fired from the corner and saw his shot hit the top of the backboard.
The defeat won’t keep Clarkson down for long. His performance on Monday night proved that. The frontrunner for the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year award struggled early in the night. Clarkson missed his first eight attempts from 3. But Clarkson turned his night around late, hitting five of his next eight looks from deep and leading a furious rally.
“Jordan is mentally tough,” Snyder said. “When you have a guy that believes in himself and has the confidence he has, I think he’s really able to get to the next play when he misses a shot. He gives himself a chance to do that with his frame of mind — and he competes.”
The Jazz will face the Portland Trail Blazers in the final home game of the regular season. Tipoff at Vivint Arena is set for 7:30 p.m.