The Utah Jazz made a spirited, impressive comeback after falling behind by 18 points to the Charlotte Bobcats this afternoon, but in the end, the Bobcats’ athletic perimeter combination of Derrick Brown and Gerald Henderson proved too much for Utah to handle, scoring 20 points each. A driving layup by Tyrese Rice to end the third quarter brought the Jazz to within 2 points, and Thomas Gardner opened the fourth-quarter scoring with a three-pointer from the top of the arc to give the Jazz a one-point lead, their first since the first half. But the Bobcats got back to basics by getting out in transition and attacking the basket with authority.
Utah simply couldn’t keep up, but made another impressive rally at the end that also fell short, scoring 12 straight points in the final two minutes. Incredibly, they had the final possession and a chance to win, but Sundiata Gaines’ fadeaway three-pointer from the right corner went long and bounced out. Rookie Gordon Hayward had a decent enough look at a catch-and-shoot three from the left wing earlier in the possession, but deferred instead.
So the Bobcats came away on top, and have to be happy with Brown, Henderson, Pargo, and Sherron Collins (his on-ball defense at point guard impressed me, as well as many of the scouts nearby). Yet they can’t feel good about nearly coughing up an 18-point lead to a Jazz team that looked overmatched for long stretches of the first half. And although you have to credit the Jazz for battling back, they did their damage with putbacks and baskets off broken plays; it’s not like their execution was confounding the Bobcats.
For Utah, it was veteran big man James Augustine (20 points on 9-of-10 shooting, 3 boards) and Rice leading the way in the third quarter. Rice pushed the pace and found the open man, while Augustine hit the boards and did the little things that more summer-league teams need. Like calling out plays and sets on both ends of the floor, discussing some mistakes with his teammates during breaks in play. If there’s a such thing as summer-league leadership, he has it.
Hayward scored 8 points on 2-of-2 shooting and 4-of-4 from the foul line, so you can’t argue with his efficiency. But he used only 4 shooting possessions in 26 minutes, and didn’t figure much into the Jazz’s attack.
The Magic and the Pacers take the court next.