Rarely does a player have the opportunity to atone for a missed shot to win the game. For Paul Millsap, who missed a wide open layup as time expired, he got to do just that in an overtime period where he had three steals, an assist and the key basket to lead the Utah Jazz over the Minnesota Timberwolves, 111-105, Thursday night.
Millsap's heroics in overtime came after the Jazz had given up a 12-point lead with fewer than five minutes left to go in the game. The Timberwolves had come back on the strength of Kevin Love, as well as from some timely three-point shooting from Luke Ridnour (18 points, 13 assists), who hit both of his threes during that comeback.
Love played the fourth quarter and overtime period with a badly jammed thumb, provided to him when Derrick Favors fouled Love going to the basket, and Love braced himself as he fell to the floor. Minutes later, as Love was trying to protect the hand, he went to the floor again and agitated it further. Love was able to get the thumb taped and finish the game.
Gordon Hayward, who had a game-high 26 points, missed one of his two free throws at the end, leaving the door open for Minnesota to complete the comeback. Ridnour tried to win the game on the Timberwolves' last possession in regulation, but his three-pointer was woefully short. Fortunately for Minnesota, Nikola Pekovic (20 points, nine rebounds) was in position to grab the almost air-ball and put it back in to tie with 0.7 seconds left.
The Jazz came out of the timeout with Jamaal Tinsley taking the ball out of bounds. Utah looked as if they were going to run Hayward to the top of the key for the last shot. Instead he set a backscreen to free up Millsap to go to the basket. Tinsley, who had provided a good spark off the bench all game long, went for his sixth assist of the night by placing a perfect lob pass to the basket for Millsap, who caught the ball but shot it a bit too far off the glass, causing the ball to rim out and the perfect play to miss the mark.
It's hard to recover from a play like that, but Millsap did just that, twice knocking the ball away from Love in the post for steals in overtime, and then he found redemption on a jump shot with 19 seconds left that gave the Jazz a four-point lead they wouldn't lose this time.
Millsap had an incredible eight steals for the game, the most for a Jazz forward since Andrei Kirilenko in 2003, to go with his 16 points and 11 rebounds. He out-dueled Love, who had 25 points and 16 rebounds himself.
Led by Hayward, the Jazz got fantastic production from their bench. Alec Burks provided 15 points on 6-8 shooting, while Favors snagged 16 rebounds in 23 minutes, the first time this season in the NBA somebody has corralled that many rebounds in such a short period of time.