OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Some Utah Jazz players watched the Lakers-Clippers game on a big-screen television inside the locker room while they prepared to face the Golden State Warriors. Others followed the contest on cellphones while riding on the late bus to the arena. Coach Tyrone Corbin just checked the final score when the Lakers lost.
"You could see the look on everybody's face change," Jazz guard Randy Foye said. "Nobody said anything. It was just everybody had that look on their face, 'You know what time it is. You know what we have to do.'"
While the Warriors had a chance to seal a playoff spot, Utah seized the opportunity for itself.
Mo Williams hit a huge 3-pointer in the final seconds to finish with 25 points, Al Jefferson added 19 points and 12 rebounds and the Jazz regained the Western Conference's final playoff position over the Lakers by holding off the Warriors 97-90 on Sunday night for a monumental road win.
"I can't say enough about this group of guys," Corbin said. "This was all about them and them wanting it, and the way they came out. Although we made some mistakes in the game, everybody laid everything they had in them out there on the floor."
Williams' 3-pointer with 13.4 seconds remaining put Utah ahead by six and spoiled Golden State's shot to clinch a playoff berth in front of a 29th sellout crowd of 19,596. The Jazz moved a half-game ahead of the Lakers for the eighth seed. Utah also owns the tiebreaker after winning the season series 2-1 against the Lakers, who lost to the Clippers 109-95 earlier in the day.
"Four games left. We've got have them," Jefferson said.
Stephen Curry scored 17 of his 22 points in the first half and Klay Thompson had 20 points for the Warriors, who were trying to clinch a postseason spot for the first time since 2007 and just the second in 19 years.
Now that celebration will have to wait.
David Lee, who has never been to the playoffs in his eight NBA seasons, added 21 points and 13 rebounds for Golden State, which was outplayed inside by Utah's front line of Jefferson, Derrick Favors (12 points, 13 rebounds) and Paul Millsap (11 points, six rebounds) most of the way.
"We still control our own situation, which is good, but you don't want to have this feeling again," Curry said. "We've got to get it done and there's no excuse for us not to."
The Jazz looked every bit like a team playing with everything at stake, just as Corbin had hoped before the game. They outhustled and outmuscled Golden State for most of 48 minutes, holding off one final flurry for a critical win in front of the an Oracle Arena crowd eager to celebrate.
After the Warriors went down 11 points late in the fourth quarter, Thompson and Curry each hit a 3-pointer to cut Utah's lead to 91-86 with 3:28 to play. Reserve Draymond Green followed by tipping in Lee's miss to bring the Warriors within three.