How the Jazz messed up the final play of regulation against the Rockets
Danuel House was supposed to foul on the final play of the fourth quarter, but he didn’t which gave the Rockets a chance to tie the game and send it into overtime.
HOUSTON — The Utah Jazz played overtime minutes for the first time this season on Wednesday night and came out on top, beating the Houston Rockets, 132-127. But the Jazz should have never let the game even go into extra minutes.
I asked Donovan Mitchell if he knew that this was the Jazz’s first OT game of the 2021-22 campaign, and he was legitimately surprised.
“Was it really?” He asked, before shaking his head. “We should have fouled.
Yes. They should have.
Mike Conley hit a beautiful clutch 3-pointer with 8.3 seconds left to play, giving the Jazz a three-point lead, and Houston coach Stephen Silas called timeout — the Rockets last available timeout.
To a more casual fan, or someone not familiar with basketball the plan here might not be obvious, but for those that understand the game it is. Up 3 with barely any time left on the clock, the smart play is to foul.
You force the other team to make up their points at the free throw line and they can only get two. Then, even if they make both free throws and cut the lead to just a single point, time is going to come off the clock when you inbound the ball and they will have no choice but to foul, giving you the opportunity to again put the lead back to up to three.
When they inbound the ball, now with significantly less time on the clock, they don’t have a timeout so they can’t advance the ball. They are going to be looking to get off a shot to try to tie the game, but you can just send them to the foul line again.
That was the Jazz’s plan.
Jazz head coach Quin Snyder said after the game that not fouling was an “breakdown in execution” and that as a team the Jazz have discussed those situations many times. Mitchell, Mike Conley and Rudy Gobert all agreed that they were supposed to foul, but failed to.
So who is to blame? Well, it turns out that it’s mostly Danuel House Jr.
As soon as Jalen Green gets the ball on the inbound House should have fouled him. Gobert even said that the Jazz told the officials they were going to foul on the play. But Green hands the ball off to Kevin Porter Jr. without incident.
So, then House should have fouled Porter, right? Right. But he doesn’t do that either. He guards him straight up. Gobert kind of freaks out and tries to swipe down on Porter’s arm but doesn’t get enough contact to warrant an official calling a foul.
Gobert said that he was kind of thrown off by the fact that the Jazz either weren’t fouling or didn’t get a foul called when he swiped down on Porter, and so he was a little confused and out of the play and fell back into the paint too much, giving Christian Wood enough room to take a dribble and get off the game-tying shot that would send the game into overtime.
I have a couple of thoughts about this play. First, House should have fouled and I have no explanation for why he didn’t. He should have known what the plan was and even if there was miscommunication, he’s a basketball player and should know what to do in that situation.
Second, I’m going to give everyone the benefit of the doubt today because I’m feeling generous. I bet that House got an ear-full about messing this up after the game and I’d be willing to bet that he doesn’t make this mistake again. Better to learn that lesson now, rather than in a close game in the playoffs. Hopefully I’m right.