SALT LAKE CITY -- Gordon Hayward scored 23 points, including the winning basket with 4.5 seconds left, and the Utah Jazz rallied to beat the Sacramento Kings 104-102 on Friday night.James Johnson's running jumper at the buzzer bounced harmlessly off the rim as the Jazz (7-6) stayed perfect at home.Hayward scored 10 in the fourth quarter.Tyreke Evans led Sacramento (3-9) with 19 points and reserve Marcus Thornton added 18, including 13 in the wild fourth quarter.Marvin Williams added 20 points for Utah. Al Jefferson had 17 and Derrick Favors contributed 16 points, 14 rebounds and a pair of blocked shots.The Kings led 92-79 with 8 12 minutes left until Hayward, Williams, Jamaal Tinsley and Jefferson fueled the comeback.Jefferson's putback gave Utah a 102-99 led but Thornton tied it with a 3-pointer.Tinsley's late steal set up Hayward for the winner.
Rudy Gay has been MIA since leaving the locker room on crutches following the Kings loss to the Indiana Pacers on Jan. 18. He’s posted a few instagram videos of his recovery from a devastating left Achilles rupture, but until Friday night in Oakland, he had been away from the team.
“I’m out of the boot, second stage of my rehab, ahead of schedule and feeling good,” the 30-year-old wing told CSN California’s Kayte Christensen.
According to Gay, he is able to due weight bearing exercises, including some light squats. The 11-year NBA vet is still a ways away from returning to the court, but if he’s ahead of schedule, that means he might be ready for training camp come late September.
It’s not the same group he left behind. DeMarcus Cousins is gone, as is Matt Barnes and Omri Casspi. If he were still playing, Gay would likely be sitting out games for planned rest like most of the Kings’ veterans, but he doesn’t have that luxury.
Gay is entering the final year of his contract in Sacramento. He is due $14.3 million next season, but he has a player option and can become an unrestricted free agent if he so chooses. His recovery will likely dictate whether he opts in to his contract or whether he looks for a long-term deal either with the Kings or elsewhere.
Before the injury, Gay was the Kings’ second leading scorer, posting 18.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists in 33.8 minutes per night.
With legal issues hanging over his head, veteran point guard Ty Lawson hasn’t been himself over the Kings’ last eight games. He sat out Wednesday night’s loss to the Bucks and he appeared in a Denver courtroom on Thursday to discuss possible probation violations.
Lawson’s attorney disputed the claims against his client and was granted a six week stay in the case. Lawson will appear back in court on May 4, roughly three weeks after the end of the 2016-17 season.
Starting for the resting Darren Collison, Lawson went off against the Warriors Friday night, scoring 18 of his 20 points in the first half. He shot an impressive 8-of-9 from the field in just 24 minutes of action as he broke down Golden State’s defense.
“Honestly, I think Ty’s had a weight on his shoulders for the last four weeks or so and he just hasn’t been himself,” Joerger said after the 114-100 loss. “I think he looked much more relieved today, he smiled and he was the Ty that we know that he is still.”
Lawson, 29, signed a one-year deal with the Kings in late August and is an unrestricted free agent come July 1.