Jamal Crawford's Shot Kept Houston's Playoff Hopes Alive
After the Rockets dropped a game to Phoenix on April 7, it seemed their season was over. They were a game and a half behind Utah with just three games left. The Jazz's next game was a home contest against a Clippers team that was resting Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan. It was a guaranteed win, and Utah would take a two game lead for the eighth spot in the playoffs, right?
Our projections sure thought so, as did Vegas, who had Utah listed as six-point favorites. According to numberFire Live, the Jazz opened the game as 89.37 percent favorites to win. As you can see below, the Clippers weren't actually considered favorites until a brief moment with 6:44 left in the fourth quarter.
With 27 seconds left in regulation, Utah had the ball and a two-point lead. They had an 86.81 percent chance to win, according to numberFire Live. Rodney Hood drove in for a layup, but was swatted away by Cole Aldrich. Aldrich was all over the place on defense all night, combining for six blocks and steals on the night.
With the ball, down two, with 25 seconds, Los Angeles had a 23.3 percent chance to win, according to numberFire Live. Jamal Crawford and Aldrich ran a pick and roll, and Aldrich took a contested layup with five seconds left that missed the rim entirely. His miss dropped their chances of winning by 6.96 percent. The big fella was able to grab the offensive rebound, though, and make a put-back with just 0.2 seconds left on the shot clock. Los Angeles had just an 11.47 percent chance of winning when the shot left Aldrich's hands.
Utah won the tip in overtime, and were still seen as 71.51 percent favorites against the depleted Clippers team.
Overtime was a tightly contested battle, eventually resulting in a 99-99 tie with 12 seconds left. Los Angeles had the ball and a 58.7 percent chance to win, according to numberFire Live. Then this happened.
That shot gave Crawford 30 points on the day. Cole Aldrich finished with 21 points and 18 rebounds, while Paul Pierce finished with 18 points on 4-5 shooting from behind the arc.
The devastating last-second loss leaves Utah with a 39-40 record, and a slim one game lead over the Rockets. Utah's final three games are against the Nuggets, Mavericks, and Lakers, while Houston has the Lakers, Timberwolves, and Kings on the docket. Our projections still have the Jazz as the favorites, giving them a 65.1 percent chance to snag the eight seed. Houston has to be grateful to still have hope, though, because they were all but eliminated before Crawford's heroics last night.