I'm not going to lie. I didn't expect this. I'm not mad. Far from it. But this team seems to be coming together very quickly. Sure, there are flaws, some things that need improvement, and of course, it's still just preseason. But there's a lot to love about this squad right now, and how they are playing on the court. Beating the Los Angeles Clippers 102-89 is special, particularly with how lowly the Utah Jazz were as a franchise last season. This is a good thing. A positive thing. And something to build off of.
Having played last night, the Clippers came out early, and their talent level got them a lead. But Enes Kanter and Derrick Favors' rebounding kept the Jazz in it. Then the threes started falling for the Jazz, Trey Burke, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Dante Exum, and Trevor Booker all splashed from outside to push the Jazz from being down by a bit to nearly up by 10 after one. The Jazz pick and roll defense was a combination of being "in shambles" or "lucky". The quick pace the Jazz are playing go against what Chris Paul wants to do, and who determines the pace of this game will determine who has the best chance to win it. Utah won the first quarter 28-22, and didn't look back.
They would win the second quarter 28-17, as everything seemed to be working. This quarter was punctuated by unselfish play and solid effort by the team on offense. On defense they alternatively just had to rebound a bad shot, or give up points to Blake Griffin. He really killed the Jazz in the second quarter, but, well, he was the side show to how well this team was performing. Trevor Booker made another three, and the youth were playing with a lot of confidence. And why not, they led at halftime 56-39.
After halftime you just new that Doc Rivers wasn't going to take his team getting beat up by a group of young kids and power forwards taking three pointers. They came out with some more intensity, but failed to make any ground as the Jazz continued to play this brand of drive and dish / Spurs basketball. J.J. Redick decided to show up and in the half court he was getting open and making shots. Trey Burke was doing his best to hold them off on their own, but DeAndre Jordan and crew kept mucking up this game. They slowed it down. Quin Snyder went to his bench and deep bench (hi Dahntay Jones!), and Chris Paul took Dante Exum's lunch. They cut the lead, once a 19 blowout, to just 7 at the end of the third.
Big Baby Glen Davis made it just a five point game early in the fourth, and you could feel the crowd getting antsy. He made the crowd boo with a mid fourth quarter horse collar tackle of Rodney Hood as he was driving by him. One thing that really made the crowd cheer was for Rudy Gobert and his massive rebounding skills. His energy got the Jazz going, as they extended the lead back to 12 with 7 minutes left in the game. After that the team kind of cruised through their sloppy, turn over plagued play.
It was a solid win, with LA turning up the defensive pressure, but our guys weathered the storm and remain perfect in preseason. Rodney Hood was very impressive on offense in his first start. He has the skills to be a knock down spot up shooter, but his floor game, and court vision were in effect as well, making shots in the paint and finding guys for good looks.
I guess that's what this game was all about, getting your team mates good looks. And the product on the court looked really good to fans as well!
The Stats of the guys you cared about:
Dahntay Jones had an awful game (4 turn overs). Dante Exum had 8 turn overs but it was a learning experience against the playoff tested Chris Paul. I didn't include three pointers here because I needed to give it it's own space to shine. The Jazz took 30 threes in this game, and still won. They went 14/30, which is good enough for 46.7 3pt%. Floor space, good flow, and drawing in the defense to get guys open shots. We love it. Everyone who played took a three except for Jeremy Evans, Rudy Gobert, and Jack Cooley. Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, and Trevor Booker attempted 7. You bet old coach wouldn't have been cool with that.
Also, props to Trey Burke and his amazing 8 assist to 1 turn over ratio. Ridiculously proficient.