Before the Indiana Pacers raced the Utah Jazz off the court last night, the Jazz played two games last week. They split them, with a win over the Wizards in the nation’s capital and a crunch time loss to the Hornets in Charlotte. Donovan Mitchell remains incredible, but moments like the end of that Hornets game serve as good reminders that he’s still a rookie. For the national media, the most noteworthy thing of the week was Rodney Hood’s suspension and subsequent phone slap.
The Jazz probably wish they played the Wizards every night. Utah defeated Washington 107-104 on Wednesday for just their fifth win since Dec. 4. Two of the wins over that stretch? The Wizards. Also, all five of those wins have been against teams above .500 (Wizards, Celtics, Spurs and Cavaliers). -- Matt Williams
It might sound like a broken record at this point, but it bears repeating: Donovan Mitchell is an incredible scoring guard for a rookie. His 35 points against the Hornets may have ended in a loss, but he put on a show the entire way. Get this guy some spotlight on Friday/Saturday at All-Star Weekend, because he’s earned it.
This was absolutely worth the $35,000 fine.
Rodney Hood slapped the cell phone right out of that man's hands pic.twitter.com/ToR9pYeGqN— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) January 11, 2018
Joe Ingles shot just 5-for-19 from 3-point range on Utah’s four-game trip, but the only three he made in Washington on Wednesday was the one (with a little over a minute to go) that gave the Jazz the lead for good in their only win of the trip. Though they just lost Thabo Sefolosha to a knee injury, are still waiting on Rudy Gobert, and are reportedly talking to the Bulls about a Nikola Mirotic trade, the time for a playoff push may be right now. After the Jazz host the Pacers (with a rest advantage) on Monday, they’ll play four straight games against teams with losing records. Sefolosha’s absence could result in more playing time for Royce (da 6’6”) O’Neale, an undrafted rookie who provided a big lift in that Washington win and has generally given them good minutes when he’s been called on. He ranks fourth in rebounding percentage among players under 6-7.
The Jazz have dealt with more than their fair share of injuries this season, and got dealt another blow over the weekend when it reported that Thabo Sefolosha is expected to undergo season-ending knee surgery on his right MCL after injuring himself on Friday night. The team also announced that Rudy Gobert (knee) is still at least 7-10 days await from being cleared to return to action.
Sorry guys, but this team just kind of stinks. They’re not talented enough to get away with not trying very hard. More often than not, it kind of looks like they’re not trying very hard. Trade deadline will be interesting.