Remember how earlier today I said the Jazz should win handily? That was true. They should have won handily. Instead, they won somewhat painfully. Look, it’s only game 1. The Kings still technically have something to play for besides . . . well, whatever they usually play for after the first 15 games or so.
Even so, it’s hard not to have a bad taste in your mouth if you’re a Jazz fan. The game started out 18-4 in favor of the Kangz. The Jazz looked disjointed and rusty, and the Kings looked eager to prove that they were better than the butt-kicking they took last week during preseason. Ricky Rubio looked more like Juan Crotty than Juan Stockton out there, putting up a line of 1 point, 2 rebounds, and 4 assists. Rudy Gobert had an off-night as well, putting up a solid offensive performance (19 points and 15 boards) but getting worked by perennial scrub Willie Cauley-Stein on defense (23/7/4). Donovan Mitchell, who hit some big shots late, didn’t get his first bucket until the second quarter and looked more like Monta Ellis than the Donovan we know and love. Still, he led all scorers, putting up a line of 24 points, 3 boards and 2 assists on 8-21 shooting.
DeAaron Fox played exceptionally well. He shredded the Jazz perimeter defense for much of the night, outmaneuvered Ricky Rubio at will, and put up a line of 21/4/7.
There were a couple of notable bright spots, though. Dante Exum looked like a top-5 draft pick, playing controlled, collected basketball. When Ricky Rubio was unplayable, which was most of the game, Dante stepped up, and did so with authority. He was arguably the only player on the court who could stay in front of DeAaron Fox. Like Fox, our young Roo cut to the rim basically whenever he wanted to, scoring 13 points. He distributed the ball well too, finishing with four assists.
Hope you didn't blink during that Danté drive pic.twitter.com/m5IgDVb7u1— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) October 18, 2018
Alec Burks—leader of the Backcourt of Irrational Confidence—still looks like a 6th Man of the Year candidate. When the Jazz went down big early-on, He stepped up and got buckets, tallying 13 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists, in 18 minutes of play.
Joe Ingles had a solid game as well, scoring 22 points on 12 shots, including 4-6 from three-point land.
Donovan Mitchell will be fine. New season, new scouting reports. Rudy Gobert? He’ll be fine too. Just had an off night. Ricky Rubio looks like he’s got a bit of a mental block going on. He thinks that he forgot how to shoot and pass for some reason. And I don’t care how professional you are: if you’re having an off-night and your backup dominates if can’t feel good.
The Jazz will be fine, but if they forget that they’re supposed to play basketball for a quarter against the Warriors or any half-decent team, they’re toast.
Check out these crazy +/- numbers:
- Every Jazz starter except for Derrick Favors (+7) finished in the negatives.
- Alec Burks, Dante Exum, and Jae Crowder were +25, +21, and +23, respectively.
- Every Kangz starter finished with a positive +/-, and every bench player finished in the negatives, with Iman Shumpert being the worst offender (-29)
See you all on Friday!