Once again, the Utah Jazz showed why they’re the team Golden State loathes to play. Just like last year, it seemed that Utah would once again have Golden State’s number until a former Jazzman, Jonas Jerebko, put the Warriors over the top with a last minute put back to give the Warriors the deciding point for a 124-123 win. It looks like the Golden State Warriors were just missing that missing piece and his name is Jonas.
The Utah Jazz put on an offensive display in the first half that has not been seen in franchise history. They scored a franchise record 81 points in the first half including 47 points in the 2nd quarter alone. Behind that offensive display was the Dad Bod Gawd himself, Joe Ingles. Joe Ingles would end up finishing the game with 27 points, 4 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block on 66% shooting from the field and 63% from three point land. He was dominant. The Utah Jazz finally got a good Ricky Rubio game as the Ricky from last season has returned from last season. Ricky Rubio was masterful setting up his teammates as he had 10 assists while shooting 5 of 12 from the field.
Unfortunately, the Golden State Warriors had two cheat codes in this game: Kevin Durant and Steph Curry. Kevin Durant had 38 points and despite insane defense by Utah at every turn, he got what he wanted and almost finished with a triple double (9 rebounds and 7 assists). Steph Curry had 31 points, 4 rebounds, and 8 assists. He took over in the 4th quarter and put pressure on Utah.
In the fourth, Utah’s offense grinded to halt. Luckily, that’s when your superstars take over and the Utah Jazz found out last season that they have one in the making in Donovan Mitchell, emphasis on in the making. Donovan Mitchell struggled mightily in the 4th quarter. Against the Warriors’ defense, the Jazz tried to get the Warriors to switch until Mitchell had Jerebko one on one. Unfortunately, Golden State’s defense is too good just to allow Jerebko to get torched like a common S’more. They rotated and Mitchell failed to read the defense.
Time after time after time after time, Mitchell challenged the Warriors’ defense that, when healthy, is one of the most elite in the league. Each time, it resulted in a turnover, missed shot, or shot clock violation. He took seven shots, missed all of them.
The Golden State Warriors are a buzzsaw to deal with and to beat them, it requires a full 48 minutes of focused effort. The Jazz lost that. They might have even snuck by with just one possession of Mitchell’s moved to Ingles, Gobert blocking out Jonas Jerebko on the final tip in, or one extra made free throw by Derrick Favors. The Warriors are an elite team. There’s usually no shame in losing to the Warriors, but it’s hard to draw up a moral victory when you score 81 points in a half. This loss should be seared in Utah’s memory all season because that feeling of letting of the gas after playing so well should never be forgotten.
Takeaways and Notes
Rudy Gobert had himself a game. 16 points, 11 rebounds, 3 steals, and a block. He went to the line 11 times and made 8 of them. That’s some good numbers from your big man. But he ultimately allowed his past teammate, Jonas Jerebko to seal him off and box him out for the final offensive rebound and tip-in. That hurts. It appears that Rudy Gobert’s sneaky push in the back may have come back to bite him as he may have pushed Jerebko right into the offensive rebound.
Oh no. Rudy Gobert pushed Jonas Jerebko into that rebound.... pic.twitter.com/7xcbXODend— Justin Jett (@JustinJett_) October 20, 2018
Super sub Alec Burks had been phenomenal all of preseason and the 1st game of the season, and then tonight ... he wasn’t. He finished 1 of 7 with only 5 points, no rebounds, no assists. In a game that featured an offensive bonanza in a run and gun style that screams AB, Burks was auspiciously missing.
Dante Exum continues to be special in his time on the floor. He had 13 points in what should have been more than just 18 minutes. He was 4 of 5 from the field with 4 FTA, making all of them. Rubio finally looked like Rubio again, but the hope for Exum is his play becomes so great we have a conversation about who should be starting not because Rubio is struggling but because of how great Exum is becoming. Dante Exum’s PER36 numbers so far this season: 21.1 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.2 assists. SUPER small sample size theatre, but this is something to continue to monitor.
Draymond Green pulled his false bravado against Utah a few times. One of them resulting in Favors getting involved with a quick double technical. In a one point loss, if Favors didn’t bump into Green to stand up for his guy, maybe that’s one point Utah gets back that pushes this game into overtime rather than a loss by hand of Jonas.
It’s time to address the elephant in the room. Donovan has struggled for most of the postseason and through the first two games of the regular season. If anything, the hype train left the station without Mitchell aboard. The shark might have jumped at any point during the summer when the hope of what Mitchell could become might have exceeded what he could become in just one offseason of work. He’s averaging 21.6 ppg for the season PER36, but Donovan is so far less efficient than last year. He’s shooting 34.1% from the field, 31% from three, and shooting 75% from the line.
If there’s such a thing as a sophomore slump, this is the beginning of it. Donovan Mitchell in the past has shown the extreme ability to learn what defenses are doing to him and adjust accordingly, but this season is going to be a boss battle that Donovan hasn’t face prior. Defenses have a giant target on Donovan’s back, maybe that’s why Joe Ingles is lighting it up so far this season.
With the increased attention on Donovan, Utah’s supporting cast of players is going to see more daylight. But that daylight will sunset quickly if Donovan can’t find those guys wide open. Donovan quite possibly shut the door on a win trying to go for the late game heroics. You want to see that killer mentality to try to close the game out from your best player, but the sign of a great player is to know when it’s your night and when it isn’t. Tonight wasn’t Donovan’s night, and, ultimately, he might have shot Utah out of this game.
The Utah Jazz will get a much needed break as the Memphis Grizzlies travel to Utah to face the Jazz on Monday at 7:00PM MT.