Ricky Rubio—who had come into tonight’s game struggling offensively—must have visited #EkpesFilmClub. Ricky Rubio had been unrecognizable on offense to start the season. His pesky perimeter defense was intact, but his newfound offensive confidence was missing. It appears it may have been stuck at port in New Orleans. The Spanish point guard put on an offensive show finishing with 28 points, 12 points, and 6 rebounds while leading the Utah Jazz to a 132-111 victory. Rubio was two points away from becoming the first Jazz player since Deron Williams to put up 30+ points and 10+ assists.
The Utah Jazz got a bit of a head start in this game before the game even tipped off. Anthony Davis was ruled out before the game started due to a sore right elbow. But the game didn’t start looking so easy for Utah. No team could build much of a lead for the 1st quarter. The Pelicans actually led after one quarter. Most of the Pelicans’ points in the 1st quarter came from Nikola Mirotic who had 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting. The Jazz looked like they were going to get mixed up in a shootout ... then the second quarter rolled around.
Ricky Rubio and Rudy Gobert two manned the Pelicans into submission. Rudy Gobert had 11 points on 5 of 5 shooting. It felt as though every single one of those buckets were dunks. This was a game where it looked like the NBA’s freedom of movement emphasis REALLY worked in Gobert’s favor, especially as Gobert was missing his contemporary Anthony Davis in the opponent’s jersey. Ricky Rubio was 3 of 6 from the field in the second but he got to the line and drew fouls. Even crazier is the Utah Jazz reclaimed the lead and built an almost 20 point lead without a single point scored from Donovan. It wasn’t that Donovan was out of it, the Jazz were just fueled by Gobert and Rubio.
When the second half started, the Utah Jazz continued their 2nd quarter dominance. Donovan poured in 11 of his 22 points in the third to put the game out of reach ... or so we thought. It looked as though the Jazz might not have to play their starters the entire 4th quarter which would help tremendously as Utah is on the first game of a back to back. Unfortunately, New Orleans’ bench rallied against Utah’s bench players in the 4th as Utah’s second team got too comfortable. Quin Snyder would end up putting his starters back in midway through the 4th. The Jazz would put the game out of reach giving them the victory.
Takeaways and Notes
Ricky Rubio entered the game shooting 22% from the field. He finished 8 of 14 from the field and 3 of 7 from three. What seemed to really help was not settling. Teams had started to look for Rubio’s midrange shot off the free throw line and were making his life harder on the three point line. Tonight he rope-a-doped a lot Pelicans’ defenders as they thought he was going to settle for the three or his midrange then Rubio would change speed to get to the rim. That got him some much needed free throws and opened up the three point shot and midrange. Most were just hoping for a bounce-back game of 16, 4, and 8. Ricky didn’t just bounce back, he long jumped out of a slump. Ricky’s the player of the night.
Now that Donovan Mitchell is in his second season, we can start saying he had a quiet night with “only” 22 points—heavy sarcasm. However, he had one of the quietest 20+ point games of his young career. Late in the fourth it felt like he hadn’t scored much in the game and then—wow—he has 22 points already on a very efficient 7 of 10 shooting with 3 of 4 from three. He also finished with 6 assists. That’s the type of leap you want to see out of the second year player out of Louisville.
Joe Ingles just didn’t have it offensively tonight as he finished 2 of 10. Even the greatest players in the game have an off night. The Dad Bod God might have just been saving his best work for the young rookie in Dallas, Luka Doncic.
Nikola Mirotic looks weird without a beard.
The absence of Anthony Davis cannot be forgotten. While it’s great to go to an undefeated team’s building and put a whoopin’ on them, I don’t think Gobert absolutely dominates like this with Davis out there. AD has been a beast. Keep an eye out for the next time these two teams play. I would wager Anthony Davis will want to give the Defensive Player of the Year the business.
Rudy Gobert had a great poster on Jahlil Okafor, God rest his soul.
Rudy Gobert after the game on NBAtv said the Utah Jazz don’t fear anyone.
I think it’s time we start talking about the #SLCDunkChat cure. When we talked about Donovan’s early season struggles on Tuesday in the chat, Mitchell broke out for a big game on Wednesday. When we talked about Rubio’s early season struggles on Friday in the chat, Rubio broke out for a big game tonight. All we’re saying is, who do you want us to talk about on Monday so they can go for 30?
The Utah Jazz will play against the Dallas Mavericks tomorrow in Dallas at 5:00PM. I don’t know about you, but I’m excited to see the young backcourt of Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic. Should be a fun game.