On the back end of a road back-to-back, the Utah Jazz played a very complete game versus the Dallas Mavericks. Rudy Gobert had another monster outing finishing with 23 points and 16 rebounds. The freedom of movement has unleased the Gobzilla on the offensive end.
A few hours before the game, Derrick Favors was ruled out due to a left knee injury. In his place came Jae Crowder. Most injuries to a team’s starting player may make a matchup for favorable for the opposition, unfortunately, for Dallas, that’s not the case for Utah. The Rubio, Mitchell, Ingles, Crowder, and Gobert lineup is Utah’s best lineup. Starting in place for Favors, Jae allowed Gobert to feast inside. Crowder finished with 15 points.
While Dallas did lose this game, this is a team that has a good amount of talent. While they lack a good bench and some additional role players, the foundation is there with Dennis Smith Jr. and Luka Doncic.
The Utah Jazz Utah looked in control for most of the night, and put this game away with authority. Leading by as much as 15 points, Utah kept the grind on all night. Dallas is a formidable team, and I personally have them as a dark horse candidate to make the 7-8 seed in the playoffs. Whenever Dallas made a run, the Jazz responded with a powerful right hook. Many different players stepped up, and displayed exactly why the strength of [this] team is the team.
This win may have come with a big cost, however, as Jae Crowder sprained his ankle as Harrison Barnes undercut him on three with 1 minute remaining in the game. Luckily for Utah, the ankle sprain looked a lot worse than it was as x-rays came up negative and Jae is now day to day with a grade 1 ankle sprain.
For Dallas, Dennis Smith Jr. scored 27 points, 21 coming in the second half. DeAndre Jordan nearly had a triple double with 14 points, 19 rebounds and 9 assists. Wesley Matthews had 22 points, 10 of which came from the free throw stripe. Despite all of this, the Jazz responded with an iron fist, showing exactly why they are among the best teams in the league. Fatigue could have been an easy excuse, but the Jazz kept pushing and pulled out of Dallas with a W.
The Jazz outscored Dallas in every quarter but the second quarter. Our offense has been notably impressive this year. A marked improvement is the offense of Rudy “Stifle Tower” Gobert, who put up 23 points, 16 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals and 3 blocks tonight. Not only has Rudy improved at handling the ball underneath the basket, but his teammates have been much better at actually getting him the ball.
Last season I may have lost a few hair follicles with how open Rudy would be underneath the basket, while his teammates seemed to temporarily lose sight of the largest passing target on the team. We simply didn’t have the ability to get him the ball on many of those plays. This season, Quin Snyder has worked with the team on making those passes down low, and Rudy is currently averaging 17.7 points per game, on 75% FG%. There are very few players in this league that can do that.
On top of those numbers, Rudy is putting up a stat line of 13.5 rebounds per game, 1.5 steals per game, and 2.7 blocks per game. To put it shortly, Rudy “eats freaking with humans”. Rudy has my vote for all-star this season.
Takeaways and Notes
- Grayson Allen made an appearance tonight and had some key plays in the third quarter to help stifle one of Dallas’ runs. Every time Grayson shoots it looks like it is going in. That is a very good sign for his future with this team, and when his defense has improved enough to gain coach Quin Snyder’s approval, the league better watch out. We’ve got another sharpshooter in the making.
- We all got a scare when Exum went down after being tied up mid-air in a play that probably should have been counted as some sort of flagrant foul. Luckily he got right up and brushed the fall off. Exum has had good games and not so good games, but overall is looking fantastic. He is learning how to use his speed and athleticism to create plays for himself and his teammates. Dante is really starting to look like he’s gaining a feel for the game. That is one thing that injuries prevented him from doing over the past few years. Dante’s defense is always fantastic. He sticks to his man like glue, and is great at contesting with his long arms. I would like to see him get a few more blocks, as he is only averaging 0.3 per game. With his size advantage over other guards, I hope he is able to convert a few more of his contested shots into blocked shots.
- Moving on down the line, Donovan is officially here. Mitchell along with Ricky Rubio have been on an almost parallel path to start the season. Both had a slow first few games, due to an issue of forcing up difficult shots rather than taking what would come to them. Both have figured out this issue in unison. While Ricky may not have scored many points this game, he had 8 assists with only 1 turnover, and hit the shots that mattered. Donovan had a middling night, scoring relatively well, but turning the ball over 5 times to his 4 assists. Although both Donovan and Ricky have things figured out, there will still be the ups and downs of a regular season. Hopefully, they continue to bounce back just as quickly in the future.
- Quin Snyder got a technical foul in the third quarter, after it appeared that Donovan was undercut during a drive to the basket. While the officiating had some questionable moments throughout the night, this tech was another log on the fire, helping the team keep going forward as the Jazz continued to grind Dallas into the ground. This tech also showed coach’s care for his players. When calls aren’t made on plays that could have potentially ended in injury, Quin has his players’ collective backs.
- A huge key to this game was execution. The Jazz kept executing their game plan on offense and defense, and it paid off in the end. Maintaining composure and control of the game shows this team’s level of experience. Our players may be young, but they play as if they were veterans. It is games like this that will be the difference between being the 2-3 seed, and just barely making the playoffs. The Jazz should be happy with this win.