The Jazz are back.
The Utah Jazz took the lead early in the first quarter, and never looked back. With a commanding performance from Utah’s key players, the game was full of the high-energy highlight plays that have been missing for the past week or two. We were graced by some insane dunks from Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert. Okay, let’s go back and watch them again because they are just too good. (Obligatory warning: these highlights are not for the faint of heart.)
Unfortunately, I was unable to find a video of the glorious behind-the-head dunk, but here is another great one from Rudy.
Derrick joined the party as well with a couple impressive alley-oops. Here’s one of them.
This is a win the Jazz can be proud of. They went in, they held the lead during Dallas’ runs, and they frustrated Rick Carlisle. The game was not without blemish though, as the Jazz went a combined 69.2% from the charity stripe. The free throw shooting woes continue, but luckily that was a non-factor in tonight’s blowout victory. Defense was markedly improved, and limited Dallas to just 39.7% from the field. Passing was on point, with 31 total assists tonight. The best part about this statistic is that turnovers were limited as well to just 11.
The moral to this story is when the Jazz start clicking as a team, every one of our players starts looking better. Defense flows into the offense, and add the fact that we were making our threes at a reasonable rate, and you get what you saw tonight. The Jazz took advantage of a younger Dallas squad, sure, but this was a game the Jazz sorely needed after a rough start to the 2018-19 NBA season. It’s games like this that show you the potential of this squad.
From here, the Jazz look to carry this momentum into an important game on Friday which may feature a certain folk-villain. You can bet Gordon Haywood will be in a cold sweat Thursday the night before the game, after seeing what the Jazz did to Dallas. Joking aside, this is the energy and camaraderie we saw bring so much success in the second half of last season. It is refreshing to see the Jazz play this way. It is difficult to single out a single player tonight that fueled tonight’s success. Joe Ingles, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert, Donovan Mitchell, Jae Crowder and Dante Exum all had +/- of 9 or above. It sure must feel good for those guys to finally see their shots go in.
In the words of Rudy Gobert, “We will be fine”. Fans may be quick to panic, even if there is good reason for panic, but this team has the veteran ability to come together and go back to doing what they are good at. Up to this point in the season, it seemed the Jazz were still figuring out their identity in this new “freedom of movement” era of the NBA. They may still have yet to completely figure out how to play under the officiating changes, but tonight showed that defense still wins games.
Buckle up and put on your hard hats, this is going to be one heck of a season.