Break up the Utah Jazz. Since acquiring Kyle Korver, the Utah Jazz are 3-1 on the season with wins over the Brooklyn Nets, Charlotte Hornets, and now the San Antonio Spurs. More importantly, the Utah Jazz improved to 3-6 at home after their absolute beating of the Spurs 139-105.
The Utah Jazz led the entire game save for a couple minutes to start the game. Since Utah acquired Kyle Korver they are the 3rd best 3 point shooting team in the league, hitting 43.3% of their threes. That’s a big departure from 27th. Kyle Korver in his first game with the Utah Jazz said that good shooting is contagious and it sure looks like Utah has caught the fever.
Donovan Mitchell was 4 of 6 from three.
Joe Ingles was 3 of 6.
Ricky Rubio was 2 of 3.
Jae Crowder was 2 of 3.
Royce O’Neale was 2 of 4.
Kyle Korver—the man himself—was 3 of 4.
That shooting must be contagious as it led to the Utah Jazz ending the game with a franchise high 20 three pointers. It was obvious that Utah was record hunting in garbage time, but they completely earned that luxury by their absolute waxing of San Antonio.
Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert appear to be enjoying the extra spacing. Donovan Mitchell had many more catch and shoot opportunities and capitalized on those. He finished with 20 points, 1 rebound, 2 assists, and 2 steals. Donovan Mitchell shot 7 of 13 from the field and was just efficent.
Those open 3 makes are meaningful for Mitchell, particularly from the corners - shot 50% even on corner 3s last year but has been at just 25% this year coming into tonight. https://t.co/Pce4Dkp95y— Ben Dowsett (@Ben_Dowsett) December 5, 2018
Meanwhile, Rudy Gobert’s petition to the NBA looks to have been answered as the big man went to the line for 10 free throw attempts (2nd highest total of the season), and made 8 of them. He finished with 10 rebounds, 4(!) assists, and 3 blocks.
What’s even better is no Jazz player played more than 28 minutes. This was Utah’s best win of the season. While Utah is still turning over the ball at an unsettling pace—finished with a TO ratio of 17.3—Utah defended at a high level, and—most importantly—shot the lights out.
The Utah Jazz’s front office and coaching staff has bragged about generating more open looks than most NBA teams, but now the Jazz have better personnel to capitalize on it.
On the other side of the ball, San Antonio struggled. LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan were solid, but besides them, they didn’t get any help. Rudy Gay was 0 for 3. Bertans was only 3 for 6. Bryn Forbes was 4 of 10, Marco Belinelli was 1 of 5, and Patty Mills was 3 of 8.
Yeah, Jakob Poeltl—the University of Utah product—had 20 points and 7 rebounds, but most of that was in garbage time. Whoopee.
All of that awfulness brings us to Coach Popovich. Pop had the look of a coach that was ready to hang it up any minute. In the post game interview, he even cited his team’s “struggles on the defensive end.” Pop doesn’t look like he’s having fun.
Pop has a very flawed roster built around midrange shooters in LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan. They are like Utah if Utah didn’t have Joe Ingles AND Kyle Korver. They are dealing with the injury of the point guard. They are without their draft pick who is also injured. It’s seems sacrilegious to speculate on how someone needs to hang it up, but looking back ... you have to think Pop should have retired with Tim Duncan. That’s the storybook ending, but instead Pop is here without Tim, without Tony, without Manu ... and it’s just depressing. It’s like watching Don Quixote fight the windmills of the modern NBA and he’s Rocinante. He’s been saddled with a backwards roster and being ridden toward embarrassment. This isn’t how he should be going out.
Meanwhile, Utah has a chance to continue their good fortune with Kyle Korver. They host the Houston Rockets on Thursday night on TNT. The Houston Rockets are coming off a loss to the Timberwolves on Monday night. They will have one additional day of rest before facing Utah. Utah is another playoff team from last year that is struggling to start the season. They are 11-12. Can Utah go to 2-0 on the season against the team that knocked them out of the playoffs last year? We’ll soon see.