The Utah Jazz look like a completely different team than the team seven games ago. At that time, the Utah Jazz were the same amount of games out of the playoffs as they were out of having the highest lottery odds in the NBA Draft. Now? They're winners of four straight and winners of six out of their last eight games. They just dismantled the Phoenix Suns inside and out, beating the Suns 129-97. Utah almost eclipsed the 100 point mark in the third quarter.
This wasn't just a blowout, this was a hostile takeover that left Robert Sarver out and Donovan Mitchell as the new owner of the Phoenix Suns. He walked, euro-stepped, and shot all over them scoring 40 points on an EXTREMELY efficient 19 shots while pulling down 5 boards, dishing 6 assists, and collecting 2 steals with only 2 turnovers. Donovan Mitchell dominated. This became his second 40 point game. Most recent rookie to have two or more 40 point games was Blake Griffin and he was a red-shirt rookie. Donovan Mitchell is starting to enter uncharted waters when it comes to his accolades and it's fun.
The big matchup for this game was Donovan Mitchell and Devin Booker. While Donovan Mitchell showed out under the Phoenix lights, Devin Booker had a rough go as Phoenix experiments with the third year—did you know he's 21?—guard at the point. He finished with 18 points on 24 shots while dishing out 6 assists and 4 rebounds.
Utah Jazz fan trade machine favorite Dragan Bender had 16 points on 5 of 10 shooting with 9 rebounds and 5 assists. The stretch big probably isn't on the trade block, so sorry, Jazz fans, you'll have to find another stretch big to pine for after Mirotic found a new home in New Orleans.
Ricky Rubio continues to look amazing in Utah's newly turned speedy offense. He had 14 points, 9 assists, and 6 rebounds with 2 steals—ya know, a Ben Simmons stat line—while making 2 out of 2 of his threes—not a Ben Simmons stat line. The Jazz's increased pace while avoiding playing Ricky, Favors, and Gobert all for long stretches of time together is paying off. It could just be me, but I swear the shot on Rubio's shot looks better. At the beginning of the season it appeared he shot it like a laser. Now it appears to be getting some good arc.
Speaking of Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert, it looks like they're playing great out there. This recent win streak has to have Dennis Lindsey wavering on whether he should trade Favors or not before the deadline. Derrick Favors had 12 points and 10 rebounds and Rudy Gobert had 10 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 blocks. The Wasatch Front is back and it's doing work protecting the paint.
This Jazz squad right now looks dominant with big wins over the Toronto Raptors, Detroit Pistons, and Golden State Warriors. They're playing better on the road and starting to play their best ball right as their schedule is easing up. The Jazz are one of the teams who wish the All-Star bread didn't exist. They'd like to keep this momentum going through the rest of the season.
Donovan Mitchell is trending to average 20 points, 3 rebounds, and 3 assists for a season. If the Jazz make the playoffs, Donovan Mitchell would become only the third rookie to lead their team in scoring and lead them to the playoffs with those numbers.
Donovan Mitchell notched one obscure record tonight: most points scored on Groundhog Day. Behind him is a who’s who of Jazz Legends: Adrian Dantley, “Pistol” Pete, Karl Malone, and John Stockton.
The Utah Jazz have the league's 3rd best Net Rating since Rudy Gobert's return seven games ago. This is not just a lucky stretch of games, these Jazz wins are happening because of intentions decisions by the coaching staff and improvement by the players.
One has to wonder if the Utah Jazz might flip from being sellers at the trade deadline to buyers at the trade deadline.
The Utah Jazz are 4-1 since Rodney Hood went down with his leg injury.
The Utah Jazz play their next game tomorrow in San Antonio against the Spurs. This will be a great barometer game because the Spurs put in great prep work. They will not be caught off guard like the Raptors or Warriors. They're going into this game with eyes wide open. Are the Jazz a pretender while healthy or the real deal? We'll find out tomorrow.