The Utah Jazz have now won three straight games with their win tonight over the
tanking competitive Orlando Magic. The Utah Jazz were down Derrick Favors who was a late scratch due to neck spasms. Rudy Gobert had a huge game as he took advantage of Nikola Vucevic’s laissez faire defense and played big minutes with Utah down their other exceptional big man. Rudy Gobert had 21 points, 17 rebounds, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in 37 minutes.
Tonight’s matchup felt like it wasn’t as much a matchup of the Jazz vs Magic, rather it was the Jazz vs the referees. Utah statistically this season is one of the league’s most disadvantage teams when it comes to referees and in the final moments of tonight’s game, it finally got to Quin Snyder as he was thrown out of his first game. This was Quin Snyder’s first ejection of his NBA career. That might seem shocking as he looks like the quaint murderer next door at times during games.
The exchange occurred with less than a minute left in the game. Quin Snyder got the first technical arguing with Bennie Adams. Bennie Adams turned away and after he had put some distance between himself and Quin, he called Quin for the technical. You know, just in case Quin could show him where the bodies were buried. Then Quin realizing there was only a minute left in the game with the Jazz leading by double digits had the “oh what the hell” moment and started walking onto the court and yelling at Bennie Adams more. It wasn’t until Quin had spent about 3 seconds in the paint yelling at Bennie Adams that he was finally called for his second technical and thrown out. His ejection was greeted by a standing ovation by the Jazz crowd who with Jerry Sloan had grown accustomed to a good coach’s ejection every 10 games or so.
[Author’s Note: Jerry Sloan once got ejected just 2 minutes and 12 seconds into a game. Legend.]
Utah felt in control of this game from beginning to end. Even when Utah was behind in the 1st quarter, it didn’t feel as though Utah was in danger of an upset. The first quarter featured Utah sleepwalking a bit, but also there were a lot of good looks by Utah in the 1st quarter that just didn’t go in. Ball wasn’t bouncing the right way. That seems like an oversimplification, but Utah’s offense wasn’t out of sorts. If anything the defense needed to clamp down a bit and it did by the second quarter.
It was easy to point to the first quarter and say that Utah’s defense was bad, but Utah finished the game with an 84.8 defensive rating. This team is a defensive juggernaut. If they can squeeze into the playoffs they are going to make someone’s first round a nightmare.
Donovan Mitchell finished 1 point shy of 20 points. For those keeping track of his chase for the Golden Griff’s record, Donovan Mitchell now has to score 20 points in every remaining game to tie the record. Honestly, the odds don’t look good.
Joe Ingles had a run in the second quarter that felt like Peja Stojakovic-esque. He was just hitting from long range. Ingles finished with 15 points, 7 rebounds, 8 assists, 3 rebounds, and a steal. As I’m typing this I didn’t realize how close he was to a triple double. Ricky Rubio had a much better game tonight. He wasn’t hitting from long range but he was finishing at the rim and hitting the midrange shot. He finished with 16 points, 8 assists, 4 rebounds, and a steal.
One thing to keep an eye on down the stretch ... Utah’s starters all (minus Jonas Jerebko) played 35 minutes or more. Utah’s bench was not good tonight. They combined to shoot 4 for 17 from the field. Derrick Favors can’t get back in the lineup soon enough and Dante Exum is needed to bolster that bench corps.
Utah goes on the road for their next game as they face the surprise team of the East, the Indiana Pacers. The Jazz are projected to lose this game, but if they can pull out the win that puts them ahead of their #playoffpush pace and gives them another advantage as they try to get back to the playoffs. It’s a big game.