It has become apparent that the Utah Jazz have regained their rhythm from before the All Star break. They got their fourth straight win a row on the road against the Indiana Pacers. In what was a tough game against an Eastern Conference playoff team, the Utah Jazz looked in control from tip-off to buzzer. The Jazz took the lead halfway through the first quarter and never looked back; at times Utah led by as many as 23 points.
Utah’s defense was the star in what became Indiana’s worst loss of the season. Rudy Gobert finished with 23 points, 14 rebounds, and 1 block, but more importantly he anchored the Jazz’s defense that held Indiana to only 38.6% shooting and 13% from three. It appeared that Utah’s defense was focused on Victor Oladipo. The recent All-Star only had 13 points on 6 of 19 shooting. Oladipo only got to the line for two free throws. That’s it. While he made his mark on the rest of the game (7 assists, 5 steals), Utah did their job by keeping him out of the offense.
Myles Turner was the beneficiary of Utah’s defensive focus. Turner had 24 points on 10 of 14 shooting, but only had 4 rebounds. Utah’s Wasatch Front of Gobert and Favors combined for 21 rebounds.
This game was a homecoming of sorts for Donovan Mitchell who played two hours south of Indianapolis at the University of Louisville. At times it looked like Donovan was trying to shoulder too much of the offense because he was trying to put on a show for his family and friends (not the worst thing). Donovan settled in, however, in the 4th quarter and finished with 20 points on 6 of 15 shooting, 3 rebounds, and 6 assists. He did have half of Utah’s 12 turnovers. Teams are completely keying in on the rook and it’s beginning to show on the stat sheet.
One thing to keep an eye on down this #playoffpush stretch is the minutes that Utah’s starters are playing. Rudy Gobert played 38 minutes in a 20 point blowout. Donovan Mitchell played 36. Rubio played 33. Joe Ingles played 34. Derrick Favors played 24 in his first game back from neck spasms. The Jazz’s bench tonight, aside from Jae Crowder, didn’t provide many relief minutes. While they shot well from the field, Quin didn’t rely on them for heavy minutes. That might have been the strategy as this was an important game to win, and the Jazz didn’t want to leave anything on the table.
With the Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets (HOW DID THEY LOSE TO THE MAVERICKS???) suffering losses last night, the Utah Jazz have pulled within a half game of the 8th seed and are now tied for the 9th seed. Denver is currently at home playing the Cleveland Cavaliers who are starving for a win. That game gets underway tonight at 8:30PM MT. Tune in. Jazz could be back in the playoff picture. Time to root for some ex-Jazz players.
New Orleans is on the road playing against the Sacramento Kings. The Kings are heavy underdogs, but, as we saw with the Mavericks-Nuggets game, anything can happen. Hopefully, Anthony Davis is afraid of De’Aaron Fox.
No Dante Exum sighting yet, but we are approaching mid-March time. We should be seeing a Dante Exum return soon.